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Health and Happiness: How to Balance the Basics in a Hectic World

Health and Happiness: How to Balance the Basics in a Hectic World

Story by Livia Hooson, Photo by Andrea Araiza

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 | Number of views (2552)

Maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle may seem like a challenge while working long days and pulling all-nighters to succeed in school.Yet, the importance of sleep, diet, exercise and mental health are essential to succeed in life.

Our bodies need sleep first and foremost to thrive in an ever-stimulating world.

Sleeping is seen as doing nothing in American culture, and therefore becomes less and less important in peoples lives, said Katherine Careaga, a visiting health professor at Fort Lewis College.

The recommended amount of sleep per night is between seven and nine hours for most people, said Kendra Gallegos Reichle, the coordinator of Student Wellness at FLC.

Power naps can be very helpful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but you have to be careful with oversleeping, and falling asleep at the wrong time causes drowsiness, Reichle said.

In 2010  a sleep and student study was done at FLC, out of 606 FLC students, 21.7 percent reported sleep difficulties that affect their academic performance, Reichle said.

A reported 25.5 percent said they had sleep difficulties in the past 12 months that were very traumatic or very difficult to handle, Reichle said.

Reichle conducted another study on Feb. 17 to compare the results from the 2010 study.

There is a lack of sleep education on FLC’s campus, as well as across the nation, which is a huge problem because sleep is a priority and is a natural part of human existence, Careaga said.

A lack of sleep can lead to stress, and therefore illness, especially during the cold winter months in Colorado, Perry said.

A few habits to contribute to sleeping effectively and prepare you mind and body for sleep may include, avoiding light exposure for at least a half an hour before bed, turning off the TV and music, and avoiding substances such as alcohol, caffeine and marijuana, Careaga said.

Being mentally healthy contributes to one's well being and overall happiness, so focusing on diet, exercise and proper sleep as well as mental health may be the key to success, Perry said.

Everybody has his or her own way of dealing with stress, and each individual has different needs in order to maintain a healthy body and mind, said Sarah Perry, a visiting health instructor of public health at FLC.

“I believe that what you believe works. A lot of it is your outlook and what you believe you perceive as healthy,” Perry said.

Not to say that inhaling a nicotine-filled cigarette is going to benefit you just because you tell yourself it will, but homeopathic and over-the-counter remedies that are meant to improve wellness may work if you believe they will, Perry said.

Prevention is a huge part of public health, so just as you would go see a doctor if you sprained your wrist, you would go see a professional therapist if you were struggling with something mentally, Perry said.

Balance is the key to a healthy mind and body. So, being able to balance a sleep schedule with healthy eating habits and a positive outlook are the ways to enhance life and feel the very best, Reichle said.

There are many resources on campus to help students with their diet, mental health and overall wellbeing, such as the health center, which provides students with professional help with internal challenges, Reichle said.

El Centro and the Environmental Center are both great resources for healthy eating habits and opportunities to access nutritious food, Reichle said.    

The Peer Consultation Program is a group of FLC undergraduates that have had experience and extensive education in assisting with organization, mental health, prioritizing, goal setting and much more, Reichle said.  

There is a stigma surrounding mental health and sleep in American culture, but there seems to be improvement, and more people are getting involved to change this, Reichle said.

Stress can consume and deteriorate one’s well being, so making sleep a priority and balancing all aspects of life’s demands is essential to a happy healthy life.


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