Trying to balance my obligations as a full-time college student, an ESL tutor and program coordinator, and an intern with The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility can be a daunting task at times, but I’ve been training myself to seek healthy ways to alleviate the stress. It hasn’t always been easy, but I see this as a challenge that I’m more than willing to take!

I love eating, but to eat, I need to prepare the food (am on a college student’s budget, which means restaurant visits are few and far between), and so by extension, I’ve grown to love cooking. I love experimenting with new ingredients; just last night, for example, I made two dishes with a fennel bulb and fennel fronds. I’ve never worked with fennel before, and the little obstacles that you never notice until you start working with a new ingredient – such as how to make the cuts to slice up a fennel bulb – that you figure out how to deal with impart a sort of victorious feeling. I think that’s one of the most rewarding aspects of cooking. For me, cooking is a time when I can take my mind off of all the stressors and distractions in life, and just focus on what’s on the kitchen counter in front of me, and channel all my energies into cooperating with those ingredients to tease out and enhance their intricacies, and in the process, learn something new about the gifts of nature.

Going for runs outdoors is another thing I do to relax and de-stress. I feel like I’m indoors so much that any time I get to spend outdoors becomes an exciting change of environment. Plus, there’s something about sunlight that’s an immediate mood-booster.

And finally, I keep an eye out for the little things in life. There are so many things to be awed by and to be thankful for, if only one takes the time to look for them. While many of my peers are fine spending these years drinking as much as possible (and probably making bad decisions), I’m happy I can see that there are more enriching things in this world.

I leave you with one such thing – a tree in full purplish-pink bloom that I encountered while walking between a class building and the office where I work.

Lotus Chen

Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility Intern