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Jaylin with friends at the Cross-Country Award Ceremony.

Maintaining Mental, Physical, and Social Health at NHS

As humans, we should be in a constant state of self-improvement, whether that improvement be mental, physical, or social. However, the winter season and new strands of the Coronavirus sometimes put a monkey-wrench in our plans. With the right mindset, challenges can quickly go from burdens to learning experiences. When our focus is directed not only at one thing but an image as a whole, we become a healthier version of who we were yesterday. 


Jaylin Romero, a student at NHS and participant in both cross country and winter track, Christopher Rosati, a teacher at NHS and winter track coach, and Dawn Gajewski, a healthcare worker and runner, were interviewed about how they maintain a good mental, physical, and social health in the midst of a pandemic and upcoming freezing season. “Staying fit, eating well, and working out all increase your immunity,” says Dawn. “That’s a big deal, not just now, but for life!”


Although the word ‘health’ is often associated only with eating good foods and working out, there are many factors that make up a good overall condition. Mental, physical, and social health all work together to form a balance in which the individual is not only improving, but is failing to view said improvement as a chore. “There have been times I found it hard to be motivated in the cold weather,” Jaylin says. “Since cross country and winter track are outdoor sports, I have found that mental strength is an extremely important factor to grow within the sport.”


While it may be seen as too inconvenient or as an unnecessary burden, maintaining good physical health will not only help you get into better shape, but may also give your mental and social health a boost. Finding an active, enjoyable hobby or sport is undoubtedly a good way to get you out of bed, moving around, and feeling great. Take your chances and do not be afraid to try new things, everyone starts somewhere. “I do not want to look back and wonder,” says Jaylin.“I want to be certain because I went for it.”


Despite common stigma, working out or being active does not have to be a solitary activity and can easily become social. In fact, it can be hidden in things that you do not think twice about. Walking to the nearest coffee shop, library, or even just around the block with some friends ensures that, alongside some lovely conversations and memories, you will also boost your physical health. Everything is related, and incorporating little things into your everyday life could have a huge positive impact on your overall health. 


If you are willing to take it a step farther, you can find a few friends who are willing to do workout challenges such as running a mile every day or holding a plank for a little bit longer every week. These challenges set a goal and those around you will hold you to the standards you set. There are also social apps like Strava, which allow you to log in your workout and post it for your friends on the app. “I feel ‘accountable’ logging my workouts into Strava or Garmin,” says Dawn. “I have a reputation to keep up!” 


However, as the winter bears cold weather, ice along sidewalks, and blankets of snow across people’s roofs, getting outside becomes difficult. “I think it (the winter season) can have a negative effect on people because of the weaker sunlight and most people stay inside,” Mr. Rosati mentioned, “so, you have to go out of your way to get exercise in.”  As we curl up with our blankets and mittens, it is easy to lose sight of our health.


While there are indoor alternatives to the typical outdoor workout, the backyard is not totally off-limits when the temperature drops. Layering up and keeping your focus away from the cold and, instead, on your breathing can be the foundation of a healthy outdoor workout. A lack of layers does not only let the weather in, but also can become dangerous. 


Whether you choose a treadmill or jacketed outside-run, half the battle is mental. Not accepting your own excuses and pushing yourself can very easily set the foundation of success. Not only that, but people who do exercise regularly often find themselves being happier and more mindful. 


Although the pandemic did raise concerns about, not only people’s physical health and illness, it also affected people’s mental health. However, that impact was not entirely bad. The quarantine gave people the chance to sit back and look at themselves. While change is often inconvenient, it is not always entirely bad. “I think it had a temporarily negative effect as I was not able to go to the gym,” says Mr. Rosati. “But my son and I did jog together, which was a great thing!”


Furthermore, not everything has to come out of a perfectly organized and glamourized Pinterest board or social media post. You’re a human being, and taking time out of your day to enjoy yourself should not come with guilt. “I love to bake and eat what I bake,” says Dawn. 


In the end, maintaining a healthy lifestyle should be consistent. Its boundaries are not set by cold weather, it does not stop because of an inconvenience, but will accommodate according to the environment. Maintaining a balance between your mentality, physical health, and social life is crucial, especially in the midst of winter and COVID regulations. Everything ties together and, while perfection is out of reach, improvement should always be present.