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Windows on Wellness – Christine Ryu-Naya

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In an effort to promote wellness and mental health, we are pleased to introduce our Windows on Wellness series. Throughout the series, our lawyers and staff will discuss their biggest wellness challenges over the past year, and habits they’ve adopted or resources that have been valuable in improving their mental and physical well-being.

Christine Ryu-Naya, Special Counsel in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, reflects on her wellness journey during the pandemic:

What has been your biggest wellness (mental, emotional, or physical) challenge over the past year and a half, and how have you addressed it?

In addition to all of the madness that kicked off, I also had a baby almost exactly a year and a half ago! (I remember packing things up to head out on parental leave and wondering if we’d be back in the office by the time I was back.) It seemed, all of a sudden, that my world – and everyone else’s – had narrowed. In addition to the normal newborn haze, there were also no colleagues, friends, or visits from long-distance family. I am definitely a people person, and found myself suddenly missing all my people (while running on very little sleep). I made more of an effort to stay connected with friends and family – and realized the sudden uptick in “Zoom happy hours” was a great excuse to get “together” with friends across the country (and felt less weird because we wouldn’t expect to see each other in person anyways). And I am very grateful for vaccines, outdoor get-togethers, and sleep training! 

What wellness habits have you adopted over the past year and a half?  What wellness habits would you like to adopt?

It’s a pretty simple thing, but I try to get outside every day. I am not a runner – I am, at best, a very slow bicycle rider (and then it’s mostly for the 2000’s pop rides) and an enthusiastic hiker – but during the past year and a half I have been taking lots of walks around my neighborhood, usually with my family in tow. It’s also been a great opportunity to get to know more of my neighbors. I spent a wonderful week in Maine earlier this summer with family and friends and we were outside almost all day, every single day. That was great – and beautiful – but a long walk around North Arlington will do in a pinch!

Who in your life is or has been key to your wellness, whether they provide emotional support, encourage you to take that bike ride, or otherwise help you focus on and improve your wellness?

My husband has always been great about reminding me to take a break. When I was pregnant and stressed, he tried to tell me to take a breath but for some reason couldn’t remember the word “relax,” so just blurted out – “be a jelly!” I now remind myself to be a jelly once or twice a day. Also, my four-year-old recently insisted that I get a scooter – like the stick scooters four-year-olds ride – to accompany him on scooter rides around our (very hilly) neighborhood. That has been fantastic just for the laughs when people see you whiz by!

What recommendations do you have for others to improve their mental or physical health, resilience, or emotional wellbeing?

Another thing I’ve tried to be more conscious about doing this past year and a half – and one that works even when it’s raining and you can’t go for a walk – is to express more gratitude for things. It started as a daily exercise for my four-year-old, so I thought of it as fairly simplistic (and as a toddler, his gratitude is often snack-related). But you know, turns out it is pretty nice to take a minute and appreciate something: the weather, five uninterrupted minutes to drink coffee, your nice neighbors. Or a snack – those are always good.

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