Achy muscles. Scratchy throat. Pure, can’t-get-off-the-couch exhaustion. There’s nothing worse than feeling a nasty virus coming on and knowing it’s too late to stop it. And why does it always seem to happen when you have a million things that need to get done?! If there’s any way to swing it, I’d love nothing more than to kick off 2019 without sickness in my family.
But more than that, this year I am going after WELLNESS: a deeper kind of health that goes down to the soul. What do I mean by wellness, you ask? I love breaking a sweat in a crossfit class and strolling the aisles of Whole Foods, but to me, wellness is much deeper than the latest health fad — or even physical health in general. Often, we think of health in terms of our bodies, and that’s a big part of it. How we feel physically impacts every area of our lives. But real health, I’ve learned, is holistic and includes our ENTIRE selves: mind, soul, body, all of it.
This means every part of our identity impacts our overall sense of wellness. If one part is off, our entire feeling of health is compromised. If our bodies are sick, it’s hard to think straight or relate to others in a meaningful way. Similarly, if we are emotionally unwell, our bodies pick up on it. We feel exhausted, we get headaches, or we lose our appetites.
On the other hand, if our bodies are healthy, we can invest more intentionally in the things we’re passionate about. And if we feel emotionally balanced, we can rest more deeply. See the pattern? The wellness I’m seeking in 2019 is whole-person wellness rooted in real rest for my body AND my emotions. I want to nourish my whole self so I can give my whole self more freely to the people and the things I love. Doesn’t it sound good?! If you’re hankering for a new kind of health this new year, here are some practical ideas to take with you.
Focus on nutrition for your whole self. I love the occasional sweet treat. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying junk food. Where I get into trouble is when I’m not being intentional or thoughtful. Have you ever noticed that after indulging in two sugary desserts, you feel deprived of energy? The same principle carries over to our mental health. Why is it that a full-day cooking show Netflix binge doesn’t actually feel restful? I’ve realized that what I feed both my body and my mind directly affect how I feel. So I’m making an effort to focus on physical AND mental nutrition — filling my life with things that give me energy and help me feel, work, and love the best I can.
Incorporate play into your life. I love getting to the gym when I can, but sometimes, exercise feels like another thing on the to-do list. Something I need to accomplish. This year, I’ll be trying to incorporate more spontaneous movement into my life to promote mental and physical wellness.
Run after real rest. We touched on this in the first post of the series: Rest is a vital part of keeping things running smoothly in our lives. Without time to mentally and physically rest, we won’t have anything to offer in our jobs or our relationships. Worse, we’ll lose our capacity to dream! While rest seems counter-productive, it’s actually the most productive thing of all. Rest refuels us and enlivens us, priming us to become the people we want to be. This year, I’ll be prioritizing this kind of rest. Who’s with me?
Consider what drains you. If one part of our lives isn’t running smoothly, the other parts take a hit too. Is there a relationship that needs a boundary? A part of your work week that adds unnecessary stress to your life? A recurring social commitment that fuels your anxiety? Identifying what isn’t working — anything unsustainable in your routines or lifestyle — is the first step toward reducing stress and increasing wellness. Take some time this month to evaluate what you want to keep and what needs to go, and notice how much more joy-filled the rest of your life begins to feel.