Living your best life, is a common phrase often used in 2019. Look anywhere on social media. As a matter of fact, do a hashtag (#) search on Instagram or other social media. Pictures of smiling faces, adventure shots, weddings, graduations, and more are everywhere! In the comments, you are likely to see a “living your best life” comment.
When you are living your best life, wellness is easy to incorporate into your lifestyle. During these highs, your job/career is, at the least, satisfactory. Finances are flexible. Relationships are rewarding. Family life is well. You feel good with no major health concerns. And, you can even carve in some me time to do the things that matter most to you. During these periods, God is good to you. Amen!
But what happens when the wind shifts and the pendulum swings too far to the right or too far to the left and shit gets off balance?
How do you live your best life then? How do you then show up with a smile? How do you respond when your company down-sizes and your job is eliminated? What gets you out of bed when the bill collectors’ call you before you plant your feet on the floor? Hmm…. When that one person you thought was your ride or die drops the ball and bails….now what and who do you turn to? Worse yet, the doctor informs you that you have a major health issue?
Where is wellness in the mix of chaos and disaster? Did the wrecking ball smash your sense of wellness into unrecognizable pieces? During a recent sermon, the pastor reminded his members that, God did not promise us that life would be easy.
I believe life is a journey of peaks and valleys. At some point in time, everyone is blessed with the joy of winning and the feeling of being on top (the peak).
Likewise, no one is lucky enough to to avoid nesting on the bottom in the valley.
When you are in either spot, you tend to forget about the “other” place. In a sense, you are either climbing, falling, or performing a balancing act somewhere in the middle.
When you are on top, everything is great. If you are not careful, the memories of the nightmare of the last valley you crawled out of can fade quickly. But you must remember and live humble. When you fall deep, you might not even recall how you got there because your fall was so fast.
Then how do you embody wellness during difficult times? You embody wellness the same as you during good and bad times.
1. Begin each day with gratitude. No matter what your situation, begin each day with a few moments to think about all that is good in your life. You will experience hard times but you still have goodness in your life. Everything is not bad. If you are reading this, your heart is beating. You woke up this morning. You can read. You have a device to access this blog. You have electricity. You are of sound mind. Enlist in a gratitude journal. Write three things you are grateful for each day. Write in the morning or at night; whichever works for you.
2. Focus on the present. Yesterday was either good, a day you would like to forget, or somewhere in the centre. One thing for sure, yesterday is gone. Pastor Dharius Daniels, says, “Don’t visit what you cannot revise!” Did you get that? You cannot fix yesterday, so let it be. Yesterday may have delivered hurt, pain, sorrow, grief, or anger, but what you chose to feel today is your choice. By no means am I suggesting that you will get over hurt in one day, because the heart and the mind does not function that way. What I am saying is that reliving the moments will not make you feel better. You will feel worse. Consider how you will move forward. What do you want to do? What goals have you set for yourself? Go about chipping away at your long-term goals one bite at a time. No matter how small, each step will move you to a better place. Your mind will focus on the task at hand and keep you moving forward.
3. Submerge yourself in positive words. I am talking about fully drowning yourself in encouraging and uplifting words. Beginning with your bedside. Place an inspiring book next to your bed. Read it in the morning and at bedtime. In the series, Being Mary Jane, Gabrielle Union stuck post it notes all over her bathroom mirror. Hang inspirational messages throughout your home.
Seeing positive words daily will uplift you. When you hear or read words that reverberate with you, write them down. Post them in your bathroom, in your car, at work, at your desk, in the kitchen, on the walls, wherever you will see them. Listen to an inspiring podcast like Tiffany F. Southerland. Watch an inspiring message on youtube such as Dharius Daniels or an encouraging message about Hasty Faith//Crazy Faith. Music is a simple way to change your mood. Create a playlist of music that makes you smile, dance, laugh, or happy. Any of these activities will lift your spirit or keep you juiced up.
4. Eat Well. According to the Stress Management Society, there are three stages of stress. 1. Alarm – When an event occurs, the body’s initial response is the alarm. At this time, your body produces adrenaline. You either respond or hold back (fight or flight). 2. Resistance Stage – Your body goes into resistance stage, which occurs if there is no response. The body forms a mechanism that learns to cope with the event. Resources are gradually being drained, eventually the body’s ability to resist will fade. 3. Exhaustion Stage – Your body has used up all of its resources from coping with the stress. If not resolved, this is when you begin to see the first symptoms of stress such as: muscle tension, edgy personality, increased heart rate, headaches, loss of appetite, a short temper, or loss of focus/concentration. Prolonged symptoms can result in ulcers, depression, other mental/health problems, heart/cardiovascular problems, diabetes, bowel/digestive problems, or another illness.
When stressed, loss of appetite is normal for some people. It is you body’s response to pressure but can also lead to unhealthy eating habits. Furthermore, “stress can cause the body to crave foods that are high in fats and sugars.” People tend to eat badly when they are stressed. Being aware of your body’s natural response is key to surviving difficult times. So wallowing away in a bag of chips, cookies, or overindulging in alcohol will only cause you to feel worse.
This is the time when it is most important for you to nourish yourself properly. Drink more water, eat more fruits and vegetables, and consume a calming tea like chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm, or rose tea. Avoid skipping meals, excessive alcohol, sugar, fast-foods, and refined carbs. Eat well, feel better!
5. Incorporate essential oils into your daily routine. Essential oils are derived from plants. Oils are concentrated natural compounds that come from the roots, seeds, and flowers of plants. They have been in existence since the earliest readings of mankind. Some essential oil solutions for tension, stress, anxiety, and sleep aid are Lavender, Serenity, Pasttense, Frankincense, Placing a diffuser in your bedroom and using it before bedtime and during sleep will assist to promote calmness and relaxation, which can help you to sleep better. To learn more usage for your essential oils, contact me at Lexa’s Wellness.
6. Include meditation and prayer in your daily practice. Both will ground you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. If your belief is in a higher being, the universe, or elsewhere, that’s fantastic. Go to your source in meditation. Sit in silence with your source and gain hope, clarity, and inspiration to continue to live each day with peace and gratitude in your heart. If you need help with meditation, there are my apps to help you. Try the app Relax and Rest , which has guided meditations. Another favorite is Calm. And finally, Insight Timer The apps will guide you through each step. Your mind will wander but do not give up. Use the apps at work, in your car, or anywhere you feel stressed.
7. Maintain mental health. Seek professional help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reported 19.1% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2018 (47.6 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults. 4.6% of U.S. adults experienced serious mental illness in 2018 (11.4 million people). This represents 1 in 25 adults.
We are living in a period where access to mental health service is more available than any other time. Yet, men are told to suck it up, man up… no tears. At a young age, women are taught to bury their feelings and to put their emotions on pause, be strong and take care of your family first. Both notions are misguided. Lack of treatment will create an environment of suffering for you, suffering for your spouse, and suffering for your children. Lack of treatment may cause job loss and other financial consequences. Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, anger, and grief are normal. But the right trained professional for you can help you to sort through these feelings, and not necessarily with medication. If you prefer to avoid medication, search for a holistic practitioner who meets your needs.
8. Play. See a movie. Ride a bike. Walk in a park. Go to the theatre. Zip line. Take a cooking class. Enroll in a belly dancing course. See a comedy show. Learn a new skill. Partake in an activity that brings you joy…that makes you smile…that makes you laugh. Laughter is good for you.
9. Spend 30 minutes taking a 5-minute walk. Yeah, you right. This exercise is taken from a book on mindfulness that I love. Depending on where you live, this one can be challenging. But give it a try anyway. The pace of life on the sidewalks is fast. It feels good. We are often driven that way internal, too. Some of us even want our walks to count as training. Which is why “slow down” is a ubiquitous counter-mantra. How slow? How about as slow as can be. Think of it as walking meditation, what Zen Buddhists call Kinhin. Take a step, breathe, look. Study the bark on a tree. Examine something in a store window. Explore the cracks in the sidewalk, or the ants crawling along the pavement. Allow yourself to be completely distracted from the goal of reaching your destination. You will fight it, but if and when you are able to let go of the tug to “hurry up,”you might just discover a new experience.
“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” – Eleanor’s Duse