Worried Sick? Be Happy in 2017! Part 2 of 2
Special Feature “ Health & Exercise Forum” with Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (formerly The Commonwealth Medical College) – The 3rd Monday of every month!
Guest Columnist: Kathryn Schmidt
Personal Bio: Kathryn majored in psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed a post-baccalaureate pre-medical and health program at Northwestern University. Throughout school, she worked as a research assistant, first with stem cell transplant recipients and women affected by gynecological cancers, and then with solid organ transplant patients. Kathryn also worked as a medical aid to man affected by diabetes and blindness. Presently, as a 2nd year medical student at the Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, PA she serves as a volunteer at the Care and Concern Clinic, as well as at an organization called Pathstone, acting as a mentor to men and women who are transitioning back into the community after having spent time in prison. Kathryn’s academic interests include: cancer, colorectal disease, mechanisms of addiction and adolescent psychiatry. When not studying, working or volunteering, she likes to play tennis, kick-box, ski, and be in the company of good friends or family, whether that be taking a weekend trip to a new place or just having a board game night. Something that makes her really happy is traveling… she has been to all 7 continents and is always ready for the next adventure!
In medical school, when things outside of school become turbulent, it is very easy to lose focus and to become distracted and distressed. Perhaps, more importantly, in the midst of studying, it is difficult to find the time to do the kind of soul-searching necessary to feel happy again. An overload of new information is thrown at you each day, leaving little time to see family or friends, to get out of town for a few days to clear your head, or to allow thoughts of the outside world to come tumbling into your mind and onto the textbook page you’re currently reading about the musculoskeletal system (or whatever the day’s topic is). And there’s definitely not time for our immune systems to crash and fail us when we need them most.
This same situation is applicable to people outside of medical school though; balancing kids with other obligations or working multiple jobs can’t be easy. SO, my point is, we don’t have time to let our psychological state negatively affect our physical health and immune systems, and if we are sick with something serious, we need to do everything in our power to give ourselves the best fighting chance at recovery. Just knowing that mood and psychological well-being affect our physical state is motivation in itself to decide that we are going to choose happiness. This is not to say that you can’t ever be in a bad mood… you can! We all have bad days, but we should work harder to not let our bad moods consume us.
But, what else can we do?
Ten easy ways to increase your inner happiness: 2017 is the Year to Start!
So smile more, stress less, and if you have to, “fake it until you make it.” And if you’re someone who is reading this and feeling like the weight of the world is just too heavy right now, be reassured that you’re not alone and that it’s okay, even normal, to feel overwhelmed and inadequate at times. BUT force yourself to do something different, to do something that will help you to float when you are sinking. Do something that reminds you that the world is a beautiful place.
If you’re someone who thrives when challenged, try the 100 Happy Days Challenge. The idea behind this challenge is to enjoy and appreciate the environment and yourself in that moment. For 100 days, you simply submit a picture of what made you happy each day. It surely won’t be the most exciting picture every single day, but remember, this challenge is for you, and the little things that make you happy are important and valid. It could be as simple as your morning cup of coffee in your favorite mug, your pet doing something funny, the sunset you saw driving home from work, or observing a random stranger doing something nice for someone else. People who have completed this challenge report being in a better mood, noticing what makes them happy each day, and feeling blessed or optimistic, and when you’re finished, you will have compiled 100 happy moments to remind you how to live when life knocks you down. You can find more information at http://100happydays.com/.
Read Dr. Mackarey’s Health & Exercise Forum – every Monday. This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (formerly The Commonwealth Medical College).