It shocks me how uncomfortable 20-somethings get when talking about health. If you ever have the opportunity to sit down and talk with older folks about their health, they will gladly (even if sometimes you wish they wouldn’t) delve into all the details of their most recent colonoscopy or bunion removal.
But, for some reason, and despite hard work to try and break down stigmas, young people are uncomfortable about talking about health.
The amount of times I’ve had a female friend feel the need to whisper to me that she doesn’t want to do [x activity] because she has a UTI or is on her period, or a male friend blush and get freaked out about discussing that he got so stressed he cried, is seriously unhealthy.
I also find there is a huge prevalence for people in their twenties to deny themselves of spiritual health. Whether it is attending Sunday mass, Shabbat dinners, or practicing Salat, university students seem to be shy about their religious backgrounds.
Often times at the Dalplex, you can find people red-faced and pushing themselves to extremes to try and attain the “perfect” body. I remember being in the locker room recently and being shocked to hear, “I didn’t eat today because I heard if you workout on an empty stomach, you lose more weight.”
This needs to change.
Sex, mental health breakdowns and poor practices of physical health happen on campus every day. It’s a part of the stresses of university, and finding your own personality as an adult. Keeping yourself in good health is a lifelong task that will be much easier if you learn what works for you at a young age, and be open about it.
For sex, we all have our likes and dislikes, and we also should find our boundaries and practices to make it safe and enjoyable for us. Some of us have bodies that are allergic to certain lubricants or materials, and some of just plain don’t like them. Even if you think the person is only going to last five minutes, come on, that’s going to be a pretty long five minutes if you don’t enjoy it.
You have every right to speak up before sex and set out what you want out of it, and talk about any allergies or boundaries that you have. Always give your partner the same ability to be open about their preferences, and if the two of you really don’t match up in what you want, find someone new! Better to keep looking for that “best night ever” than have something happen that is much, much worse.
For mental health, I cannot stress enough that emotions are human, not feminine, not weak, but human. Crying excessively, emotional eating and panic attacks, are all things you need to talk about. Whether it is to your best friend, a parent, or even just going straight to a doctor, it is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Your soul needs fuel just like your body does, and both need it in healthy doses.
Losing weight is not the be-all and end-all of the world, and even if you need to, the best way to lose weight and keep it off is by doing it in a healthy manner. You will be surprised how much weight you can lose when you eat more fruits and vegetables with every meal, and also choose walking over driving or taking the bus to places within 20-30 minutes walking distance.
If you feel like the grocery stores close to campus charge too much for produce, try the DSU Farmers Market, or the Seaport Farmers Market on weekends.
Practice your faith freely, and let it free your mind and give you a sense of wellbeing. You don’t need to shove it down people’s throats, or alternatively, hide it from people. Attending religious events and programs around campus will also help you meet people with your same faith, and surround you with likeminded people that will be able to help you talk out any feelings you have on a spiritual level.
Talk about your sex life, talk about your mental health, talk about that weird mole on your body, talk about your “freshmen 15”, talk about “is it supposed to look like this?”, talk about your weekend spiritual obligations, talk about toothaches, talk about the smells, sounds, and every weird thing about your body, because once we normalize being open about our health, we can start an open dialogue of how to be healthier.
I can’t say it enough, folks: talk about your health.