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Wellness at your own pace

Peer wellness advocate shares lessons learned from wellness guru Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen

April 6, 2018

Peer wellness advocate Justine Hsiao ’20 with her student client.
Peer wellness advocate Justine Hsiao ’20 with her student client.

By Justine Hsiao ’20

We live in a time where everything is fast paced. Taking your time with things has become synonymous with being slow or lazy. The Mount’s Scholar in Residence, Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, reminded the peer wellness advocates in a private workshop on Feb. 15 that if there was a quick and fast solution to changing your lifestyle, everyone would be healthy by now. I can attest to this. I am a peer wellness Advocate and sophomore nursing student. Stress comes with the territory of being a nursing student, eating well isn’t always easy when living on campus, and I used to jeopardize sleep for studying. I’ve even looked up fad diets and “get healthy quick” solutions. Being a peer wellness advocate has taught me a world of knowledge on how to care for myself and how I can care for others. I’ve learned that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Everyone who embarks on a wellness journey has their own unique adventure to travel at their own pace.

If you don’t know who the peer wellness advocates are, we are a group of students dedicated to making the Mount a healthier place through programming and one-on-one wellness coaching. The most useful tool that I took away from Dr. Andersen’s presentation was the term “autonomy support,” which means supporting someone’s inner motivations, rather than giving them instructions. As a peer wellness advocate, I want the best for the students I work with during wellness coaching. I want to see them thrive and improve for the better. But that only gets us so far. Students have to create their own initiative to change or else they will not follow through. This is because, as Dr. Andersen stated, “willpower is easily fatigued” and we often give in to “momentary desires” (cravings) because they are strong. To combat this, letting students create their own wellness goals at their own pace will make it easier for each goal to be achieved. This concept encourages the peer wellness advocates to give our students the pen to outline their own wellness picture. We are just there to help them color in the lines.

Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen talks to peer wellness advocates about wellness coaching on Feb. 15. (Photo by Jennifer Morgan ’18)Dr. Andersen’s workshop touched on all four areas of Mount Wellness: Eat Green, Sleep Well, De-stress, and Move More. Individually, all of them are extremely important. Dr. Andersen stressed that a balance of all the four areas is how we become a wholesome, healthy individual. Julie, a fellow peer wellness advocate, said that this workshop personally “made me want to live my life differently.” Even as peer wellness advocates, we are working on our respective wellness journeys, and Dr. Andersen’s tips will help us better care of ourselves and our clients.

The part of the workshop that really stuck with me was when Dr. Andersen said, “You’re the only one that can upset yourself.” In reality, I am the only one that can choose if something hurts me. It is normal to occasionally be upset, stressed or overwhelmed, but at the end of the day, whatever the trigger is, I am in control of whether or not it will affect me. Dr. Andersen taught us to “Stop-Challenge-Choose.” Take a moment to stop and think about the situation at hand. Challenge the current emotion that I am feeling and whether or not it is worth being upset. Lastly, I can choose how I react to the situation. This has given me a positive technique to use when things go awry. After all, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” What I am learning, and what I hope to pass on to the students I work with, is that not every day is a win, but there is a win in every day. Celebrate those wins. Go Wellness!

If you are interested in wellness coaching with a Peer Wellness Advocate, visit the Sports and Wellness Page on MyMSMU and request an appointment. Appointments are free for all undergraduate MSMU students.