By Valerie Rice | November 9, 2020
Wellness is a concept we discuss a lot, and after being pretty heavy this week, let’s lighten up. Most people hear the term “wellness” and think of diet and exercise, maybe even meditation, and that is great. Now we need to expand on that. Wellness means taking a holistic approach to caring for the self, or YOU. What do you need to be whole? Your needs extend beyond caring for your body. A holistic approach means examining all parts of the whole, including your environment, because you are one and the same.
Your mind is a fabulous wonderland, yes? So what makes our minds well? It really depends on our individual interpretations of wellness, honestly. Let us start with a quick reminder of mindfulness and being present in the moment. We want to be able to focus not on what may be nagging at us from the past or looming in the future but on what we are experiencing in the moment. Practicing mindfulness for 10 or 20 minutes a day is like a workout for your mind. Being actively mindful, meaning deploying this state at will, comes with practice and patience. Here is a link to the best exercise I can find to help you with daily practice.
Your body is the vehicle for your soul. Or, if you are into dark humor like me, it is your designated meat puppet. You need to take care of it in order to be well. The human body cannot thrive on caffeine, nicotine, and inappropriate thoughts alone (even though I often try to force mine to). It requires nutrients, water, exercise, hygiene, and rest in certain amounts. Before you join a gym and turn your diet upside down, examine what you already do to treat your body well, you may only need to add a few things. You really do not want to deprive yourself of anything or go to extremes, so here are a few ideas to get you started : eat a few more fruits and vegetables, cut out a few less than healthy food options, go for a walk, go to bed an hour earlier, carry a water bottle with you to remind yourself to hydrate, cut out that 2nd or 3rd cup of coffee. Here is a link for a few more pointers.
Before you throw your hands up or roll your eyes about the lack of control you have here, let’s examine what this means. This goal is much more achievable than you single handedly removing all the plastic from the oceans or saving endangered tree frogs. Are tree frogs endangered? Moving forward… Okay, so environmental wellness comes from being connected to your surroundings. An easy way to do this would be to take personal responsibility for your actions. You could also start recycling. Or even be inclusive and supportive of others. If these seem like a large leap, we can start smaller. Look around your home and see if you can find clutter. I know I can, I have 4 children. The act of reducing this clutter in my space is quite refreshing, and we do it every month or so. We send out items we no longer need or us to a second hand store for someone else to use. Clean your space. A clean home, as much as I despise housework, does wonders for your mental state. If you need a few more tips, click here.
One thing that is often overlooked is your religious beliefs. Do you have them? If so, what religious rituals do you find comforting? Are you a firm believer in daily prayer or possibly attending religious meetings? Make time for these rituals as they are key to your overall health and wellness; they are a part of you. The same can be said to the atheist. Often we find ourselves being overly polite to the religious solicitors, standing in the door listening well beyond our limits to a speech we have no interest in, because we are not of the same mind but too polite to say so. Don’t. Politely turn them down and shut the door. Do not engage in religious discourse, even if your family brings it up. There is no rule saying you have to. Saying “No” is not disrespecting their religion, it is simply enforcing your boundaries. Despite what people may think, well intentioned proselytizing is not harmless. It can be draining for those on the receiving end.
Remember this: You’re more than just the sum of your parts, but all your parts need maintenance. Taking small steps to build healthy habits every day will help improve your overall wellness. Take the holistic approach instead of the extreme, it will help you be the master of your universe. And that, my dear, is exactly what my goal is. As a wise generation once taught us: it is about balance (yeah GenX, I’m talking to you). So until next time, be well!