Human Anatomy at Colby

End of Jan Plan Reflection

February 3, 2020 · No Comments

 I am so grateful for this semester because it drove in the truth that hard work and success and feeling healthy and well rested are not mutually exclusive. In previous semesters, by the end, I had performed academically but I was in poor health, at unhealthy stress levels, and was absolutely burnt out. Of course, I would recover during break but it was always jumping from one extreme to another; massive stress, poor eating, poor mental and physical health to complete exhaustion and using break to just sleep and repair all the damage the stress did. To a degree, that is what breaks are for, but it was unhealthy and unsustainable. I justified it because of academic performance. I also think it reflected a lack of discipline. I was disciplined enough to work hard academically, but not enough to care about myself. That is what changed the most for me this semester.
By definition, I work in a job where putting others needs above my own is not only mandatory to perform your duties but also a tool of survival. When you don’t consider your emotions while you experience others’ deep physical and mental pain, it makes treating them easier because it’s your job to be strong, to absorb their pain and to help them. It is not productive to feel your own emotions in the moment. You process them later, never in front of the patient, no matter how grizzly the call. That’s what being a first responder means. But that mentality can easily bleed into your life after the call and into unhealthy habits, evidenced by a chronic lack of care for oneself outside of the job. Giving myself the chance to step back from that and gain the tools to better manage my tendencies to lapse into chronic stress, sleep deprivation, and poor mental health was so helpful to my academic performance but more importantly to my wellness overall as a person.
I am so grateful not only for the lifestyle philosophy, but for the actual anatomical and physiological knowledge as well. Learning about the way my body works at a micro and macro level truly made me care about my body and myself in a way I haven’t before. It connected me to myself, my consciousness to my physical reality, more deeply than I’ve ever experienced. When I walked, I was aware of the muscles that propelled my legs and could name them. When I stood up after not eating for hours and got dizzy, I understood why. It also made me realize that when I choose not to sleep, when I choose not to eat, I am doing damage to all these little cells in my body, all just trying to do their jobs. It almost anthropomorphized them to me. It changed my perception of the whole composition of my body. And having struggled with an eating disorder for all of high school and some of college, I am so grateful for that perspective shift. This isn’t to say I executed these better habits perfectly in such a short period of time. This work is lifelong, but I did undergo a significant perspective shift and took a big step towards more consistent positive change (despite a few stumbles along the way) this Jan Plan. I’m so grateful to this class and Dr. Klepach’s philosophy and I know I will continue these lessons forward to develop more consistency and longer term, sustainable practices.
Alexa Peterkin

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