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Monday, January 27, 2014
I’m a returning blogger and Mind, Body, Me intern for the Office of Human Resources, back from a semester abroad in Cordoba, Argentina. I had an amazing semester in South America and I’m excited to come back to share my experience with you all and how it relates to my wellness journey and hopefully how I can help you in yours!
While abroad, one of the most obvious and different cultural aspect was hours and daily customs. While in Argentina, stores closed from 1pm to 6pm so that workers could go home and spend lunch with their family and friends and rest before returning to work. Following the work hours, at about 10pm, dinner was served. But in Argentina, dinner was not only a time to eat your meal, it was a time to spend with family and friends doing a sobremesa, or chatting and talking about the day long after finishing the food in front of them. After dinner, everyone goes to sleep, feeling satisfied from a night of chatting and a full tummy. Weekends are spent in the park, chatting with friends and family for hours and hours, drinking the national social tea drink—Yerba Mate. Other days of the weekend are spent with the entire extended family at an Asado, a special kind of family BBQ, socializing and catching up with family from the hours of lunch until dinner. At a restaurant, no one brings you the check until you ask for it, rather you spend a huge amount of time enjoying your meal and the company that surrounds you until you feel ready to leave, even if that means hours later.
During my time in Argentina, I had never been surrounding by so much socializing. At first, I was uncomfortable and shocked culturally because of how different it was, but after taking some time to adjust, I realized how much happier in general it made me feel to be surrounded by friends, taking time to listen and make real and true connections with them. Making connections with others helped me to make connections with myself as well, leaving me content with the simplest of things in life.
Wellness does not only include the basics of exercising, nutrition and physical ailments, but stems to other aspects of our lives such as social connections with family and friends and emotional well-being. You just might find that after spending quality time with friends and family on a regular basis, a lot of the other wellness aspects may easily follow. When you are surrounded by people you love and care for, you generally are happy!
With that said, obviously the United States is not Argentina, and cultural practices and customs that work for one country do not always work for another, but I think that the Argentines have a real point here with their lifestyles. So how can we bring some of this into our own lives? Here are some tips:
- SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
Spending time with friends and family is not always easy in our busy lives. Make sure you are reserving time for them, even if it’s just once a week for coffee!
- STEP AWAY FROM THE SMART PHONE.
I know, as a recent convert to the SmartPhone, they are one of the most amazing inventions of our time, but when you are having dinner out or on a coffee date, or simply having a conversation with a friend or family at the dinner table, put it away and put it on silent! Try giving your full attention and listen. It will make you feel more connected and present in your relationships and with yourself.
- LEAVE WORK AT THE OFFICE.
With smartphones attached to our hands and work obligations at a high, sometimes it is hard to remember to separate work and pleasure. Obviously it is unrealistic to always leave work at the office with the demand of jobs in today’s world, but if possible and not necessary, try not to check work email and make calls. Be present at home with your family. You will return to work with a fresh mind when you have a mental break from your job each night.
- PRACTICE MINDFULNESS.
With life always focused on what’s coming next, it is hard sometimes to be present. Try to take a few moments each day to be mindful of being present and part of what is happening in the now, not what happened in the past or what may occur in the future.
Ithaca College 2014
Public and Community Health, B.S
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
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