SEPTEMBER 2021 |
VOL 5 ISSUE 1

In this issue:

  • Blend Over Balance
  • Daily Downtime
  • Financial Wellness
  • Houston Happenings
  • MS4 Advice
  • Pre-Clerkship Priorities
  • SPOTlight
  • Tasty Recipes
  • Thrive at UT
  • UTHealth Wellness Connection
The Well is a monthly newsletter that serves to
positively impact the well-being of the McGovern student community
by highlighting a myriad of wellness-related content.
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Why A “Blend” Is Better Than Balance
Everyone loves to talk about their “work-life balance,” but what exactly does that phrase even mean? What are you supposed to be balancing when it comes to your livelihood and your own personal life? Does putting in more time for work necessitate sacrificing the parts of your life you’d really want to be spending time in? We certainly don’t think so. Work-life balance as an idea doesn’t work; there’s nothing about your job or your life that needs to counteract the other to be successful or to be happy. Introducing: the work-life blend, a more fluid standard in which there is no negative to be balanced out by a seemingly more positive activity. It’s more realistic to accept that life happens even when you are at work, or that your brain still thinks about your job or your studies while you’re at home relaxing. By chasing after a work-life balance, we try to detach the two as separate entities when it just isn’t practical to do so. In this month’s issue, we take a deeper look into just how much adopting a work-life blend can do for our lives. We believe that this is a better approach to wellness, in that neither life nor work needs to be put on hold for the other to thrive. We hope after reading that you will think the same.
Pre-Clerkship Priorities
Pre-clerkship years are notorious for being the years in which you will have “the most free-time” to pursue passions than any other period in your physician-training; yet in the moment, it can seem like time is the last thing you have.
 
Time-management is a bit of a misnomer. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and, as much as we’d hope to, we cannot move them along any faster or slower. What we can do is be deliberate about what occupies our time. Finding what is important to you and prioritizing those things can and will go a long way in terms of work-life blend, becoming the best residency applicant you can be, and pursuing your passions. Whether that looks like playing a sport, painting, or simply getting out into nature to find some peace, taking time to rest and reset is a must. Know what your goals are and that they may differ from that of your peers - no matter what you choose to pursue in terms of professional or personal goals, no path is right or wrong. Taking advantage of the first two years is key to building a strong foundation for the rest of your career, but keep in mind, medicine is a marathon, not a sprint. Prioritize self-care. 
 
Congratulations, MS1s and MS2s for reaching this point - keep learning, striving, and protecting time for priorities that refuel you!
Spotlight | Coffee Shops
As the semester’s pace begins to pick up, finding a new (or consistent) study spot could be something you’ve contemplated. Maybe you’re simply looking for a place to relax and sip coffee (or your preferred beverage choice. Tea, anyone?). If so, consider checking out some of these Houston coffee shops!
 
A 2nd Cup | Not only does this location provide a great selection of drinks and a nice place to study, the shop was also built on a foundation of advocating for a good cause. As a nonprofit shop, their proceeds go to organizations that work against human trafficking https://a2ndcup.com/

Black Hole | An eccentric coffee shop that’s perfect if you’re looking for a change in study scenery or a chill spot to check out with friends. Not only do you feel the cool energy, you also get a wide selection of drinks and treats https://www.facebook.com/blackhole.coffeehouse/

Campesinos | A super cozy spot to study or hang out with friends. This shop has unique drinks, food, and atmosphere rooted in Latinx/Bohemian vibes https://www.facebook.com/campesinocoffeehouse/   

Some additional options to help achieve your work-life blend goals while enjoying a delicious...blend :)  
  • Brass Tacks [EaDo] | Great food, great drinks, great aesthetics - enough said 
  • Fix Coffee Bar [Montrose] | A smaller setting, but the specialty lattes make up for it    
  • Mercantile [Montrose] | Large space with breakfast tacos in the mornings 
  • Slowpoke’s [Upper Kirby] | Ample tables and very tasty food if you’re there for a while    
  • Vibrant [Montrose] | Cute vibes with a health conscious food menu 
Daily Downtime
What can I do today to get closer to finding my perfect work-life blend? Well, the “ideal” work-life blend will constantly change. An exam week will likely be heavily work-focused, while the following week may be a completely different story. Regardless of workload, stress levels, or even existential crises, remember to reserve time for you. Reserving time for you – whether it be in the form of a 5-minute yoga video or 5-hour day trip with friends – is essential each day to maintain a work-life blend.

Three examples of activities that, even when time is crunched, can help.
  1. Find excuses to walk. Walk to school, the library, the coffee shop, the gym, etc. While Houston may not be the most walkable city, taking a few steps outside to listen to your favorite podcast, find a new song, or call your mom, can remind you that life doesn’t need to stop on a busy day.
  2. Order your favorite coffee or treat when you’re studying at a coffee shop. Or maybe, try a new menu item if you’re feeling adventurous! Foodies can agree that this makes life just that much sweeter. Agora’s chocolate baklava is one of our favorites.
  3. Take breaks to reach out to the people you love. Draw boundaries when you need to focus. That may mean leaving your house or turning off your phone. In a work-life blend approach, working more than usual is more than okay. However, remember that you, and your life, are shaped by the people you surround yourself with. Most are only a phone call away!
MS4 Advice
The first book I read for leisure in the last 7 years was Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. This grisly post-war book is oft misquoted in Instagram stories and name dropped at awkward social gatherings to provide that shifting veneer of being cultured. But alas, Slaughterhouse-five was the first leisure reading I did in the last 7 years. With toes in the sand, on a vacation that I was unsure I earned, but everyone implored I deserved, I too wanted to find this culture. Perhaps, I was eager to memorize a quote to add erroneously in conversation years down the road, or perhaps, I just liked the words printed on the thin pages. Yet, the mantra that eventually resonated with me from this surrealist novel was one I did not immediately find in its satirical pages, but rather tattooed on someone’s arm. It was at a cramped wine house where people’s masks hung loosely in their pockets, apparently for form not function. There, at the bar, squashed between cheap wine stains and good times lay written in ink: “And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.” The words rattled in my inebriated skull, a faint echo of information just out of reach nestled next to the types of nephrotic syndromes and the difference between CML and CLL. It wasn’t until weeks later that the quote revisited me. Scrolling through my phone's news screen, I saw the same tattoo on an author who had just passed. A different individual but the same quote. A copy of a copy etched into someone’s skin. I looked up from my phone, holding on to that thought, eager to not lose it. Did I mention that I only read one book for leisure in the last 7 years? It is perhaps my fault, but such is the demanding nature of school. When you are there, the present is certainly wide and deep. Eventually, you right yourself and learn to swim. It’s the nature of starting and finishing something. There will always be a future that seems just out of reach and a past that is. But the present is yours to keep. How much you ask? I’ll get there, but first do you want my advice; my easy to type, hard to digest advice? Life can be boiled down to three words:  
 
“Follow your bliss.”  
 
Your studies are important, but so is your balance, the trifecta of mind, body and soul. Go easy on yourself and please read a book for leisure more than just once every 7 years. And most importantly, realize that the present is all yours to keep.   

| Evan Shegog, MS4
Tasty Recipes
Hurricane Season
September is the peak of hurricane season. Check out the WRC Emergency Preparedness Guide: Severe Weather for what to do before, during, and after the storm. Stay safe!
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