Last night, I was lucky enough to go to an awesome event on campus that was part of Arianna Huffington’s book tour for her book, Thrive. She took part in a panel to talk about mental and physical health and well-being, stress, and coping in college students, a topic that is near and dear to my heart. One of the many fabulous students that I get to work with through our office, Jon, was on the panel. (Side story: she was so impressed with his story of searching for internships and his moxie to say “Do you want my resume?” that she offered him a job on the spot. Go Jon!).
I was really inspired by Arianna’s personal story about realizing when she needed to slow down and take better care of herself, and her message that we are young and can do so now before we get the brutal wake-up call that she did. I’ve long known that my migraines are probably my body’s way of telling me that I need to calm down and slow down, but in recent months I’ve been taking these signals more seriously. Her idea of creating a personal “well-being cocktail” hit home to me, so I wanted to share the recipe for my personal cocktail. It’s called the Strug LIfe Cocktail – feel free to try it, but you should also try to create your own. It’s definitely not one size fits all!
The Strug Life Cocktail
8 parts sleep
6 parts food
2 parts medicine (doctor’s orders!)
1 part treats
Shaken, not stirred
That may look like a pretty random assortment of items, but there’s a reason behind all of them.
For me, allowing myself 8 hours to be in bed is a non-negotiable. I may not actually sleep all 8 of those hours because of my awesome body clock, but it’s about unwinding and doing nothing for those 8 hours. Sometimes I need more than 8 hours, and that’s okay. But sleep is when your body heals itself, and if you need more than 8 hours, you’ve got some serious healing to do. There are definitely times when I can’t get 8 hours of sleep – hello orientation season – so i try to overcompensate with the rest of the recipe those days: I allow myself to indulge in some extra snacks and I’m sure to stay extra hydrated those days. And I also keep my migraine meds on hand just in case!
The next biggest part is food. I know that I need to be sure to fuel my body properly, especially since I’m on a medication that messes with my appetite. So I don’t mess around when it comes to food. I always have high-protein snacks with me and I’m sure to get a big portion of protein in every meal. That’s most important to me. I may not always eat enough fruits and veggies, but I try to eat moderately healthy throughout the day – salads, carrots and hummus, apples with peanut butter – so that it’s okay when I have a PB&J for dinner in class. I’m not huge on caffeine so protein is the best way for me to keep my energy up.
As far as my medication goes, every 12 hours I need to stick to my schedule. This may not be a concession that some people would want to make, and that’s okay, but for me it, works. This is something it’s taken a couple of years and three doctors to figure out, and where I’m at now finally works for me. Migraines are tough to figure out!
On ice – as in, ice water! I feel like I’m always guzzling water (and it’s making me thirsty to even write this) but I can tell a huge difference when I don’t drink enough of the clear stuff. Just the other day I was exhausted and cranky and couldn’t stop yawning, and I looked at my water bottle at 1 pm and realized I hadn’t had more than 2 sips all day. I gulped down about three-quarters of it, and within 10 minutes I felt like I had just had a cup of coffee. It was amazing how big the difference was!
The minimize stress part is a big one for me. I need to make the choice to not let things stress me out because I know that’s a trigger for me. Part of how I do that is by following my cocktail recipe, but the other part of that is by trying to make lists and prioritize those lists. This is huge when it comes to schoolwork. I’m still working on learning how to do “good enough” for school – I’m an achiever and I want things to be perfect, but there comes a time when done is better than perfect.
Treats! My favorite. Everyone needs to let themselves indulge a little. For me this takes the form of a chocolate chip cookie, jelly beans, or other candy, but for some people this may be a glass of wine, a favorite TV show, or a cuddle with their dog. Whatever it is, the secret is to not feel guilty doing it – it’s important for your health if it makes you happy.
Finally, shaken not stirred – I say this because I’m absolutely in love with pure barre and try to go as often as I can, and it’s all about the shake! But for real, getting my muscles to shake from a good workout, whether that’s pure barre or a quick run, is one of the best forms of therapy I can find. I notice how much more tired and cranky I am when I don’t get my workout in, and how much harder it is to get me “stirred up” about things – I’m much less irritable and stressed out when I get my workouts in.
There you have it – my personal well-being cocktail. I’ve found what works for me, but it’s still a struggle to make it work every single day. Don’t think for a minute that every single day is a perfect mix of all of those ingredients – I can’t think of a single day in 2014 so far that I’ve gotten all of them together. I’m just trying to hold myself to this recipe, and it’s not easy, but knowing that it makes me happy and keeps me healthy is the best motivation there is. After all, what’s more important than that?