Meal Prep & Nutrition, Uncategorized

Fresh & Simple Watermelon Salad

This salad is one of my all time favorite summer salads! It is so refreshing and makes a great side for any summer meal or BBQ. Plus, it is SUPER easy to make.


Watermelon – 4 cups cubed

1 Avocado

1 Jalapeño

Feta Cheese – 1/4 cup crumbled

1 Lime

Sea Salt – pinch


  1. Cube the watermelon and avocado and add to your salad bowl.
  2. Remove the seeds and dice the jalapeño. Add to the bowl.
  3. Add the crumbled feta cheese to the bowl.
  4. Squeeze your lime over the watermelon, avocado, and feta cheese and mix throughout.
  5. Add your pinch of sea salt.

You should refrigerate this salad until you are ready to serve. Enjoy!!

food macro fruit watermelon
Photo by Markus Spiske on
Meal Prep & Nutrition, Podcasts/TEDtalks

The Game Changers Review

From Guest Contributor: Andrew Bannout

Many people have had some extra time to browse Netflix in the past few months due to stay-at-home mandates to combat COVID-19. Some of you may have come across the documentary, The Game Changers. Guest writer, Andrew Bannout, has written a review of this documentary and its overall thesis. Check it out below and comment your own thoughts on the documentary!

The Game Changers, produced by vegan activist and former UFC fighter James Wilks, written by Joseph Pace and directed by Louis Psihoyos, is a documentary that boasts major advantages of adhering to a plant-based diet, however its methods and evidence for doing so are over ambitious. Don’t get me wrong, the film did a wonderful job of delivering the audience a set of entertaining and inspirational anecdotal accounts of world class athletes who transitioned to a total plant-based diet. The major concerns with this film come down to 3 important points that should be addressed: the testimonials from athletes depicted in the film are anecdotal, the film was heavily biased towards adhering to only a plant-based diet and lauding it as the optimal diet in every sense, and the data and scientific studies documented in the film were both manipulated and conducted on small, marginal populations of people (Kita, Paul).

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 2.42.37 PM

As someone who is an athlete and does plenty of personal research into nutrition for performance and optimal health, I understand the claims the film made regarding the benefits of consuming a strictly plant-based diet. I have done my own nutritional experimentation where I’ve omitted certain foods from my diet, increased the amounts of certain macronutrients, and played around with time restricted eating, or intermittent fasting schedules. What I can most confidently claim on my behalf, and what most nutritionists, physicians, dieticians, and many others in the medical field can claim is that a balanced, nutrient dense diet is the best for the majority of the population, medical conditions and allergies aside of course. At the onset of the film, I could tell that the information and athletes displayed were aiming to deliver a one-sided argument about why eating plants is good, and why eating animal products is bad.

Typically, when films present an audience with a heavily controversial topic, both sides of the story are presented and the decision to accept or reject the claims are left to the audience. The Game Changers goes full throttle into showcasing why plant-based athletes perform better and live healthier lives than their meat-eating counterparts. This was a major turnoff to me, mostly because an optimal diet, for sustainability, in addition to health and performance purposes, has not been established by any scientific body (Kresser, Chris). Yet the producers and athletes, although having interviewed and cited accomplished medical professionals, still do not reflect the studies and facts accurately. For example, Nate Diaz, the UFC fighter who submitted the Notorious Conor McGregor in one of the sports most anticipated bouts, was said to have been a vegan. This is partially true, as Diaz adheres to a plant-based diet only during preparation for a fight. Outside of that time frame, he is a pescatarian. What is also questionable was the bold claim made that Diaz won the fight because his plant-based diet was optimal and lead to his win.

Regarding some of the studies that were conducted on individuals who switched to a plant-based diet, many viewers are not aware that these studies were typically done on individuals whose nutritional habits and overall state of health were poor to begin with (Kresser, Chris). By using this population of people in the study, the results were bound to be astounding and eye-opening. If I were to suddenly switch to a diet of fresh vegetables, fruit, and legumes from a diet of red meat, refined carbohydrates, and sugar, then my markers for body fat, cholesterol, lean muscle mass, and overall cognitive functioning would be remarkable and serve as a great indicator of diet superiority. Also, what was not disclosed was the number of participants in each study, which were very low for results with powerful health claims meant to reflect the general population.

Overall, I think that when it comes to nutrition, what is best to consume and what is best to avoid consuming must come down to the individual’s idiosyncrasies: their genetics, body composition, level of activity, health predispositions, allergies, culture and preferences to say the least. I did enjoy many of the scenes and personal stories of athletic success, but at the end of the day, any film or entity presenting a population with strong claims that can affect an individual’s daily life and their choices must be transparent in their sources, must be non-biased, and must be totally factual and pragmatic. Essentially, a middle ground should be common ground.

For more info, check out:

Kita, Paul. “This New Documentary Says Meat Will Kill You. Here’s Why It’s Wrong.” Men’s Health 16 September 2019.

Kresser, Chris. “Debunking the Game Changers with Joe Rogan.” Chris Kresser,

Kresser, Chris. “My Appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience.” Chris Kresser, 23 Aug. 2019,



Mental Wellness, Opportunities, Uncategorized

Drexel Counseling Center


University City Campus

Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
201 Creese Student Center
3210 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia PA 19104
Tel: 215.895.1415
Fax: 215.571.3518

Evening appointments may be available for Co-Op students by request.

Center City Campus

Wednesdays and Thursdays only: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bellet Building, Suite 315
1505 Race St.
Philadelphia PA 19102
Tel: 215.762.7625
Fax: 215.762.8706

We are closed on all official University holidays.


On the University City campus, visit Suite 201 of the Creese Student Center, call 215.895.1415 or email

On the Center City campus, visit Suite 315 of the Bellet Building, call 215.762.7625 or email

OR walk-in to make an appointment at either location!




Mental Wellness

How Self-Compassion Battles my Self-Doubt

From Guest Contributor: Kristine Loh (SWE President, 2018)

Growing up in a “traditional Chinese” household, I was taught that for a woman, humility comes first. My parents emphasized that for women, it’s important to be quiet, obedient, and humble. In fact, women should keep most things to themselves, including opinions, beliefs, and successes. This is what their parents taught them, and what their grandparents taught their parents, so on and so forth. No one likes an arrogant person, and even if you’re good at something, there’s always someone out there who’s better. Unfortunately, what my parents intended to be a lesson in humility turned into my inner demon of deeply internalized perfectionism and a pattern of denying my success. 

When my parents tried to teach me to be humble, I understood it as “sharing your success is bad, keeping it to yourself is good.” To them, bad things happen to good people, and if other people knew about your success, you might be a target (or just plain disliked). They wanted to protect me from dangerous, potentially jealous people. For example, if a family friend directly complimented me on something I did, my parents would brush it off and say “but look at all of the things Kristine’s bad at, she’s not the perfect daughter.” However, when I wasn’t there, my parents would sing praises. It was confusing. Granted, being an Asian-American is confusing. It’s hard to balance traditional views of how women should conduct themselves with current American ideals of being a strong, independent woman. Long story short, now, when someone compliments me on a success, I brush it off and usually say that it wasn’t a big deal. Most often, I say “I tried my best” instead of fully accepting the compliment. In times like these, I remember one of my favorite movies, Mean Girls. Please see the GIF below. 


I’ve always had this fear in the back of my mind that if I completely agree with someone’s compliment, or if I didn’t return a compliment, people would see me as arrogant or just full of myself. Because of this fear, I’ve struggled with self-doubt throughout college. I’ve hidden my success to not seem arrogant, and because I hide my success, I often forget about it. It’s not very healthy, and it’s especially not helpful in award applications or interviews, where you’re literally supposed to brag about yourself. 

One of my darkest moments was after a faculty member tore my application for a prestigious scholarship apart, questioning whether I even wanted the scholarship. (To be fair, I wasn’t very good at bragging about myself, please see the previous paragraph.) She pretty much ended her review suggesting that I don’t actually know what I’m doing, but rather people just told me what to do and I went through with it. She is one of the reasons why I have internalized imposter syndrome, because she literally told me I don’t know what I’m doing. I didn’t win the scholarship, and since then, I’ve had a really hard time being kind to myself. 

In October, I participated in a Self-Compassion Workshop hosted by Drexel’s Counseling Center, per my counselor’s recommendation. She recognized that I had a hard time dealing with perfectionism, and I needed help. WOW – this workshop made me deal with my demons in ways I never thought I could. We learned about self-compassion breaks, which systematically helped us deal with times of pain and suffering. As an engineer, I appreciated having a list of steps I could refer to when my brain wasn’t being nice. The most impactful exercise we did was an inner child exercise, where we visualized a time where we were in pain as a child, and imagined an older version of ourselves comforting the hurting child (even writing this now, it’s hard to hold back tears). Actually, that exercise is what inspired me to write this blog post. This exercise unearthed all of the pain I felt growing up, and how that pain continues to impact me today. Loving yourself and being kind to yourself takes time and conscious effort if you aren’t doing it currently, and sometimes, we all need a bit of help. I would highly recommend attending the self-compassion workshop, as I think we could always learn to love ourselves a bit more.

After participating in the workshop, I can safely say that I’m much better about accepting my success and knowing my worth. Thinking back on that dark moment, I realize now that I forgot some pretty important facts. I forgot that I was hand-picked to apply for this scholarship, and not everyone gets the chance to apply. I forgot that I had supporters who knew about my research capability, and who cheered me on (and continue to cheer me on) even when I fail. I forgot that this scholarship is one of the most competitive scholarships in the U.S., and obviously, not everyone wins it. This workshop taught me to take care of myself instead of hurting myself further. Now, I use self-compassion when I feel the self-doubt slowly creeping up. If you take anything away from this dump of feelings, please know that you are always worthy of love, especially from yourself. 


Mental Wellness, Physical Wellness

Maintaining Wellness With a New Schedule

From Guest Contributor: Maddie Pelchat

Regular self-reflection is a key tool for general health and well-being, so at the end of the first month of co-op, I looked back on my first few weeks masquerading as a working engineer, and realized I had not prepared myself well for the transition from school to work. Don’t get me wrong, my co-op is much better than my first. I am so grateful for my shorter commute, beautiful view, wonderful friends, and learning experiences, BUT I realize now that I had no game plan for maintaining my health with my new 9-5 schedule.

I added BS/MS last year for Environmental Engineering, which I see as an exciting addition to my career path, however, to do so I had to switch co-op cycles, which meant that I was in classes from Spring term of 2018 through Winter term 2019 (4 straight terms–good riddance!). I had become so used to my flexible class hours where I could come home and eat a snack, take a nap, or do some yoga if I really needed a break or some extra energy between classes and studying. On co-op I leave the house at 7 and don’t return until 5. Most nights I go straight to a night class or extracurricular meeting. The first few weeks of co-op I failed to take time to cook real, healthy meals, stopped doing yoga (my mental and physical exercise), and consistently slept significantly less than my body had been accustomed to. My co-op schedule was definitely different than my class schedules, but I knew it couldn’t really be as bad as I was making it out to be for myself. Therefore, with some self-reflection and planning, I made some changes to my routine that allow me to both physically and mentally thrive.

First, I joined my co-op’s (free!) gym, which I know is a special perk so I’m taking advantage of it! Joining this gym means that I don’t have to go out of my way to work out, which was preventing me from exercising the first few weeks. Through this gym I am able to take two yoga classes a week! Secondly, I started biking to work on good weather days, keeping my bike in my co-op’s bike room and using the locker room showers to get ready each morning. This change was really hard at first because waking up early and immediately throwing oneself into heavy exercise can be rough, but after telling myself to get over it a few times, I ended up really enjoying my biking commutes. Lastly, I started making an effort to grocery shop in a way that made for faster, but still healthy meals that could easily be taken on the go, such as instant oatmeal or veggie snacks. I also realized that when I really didn’t have the time the night before, I could always fall back on the salad bar or healthy entrees at my co-op’s cafeteria. Through self-reflection about  my situation, I found that my co-op held a lot of the answers to maintaining my health and well-being. As this is an adjustment for most working individuals, you may also be able to ask your coworkers for tips on how they maintain a work-life balance. They may have some great ideas or resources that you didn’t know were available to you until you ask. Ultimately, I believe it’s possible for anyone to utilize self-reflection during transitional periods to see where changes could be made to adapt to a new healthy and happy schedule!


How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation

Before listening to this podcast, which interviews Anne Helen Petersen, the senior culture writer from Buzzfeed news who wrote the article “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation”, please read the original article here!

The podcast references another article, “This is What Black Burnout Feels Like”. Please peruse that one here!

Now check out this awesome podcast

After reading Anne Helen Petersen’s “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation” and listening to the aforementioned podcast, I had TOO much I wanted to say! I attribute this to the fact that despite missing the cut off for being a millennial (which is 1996 and I was born in 1997), I can relate to this so much. I feel like I am in a unique position where I can relate to characteristics of millennials’ childhood, but also saw the transition to a new type of childhood that she describes in her article. For example, I grew up playing unorganized games in the backyard with my neighbors (who didn’t love a good game of capture the flag?), but I also played organized sports. I got my first phone in 7th grade, which was not a smart phone and essentially had no social media besides Facebook until high school, but the kids in the grade below me all got iPhones that next year for Christmas and started talking about Instagram. I witnessed the changes she describes just at an earlier age. Regardless, here are some things that came to mind while reading and listening.

  1. The never ending to-do list with high effort-low reward tasks that never gets done exists on my phone, on the white board in my room, and written down throughout my planner. That size too big ring I bought on Etsy and wanted to return in March (over 6 months ago)? Yup, still sitting on my desk. Those airline miles I meant to register from my spring break flight, but stopped when I couldn’t figure out my password? Yeah, that never got done either. Let’s talk about my computer microphone that has been broken for over a year. I decided not to submit a video interview of myself to a company when I discovered it was broken and thought that it would be too much effort and hassle to get it fixed in time to do it. “I’ll do it later”, I thought. I thought wrong. Plus the job wasn’t a “cool job that I am passionate about” like Anne describes (can I tell you how many times I have heard that phrase from all of my friends scheduled to graduate this year???).
  2. The financial crisis Anne described can easily be repeated in my generation. In fact, right now we are worried about a recession in 2020–the same year many ’97/’98 babies will graduate college. Will this all start again? Should we be panicking if we don’t have jobs locked in now? Should we take them even if we don’t want them long term to avoid working 3 retail jobs post-grad? The impact of student loans and the recession on millennials may be why many 2020 presidential candidates are advocating for student loan forgiveness. The fear of an oncoming recession and the impending doom of repaying student loans once we exit our institutions may be why we are listening closely to these candidates…
  3. I have said that I should mediate more. I have thought about calling out sick from work and then didn’t all of co-op. I have put limits and timers on my social media usage. I have thought about performing more acts of self-care and delegating tasks within my relationships and organizations. All of these things Anne mentions in this article and I admit that I should do them, so why haven’t I? I make up excuses such as, “I don’t have time”, “I can’t quiet my mind”, “The other interns don’t call out sick”, “I won’t make money”, “I will look bad”, “Self-care is expensive”, “I can do this task faster/better/the way that I want”.
  4. My co-op company offers employees the opportunity to work 48 hour work weeks for bonuses. I noticed in my first few weeks that many of the people who consistently opt into working extra hours every week are millennials. They are the ones who are paying off student loans, getting married, starting families, and looking into moving. Some of them have openly expressed how important those extra dollars are for them and one talked about finally getting to move out of his parents house now that his loans are paid off.
  5. When I over plan and schedule things, I make something fun like seeing a friend from home feel like a task I am checking off a list. I noticed this past summer that I was starting to feel like this especially as I tried to fit in seeing as many people as possible.

So after reading the article, listening to the podcast, and writing this stream of consciousness, I started to reflect on what are the things I can do/have done to alleviate my feelings of burnout. This is what I came up with so far:

  • I took no classes the last term of my co-op to give myself a mental break from school.
  • I found intellectual pursuits (learning guitar and Spanish) that I can pick up/put down when I have time. I am telling myself that it is okay if I am not quickly progressing because the process is fun! I am not setting deadlines or goals for learning these things, but rather working on enjoying the pursuit for what it is.
  • I am setting a goal for Fall term that after field hockey on Tuesday and Thursday nights, I will not do homework, but rather I will go to bed.
  • I am taking small moments to breathe–on the train to work, walking back to my apartment from class, a few minutes before bed, etc. It isn’t the same as meditating, but it is the best I can do for now.
  • Writing this piece. Acknowledging that I was having feelings of burnout made me motivated to combat them! Now that is something on my to-do list that I can’t ignore.





Physical Wellness

How to Workout with Your Textbooks

If you are a college student (or have been one) you know that at the end of each year you are left with a pile of textbooks that you may never look at again (you may have never looked at them to begin with). Personally, I have stacks of them—old hand me downs and new ones. Regardless, they have served their purpose and I was done with them, so I thought… 

Recently I suffered an injury that made me unable to run for a few weeks. Restless from inactivity, I decided to do a workout in my apartment. Sometimes when at the gym, I utilize hand weights during these workouts to make them more challenging. I don’t have hand weights at my apartment so I figured body weight would have to do. But then, when lying on my floor getting ready to begin, I looked and saw the stack of textbooks shoved under my bed. I grabbed the heaviest one (s/o physics) and thought, “well, let’s see how this goes”.

Since that day, I have been utilizing my textbooks to help me work out! It sounds strange, but I promise, they are a good substitute for weights. They don’t work for all exercises, but here are some that I found do work: 

(DISCLAIMER: These images are meant as a comedic representation of exercising with textbooks. It is not recommended to stack multiple on top of each other. If you do not know how to PROPERLY do these exercises, please look up an actual tutorial).  *I do not own any of these images*

  1. Squats – hold the textbook in front of your chest with your elbows tucked in as if the textbook were a weighted plate. Proceed with proper squat form. If you want to add a bit extra, lift the textbook up over your head as your rise from your squat. You can also go onto your tip toes for a calf raise as you do this. Remember to squeeze your glutes! 


  1. Lunges – either hold the textbook consistently at chest level or push it above your head as you lunges down as shown below. 


  1. Russian Twists – hold the textbook with two hands and move it side to side as you twist


  1. Toe Touches – lie on your back and put your legs straight up in the air. Hold the textbook with two hands and reach upwards to try and touch your toes. This should feel like crunches. 


  1. Triceps – hold the textbook with two hands behind your head, keep your elbows in, raise and lower! 


  1. Calf Raises – stand holding as many textbooks as you’d like (make sure you can balance!) raise and lower yourself using your toes 


  1. Bicep curls – hold the textbook and curl! 


Have other suggestions? Comment them below!!

Meal Prep & Nutrition

My Work Snack Drawer

I can’t focus when I am hungry. Therefore, when I am in classes, I tend to always keep an emergency granola bar in my backpack or carry a few extra snacks to the library if I know I am going to be there late. When I got to my co-op this cycle, I realized that I could designate a whole drawer next to my desk to snacks. I just needed to decide what to fill it up with. I wanted the snacks to be moderately healthy given that I am more stagnant at work (although the active office lifestyle post gave me some great tips on how to change that!). So here is a list of some snacks that I have thought of/kept at work/seen others keep at work/were suggested by other SWE members.

  1. Granola bars – I transferred my backpack emergency granola bar to my desk. I switch up which kinds I have in there to keep it interesting. Some brands I like are Nature Valley, Kashi, and Kind.
    1. TIP: If you are looking for more filling bars, look for protein bars.
    2. TIP: You can also just keep straight up granola in your snack drawer and eat it by the handful. Currently, I am addicted to the Almond Butter granola from Trader Joe’s (10/10 would recommend).
  2. Trail mix – I tend to make my own trail mix. I buy different types of nuts in bulk and throw them in a Tupperware based on what I’m feeling for that day or week. I also buy large portions of raisins or other dried fruit. Trader Joe’s mix of crasins, golden raisins and dried blueberries is one of my favorites.
    1. TIP: If you want pistachios in your trail mix, it is always cheaper to buy them in the shell. I tend to sit and shell a bunch for the week, while watching TV or while on the phone with someone.
  3. Pretzels – I switch up week to week what kind I get. Snaps? Traditional? Sticks? Honey wheat? Yes, please!
  4. Instant Oatmeal – Instant oatmeal is super convenient and filling! With many different flavors, you can find one to fit your daily mood.
    1. TIP: Keep a reusable spoon and Tupperware or bowl in your snack drawer to use when you make the oatmeal. That way, you don’t have to use your company’s plastic wear.
  5. Kale Chips – A great alternative to other types of chips! These are a great way to incorporate more green veggies into your diet.
  6. Pita Chips/Veggies & Hummus – Okay so technically you can’t keep the hummus or veggies in your snack drawer, but if your company has a fridge you can use, keep a container of hummus in there (make sure to put your name on it just in case!). You can store the pita chips in your desk and pack veggies as part of your lunch. Some great veggies for this are baby carrots, bell peppers, & cucumbers.
  7. Peanut Butter – Multiple people at my co-op keep peanut butter at their desk. They put it on apples and bananas and sometimes they keep a loaf of bread at their desk too so they can make a PB&J sandwich. (Again, if your company has a fridge you can keep your jelly in there.)
    1. TIP: Traditional peanut butter contains a lot of salt, sugar, and hydrogenated oil (this has trans fats, which never leave your body—yeah my high school bio teacher really scared me with that one). Look for peanut butter brands that cut down on these ingredients. Skippy and JIF both make “natural versions” that don’t have hydrogenated oil. Personally, I look for peanut butters with no added sugar or salt. I always check the ingredients list to see if the only ingredients are peanuts. Some stores even have stations where you can grind your own peanut butter, so you know it is 100% peanuts (s/o Whole Foods).
  8. Apples, Pomegranate Seeds, Bananas – Keep fruits in your desk that are okay at room temperature and don’t go bad quickly!
  9. Dark Chocolate Espresso Beans – But these are chocolate?! Well, these are a better alternative for keeping you awake at work than filling up your coffee cup for the sixth time (if you use cream & sugar) and when eaten in moderation.
    1. TIP: I was never a big coffee drinker until my first co-op. At first to get it down, I would use a lot of cream and sugar. Slowly I reduced the amount of sugar I would use and now I use none at all. I also try to cut down on the amount of cream that I use. If I have the option, I use half & half or non-fat milk. I felt better about my daily cup of coffee by making these small changes.
  10. Dried Fruit – Dried fruit will store really well in your desk. There are plenty of options to try out! I personally love dried mango and apricots.

Have other suggestions for desk snacks? Write them in the comments below!

Mental Wellness

Finding My Motivation

From Guest Contributor: Kerianne Chen (SWE President, 2019)

When I transitioned back into classes after co-op this year, I found it especially difficult. Between co-op, summer classes (which were very relaxed), and studying abroad last year, I had not been in real classes in 18 months. I had little to no motivation to actually get my work done, pushing every little assignment off until the last second, resulting in poorer quality work, and ultimately left me a very stressed out and anxious person. While this term has not been my hardest academically, I have definitely struggled the most with finding my motivation.

After a week or two, I finally felt more comfortable with my schedule, and began actually making time to do homework each day rather than pushing it off. I found that instead of keeping a long running list of all the tasks I needed to get done for school, for SWE, for life (a very long and daunting list!), I found that sectioning each of the tasks off works much better for me. I now have a digital sticky note with what tasks I need to work on each day of the week. If I have a homework assignment, I try to split it between two days, one to start and get an understanding how long it will take me, and a second to complete it (usually the night before it’s due). I still have moments when I look at the list and my brain says “no” but it is easier for me to pick something small to work on so that I feel accomplished. If I plan well enough, I usually have one day a week that I don’t do any class work outside of actually attending my classes. That time is important for me to unwind – watch TV or play video games for too many hours, read a book in a sunny spot, or take a nap with my cat.

The bane of my existence this term has been a 3,000-5,000 word research paper. It is for a 2 credit class that is required for graduation, but has caused me more stress than any of my 3-4 credit core Civil Engineering classes. Through some basic research, the proposal and abstract were not too difficult to write – it was basically just writing the intro of a paper and then giving up (which is what I wanted to do). Then came the draft. I told my advisor I would get him a draft by Sunday or Monday, and avoided it all weekend, until Sunday evening. After complaining to my boyfriend that I was quitting school, a tearful call with my mom fleshing out paragraph ideas, and a short night’s sleep, I did it. A first draft! It was only approximately 2,000 words, but it existed, and I had started with nothing. Taking my draft to the writing center helped to validate my writing, as the peer tutor said that it was a solid paper, and helped give me some areas to work on expanding my thoughts. While I still have to work out the second draft and final paper, I feel a little more confident that I can do it.

So now what? Well it’s true – procrastination is best conquered by just starting. Start small, pick a chunk of the assignment that you can handle doing. And if you feel like I did, that there is no reasonable section you can do – talk to someone who can help you work through. Take it one step at a time, and take short breaks when you finish a section. Each time I finished writing a section of my draft, I set a timer for 10 minutes, and walked around, looked at social media, or had a snack. I hope that this may help someone else who is feeling overwhelmed with an assignment. It will probably be difficult, but you can do it. Even if isn’t your best work, you should be proud that you completed something that you had trouble with, and remember it next time you are struggling to get started on something.

Mental Wellness

Mental Health Awareness Month

I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking about the best way to address Mental Health Awareness Month on this blog. Mental wellness is such an important aspect of our mission as the wellness committee and therefore, I wanted to do it proper justice. I jotted down some ideas and for most of the month have been reflecting pretty heavily on my own mental health with the hopes of figuring out the “right” thing to write. Over time, I realized that with all the stigmas surrounding mental health, sometimes the best way to start the conversation is to be open and candid with others. So, that is what I am going to attempt to do by telling you some of my own mental health experiences. It may never be the “right” or “perfect” thing to say, but I hope that by saying anything, I can have an impact on someone and get the conversation turned towards mental health awareness.

Before even really starting, I have to say that I struggled with the idea of having “my own mental health experiences”. In my mind, I always downplay some of my struggles thinking “oh but I have never been diagnosed with…” or “oh but I have never tried to…”, which leads to “so I can’t really say that…”, which is a problem in and of itself. No mental health obstacle is insignificant. Just because someone else you know might have stories, feelings, or experiences that you may consider “more severe” doesn’t mean that yours are invalid or not important to address. Mental health looks different to everyone, and the size or scale of your lived experience can not be compared to that of others.


For years I’ve struggled to love my body. It feels weird to write that despite the fact that I know I am not alone. Like many females I know, it started in my early middle school years when I was concerned about when I would get boobs or the fact that I would gain weight and then suddenly grow (my mother had to move the buttons on my uniform skirt to match the current state of my fluctuating body). Since then I’ve had good days and bad. It doesn’t typically have defining moments when it changes from good to bad, so I’ve never really known when it will hit me. Through the years I’ve tried many things to address how I felt about my body — some were good, such as joining Positive Body Image and Support Group for Girls in high school, while others were bad, such as agreeing to text my friend everything that I ate to hold myself accountable. (That last one is something that lasted for a while and I am not proud of it.) Despite all of this, nothing drastically changed. ~Fast forward to freshman year of college~ I stayed fairly active, playing field hockey and lifting at the gym. However, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t struggling with my overwhelming desire to purchase and consume an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s from Northside every day and then feeling like garbage. I don’t think I necessarily gained the freshman fifteen, but mentally I felt like I did.

One day, I went for a 4 mile run after not having run for a bit. During that run I thought, “I could run further if I trained. I think I could even run a half marathon.” Please note, I never had any running aspirations before this very moment. In fact, I had previously hated running, but suddenly I was on a mission. I signed up and trained religiously for 6 months. I felt like a new person. Sometimes towards the end of my runs, I would get emotional thinking about accomplishing my goal. I loved this new me. I felt strong and powerful. Even better, this new me felt like anything was possible and I could accomplish goals that I had never even dared to dream before. This didn’t mean that all of my insecurities magically went away, but it helped a lot. Then Summer rolled around (*cue the ominous duh-duh-duh*). For a lot of people, I know the change in weather is stressful — smaller clothing, the “beach bod”, the sweat (so. much. sweat.). Personally, I think I own one pair of shorts that I feel comfortable in other than my running shorts. Although being on co-op meant that I wasn’t wearing shorts all that often. Regardless, a lot of my insecurities and negativity came flooding back as the amount of time I could dedicate to exercise dwindled with my increasing responsibilities at work.

This time of my life seemed drastically different than before. I could not get out of my head, and it was affecting my personal relationships as well as my relationship with the greater female population. I began a viscous practice of comparing myself to others to try and make me feel better. I remember thinking, “Well at least I…” or “I’m glad I don’t *insert negative thought about someone else’s body*”. Now many of you reading this might think that I sound like a mean person, and I would agree with you. During that time of my life, my brain was being mean to me and especially mean to those around me. Even if I never verbalized those thoughts, I regret having them and wish I could apologize to everyone I’ve ever done that to because nothing was wrong with any of those people and no one deserves that. It was my mindset that was wrong. It was truly a secret, ugly characteristic. At this point, I’d like to say that I think this is a moment in time that shows how unpleasant the road to body positivity and self love can be. It isn’t a very scenic route, but rather it has potholes and trash and it gives you the worst road rage you’ve ever experienced. I know that isn’t fun to imagine or hear about, but that is exactly why I am writing this–because we need to talk about it no matter how hard it is.

Recently, in a conversation about mental health with an important older woman in my life, I disclosed that many women that I know had previously inflicted self harm at points in their life. This woman stopped walking and grabbed my arm to examine it. Upon finding nothing more than a few stray freckles she remarked, “we are so lucky that we didn’t have to deal with that”. Now this woman is incredibly smart, so I thought that was a pretty naive thing for her to say given that not all scars are visible — mental and emotional scars are very real and present for many people. PLUS, loving yourself is an ongoing process/battle. We are never really done “dealing with it.” Just because you don’t physically see that someone is struggling, does not mean that they aren’t. Lean into those conversations and make it known that you are open to listening, someone to lean on, and most importantly an ally and advocate for those who need one.

A few weeks ago, I ran another half marathon. Along the route, I joked with my dad saying “smile” everytime we passed a camera. No one really looks good at mile 12 or 7 or 2 for that matter, but fake it ‘til you make it, right? However, when I got the link to my pictures, it wasn’t my smile that my eyes were immediately drawn to. “Oh my gosh my legs look so big” I thought. “Ugh why did I wear that bulky raincoat? It isn’t flattering.”. So I stepped back and took a beat. 1. You wore a raincoat because it was raining. 2. Those legs are the same legs that carried you 13.1 miles and set a new personal record. They are strong. What you are looking at is muscle. Love them. Be grateful for them. Cherish their abilities. This is my new strategy for when I am feeling upset about my body. I think of all that it allows me to accomplish and I work on being grateful.

These are just some snippets and stories of moments in my life where I wanted to love myself more or how I tried to change my mindset or the conversation I was having (internally and externally) about mental health. It doesn’t cover the panic attacks that I sometimes have or the germaphobia that makes me wash my hands repeatedly or the OCD that has me put a cup down on a table 9 times just to get it to land perfectly and be positioned correctly. These tend to crop up at stressful times in my life. Honestly, I think I’d benefit from talking to a therapist, maybe even just once. Yet, I can’t seem to get myself there. I’ve thought about it and then I put it off until things seem better. I “talk the talk” telling others that it is okay to not be okay, encouraging them to reach out if they need help, or telling them that they should embrace therapy without shame. One day I hope I can “walk the walk” too.

Please take time this month to check in with yourself and those around you.