AUSTRIAN ADVENTURES: Prioritizing for physical, mental, spiritual health

[Originally published by The Troubadour]

When there are over 100 students living in close quarters, students are forced to share. We share common spaces, bathrooms, classrooms, Wi-Fi and sicknesses. After two weeks of living in the Kartause, the hallway is echoing with the hymn of deep coughs and ear piercing sneezes. The “Gaming Plague” has begun.

All three of my roommates have caught this joyous “Gaming Plague,” but by the grace of God, I have not. It could be due to the Vitamin D that my mom makes me take that I have the luck of being immune (thanks mom!). I’m most certainly not a nursing major, hence I haven’t studied the importance of vitamins for health.

However, I think a huge factor in this plague is that people are simply exhausting themselves, and when that happens the body just freaks out and reacts by getting sick. Those who have participated in the Austrian program know that it is easy to stretch yourself too thin.

The program is rigorous with homework, travel planning, participating in Kartause events, the desire to have a social life, longer class periods and the natural hope to dive deeply in personal faith. This is where time management and checklists become a part of life, and personal health falls on the list of priorities.

Since arriving, I have come to the realization that I have to plan my day and my schedule down to the minute. With so much going on and so little time to get it all done, it’s very overwhelming.

Students may discover this when they arrive on main campus their freshman year, for others it happens in Gaming, and others, it hits them years into their college careers. I’ve found that the only things that get me to stop in the midst of all the stress are exercise and prayer.

When I say exercise, I don’t mean hard core working out. I hate working out. I mean exercise as in gathering a group of friends for a pickup game of ultimate Frisbee or soccer.

Gaming sits in a beautiful mountain valley surrounded by hills with hiking trails for people with all skill levels and experiences. The views are picture perfect and absolutely breathtaking. To sit and marvel at God’s beautiful creation is relaxing in and of itself.

To get out and get the blood flowing is the perfect de-stressor, and after doing that, I don’t feel as guilty about eating an entire Chips Ahoy Milka Bar when I hit the books again.

But above exercise, prayer is absolutely crucial when stress levels start running high. Perpetual adoration is easily accessible in Gaming and on main campus. It is crucial that students take time to thank the Lord for the opportunity to attend a wonderful university that gives us this service.

Prayer that is deep and fruitful is hard to come by when there are a million things to do. I’m guilty of going through my internal checklist during the time I set for prayer, so I have to remind myself that the Lord desires to speak to me, especially while I’m living in Europe where hundreds of Saints lived and walked.

Pray for your Franciscan brothers and sisters in Gaming. Pray for our health and our safety as we prepare for our weekend trips. Pray for our stress levels and for our interactions with each other, and know that we are always praying for you on main campus as well.

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