Writer Reflections Q&A: Jess M.

I look back fondly on the experiences I’ve gained from Reflect & Refresh with respect to writing, wellness, and perhaps most importantly, my own personal self-care.

I came to the internship at a turbulent time—though perhaps no less turbulent than the present: in the throes of the first major wave of the pandemic, the beginning of the movement for social justice that has continued to produce shock waves across the country, and the end of my time as a college undergraduate. To say that I needed an anchor would be an understatement.

The internship provided me with some much-needed structure—however small. It provided me an outlet through which to channel my thoughts—however mundane—not only on wellness, but on the things going on around me and around the world.

And the internship taught me valuable lessons about wellness and self-care that I will carry with me long after I’ve written my last piece. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned.

1. Wellness is personal.

For as well-founded the principles of wellness are, as important as the six dimensions of wellness can be in achieving and maintaining a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle, one’s own wellness is ultimately up to them.

We must decide for ourselves which of the dimensions to prioritize. We must decide how to optimize our own lives. And there are certainly many ways of going about it.

But each person’s experience is unique. There is no single solution. A spa day or a nice meal are not panaceas for the problems we encounter all the time. Yes, that means that achieving wellness is not an act, but a process.

If none of the advice that any of the pieces on this site propose has worked for you, try something else. Find your own path. It is possible to be well. But only you can discover what works best for you.

2. Try new things.

Before embarking on this internship, I had never meditated, had never gone a week without checking social media since I first logged on in high school, had never gone a week without drinking nothing but water.

In short, I had never tried things that I considered might improve my wellness, for fear that they were too onerous, too big of a risk. The potential drawbacks always outweighed the potential rewards.

This was my philosophy until I had to write about it for people like me who were too scared to try. As anyone could have expected, some things worked and some didn’t. But the simple act of trying opened new doors to coping methods I had never seriously considered.

I read much more. I sleep much more. I work hard, but not in some competition with my peers, but because I enjoy doing it.

3. Wellness is not permanent.

There will be good days and bad days. Fans of the Pixar movie The Incredibles may recall the quote (spoken by the main villain): “When the whole world’s super, no one is.”

Notwithstanding the questionable character of its speaker, the message rings true for wellness. If we are operating at our peak all the time, there is nothing to distinguish the peak from the valleys.

Another adage comes to mind that has been making the rounds on social media: It’s okay to not be okay. Realizing this is the first step on the road to leading a life in conscious pursuit of wellness.

4. Thank a student as they navigate school during a pandemic.

I recently wrote a piece addressed to students returning to school during the coronavirus pandemic.

As someone whose college experience was cut short when the virus began, I understand to an extent their pain. But I do not envy any student returning to school under any circumstances—in person or online.

The world is a stressful place to be in right now. I meant every word I said in that piece. Students are losing precious collective moments that most of the world was able to experience free from the dangers of a pandemic.

I do not envy them in the slightest. I encourage you to give the piece a read, whether you’re a student or know one, and thank them.

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