The dictionary describes Wellness as the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort. I include the soul because I feel it’s an often-overlooked aspect of wholeness. We must feel fulfilled in all areas to remain balanced.
These are my top 10 recommendations for whole-body wellness: mind, body, soul.
1. Fitness (3 Main Categories):
Cardio – Recommendation is to get at least 150 minutes per week of Cardiovascular Training. This can be anything from going for a walk, dancing around, using equipment, to some form of Circuit-Type Training. There are many forms... for all abilities. It is meant to strengthen the heart/lungs and can help reduce high blood pressure (among other benefits). Sometimes it takes trying a few different activities to see what works for you. The key is, to find something you enjoy.
Strength – Recommendation is all muscle groups at least 2 times per week. This helps to build muscle so we can perform our everyday tasks with more ease. If you have limitations, there are many different modifications, types of equipment, and personalized exercises too.
Flexibility – Recommendation is 2-3 times per week. There are many different types from chair yoga, Pilates, to specified stretch routines. We ask our body to perform for us daily, taking time to release tension in our muscles helps to keep us at our best and prevent injuries.
Fitness doesn’t have to be intensive. It’s about movement, listening to our body, and taking time to put our best self forward with intention. Benefits include: balance (body/emotions), improved health, more energy, self-confidence, and much more.
2. Nutrition: Food is fuel, it keeps us going or hinders our performance. A good place to start is a food journal. Write down what you eat and how you feel afterwards; sluggish, energetic, bloated, upset stomach, etc. – every BODY is different. We are what we digest.
3. Spiritual Practice: Some form of stillness and peace. I have found a home with Yoga Nidra – a body sensing, self-discovery meditation. There are many other forms of self-reflection or inner cleansing from religious practices to creative expression. ~ Breathe.
4. Love Language(s): Sometimes our incompatibility comes from the inability to understand how we feel/show love and how the other person feels/shows love. Dr. Gary Chapman has broken this miscommunication down into 5 separate love languages. I take this quiz about 4 times a year. Since I'm constantly growing... I understand my skills and needs must change as well. If you would like to learn more, click <HERE> to take the Love Languages Quiz.
5. Emotional Intelligence (EQ): I've been on an emotional intelligence journey for years. I believe it's an unending learning experience. From a young age, many of us only understand basic emotions... I'm sad or mad. But there are so many more reasons behind what we feel... embarrassed, left out, forgotten, overwhelmed, frustrated, misunderstood. I've learned to see my emotions like an iceberg with my initial BIG emotion at the top. Once I can label that, I can then look deeper to the reason(s) beneath what I think I feel. There are also many times I've mislabeled my emotions; presenting as angry on the outside but truly hurt inside or cold shouldering someone when I actually miss them. It has been a rollercoaster of learning but well worth it as I work towards overall wellness. Click <HERE> for a quiz I found from The Institute of Health and Human Potential - a little insight into our own selves goes a long way.
6. Goal Setting + Achievement: Whether you make lists, create vision boards, document your progress, through a dart to see what you will accomplish next... goal setting and achievement is super important. These are little step markers to signify our self-set progress. They help us celebrate our wins, overcome our perceived limitations, and prove to ourselves we can do anything we truly set our minds to do. This step takes ACTION. It's why just goal setting isn't enough... we must achieve to know we can. I suggest brainstorming BIG ideas then categorizing those into priorities based on what you need now. From there, make actionable steps to get to each goal with mini-goals. I made myself a 124 day goal board and little play pieces... it has helped me really see my progress. Through that I quit drinking, practiced dancing, started my practice of meditation. I'm still not perfect with my follow-through and that's okay... life is all about learning, trying new methods, and pushing through. Which leads us into...
7. Self-Awareness + Acceptance: This is column A and column B - without one you don't have the other. In no particular order... we must know ourselves, know where we want to go, but also be accepting of where we are. Overall wellness asks us to take the journey. This takes time with a willingness to shift through all the many layers beneath our surface. Just like Emotional Intelligence (EQ), self-awareness takes work. Recognition of how we are feeling... but also why we do what we do, how to figure out what we need, what we truly want for our future, where we're currently headed, who our supports are, what we do and don't want in our life, what we need to correct, changes that need to be made... that list goes on and on. Not to overwhelm... this is the acceptance part. We can only handle a small amount at a time... like the water we must drink every day - a small amount throughout each day absorbs way more than all of it at once. I recommend taking <THIS> test. It's based on 16 personalities... Personality is just one of many factors that guide our behavior, however. Our actions are also influenced by our environment, our experiences, and our individual goals. On our website (16 Personalities), we describe how people who belonging to a specific personality type are likely to behave. We outline indicators and tendencies, however, not definitive guidelines or answers. Significant differences can exist even among people who share a personality type. The information on this website is meant to inspire personal growth and an improved understanding of yourself and your relationships – not to be taken as gospel. - these tests are a baseline. I've found them to be helpful along my path of self-discovery. I don't promote anything more than the information and how it has worked for my life. Overall wellness, to me, means finding out all I can about who I am - that means using available resources.
8. Communication: This goes hand-in-hand with EQ, Self-Awareness, Goal Setting... it's important to learn how to properly express ourselves. This includes tough interactions, daunting topics, mistakes, confessions, small talk, business, body language; all skills we are capable of learning. Proper communication, or should I say, appropriate communication can be the rise or fall of our successes. Overall wellness has us showing up 100% in our interactions by taming our reactions and adding a pause into our responses. We think before we act. There are so many communication tools out there sometimes it just takes a moment to look - perhaps distract your ego first. From social media, to email, text, to phone calls, in-person, to video... we are communicating on a daily basis. Ever stopped to ask yourself how well you're expressing what you really want or need? A book called <Crucial Conversations> really helped me put some skills to work in talking about things that really matter... perhaps you'll find it helpful as well.
9. Education: Brings me to learning. We are amazing creatures with the ability to expand our knowledge. The internet has granted us access to an unlimited supply of information, but look around you as well... we are surrounded everyday by people who could teach us. Each person with a different perspective, experience, background, history, life. It's not just about the universities, colleges, workshops, webinars, courses, classes, infographics... it's also about learning from each other. Education is based on systematic instruction but can be an enlightening experience as well. It can change our lives, shift our experience, widen our perspective, and see the world through a bigger lens; sometimes with more focus and other times requiring more interaction to clear up the picture. Wellness asks us to learn.
10. Community: A place where we belong. This is about finding home for you; acceptance, welcoming, connection. Overall wellness requires support. As much as the process of self-care, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and character growth are all a personal process... in a world of billions we are meant to embrace community. For this I suggest looking around at groups and events based on your interests, personal tastes, or current necessity. There are many avenues for hobbies, orientation, beliefs, health, expression, even support and wellbeing. Search Facebook and meetup.com is another really great peer created resource to search in your own area. Plus, these days, there are so many options for online. Take time to look and make a choice to connect. Let me know how you feel once you found home.
Wellness is meant to bring a sense of calm; it helps even out the ups and downs into more manageable daily routines. Effort in any form is good and sometimes it can take a while to figure out what works best for you (and that’s okay). Remember life is a process, the time will pass anyway... why not spend it well?
These suggestions are outside of healthcare priorities: get your annual check-ups with your doctor, smile at your dentist, keep an eye on your optometrist, and ask for help when (or before) Mental Health needs arise.
~ Take care all and be well.