Are You Thriving or Surviving?

Do you ever feel like you’re coasting through life? Like you see and hear things happening but you’re not a part of them, you’re looking into the future just trying to get past the next assignment or to the weekend? I do. This is surviving, suffering through the present to get to the future and although it can make the week feel like it’s flown by, is that really living? No. You’ve lost seven days that you could’ve used productively. Productivity is not always linked to school or work, that’s our sense of capitalism we’ve internalized working on us. It’s ok to breath. So, how do we live in the moment and thrive?

The first suggestion to live in the moment is exercise. While exercise is good for your physical health, some use it because as Elle Woods says, “exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy”. Endorphins can give you a euphoric feeling with intense exercise, but the exercise itself works with those neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine) that balance your mood. This is why it’s important to exercise regularly. In order to have enough energy to exercise, you need the proper fuel. So, how do you get that?  From eating and sleeping. It might seem counterproductive for me to say ‘live in the moment’ and ‘you need to sleep,’ but it’s not. Your brain and body both need sleep to function. Sleep assists in learning, healing and building muscle tissues and leaves you well rested with energy to sustain you throughout the day. Sleep enables you to thrive and without it, you’ll be scraping by. The effects might not be immediate but when your head is slipping down your arm in lecture and you remember nothing for the exam, or your eyesight is blurring while you drive, you’ll understand what I mean. While I hope you don’t make it to those points, I know I’ve been there but after consecutive nights of good sleep (and if you can’t sleep, there are melatonin supplements that assist in sleep regulation), you’ll be more energized.

Energy also comes from food. It is also another form of fuel for the body. There’s no way to cover every health benefit or potential harm in our wide variety of food types but let me offer three notes from Doctor Jonny Bowden. Virtually all fermented foods, like yogurt, are health-promoting because of the healthy bacteria included with them. Meat is better consumed from animals that have been grass and not grain fed. Then, food that hasn't been fermented but processed chemically, with salt or has been canned lack those immune benefits and are potentially high in sodium. Just like my car needs full synthetic oil over a blend or conventional, there can be different dietary needs for people so, if you want to know more about those tidbits detailed personally for you, don’t be afraid to reach out to a nutritionist because Lord knows I’m certainly not one of those!

Now that we’ve covered the essential ways to thrive, we can ask why this is so important. It’s easy to get lost in planning or assignments and fall into crisis. It’s during these points of stress that we want to hurry past it and it makes us live to look forward to the future instead of in the current moment. To relieve this stress and swap it for a healthy mentality, it’s important to do something that makes you happy. Exercise is strength enhancing, body toning, and mentally exhilarating so it helps us to be happy. The proper sleep and food intake allows us to not only exercise but make it through the day without exhaustion. These three essentials have been driven into our brains since elementary school but for a very good reason. They help us thrive. So, the next time I feel I’m coasting through life, I think I’ll go visit lake Jacomo for a run. What will you do?