By Lara Cornelius, Staff Writer
As graduate students, and as individuals in general, we all struggle to learn the balance between work and play. The flow of our daily routine between studying for classes, working, and taking care of our mental, physical, and spiritual health isn’t always the easiest to keep rhythmic.
At some point in my college career, I made one minor change in my daily routine and without even realizing it, I felt a major shift in my overall well-being. One day it occurred to me the success I was experiencing in my classes was closely linked to the fact that I was prioritizing “me time” more than I ever had before. I continued to study hard; not much harder than before, I was just organizing my day in such a way that I was doing at least one thing for myself daily, whether it was exercising, enjoying the outdoors, or spending time alone to clear my mind. That one thing that I did every day, I would soon realize, was building a relationship of commitment and trust with myself that would eventually translate to the relationships I had with others and the quality of any work I took on, whether it was academic or job-related. At first, this intentional daily effort was quite difficult to be consistent with, and it took about four months for all of the benefits of this daily grind to be actualized.
I truly believe in the importance of sharing this experience, as I wish someone would have explained to me that this simple daily commitment to myself could lead to deep internal realizations and positive external changes in my environment, as well as increasing the level to which I would connect with others. The more trust and commitment I felt in my relationship with myself, the more I was able to sustainably contribute to the lives of those around me.
Although they may seem cliche, there is definitely truth in the two statements: “Everything in moderation” and “Life is about balance.” Everyone has their own definition of what these statements mean to them, but one cannot go wrong with investing his or her time in physical exercise daily in some way, shape, or form.
There are a multitude of mental health benefits associated with physical exercise, and they are not limited to increased muscle size and aerobic capacity. These benefits include reduced stress, alleviated anxiety, and sharpened memory. This article isn’t about losing weight–a lot of that has to do with your daily diet as well. This is about taking your eyes off your phone or laptop screen, putting away your assigned reading for an hour or two, and feeling comfortable being completely alone with yourself while doing something beneficial for your body.
Here are some options here in Glendale and the surrounding area that can be part of your daily routine and will help you enjoy that “me time” even more. The time you take for yourself is priceless. A wise woman once told me, “How can you expect to fill someone else’s glass if yours isn’t full?”
Join an exercise program!
Class Pass – If you haven’t heard of it, ClassPass is a new kind of gym membership that grants you access to hundreds of different classes at studios and gyms in your city. Price of membership depends on the plan, but you can try a variety of classes from barre to yoga to martial arts to cycling. It’s a great way to get out of your usual exercise routine, meet new people, and explore new passions.
Bikram Yoga – Before it gets too hot, try out Bikram Yoga. When I lived in Los Angeles, I would sign up for a month trial and go almost everyday. Once you get into it, its hard to stop. You’ll sweat A LOT, but afterwards it will feel as though your entire body has been cleansed of all toxins and you are floating on air. With the room being so hot, your muscles are much more relaxed and your entire body becomes incredibly flexible. You can feel the impact that true focus on your breathing can have on your whole being. Just try it. It may take a couple of times to enjoy it, but you won’t regret it. Check out Bikram’s Yoga College of India at 7439 W Bell Rd, Peoria, AZ.
ASU West Classes – The ASU West Campus gym is state-of-the-art and offers a variety of fun, exciting classes throughout the week. Just take the Thunderbird bus that runs every 30 minutes between the two campuses and pick up the schedule at the front desk. It is my personal favorite place to exercise, with a beautiful view of the desert and plenty of space to unwind.
It’s been said that meditating for just 10 minutes a day can change your life. There are simple methods such as guided meditations, candle staring, visualization, mantra, or just going outside and observing. There are dozens of books on meditation and information on the internet that one can look into.
Hiking and biking around!
There are plenty of trails to enjoy around the Glendale area. You can find them easily here. There is nothing like being out in the open air and one with nature.
Learn to play an instrument, discover a new genre of music or dance, study a new language, or try out a sport.
These are just a few ways to engage in physical activity that will benefit your mental heath and improve your overall well being and relationship with yourself and others.