Student Voices Jul. 22 2015

Alternative Medicine for Your Health

Mindfulness and Meditation

The process of beginning grad school can be a stressful experience, but starting graduate school in Mailman’s Core curriculum practically redefines stress. There’s no need to worry, however. With the introduction of a centering mindfulness practice, new Mailman students can find solace in his or her own inner-power and use that strength to navigate the turbulent first-semester waters.

According to Harvard Medical School, mindfulness practices have been associated with both enhanced mental and physical wellbeing, as well as with improved individual health attitudes and behaviors. Although, as a process such a mindfulness practice can take many forms – from individual mindfulness meditation to directed imagery meditation – Mailman students are fortunate to be offered various weekly, guided meditation sessions through the Center for Student Wellness. These 20-minute harmonizing sessions are the perfect way for a student to find his or her own personal core amidst The Core and ensure a healthy, happy, and balanced first semester in NYC.

By Anne Valik, Health Policy and Management ‘16

Nourish Yourself with Traditional Chinese Medicine


As we enter a cycles in academics or careers, our new knowledge and awareness presents us with the opportunity to become empowered representatives in public health. We must take care of our own health as we promote public health if we are going to be effective advocates for change.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, we are now entering the late Summer. This time of year helps set the momentum for the Fall and Winter seasons to come.

Here are some tips to ease your transition while supporting healthy habits as a student:

#1: Enjoy the Harvest!
Late summer is a time of abundance. Enjoy nature’s bounty by incorporating melons and root vegetables such as squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, and warmer foods into your diet.  Eating with the seasons will help your body transition as the weather changes, and eating seasonally by nature encourages the local food chain, promoting sustainability in the process!

#2: Clear your mind and simplify.
The late summer is associated with the Earth element in traditional Chinese medicine. This element corresponds to the digestive process via various organ systems translated to the Stomach and Spleen. The functional aspects of these systems are related to the food you eat as well as your ability to digest and integrate new ideas. Clearing the mind is akin to simplifying your diet to enhance digestion. Practicing meditation, progressive relaxation techniques, journaling, and/or simple walks in nature can all benefit your mental clarity and focus.

Self-care will help promote functioning at your best on all levels while nourishing your ability to integrate the myriad of opportunities you will be presented with at Columbia.

By Noémie Le Pertel, Health Policy and Management ‘16

Working Out Near CUMC


Balance is key in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which is going to be helpful with The Core in your first semester. The stress reducing effects from meditation and healthy eating can be enhanced with the addition of cardio and strength training. This is a good way to maintain a functional, fuel-burning metabolism. It can also be excellent practice for stress release and active meditation in and of itself.

NYC may surprise you with its great outdoor options to enjoy fresh air and beautiful sights. Two blocks from CUMC is a path along Riverside Drive, which can lead you down to a grassy riverside path along the Hudson. This can take you downtown to Riverside State Park where there is a running track, or further uptown where you can find the Little Red Lighthouse and get up close and personal with the George Washington Bridge. You can even extend your ventures to the Palisades if you decide to cross the beautiful bridge.

Great for the weekend is a quick subway ride to Central Park that provides endless exploration. The CUMC gym on campus is also great for strength workouts, yoga and Zumba classes, and as an alternative for those wet, cold, or snowy days.

By Alana Babers, Health Policy and Management ‘16

Reducing Stress with Yoga

During the peak of core-mania, I found myself restlessly looking for a space where I could unpack the stress, both physically and mentally that had been accumulating since my move to New York City. As a resident of Washington Heights, buried with a ruthless reading load (thanks, Mailman), I was happy to find a local gem.

Located on Fort Washington between 175 and 176th, Mind Body Soul provides a medley of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing services to take advantage of. With services ranging from yoga, to massage, acupuncture, reiki, and sound healing, there’s something for everyone. For yogi’s looking to amp up their physical practice, strong hatha will tone and firm your muscles. For those looking to for more of a dance-like flow, vinyasa is just what you’re looking for.

Want to rejuvenate and relax your muscles? The Friday evening restorative class will set your weekend off on the right foot. Looking for a more spiritual, breath-based practice? The hatha classes will leave you feeling reinvigorated.

The studio also offers varying weekend workshops, like strengthening and opening series, and courses on how to balance the chakras, incorporating meditation into your daily life, and astrology readings. This month, the studio is offering a vegan cooking class and wine pairing that will not only delight your palette, but also allow you to meet and mingle with other neighborhood locals who are passionate about keeping their mind and bodies healthy.  

You might even get to meet some of the artists featured in their boutique (almost all the products sold on site feature Northern Manhattan artists and designers!). Another bonus? Columbia affiliates get 10% off all purchases.

Weather you’re looking to heal your spirit, keep your body healthy, or join a community of health conscious folks, Mind Body Soul is a great local resource.  

By Gabriela Seplovich, Sociomedical Sciences ‘16

Healthy Eats Around CUMC

While you are filling your mind with everything from the social determinants of health to the intricate details of genetics, always make sure you take the time to eat well to power your mind and body. Bring some carrots or homemade trail mix for those long days with few breaks, and the cafes located around campus are great spots to grab snacks while you’re on the go.

Forgot to pack a lunch? If you only have a short break between classes, check out Jou Jou Cafe right next to Georgian Hall. They offer a wide variety of sandwiches, soups, and a fully stocked salad bar, along with a large selection of teas for that mid-day pick-me-up before Dr. Sparer’s lecture.

If you have a bit more time, walk up to 177th and Broadway and try Pick N Eat. They have a ton of different smoothies and healthy sandwiches to choose from, and it might be good to get some exercise before sitting through those back-to-back classes you have this afternoon.

By Laura Buckley, Environmental Health Sciences ‘16

Staying Healthy During Fall Semester

It’s a given that you’re going to want to avoid late nights during the first semester, but it’s also important to build a strong immune system to brace yourself against colds and the flu in the midst of the changing weather in New York.

While it might be tempting to reach for coffee, try swapping out a cup of coffee for echinacea or green tea. Echinacea extracts have been shown to be effective in strengthening immune function and reducing the duration of flu symptoms.

Seeking out foods with Vitamin C and warm foods, which are thought to warm the immune system and boost immune functioning, are also good techniques to stay healthy in the fall.

After taking the subway a couple of times, most will soon realize the importance of good hand washing practices throughout the day. A study by scientists at Cornell found over 15,000 distinct microorganisms in the stations and cars of New York City’s subway system. Though most were harmless bacteria, the study serves as a good reminder to practice good hand hygiene!

By Lillian Chen, Epidemiology ‘16



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