Wellness Strategies

By Gail Condrick

Article published in Natural Awakenings MetroDC/Maryland/Northern Virginia in 2005

Healthy living is about wellness . . . that state where we are in balance physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Wellness is about choosing to live consciously, and taking responsibility for our own health. This is the key to all health and healing.

Mystics, health practioners, and popular writers all give us platforms and approaches to wellness. The ideas may have been around for centuries, but for seekers, it seems new. You may be a seeker, and if so, I invite you to consider these approaches to your own wellness.

Wellness Strategies for Your Life
  1. Reflect on Your Sense of Well-Being.
    Take a stress inventory. What depletes me? What energizes me? Make a listand then ask . . . which of these stresses are under my control? Which of these stresses are beyond my control? The only action that is always yours is your reaction to life challenges. You can choose to change your reactions with your thoughts and perception. Suddenly, the stressor is an opportunity to learn more about yourself or another person. When you move into a life where you control and shift your reactions you are dancing with life. Ups are higher and downs are lessons, not downs . . . it is all up to you and the way you choose to see the world.
  2. Make an Energy Action List.
    Put together ideas on how you will change the stresses under your control. Is it time to manage clutter, control spending, and move on from a relationship or a job that no longer serves you? Only you know the answers and your heart knows the solution. It takes your conscious energy to follow your own intuitive guidance.
  3. Start Small.
    Find one change you want to make in your life and do it faithfully every day. Make it very small. For example, I will no longer eat a cookie with lunch because I know that sugar depletes my energy. Do this every day for three weeks and see how you feel. Then try a larger issue. You are training your mind, body, and spirit and proving you are willing to transform, one step at a time.
  4. Control Your Time.
    It is not necessary for you to participate in every activity that you are invited to attend, join every team, or attend every social gathering. Cultivate the word "no" to create boundaries. Try saying it . . . and if this is a challenge, ask yourself how often in life you say "yes" and are longing for "NO!" Use the time you save to be by yourself. All by yourself. It can be in the morning or evening, at a lunch break, or anytime that you create. Try to be consistent and use this time to build your energy resources with your new best friend, yourself.
  5. Unplug.
    Take a communications "fast" by unplugging for some period each day. No Internet, computer, cell, TV, or gadget of any kind. Don't let the conveniences of the world zap your humanity. You are not a machine and do not need to be plugged in all day to energize. The world will go on without you. Human beings need down time to reenergize. If you prefer your machines to your partner or other human connections, its time to make a change.
  6. Breathe.
    Sit comfortably in a chair or cross-legged on the floor. Place your hands on your belly and breathe deeply. Take a breath . . . your belly should expand on the inhale and contract as you exhale. See if you feel better after three breaths. and then try some more. Focus on your breathing and let the world go away. Take a daily 5-minute breather and you will feel so good that you will look forward to more time each day. Breathing fully can relax you and prepare you to think clearly and not emotionally. Even if you have two minutes on an elevator you can use the time to relax, refresh, center and breathe. And, your breath travels with you wherever you go.
  7. Move.
    Your body is built to move not to sit in offices, buses, and cars. Stress contracts the muscles and keeps tension in the body. When you are under stress the "fight or flight" reaction kicks in. Overtime this depletes your adrenal system and creates health problems. You need to move your body to move this energy build up and to empty the body of stress. First, you empty, and then you fill, with energy. This is about moving energy in the body, not building muscles. Find some kind of movement that appeals to you. Try swimming, running, walking, or the slow dance of tai chi to move you . . . or Nia! Nia combines dance arts, martial arts, and healing arts and leaves you more energized in body and mind at the end of an hour. Find what makes you feel alive in your body and move every day for at least 5 minutes.
  8. Let Go.
    If the world is too much, let go. Be physical, scream in your car, cry, yell or kick and see if you don't feel better after letting out bottled emotion. Ask yourself why you put yourself last so long that this was necessary and make a commitment not to do that again. See a comedy, laugh until you want to cry and then do it. Bring joy into your life and have some fun.
  9. Go Outside.
    Let nature nurture you by a walk in a park, sitting on a bench, or looking at the stars. Give yourself permission to go outside and play. Yes, you. Let the sun warm your skin, walk in the snow, catch raindrops on your tongue. Change your internal environment by enjoying the beauty of the external world.
  10. Slow Down.
    Speeding through life is missing the joy in the details. Slow down in your action, your speech, and your commitment and enjoy the richness of the present moment that will never be here again. When you are in conversation, slow down and listen deeply to the real message. If you are focusing on your next word or thought you are not really paying attention, you are half-listening. Listen with your ears and your heart and you will be amazed at what you hear.
  11. Practice Love.
    Practice self-love through the food you choose to eat, drinking water, and receiving enough rest. Understand that you cannot give love or energy to others that you do not have yourself. It is not selfish to care for yourself, it is basic survival. As you make your personal choices from a place of love, watch and be open to receiving the gifts that love brings into your life.
  12. Be Grateful.
    Make a daily gratitude list of what is good in your life and watch your attitude change. Change your focus and repeat what is positive instead of what is negative. Recognize that on some days your list will be "I am alive" and "I am breathing." Spend five minutes a day writing and reflecting on your blessings and watch your life transform.
  13. Cultivate Calm.
    Think about people you know. Do you know anyone peaceful? And if so, have you ever noticed that calm is contagious? The more you are around someone who is relaxed and centered the more you want to bring this quality into your life and spend time with that person. And with time, and practice, this person could be you.

This is only the beginning . . . for more information on stress reduction, wellness, and finding your own dance, e-mail Gail.

All articles are ©Copyright Gail Condrick, 2005-2008