Last year I made three purchases that changed my life for the better. They weren’t flashy or expensive items or even resources, but they gave me the tools to become more balanced and achieve greater well-being. Until then, I was constantly working on a fog trying to balance my classes, labs, education, work, life… you get the gist. While my book, desk, and lamp aren’t miracle cures for my chaotic lifestyle, each item has helped me create more structure in my days and build meaningful habits that improve my well-being in countless ways. From a self-help book that imparts wisdom on better stress management to a standing desk that combats fatigue from sedentary work sessions and a Himalayan salt lamp that infuses the atmosphere with a soothing presence—these purchases have set me up for success. In addition, they taught me the importance of being patient and investing in myself, which I still do today.

Self Help Book

I am a Student Physical Therapist. Wow, that still feels weird to say. Throughout high school and undergrad, I was in the habit of preparing for a test, passing the test, and then moving on to the next test. Graduate school was a game changer for me because everything was based on an actual device. Instead of just regular multiple-choice exams, there were lab exercises with real-life scenarios where the answer is never black and white. Instead of the correct answer being ‘C’, the correct answer was often ‘it depends’. And instead of pictures and model dummies, there were real people with scary things like heart disease or advanced osteoporosis. Needless to say, every day was unknown and I felt like I failed more often than I succeeded. Of course, the question then becomes, have I chosen the right profession, or am I just spending thousands of dollars on a dream that sounds great?

Enter the self-help book.

This self-help book includes many principles I’m familiar with, such as meditation, growth mindset, accepting anxiety, gratitude, and being in the present moment. However, it made me realize that while I knew all these principles, I never put them into practice. Like how I learned exercise science, I never put what I learned into practice; this explained why graduate school was so foreign to me. This kind of light bulb moment is always hard to put into words. It’s as if the answer to your problems was always right there in front of you, but you never took the time to acknowledge it because it seemed so simple. It made me realize that feeling anxious was a sign of growth and progress, and that any doubts or worries were masked obstacles stemming from my fear of failure. So basically, I should have been comfortable with worrying. It’s easier said than done, but with each passing day I take it as a sign that I’m getting used to anxiety.

Standing Desk

Hours of studying on my laptop and hours of lectures… oh come to think of it, I also sit down for dinner, then sit down for Netflix. I was sitting a lot.

To be honest, sometimes my bottom hurt more from sitting than from strength training. Needless to say, my shoulders and upper back often felt stiff and tired. I also learned all the ways that sitting can help with back pain and other muscle imbalances in class. So I decided to invest in a standing desk. This was a simple self-assembly standing desk I found on amazon.

I started by standing for only 10 minutes between hour-long sessions. Now I try to sit half the time and stand the other half. Standing has become as much a part of my routine as sitting.

My standing desk has not only improved my physical health, but also serves as an important reminder to stay active throughout the day. I often found myself marching in place or lying down for a few minutes. My body feels more energetic and I am more productive as a result. I don’t look back.

Himalayan salt lamp

My Himalayan salt lamp is adorable. It’s not magical by any means, but it’s become a solid part of my self-care, evening routine. When 9 o’clock strikes, I turn off the room lights and screens, turn on my Himalayan salt lamp. Whatever happens that day, the next 30 minutes is my me time. Whether I’m reading a book or writing a gratitude journal, it’s the perfect way to break away from the day and give myself some much-needed peace and quiet. Incorporating this method into my daily routine has been very helpful, allowing me to set a consistent bedtime and ultimately get better quality sleep. It’s amazing how small changes like this can improve our well-being so much. Moreover, it is very aesthetically pleasing; I could easily YouTube some fire crackling sounds and my lamp.

Side note: I came back one rainy day to find my Himalayan salt lamp sitting in a pool of water. Apparently, when the lamp is not burning, the salts collect moisture from the air and “sweat” the water. On the bright side, I guess it’s real!

Parting Words

All in all, I had to say thank you for my book, desk and lamp. The magic is not in shopping, but in what each purchase represents to me. The book has served as a guide to change my mindset, my desk serves as a reminder to stay active, and my lamp serves as a reminder that at the end of the day, as long as I work hard, everything will be fine. Each of these items helped me in different ways, but ultimately led me to the same goal: improving my well-being and happiness. After all, my biggest investment is me (just like your biggest investment is you).

I’m only halfway through PT school. I’m sure not every day will be sunshine and rainbows. But for now I agree.


Priya Patel is a student physical therapist at the University of Delaware. When she’s not preparing for her upcoming exam, running clinics, or working on research projects, you can find her creating relevant content for her health blog. Ultimately, she hopes to instill in you the importance of prioritizing both your mental and physical health and empower you to live your best life.


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