Aya Miller story collage

It’s been two weeks since I wrote an article, and, quite surprisingly, I enjoyed the quick break. 

As a self-proclaimed workaholic, I pride myself on my undying (and oftentimes unhealthy) work ethic. In fact, I didn’t realize I had taken a break until someone texted me asking how the Herald was going. Though I hadn’t planned the break, in retrospect I realize I very much needed it.

This is roughly my fifth year as a journalist. On this journey, I’ve been able to pursue opportunities and write stories I never thought I’d be exposed to at such a young age. But my health often takes a back seat to whatever story I’m pursuing. Subconsciously I realized I had to take a break and focus on what my body was telling me.

Now, I’m by no means severely unhealthy; I just needed to be more mindful of how I was feeling. For the sake of my mental health, I had to invest much more effort into eating right and staying active while also balancing my workload. As a Lead Reporter for the Herald, contracted freelance writer and full-time student, this was no easy task.

Thankfully, my Health & Well Being class reminded me of how I could balance all of my obligations. My problem wasn’t that I couldn’t handle the work, it was that I wasn’t being mindful in the moments where I wasn’t working.

If I took a break to watch TV or play a video game, I wasn’t able to destress. If I took a walk I’d be scrolling through Twitter or listening to a podcast about politics. Even while working out, I’d have to play a Youtube video so I could think critically about something. I wasn’t willing to pause and tune in to what I was feeling. Instead of confronting my stress and anxiety, I was trying to run away from it.

So, to become healthier I had to face my fears head-on, and that’s what I spent my two weeks doing.

I actively worked to eat three meals a day which in turn gave me more energy to exercise. I also started doing yoga every day. My mom, a certified yoga instructor, has been begging me to do yoga for years but I hadn’t listened to her advice until now and I couldn’t be happier.

Taking 30mins out of my day to actually follow a deep stretch routine or fast-paced vinyasa flow allowed me to tune into my body. Unsurprisingly, I was stiff and unbalanced. In the past two weeks, I’ve made lots of progress but I won’t be satisfied until I can do the splits in any position (Yes that’s a rather arbitrary goal but I think it looks super cool).

Now, what was my reason for writing this? I could easily just jump straight into writing a story on, let’s say, how the presidents of the two political clubs on campus feel about racism. But, I wanted to share my experience with anyone who feels they need to better focus on their physical, mental and emotional well-being.

We’re living in strange and uncertain times with a deadly disease spreading rampantly in the Western Michigan University community. Many classes require the same amount of my work even though students are struggling with many other aspects of life.

Taking a pause to be mindful may be just what you need to ease your own stress and anxiety. 

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