When Deborah asked me to share my thoughts on wellness and more specifically what wellness means to me in a blog, I didn’t hesitate to say “I’m in”. After all, I have years of experience in guiding and advising on wellness and 1,000s of hours of reading, coursework and certifications to qualify my voice. But, when I actually sat down to write I realized I am trained to assist others as they define for themselves what wellness means and that my thoughts on wellness were so wrapped up in what others have defined that my voice was a little soft.
So, where does that leave me? A fake? A fraud? Not exactly. It lead me stop, to breath in this feeling of uh-oh and to take a really good look at my day-to-day life to see how I define wellness in the midst of all my responsibilities, relationships and the unexpected turns and shifts along the way. What I found over the past couple of weeks of observation is that there is no one way or right way for me to define wellness. Wellness rolls out for me as an awareness of a practice, true presence and an appreciation of the pause.
Like so many reading this, I realize the self-care industry is telling us to take time from schedules to add meditation, yoga, massage, acupuncture, art/ dance/music/color therapy, spa and weekend retreats in nature. And, yes! One hundred percent, YES! We should be doing ALL these things as often as we can. But, expecting to be able to do all (or any combination of them) all the time is setting us up for failure. Do these things as often as you can, but also do the little things that fit into the pauses of the day to appreciate the moment, to be present with yourself and your needs.
For me, wellness means:
Daily detox: This is two, well, really three-part. First, it is a media detox. Take a few moments a day to turn off the electronics and to make yourself unavailable to others. Walk, drive, sit in silence, even if just for a couple of minutes a couple of times a day. The second is a detox from saying yes. Sometimes we have to realize we are running low and we need to say no to something. even one little thing can be the difference between us feeling overwhelmed and like things are manageable. So, say no when the first though, instinct you have is “Oh no! I can’t possibly!” The third is a food detox. If you know me, you know I am not a fan of juicing, fasting, fad and restrictive diets. I am a fan of healthy, natural eating and for me that starts with a daily cup of warm water and lemon. This daily detox does so much for the organs, digestive system and energy that I can’t say enough about how it makes me feel cared for and healthy.
Wellness is taking a moment to nourish.
Simple pleasures: Y’all know I love my coffee. A large part of that is the way the coffee steam feels on my cheeks as I pause to take a deep inhale of the scent before I take a sip. This is one of the things in each day that brings me joy so I indulge in that moment. I also find great joy in that first deep breath of fresh air as I walk out the door to start my day. I enjoy staring out windows to notice the sunshine, rain or snow.
Wellness is taking a moment to observe and find a connection to your environment.
Stimulation: Finding the pieces of your day that are missing in the rush can be difficult. In my two weeks of observation of my natural habits I noticed stimulating my mind with quotes, conversations with friends and music all brought me something. Sometimes joy and laughter, sometimes confusion or other things, but always a connection to something greater than myself.
Wellness is taking a moment to find connection to that which you are inspired by, drawn to and learn from.
Sleep: When I don’t sleep well everything is off balance. I am a total and complete wreck and, as my family will attest, a terror to be around. I know this and over the years I have found ways to address this and I do not, under any circumstances, let go of this practice of nightly sleeping and waking rituals. The time it takes for my body to restore from my daily activities, release the energies of those with whom I have the honor to work within a healing environment, and prepare for the next day is critical to my ability to do all I need and want to do.
Wellness is knowing what you need and making sure it is your nonnegotiable in any and all situations.
Journaling: The hardest part of wellness for me has always been the connection to my own creativity. I was raised to do well in school, test well, and to be a lawyer, doctor or engineer. Creativity was encouraged in the form of musical instruments (which I couldn’t seem to play no matter how hard I tried), singing (which, much like musical instruments I couldn’t master), sports (which I excelled at, but, let’s face it, there isn’t much creativity in following a play book or routine). It was in college that I took a true like of writing and endeavored to do more with it and soon found myself obtaining a minor in creative writing. The connection to my own creativity and the practices I found to connect to that voice were the truest and most valuable experiences of my collegiate career. With the process of journaling, even a sentence or two on the notes application on my cell phone, each day, I stay connected to my creativity. Creating is whatever it means to you. But, create. Have a vision, make a plan to see it manifest and then share it. If you love it with all your heart and find the beauty in it there is no fear of judgment. Others will see the beauty inherent to the creation.
Wellness is taking a moment to hear your own voice, intuition and believing in it.
Breathing: The breath. The breath is always the indicator as to what our emotional and physical state is. We notice the rapid breath of anxiety, working out, panic that we missed the meeting or are late to pick up the kids. We notice the breath when it is long and full as we walk through the woods, sit on the beach or snuggle in to a good book. We can each define and recognize the breath of sorrow and laughter. But, it is in the pause at the end of each inhale and exhale that we have the ability to shift our wellness. We can choose to recognize and adapt the breath for what we need to truly find space, calm and a little bit of peace. Taking a moment to notice our breath brings us closer to our true self, our true calling and our state within the moment. Inherently noticing and knowing that sometimes we are more of one thing than the other and then finding the pause, no matter what the means to you, to find the opposite, to me is the epotiome of self-care.
Wellness is the balance of what must be done and what we want to do.
So, breathe. Just breathe. And, wellness will follow.