'Cat in the Stacks: Healthy Minds
I’m Michelle Callaghan, a first-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is our new column, ‘Cat in the Stacks.’ I’m the ‘cat.’ Falvey Memorial Library is the stacks. I’ll be posting about living that scholarly life, from research to study habits to embracing your inner-geek, and how the library community might aid you in all of it.
“Mens sana in corpore sano” is a Latin aphorism typically translated as “a sound mind in a sound body.”
As we finish off the second week of the semester, your brain might be feeling a little fuzzy. Your feet might be dragging. You might be marking up your fall calendar with all of the projects, due dates, readings and lectures noted within your looming pile of syllabi. You’re thinking, hey, is teleportation a thing yet? Or maybe you’re considering replicating Hermione Granger’s Time-Turner because there just isn’t enough time in a day for all of these commitments in your life.
I feel you. I have been known to madly tailor my daily agenda in desperate search of an hour to breathe, and just for the sake of saving time I sometimes skip that trip to the gym or sacrifice sleep or eat a fast grab-n-go meal instead of a healthy dinner.
Don’t do that. As you can guess, it’s not a good idea.
When it comes to education, physical and mental health can define your success. Study skills and research tools are fantastic, but they can only go so far when the gray, lumpy organ in your skull is in no mood to cooperate. We all have heard how to stay healthy – eat well, sleep well, get exercise, take mental health breaks – but when our schedules fill up, these goals might be the first to slide down the priority list. We think we’re saving time by skipping these healthy habits to work and work and work some more, but by skipping them, we are in effect making our reading, writing and research hours less efficient, and losing more time overall.
In order to realize our potential as scholars, we have to try to maintain sound minds in sound bodies. Although intense study sessions and long hours in front of a computer can make you feel like an amorphous brain floating around, bodiless, in some unreality far beyond your chair, you are not. All of your knowledge, education and skills are bundled up inside your actual physical head in your actual physical body, and that actual physical body needs to be maintained. Only when the body is healthy can the brain work at full capacity.
I throw down the gauntlet. Move around. Eat some leafy food. Avoid sleep debt. Meditate. Be gentle with yourself. Then, next time you delve into a thick article for class, you might not have to reread the opening sentence twelve times before it sinks into your sleep-deprived mind (been there, done that).
Mens sana in corpore sano.
We can do this.
Student Health Center, which also houses the University Counseling Center
Fitness Centers on campus
Article by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.
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