Wellness is buzz word for health these days and I like it. It implies a much wider scope of fitness than a balanced diet, regular exercise or a well-toned body. It speaks of an wholistic approach and attitude to living, taking in emotional and psychological factors as well as physical.
So, what does wellness entail?
Thought is where it all begins but there must also be practical action in order for a truly positive life to be lived. People often think that `positive thinking’ is fantasy-land, especially in current world climate. It would be if this philosophy only encourages generic, bland attitudes but, in actual fact, positive thinking is about awareness and aliveness, not burying one’s head in sand. It is a choice, a way of life that truly believes, in all circumstances, glass is always `half-full.’ Positive life means searching for gift in every and any tragedy; not to smile inanely through adversity but to choose hope over despair.
With this attitude in place, life becomes more prosperous in general, brighter and less fearful. Demons can be vanquished or at least, disabled. A positive life is one in which `bad’ things can and will still happen but can be overcome more easily with courage and joy that this form of wellness brings.
Health in all its forms is requisite to an overall sense of wellbeing. It’s impossible to feel good if we’re tired, ill, cranky or in pain. Balance is key to this as to many other life-skills. The things that damage health are excesses of all kinds, addictive behaviour, discordant relationships, poor diet, inadequate sleep and lack of physical fitness. As boring as it sounds, moderation is necessary for all forms of wellbeing. We need, each day, to honour our emotional, spiritual and physical needs. We need to feed soul, nourish body and work mind - every day, not just occasionally.
Most of us are taught early in life to do basics like cleaning our teeth, washing our bodies, using toilet, sleeping and eating but of course, there is more to physical fitness than that. My feeling is `no pain, plenty of gain.’ Exercise should be fun, easy and never excessive. If it takes over and becomes punitive then surely we‘ve added stress to our daily routines rather than reduced it. So find something that you enjoy doing, whether it’s just walking round block or playing social tennis, and do it regularly.
Emotional needs are catered for better by some than others. We’re all emotional creatures whether we show our feelings outwardly or not. Letting them flow naturally is secret; it’s important not to let them choke on themselves, especially ones we find most uncomfortable. Make friends with your darker side, keep working at self-knowledge and be honest with yourself and about yourself. Banish worry as it’s a totally useless waste of energy. Be as relaxed as possible every day, develop acceptance and be gentle with yourself.
Spiritual nourishment can come in many forms other than religious practice or meditation. You can feed your soul with poetry, music, nature, love of children and animals, being near water, walking and swimming, being in silence, looking at beauty.
Self-love is a big part of these means to wellness as when you value yourself, you automatically look after your body, feed your mind with stimulating conversation, knowledge, reading and ideas, nourish your soul by a variety of pleasurable pursuits, and you will no longer feel need to sabotage your happiness and success by obsolete beliefs and self-defeating behaviours. Negativity of thought, action, attitude and feeling counteracts this. With a positive mind and a healthy body, there’s not much we can’t achieve.
A key factor in health is prevention. Taking responsibility for your own health, living pro-actively and not waiting till illness has already struck to improve your health habits. The number of times that people have said to me their cancer or heart disease turned out to be a great gift because it forced them to change their diet, get more sleep, exercise more etc - my answer is why wait till you’re sick to look at these issues?
Often alteration to lifestyle is quite minor yet benefits are enormous. For instance, just walking daily, taking Garlic and Vitamin C for prevention of colds and flu and reducing stress can make all difference.
We live in stressful times - no-one would dispute this. Recent world events have further heightened our sense of powerlessness and inevitability of change that already has proven to be hallmark of 21st century. Thus, it’s more essential than ever to develop our spiritual muscles and muster our physical stamina as this exercise called life is getting tougher and tougher to manoeuvre. With added external stress comes need for more internal calm; amidst global turmoil, we need more personal peace.