By Jessica Stueve
I often find myself in the “go, go, go” mode every day of the week. Some days it seems as though my alarm goes off and I don’t stop until I hit the bed in the evening. This became especially apparent to me over the first year in graduate school. During my first year is when I realized that I was not as happy as I once was.
Why was I not as happy?
I worked so hard in order to get accepted into a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) program only to work even harder to obtain an advanced degree. I was saying no to my friends who asked to get together on the weekends or participate in day trips, because “I didn’t have time.” The more I continued to “not have time,” the more I felt disconnected from friends. I would hear comments such as “I haven’t talked to you in forever” or “am I interrupting your studying time?”
These comments by the people that mean the most to me are what made me realize that I haven’t been the best friend, sister, or daughter. After much reflection and many conversations with my closest classmates and friends in other DPT programs, I realized the importance of a balanced lifestyle. One friend and I made a pact to find
one thing “fun” to do each week,
whether this was a yoga class, a new restaurant, or a new work out class. These crucial conversations are what lead me to realize that a lot of my personal happiness stems from the many wonderful relationships that surround my life. Ever since this moment, each week I make a conscious effort to stay in touch with friends and family that mean the most to me.
What have I found that works well for me? Walking and talking.
As a student physical therapist, we are drilled with the importance of staying active. I pride myself in being a positive role model/example for my patients, therefore, what I preach I must practice. Even with daily work outs, I didn’t realize how sedentary my lifestyle was with sitting in class eight hours a day and then another couple hours of studying in the evening. It suddenly hit me when I received an activity tracker for a birthday gift. I set my target goal of 10,000 steps per day and I was hardly reaching half of this amount! I kept thinking “but I work out daily, I eat healthy, I walk to class,” but this wasn’t enough. I began to add in short walks through the neighborhood as a study break.
Quickly, these walks became rather uninteresting.
I was like a machine walking the same route/path daily to ensure I reached my daily goal. One day it just hit me that this was a way that I could continue to maintain those important relationships while upholding my activity standards. What a better way to achieve this daily goal than to have some company while taking each and every step!
I have found that going on walks with friends and family members is truly a great way to catch up and engage in conversation. Now a days, majority of people are consumed in their smart phones – checking emails, texts, social media, anything. Personally, I know there are times that I am in the presence of other people while on my phone.
Often I have to remind myself to turn my phone on silent and be present in the moment.
With walks, there are no distractions since all electronics at home and the conversation is what leads the walk—not our consistent and rapid strides. While it is ideal to engage in this activity in person and together, I have found that talking on the phone while walking outside can achieve the same effect. I often find more energy after getting in some extra steps during the day and having uplifting conversations with those that are the closest to me.
The next time you pick up the phone to call a friend or family member, I challenge you to get some fresh air and walk throughout the entire conversation! Even better, also challenge the person on the other side of the phone call to do the same. I hope that you’re able to find the same amount of comfort and satisfaction as do I.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica believes that relationships with the people surrounding you is the key to a happy and healthy lifestyle. She earned her Bachelors of Science at The University of Dayton and is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at The Ohio State University.