Friday, March 11, 2011

How is Brian Vanderheyden healthy?

Doing what I can to prevent disease and injury is how I stay healthy.

Prevention has been a focus of my life for the past half decade. I have awful family medical history and I have watched my grandparents, relatives and parents suffer from a variety of different diseases. Knowing that my gene pool is not the greatest, I have developed a passion over the years for health and improving my overall wellness.

I am currently a Community Health Education major at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse. Community health focuses on primary prevention techniques to stay healthy. Primary prevention attempts to take measures to inhibit any disease or injury from occurring rather than treating or curing them. I do not believe that we can prevent everything that occurs in life but I have made many lifestyle and attitude changes that focus on my future health.

Experiencing high amounts of stress is an understatement for many college students including me. I am in my final semester as an undergraduate student, I’m adjusting to the city of Chicago (I just moved to here a couple weeks ago from La Crosse, Wisconsin to complete an internship at Howard Brown Health Center as part of my undergraduate degree), and I’m in the process of interviewing for graduate schools.

Plus I can’t forget the limited budget I am living on, the massive amount of debt I am accumulating, and the fact that I am starting the process of coming out to my family and friends.

So for me a huge part of how I stay healthy is really tuning into my mental health.

Learning about myself through years of self reflection has allowed me discover where I draw my energy from and how I recharge that energy on a daily basis. Burnout rates for college students are high and having experienced burnout a couple years ago; I have been actively doing what I can to prevent it from happening again.

With everything going on in my life right now, time management and staying organized is how I have reduced a lot of the stress I feel on a daily basis. I have developed an organization system that helps identify what I need to get done each day, throughout the week, and what tasks have the highest priority. Having a plan in place is what helps me stay on task and not forget anything.

Another lifestyle change I have made is incorporating “Me Time” into my day, every day. “Me Time” can really consist of anything but it’s something where I can escape from reality for a short period of time and devote it to bettering myself (mentally, physically, spiritually, etc). I always set time out of my day to work out. I am a fitness guru and love all types of physical activity. I find happiness and a spiritual connection when I make a mind/body connection during my workouts.

In addition to exercising, I also try to incorporate another activity at night before I go to bed to relax from the day. Whether this is watching one of my favorite TV shows, reading a book, meditating, going on a walk, etc., I need this time to self reflect on myself and my day. I try every day to become a better person and self reflection is how I best achieve this. It helps me become aware of my strengths and areas of improvement that I want to work on in the future.

Besides recharging my energy from “Me Time,” I also tend to draw energy from the people around me especially my close friends and family. I have the best friends/family in the world (in my opinion of course) and I value those relationships more than anything. Every relationship is so special to me and I know that my friends and family would do anything for me as I would for them. Having that support system has gotten me through rough periods in my life including my recent coming out in terms of my sexuality.

Improving overall wellness in all areas of my life (intellectual, mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, social, etc.) is extremely important to me.

Wellness and being healthy is so much more than eating right and exercising.
While I do those things, it does not stop there for me.

I believe the other areas of wellness are crucial and are an important part of my overall health and how I stay healthy!

-- Brian Vanderheyden

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