Why working out makes me a better professional

by MaryLyn Silverstein

As a second year graduate student I am the busiest I have ever been. I am a full time graduate student, an Assistant Coordinator for Marlatt Hall, and a practicum student for the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry. Every day I am running from one place to another, leaving a meeting a few minutes early just so I can make it to the next one on time. My grandmother calls me a ‘busy bee’ but I am not sure that description does justice to how I feel each week.

On top of being more involved this year, I am also an achiever according to StrengthsQuest. While that strength has contributed towards many successes in my life, it has also added to the stress that I put on myself to continue to succeed. As a graduate student, I am told that I should take advantage of as many opportunities as I can. The more that I am involved in, the more experiences I will have to talk about in full-time job interviews and the better prepared I will be for my future. As I continue to add more to my plate, I come home from work or class having zero energy to do anything beyond watching Netflix or laying in defeat on my bed.

When I feel overwhelmed with stress from work, class, and my personal life I think back to the character Elle Woods from the classic movie Legally Blonde. Elle gives the great insight that exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy and happy people typically do not kill their husbands. While I do not have a husband to worry about accidentally harming, I have found that I am a more enjoyable supervisor, advisor, and co-worker when I have an outlet for my stress. Exercise has been one of the few constants in my life and it has kept me grounded throughout this graduate school experience.

Growing up, I was involved in sports year-round. I remember running from a soccer practice that just ended to a flag football practice that was just beginning. It seems that my grandmother has been calling me a ‘busy bee’ for most of my life. While it was hectic balancing multiple sports teams with school, it was also home to many fun memories. Playing sports was my outlet for stress when I was balancing multiple Advanced Placement and Honors courses as a high school student. Now, as a graduate student, the gym on my campus has become my solace from stress.

The campus recreational center is the place where I spend an hour and a half not checking my email on my phone, even as I notice the number on my inbox increasing. It is where I get lost in my favorite playlist and run three miles on a treadmill. It is the place where I am sweating my stress away so I can return to work and class with a recharged battery and clear mind.

Fitting time to exercise into my weekly calendar can be a challenge but I have found that the days I spend at the gym are also the days I have better days at work. In an ideal world, I would wake up before the sun rises every morning to work out. In the real world, I have found the need for a friend to hold me accountable to that goal. Waking up to a good morning text from a friend at 5:30 AM helps me peel myself out of my warm bed. Working out in the early mornings is not the only way I am able to exercise. This semester, I am participating on a city league kickball team with coworkers from my department. The kickball team allows me to run, laugh, and utilize my competitive spirit. Whether I am running at the gym or running to the next kickball base, I am requiring myself to get my heart rate up and to break a sweat.

During weeks when I consistently exercise, I feel on top of the world. I walk into my office ready to take on any challenge a resident can toss at me because I am riding out the endorphins from a recent work out. I fuel myself with success and spending a morning crushing a work out is the best way to start my day. I do everything I can to protect my precious time at the gym because I know it will benefit my physical and mental wellbeing thus making me a better and more level-headed professional.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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