Body Wellness Guide:Everything You Should Know!
What Do We Mean By Wellness?
Everyone wants to be ‘well,’ but people have different ideas of what that means. To some, having six-pack abs fits the definition. To someone else, a yearly checkup means he or she is living healthy. To someone else, being well might mean not having a cold.
The above are certainly examples of wellness, but only a very small part of that state of being. Total wellness is about physical, mental, and emotional health. It’s not about how many pushups you can do, or whether you can fit into a size 0 pair of jeans. Wellness is a way of living. It’s the total sum of what our life is, and what we have done with it. Because we are responsible for our own well-being, what we do each day, and what we don’t do add up to how close we are to total wellness.
In an interesting study on life expectancy for the five-year period 2005 through 2010, conducted by the United Nations, Japan ranks highest in life expectancy, with an average of 82.7 years, while America ranks thirty-seventh, with a life expectancy of 78.2. That is not surprising, when one considers that in Japan, a diet filled with fresh produce and a lifestyle that integrates meditation and some form of yoga is the norm.
According to the World Health Organization, over fifty percent of deaths worldwide are caused by chronic diseases. These include cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, obesity, and many others. These are conditions that are almost entirely preventable if we make changes in our diet, physical activity, and tobacco intake.
Making the choice for wellness can be a life or death decision.
Taking care of oneself should be a habit learned in childhood and practiced throughout one’s life.
By making small changes in how we live, we can greatly improve the quality of our life. The more we nurture our wellness, the more ambitious we become for a better, healthier, and happier existence. We want a life of joy. As we seek greater and greater wellness, we become aware of what we eat and how it affects us, how our body becomes healthier and stronger through exercise, and how our mind can shed a lifetime of limitations to reach for the impossible. The more we respect our mind, the more creative we allow ourselves to be. If doesn’t happen overnight. The goal of wellness is more like a journey. Learn how to use meditation, yoga and healthy foods to achieve those goals that you once envisioned for yourself, but perhaps gave up on.
When we incorporate total wellness into our daily lives, we take charge of who we are and who we want to become. It’s like an investment in ourselves.
Living well involves our entire being. Our bodies and our minds work together to create a continuous state of wellness. In order to achieve this type of total, integrated wellness, we need to commit to making smart choices that work for us, not against us. Each day, we are confronted with stressors. They cannot be avoided. It can be traffic, a nasty boss, unpaid bills, a rude co-worker, or an increasing waistline. That is part of life, and sometimes, our choices are limited. Unfortunately, for some people, it’s the only life, as if no other options existed. It’s as if joy and peace were the impossible dream.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Our wellness depends on how we deal with daily stress, not with the stress itself. As soon as we choose how we react, we start being in control. If the traffic is bad, we can use that time to enjoy a new CD. If the boss is an Attila wannabe, we can change how we react to him. Instead of seething, we can understand the boss has a problem, not us. When the bills become overwhelming, we can sit down and draw up a payment schedule.
As soon as our attitude shifts, our mind and our body relax. When we feel better, the world opens up with new possibilities.
Make a Commitment to Wellness
Take the time to sit back and ask yourself this question: How many of my daily decisions are my own, and how many of my decisions are the result of what others believe or want. Believing something, because others do, is not enough to develop a wellness lifestyle. Living your life by default, as it were, is rarely beneficial to your wellbeing. When we live with and for the crowd, we don’t grow as individuals. Other people cannot be avoided, of course, any more than stress can be escaped. It’s how we react to other people and situations that makes the difference. Are we willing to forgo the snack machine at the office? Is there something else we could be doing Friday evening after work instead of meeting at the bar for drinks? Are you willing to shop for fresh, healthy food instead of some processed mix in a box?
Be aware of the small decisions you make every day. It is you who chooses the pizza and cola. It is you who can choose better.
If you are not sure where you stand regarding your emotional wellness, as yourself these questions
1. Do you find time in your day for relaxation?
2. Do you find time in your day for meditation?
3. Are your actions guided by your own values, by others, or by convenience?
4. How accepting are you of other people?
The answers to the above questions will let you know where you can improve the quality of your emotional life. When you have decided to opt for a better lifestyle that will improve your wellness and bring your greater creativity and joy, you will start to live, not just survive.
If you believe you can live a better life, make a list of those beliefs and actions that are in opposition to that goal. See which of those beliefs and actions can be eliminated. No one is forcing you to act, but the truth is, to get the most out of life, to feel and look the best you can, you will have to act in ways that promote these goals.
The first thing you should do is to aim for balance in your life. If you have a job, a relationship, and interests that give you pleasure, do these different aspects of your life receive the attention they deserve? Are you so absorbed with work that you find yourself neglecting family and other pleasures (if you enjoy sports, that is a legitimate pleasure; your life will be less fulfilled without it.)? If you don’t treat your happiness at least as important as you do your job, how satisfying can your life be?
As you plan your week, schedule in family time and fun time, just as you would a business meeting. Find out what you can eliminate from your life to make time. (Are those meetings really productive?)
Learn to treat yourself as you would a good friend. Nurture your life. It’s the only one you have. In the next few chapters, we will discuss how to incorporate good nutrition, exercise, and relaxation into your day to achieve optimal wellness. This does not require major lifestyle changes. Every small choice you make leads in the right directions, and each choice builds on the other. Small choices add up to big changes.
The Importance of Positive Thinking
The words and images that flow through our mind can either contribute to our growth or leave us at on outside of life looking in. A consistent negative attitude can bring the worst of life into our existence – because that’s exactly what we expect. Positive expectation will bring us the best that life has to offer – for the same reason. When we expect the best, we attract it into our lives. A positive mind will bring us happiness, joy, success, and good health. So, why is there so much negative thinking going on? Because many people are consumed with things in the past that they can’t change. Their mind keeps playing the same situation over and over, like a thwarted record or CD. This, unfortunately, only strengthens the negativity.
Someone once observed that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
The reality is, most everyone has experienced pain. Our parents criticized up. A friend has betrayed us – with our spouse. Life can be hurtful, but it’s how we deal with pain that determines how emotionally and physically well we emerge. By letting go of negative resentments, we reduce the power that those feelings have over our lives. This freedom allows us to focus on the positive things that are all around us.
Holding on to grudges can actually cause illness. It is, very literally, a poison that affects us, not the other person. When we free ourselves from the vice grip of bitterness, we experience the following health benefits:
Lower blood pressure
Less hostile ways of dealing with people
Less anxiety and depression
Less chronic and physical pain
More friends and improved relationships
A sense of calm and peace and the ability to accept joy into our lives.
Some bad feelings don’t just disappear on their own. They remain with us, grow, and make it impossible for positive feelings to survive. No poison in our body could act more effectively to kill life’s abundance than constant negative thoughts.
If you’re uncertain whether you are holding old grudges, ask yourself the following:
Do you keep dwelling on past events or offenses?
Do you have outburst of anger for no apparent reason?
Do you become easily irritated?
Do you have thoughts of taking revenge on someone?
Do you automatically think or expect the worst?
Do you magnify the negative and filter out the positive? If you’ve had an excellent day at work, but later realize you might have forgotten to return one phone call, and all you can think about is that, that’s filtering.
Do you take things personally? If a friend cancels a party, do you assume it’s because no one wants to spend an evening with you?
Do you turn everything into a catastrophe? If your husband ran out of the house this morning without a good-bye kiss, do you assume he no longer loves you?
You can’t change the past. You can, however, change the way you live in the present.
If negative thinking is poison, then positive thinking is the elixir. When you think positively, you expect joy and success. As we have determined, what the mind expects, if will somehow find.
To start enjoying the power of positive thinking, check your thoughts on a regular basis during the day. Immediately replace any negative thoughts with positive ones.
For example:“I can’t do this report.”
“I’ll start with a small portion and ask questions if I need to. I’ll get the report done.”
Allow lots of room in your day for humor. Learn to laugh, and find things to laugh at. Laughter as a means to better health was first popularized by Norman Cousins, who faced a diagnosis of cancer by watching hundreds of comedies. He lived for quite a number of years. Just accept that laughter is good for you.
Talk positively to yourself. Several seasons ago, on Donald Trump’s show, The Apprentice, Trump fired a person with the explanation. “You said earlier that you thought you were dumb. I’d never allow anyone who thinks like that work for me. You’re fired.” The way we talk to ourselves affects how to perform. Use positive affirmations, even if they feel awkward at first. They won’t feel that way for long.
Here are some ways to change negative self-talk into positive self-talk:
“I haven’t done this before.” “I’m learning something new.”
“No way will this work.” “Let’s see if I can make this work.
Keep practicing positive thinking and enjoy the benefits. Ignore negativism in others before it rubs off on you. Better yet, seek out positive people. They are fun to be around. Combine positive thinking with creative visualization, which we will discuss later. Smile for no reason; people will notice.
Consider our great president, Abraham Lincoln. He had every reason to be negative. His parents were abusive. He was so awkward, his classmates made fun of him. When he was 22 years old, he failed at business, ran for Congress and lost. His next business failed, as well. When he was 26 years old, the love of his life rejected him, leaving him with a nervous breakdown. At the age of 33, he lost another Congressional race. He married Marie Todd, a woman of unstable mentality, to say the least.
He was 37 when he was elected to Congress. He was subsequently defeated in a senatorial and vice-presidential race.
Any rational person would expect Abraham Lincoln to give up, right? It would appear to be he sensible thing to do. It seems Abraham wasn’t particularly sensible, because at the age of 57, he was elected president of the United States and became one of its greatest leaders.
Lincoln’s life is a testament to how positive thinking will, eventually, lead to success. Lincoln didn’t choose defeat, but he learned how to handle it. His reaction to loss was to try again. You can’t change the situation, but you can change yourself. With the right mindset, defeat will turn into triumph.
How Can Meditation Improve Your Life?
An excellent way to start your own path toward wellness is to begin meditating. While we spend most of our lives looking outward, meditation offers us the opportunity to look inward. It gives us the means of pulling back from the world and looking at ourselves. As we learn to relax and develop greater awareness, the boundaries and limitations of our lives expand to include new ways of looking at things.
Regular meditation can relieve anxiety, depression, and stress. These are all negative feelings that you can then replace with more life-affirming behavior. The more you embrace the habit of meditation, the more joy you will experience in your relationships and daily existence.
The use of meditation for healing is not new. It has been a part of Eastern medicine for centuries, and most Japanese, who enjoy such a long lifespan, practice it daily for its positive and healing effects. The benefits of meditation include an inner state of calmness, a letting go of negative thoughts, which allows new, creative thoughts to surface, and the ability to simply accept emotions instead of judging them.
The calmness we achieve through meditation results in lowering of high blood pressure better than prescription medication. Research has repeatedly shown that a state of calmness helps strengthen our immune system against infectious diseases. No one has ever had a heart attack while meditating.
Meditation does not guarantee good health and total wellness, but it does go a long way to getting us there. It can just about guarantee that once we start, we will feel better. How we feel emotionally and physically have been repeatedly linked. So, many of our physical complaints are the result of inner conflicts. Meditation calms the mind and thereby reduces the stress of everyday living. As a consequence, our bodies grow healthier as we experience greater energy.
Another consequence of regular meditation is that rid our mind of negative thinking. Many of us find it difficult to control our negative thoughts, and thus relive negative moments over and over again. Isn’t once enough? With meditation, we learn to control our mind and our thoughts. Once we learn to let go of negativity, that empty space will be filled with positive thoughts. This creates a more peaceful day to day existence.
Those negative thoughts that roam through our mind don’t just stop with a continual rehashing of past injustices. Unfortunately, negativity is much more insidious than that. When we move through our day in such a contrary mode, a small irritation can become a large vexation. If someone inadvertently cuts in line in front of us, it’s no big deal. The other person might not even be aware of the misdeed. It’s our mind, encased in negativity that blows the situation into a huge act of deliberate malevolence. There is no magic spell that will help us avoid life’s insignificant little mishaps, but meditation can help us remain calm and detached when they occur. Imagine not getting upset every time something doesn’t go our way. That’s the healing power of meditation.
We all want to be happy, and for many of us, happiness means another raise, a better job, or a larger home. Happiness can seem elusive under those circumstances. With meditation, we can achieve a calmness of mind that allows us to accept happiness into our lives with things just the way they are at the moment. Not tomorrow or the day after, but now. That raise might come in handy, but it is peace of mind that allows us to live each day with a sense of calm and happiness.
Another wonderful result of meditation is that it increases our creativity. When we move through our day, our mind is usually filled with a list of things we must accomplish – get that letter out, make those copies, call that client, pick up the kids after work, etc. This incessant mental chatter makes it difficult, if not impossible, for us to relax enough to rid our mind of those voices and allow creativity to happen. When we meditate, we rid our mind of needless clutter. In addition, when we silence those voices that keep harping at us, we also silence the negative voice that keeps insisting we can’t or we shouldn’t. No one is born creative. We learn to become creative. There is only one way we can ensure that we can’t do something, and that is if we never get up the energy to start.
As we have seen, meditation has many health-enhancing benefits. There are many ways to meditate, and below are just a few examples.
Zen meditation teaches us how to keep our minds from wandering and increases our mental focus through relaxation.
1. Practice Zen meditation on the floor or by sitting straight on a chair.
2. If sitting, keep your legs flat on the floor and your knees slightly apart. If you are sitting on a cushion, try the half-lotus or full-lotus position. In half-lotus, you sit with your right leg placed on your left thigh. In the full-lotus position, place each foot on the opposite thigh. While posture is important, the critical thing is for you to be comfortable.
3. Inhale deeply into your abdomen and exhale slowly. Relax and breathe without forcing the matter or worrying about it. No one is grading you.
4. Focus on your breathing. Notice your breath going in and then out.
5. If your mind wanders, just return your focus to your breathing.
Keep practicing Zen meditation each day. You will notice the results soon enough.
Even under the best of circumstances, we frequently need to face frustrations, disappointments, stress, and anger. That is simply a fact of life. Mindfulness meditation helps us deal with these emotions before they affect our health and wellbeing. It helps us become more attuned to our inner state, which helps us deal with stressful times in an effective way. As we strengthen our ability to deal with adversity, we can enjoy a more tranquil state of mind. Outside forces do not control us. It is how we react to those forces that become important.
1. You can use the same sitting posture as in Zen meditation.
2. Take a deep breath and become mindful of any thoughts and feelings.
3. Do not evaluate or judge. Just let whatever happens come naturally.
4. The better you become at introspection, the easier it will be to handle your thoughts and emotions.
Guided meditations are meditations with a specific purpose, such as self-improvement, achieving a goal, and becoming more creative. By using imagery or affirmations, you can focus on what is important to you. The following are examples of guided meditations:
Meditating on self-esteem
Find a comfortable position.
Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
Continue breathing until you feel yourself relaxing. Feel yourself exhaling the tension out of your body.
Without judgment, notice any tension in your body. Concentrate on those parts and picture them relaxing. As you inhale, send the breath to those parts that are tense and allow them to relax.
Let a feeling of total relaxation flow through you. Enjoy the feeling of relaxation spreading through your entire body.
Keep breathing deeper and deeper. Feel the relaxation growing. You are feeling totally calm.
Now, in your mind, imagine a place where you feel totally at ease. It can be a place you know, or you can create your own peaceful sanctuary. The important thing is that you feel safe and calm in this place.
Imagine all of the details of this safe place. What are the sounds and smells? Are there birds singing? Can you smell the grass or the water? What can you see as you look around? Just allow yourself to enjoy being in your special place.
Enjoy the feeling of peace and calm that is flowing through you.
Now start by repeating the affirmations below. You can speak out loud or simply repeat the affirmations in your mind. Imagine that they are true this very moment. How does it feel?
I like who I am right now.
I am a valuable person.
I enjoy feeling happy.
I accept who I am right now.
I have made mistakes, but I have learned from them.
My future is filled with possibilities.
I am not perfect, and I don’t have to be.
I am fine the way I am, but I can always learn something new.
I accept my feelings.
I feel confident.
Just let those positive affirmations flow through you and be aware how good you feel. As you leave your special place, retain those positive feelings about yourself.
If you think words can’t make a difference, think about some of the things you absorbed while growing up. Did you have a brother who called you fat? Did your parent indicate to you that you weren’t smart enough? Do you find yourself worrying about your looks today? Do you refuse to try for a better job or promotion because you are sure you don’t have what it takes?
Words from the past can be powerful, and they can keep influencing us. But we can use words to our benefit. Use positive words to change your internal dialogue. How you talk to yourself has a large effect on how you feel about yourself and how you act.
Think about this: when Donald Trump goes into a meeting, do you think he tells himself, “I wonder if I’m good enough to do this. I’m probably not smart enough. I’m bound to lose this deal.” No, that’s probably not what The Donald tells himself. Instead, he’s more likely to think, “I’m gonna nail this. I’m prepared, and I’m good. I’ll walk away with the best terms available.”
Words do make a difference. They are powerful enough to allow us to create our own reality. What we tell ourselves and what we believe usually happens. Choose words that further your life, not hinder it.
The more you use positive affirmations, the better they will work. Choose affirmations to help you with your particular situation, such as making more money or finding love.
Quit Smoking Meditation
Find a comfortable place to sit down. Close your eyes.
Mentally, see yourself as a former smoker for the next two hours.
Imagine how good it feels to no longer smoke.
Imagine your body recovering from the effects of smoking. Imagine your lung pink and healthy. Take a deep breath and imagine your lungs breathing in that fresh, clean air.
Thank yourself for not smoking.
Do this meditation exercise each time you smoke a cigarette. Visualize being a non-smoker for longer periods of time.
If you get an overwhelming urge to light up, close your eyes, inhale deeply. Visualize your body begging you not to smoke. Reassure your body that you will remain smoke-free.
Meditate While Walking
Walking is excellent exercise, but you can also use your walk to meditate, thereby doubling the benefit. When you meditate, it’s a good idea to walk in a park instead of traffic. Walk at a normal pace for a minimum of twenty minutes.
The advantage of walking meditation is, of course, that you are exercising and breathing in fresh air. Take a few deep breaths before you start. Become aware of how you feel.
It’s easy to become distracted while walking. There are people, buildings, and other sights vying for your attention. Keep your full focus on your body. If you start thinking about your day, work, or other things, just brings your attention back to your body, from how you alternate right foot and left foot, to how you swing your arms. How do your feet feel as they hit the ground? Notice your legs, calves, ankles, and feet as they move forward. Notice your shoulders and stomach. Let go of any tension. By the time you are done, your body will be relaxed and you will feel lighter.
The mind is our most powerful and amazing tool. When our mind is filled with negative thoughts, such as, how unfair the boss is, how impossible the mother-in-law, etc. our body responds by tensing up. On the other hand, when we concentrate on positive thoughts, our body relaxes in a healthful way.
There is an old saying, whether we belief we can do something or believe we cannot do it, we are right. If our mind has created a reality for us, we make it happen. Our successes and failures depend less on outside circumstances than they do on how we think about ourselves. The genuine success of ancient shamans and faith healers had little to do with their powers. Instead, they were able to heal because people believed that they were being healed, so, they became well.
Creative visualization is a way of guiding our mind to make our goals come true. In other words, we train ourselves to think that we can. Creative visualization can improve our existence and lead us to prosperity and success. We don’t alter the circumstance; we alter the way we view and react to the circumstance.
Every success starts with creative visualization. Most famous people such as actors, athletes, and business mavens planned on being successful at an early age. They simply knew they would succeed. There was no room left in their minds for anything negative.
Barbra Streisand had all the wrong looks. Born and raised in Brooklyn, someone like her would appear destined to remain there. Nevertheless, she envisioned her future differently. “I’d start going to acting classes at 14, played Medea at 15 and really wanted to be an actress.” She refused to acknowledge any circumstances that could stop her.
When we visualize about a situation, we bring it into existence. It is, quite simply, a natural process that dictates that whatever the mind is focused on, that will happen. It a bit like daydreaming, but more structured. There is no magic involved, only the same determination and focus that helped Barbra Streisand rise from a- nobody from Brooklyn to the top of her profession.
Many people used creative visualization as a natural part of their lives without being aware of it. They know what their goals are and do what is needed to turn them into reality. These thoughts start in the subconscious mind, which then works to make in happen by adjusting our habits and conscious thoughts accordingly. Thus, we attract that which we think about. On a conscious and subconscious level, we do what is needed to achieve our goal. Cornelius Vanderbilt, who certainly attracted money into this life, once said, “I’ve been insane on the subject of making money all my life.” No one had to teach him about creative visualization. He saw money in his sleep.
If you have watched a person who is filled with anger, you know that thought is energy. It changes the energy around that person and brings forth exactly all the bad things that person is angry about.
When we change our mental image our reality changes to fit our thoughts. In other words, we go beyond the boundaries we have set for ourselves. Sometimes, our thoughts limit us. The more we are willing to expand them, the bigger our dreams become, and consequently, we open ourselves up to great opportunities.
The following steps will help you with creative visualization.
1. Define your goals clearly. “I want to go into politics.” is different from, “I want to be president.”
2. Think and meditate on your goal to make sure it is appropriate for you. If you are six feet tall, you just won’t become a prima ballerina.
3. Take time to sit in a quiet place.
4. Breathe in deeply until you are totally relaxed.
5. Develop a picture in your mind of what you want. Use all of your senses to make it real to you. Determine how you feel.
6. Do this twice a day for ten to fifteen minutes.
7. Be persistent and don’t give up. Use the power of positive thinking to anchor your visualizations.
8. When negative thoughts are introduced (i.e., “It’ll never happen to someone like me.”), simply replace the negative thought with a positive one. (“If I continue to study hard, there is no reason I can’t become president one day.”)
9. Keep an eye out for opportunities that will lead to your goal, and don’t hesitate to take advantage of them.
Creativity is the ability to imagine something in a new way. This means being able to take an old idea and turn it into something new by combining and changing some already existing ideas. It can be something very simple, except that no one seems to have thought of it.
Take the Snuggie, one of the greatest sales success stories. The Snuggie is a blanket with holes in it for arms. Why would anyone even think about something like that? The guy who created the Snuggie was snuggled in a blanket during a cold evening and quickly became aggravated every time he had to get up to get something. Out of aggravation, the Snuggie was born. During its first three years of sales, it made $100 million.
Now, that’s being creative.
Everyone has creative abilities. Just watch a child at play. Unfortunately, although everyone claims to support creativity, schools, businesses, parents, and military all favor the conformist. Sure, parents love to brag about how smart their child is, but once their little budding genius paints the walls in a burst of creativity, they make sure their child ‘behaves’ in the future. Teachers prefer and reward the compliant student who does as he or she is told instead of the little troublemaker who asks difficult questions. Just a few years ago, wearing a non-white shirt to the office was akin to open rebellion. In life, conformity frequently gets acknowledged and rewarded, while creativity gets punished and ridiculed.
Consider the following:
Ken Olsen, chairman of Digital Equipment Corp. did not see the potential in personal computers. According to him, “there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Try and convince Bill Gates of that.
IBM, RCA, and GE and other companies turned away Chester Carlson’s patents for a xerography. The general consensus was, “Why would anyone buy an expensive copy machine when carbon paper is so cheap and plentiful.”
While studying business management class at Yale, Fred Smith’s paper earned a “C.” According to his professor, the concept of an overnight delivery service was ridiculous. Fred Smith is the founder of Federal Express.
William Orton, president of Western Union, refused to buy Bell’s small telephone company. According to Orton, “This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
According to Darryl Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox, “TV won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first 6 months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”
Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer Inc., tried to interest major companies such as Atari and Hewlett-Packard in his personal computer. Atari had a good laugh and send him away. Hewlett-Packard told Steve, “We don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.”
In everyday life, creativity helps us deal with change because the more creative we are, the more willing we are to experiment with new ideas, and the more flexible we become. Rigidity is the opposite of creativity.
Rigid people find reasons why something won’t work. Creative people come up with reasons why it will.
There are things you can do to increase your creativity.
1. Change a daily habit. If you drive to work one way, use a different route.
2. Eat something you have never tried before.
3. Do something new – join a book club, volunteer your time, go to a different supermarket.
4. Develop a hobby or new interest – if you’ve never been interested in sports, follow your hometown team. Go to a game. Talk to the people you meet there.
5. Wear something out of the ordinary. Try on a hat. Add some jewelry. Wear a color you don’t usually wear.
6. Take a bath instead of a shower.
As you try new things, your mind becomes more open to new experiences and ideas. You find yourself letting go of limitations and consider other allowing other people and possibilities into your life. Don’t be afraid of being childlike. When you watch children, you can see how creative and uninhibited they are. They have not yet discovered that their mind and bodies have limitations.
Yoga Can Keep You Healthy Stress can cause a number of health problems, and unfortunately, there is no way to avoid stress. It hits every day as we deal with our jobs, bosses, spouses, neighbors, in-laws, etc. If stress has taken over your day, it’s time to deal with it. Yoga has been used for centuries to enhance our feeling of relaxation and to calm our minds. A combination of physical movements and focused breathing – the mind and body working together – can calm our minds and bring about an enjoyable sense of peace.
There are many forms of yoga, from gentle in intense. One of the most popular yoga styles is called Hatha. Because the movements are easy and slow, it is easier to learn. You may want to investigate several yoga types, but they all work to bring about relaxation and better health.
Basically, yoga consists of poses that includes various movements. The movements are usually quite easy, but they keep us flexible and strengthen our bodies. While we execute a series of movements, we control our breathing, which leads to control over our mind.
Practicing yoga on a regular basis can:
1. Reduce stress.
2. Improve our overall fitness and enhance our muscle tone.
3. Help control the effects of chronic diseases, cancer, depression, anxiety, pain, and insomnia.
Yoga is not a cure-all. But it can help control disease and, if you are healthy, can greatly increase your level of wellness. It is not necessary to do each and every pose, nor do you have to do each the poses perfectly. You’ll improve with practice, and even struggling attempts are beneficial.
Below are a few of the most common poses that are an excellent starting place for beginners.
Go down on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes under. Lift your hips up, allowing your chest and shoulders to sink in. Your legs will be straight, and your face will be near the floor.
Breathe in as you raise your hips. Exhale as you rise up.
The Downward Dog stretches the back of the legs and spine. IChild's Pose From the Downward Dog, untuck the toes and lower your hips down to your heels. Rest your torso on your thighs. Your forehead should be touching the ground. Stretch your arms straight forward. The Child’s Pose stretches the hips and back. Warrior Pose
Stand straight with arms by your side. Exhale as you move your feet 3 feet apart. Raise your arms and stretch them parallel to the floor. Keep yours facing downward. Shift your left foot 90 degrees to the left. Lower your right leg until your thigh is paralel to the floor, i.e, keep pushing your right foot down. Hold this pose for up to a minute. Breathe in as you straighten up. Reverse the pose using the other leg.
The Warrior Pose stretches the thighs.
Get down on hands and knees. Raise your back until your spine curves. Keep your neck relaxed and your head toward the floor. Inhale as your raise your back.
The Cat Pose relaxes muscles in the back and in the neck.
Get down on your hands and knees. Your shoulders should be above your wrists. Stretch your legs out and walk back until your body is a straight line. It should resemble a plank, with the feet down low and your legs and back curving upward and held up by your straight arms. Inhale as you lift your stomach.
The Plank Pose strengthens your arms and abdomen.
Tai chi is a centuries-old Chinese tradition that consists of various slow and focused movements. The gentle, flowing movements and mental focus are an excellent way to reduce stress, achieve a calm mind, and strengthen the body. While certain aspects of Tai chi emphasis martial arts, most movements are geared toward overall wellness and are easy to perform.
Tai chi is extremely low impact exercise and safe for all ages, particularly for older adults. It is a great way to improve your health. The benefits are:
1. Less stress and anxiety
2. Increased physical fitness
3. Increased flexibility
4. Increased strength
Tai chi may also help:
2. Improve the immune system
3. Decrease blood pressure
4. Reduce risk of falling in the elderly
While there are many helpful books on tai chi, it might be best to join a class at first to learn the basics. An experienced teacher can help with coordination and breathing and prevent injuries. Many fitness centers offer tai chi. Once you feel comfortable with the moves, you can practice tai chi on your own anytime, but a daily routine at the same time and place is best.
Below are a few easy-to-do tai-chi movements.
Stand with both feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
Place weight on right foot and hold for several seconds.
Move feet back to center.
Place weight on left foot and hold for several seconds.
This exercise can be done anywhere, such as while waiting in line at the market or for the bus.
Sit in a chair and keep your back straight and feet flat on the floor.
Slowly, lower chin to chest.
With chin lowered, lower head to right shoulder.
Lift head back up.
With chin still lowered, lower head to left shoulder.
Lift head back up.
Raise head and move as far back as possible.
Repeat several times to relax neck muscles.
Sit in a chair and keep feet flat on the floor. Keep back straight and lift arms up in front on you.
Bend elbows just slightly and circle both wrists outward several times.
Circle your forearms outward several times.
Circle your arms and shoulders outward several times.
Repeat the arm circles going inward.
Sit in a chair and keep feet flat on the floor.
Lift your lower right leg and rotate clockwise six times and counter clock six times.
Repeat circles with left leg.
Circle right ankle clockwise and counter clockwise six times.
Repeat ankle circles with leg ankle.
Qigong is another traditional Chinese exercise and health care option that uses posture, breathing, and focus. Its purpose in health care is preventive. With a daily Qigong routine, you will feet better and be healthier. The movements enhance your immune system and aid in recovery when you get ill.
Tai Chi is one of the gentler Qigong practices, while Kung Fu represents the harsher, more physical aspect. Most people who practice Qigong, however, do so for the slow, gentle movement that can be practiced by all age groups.
To learn the various movements of Qigong, find a good instructor or an illustrated book.
Reflexology is the belief that specific reflex points correspond to specific organs of the body. If pressure is applied to the correct point, it has a beneficial effect on the person’s health. For example, according to reflexology, a point at the arch of the foot corresponds to bladder functions. Therefore, applying pressure to that area will affect the bladder.
The popularity of reflexology as a treatment for anxiety, cardiovascular problems, headaches, diabetes, headaches, and other ailments is growing as a complete treatment option or as a complement to other holistic treatments, such as meditation, yoga, etc.
Companies in Denmark have actively used reflexology since the 90s, and the result has been reduced absenteeism, less sickness leave, and tremendous savings in health care costs.
Practitioners of reflexology access the relevant points on the hands, feet, and ears that correspond to a specific body system. Practitioners use pressure to manipulate those points that can benefit from adjustments.
Feet are popularly used in reflexology, as each food represents one half of the body: For instance, the left foot relates to the left side of the body and all of its organs, while the right foot relates to the right side of the body with all of its organs.
Reflexology treatment can be general, for overall good health, or it can focus on specific problem areas. Either way, reflexology releases stress and enhances energy flow within the body. People usually feel more energetic and relaxed following a reflexology session. Studies have also shown that reflexology can decrease pain and anxiety, as well as help with insomnia.
Eating for Better Health The way we eat tremendously affects how we look, how we feel, and how we live. Food is fuel for our body, and if we don’t feed it the best ingredients, our bodies cannot functional optimally. Years ago, people ate far more fresh produce and healthy grains, and many chronic diseases did not exist then the way they do now. Forty percent of people suffer from chronic diseases that could be prevents or cured with a better diet. For a good start, we need to increase our intake of live foods. Life foods contain enzymes and bacteria that help us digest food. The fresher the food, the more enzymes it contains. When we eat live foods, we should eat it as whole as possible. That means an apple is healthier than apple juice. A whole orange is better for us than freshly squeezed orange juice. When we eat whole fruits and raw vegetables, we gain the necessary fiber that our bodies needs for a healthy intestinal tract and to rid our bodies of harmful toxins. When a food is processed, such as when a vegetable is cooked, it loses much of it fiber content. Whole, unprocessed foods deliver vitamins, minerals, and compounds to keep our body at its healthiest. When buying food, ask yourself: How did this food grow? What has happened to this food since harvest time? Eat as many different fresh foods as possible. Experiment with eating five different colors each day. We have already determined that Japan has the longest lifespan. It also has the lowest rate of obesity. Three percent of the Japanese population is obese, compared to thirty percent of the American population. Perhaps the Japanese are doing something Americans are not.
What can we learn from the Japanese diet? For starters, the Japanese eat plenty of starch in the form of rice and noodles that is in whole wheat form. They do not eat the white rice we do. Our white rice has been almost entirely stripped of any nutrients, as has our white bread. Perhaps white isn’t the best color for foods.
Japan is also a country that respects its vegetable. They eat lots of it. They enjoy homemade broths flavored with peppers, beans, onions, turnips, carrots, and more. Also, they prepare their own broths instead of buying the canned version at the store, which is a lot less healthy.
In addition, the Japanese eat twice as much fish as they do meat. That seems to be an excellent ratio. Americans eat forty times more fish than they do fish. Fish is one of the healthiest of foods we can consume, containing a high level of omega 3 fatty acids and other minerals. It might be worth forgoing that hamburger in favor of a broiled fish. Fish gives the body the ability to fight of inflammations and stress.
Also, Americans eat three times more sugar than the Japanese. A high intake of sugar is known to lead to heart diseases, diabetes and other ailments. It’s an excellent idea to find ways of cutting our sugar intake. Have an apple for dessert instead of a slice of apple pie. If you really want some ice cream, have a small scoop instead of a large bowl. These small changes can make a big difference and add years to your life.
A healthy diet starts when we are young. If children learn about nutrition, it will become a way of life. They will understand the effects that various types of foods has on their bodies.
The Japanese drink lots of healthy green tea, which has a lot of antioxidants. Not surprisingly, America’s favorite beverage is any kind of a soft drink, which contains absolutely no nutrition and loads of sugar.
Americans are subjected to daily advertising on how great fast food or a pizza is. Processed foods represent a multi-billion industry. Don’t let the media manipulate you. The heart problems you will likely suffer from eating a Big Mac will be yours, not theirs. Take a few positive steps each day and take control of the food that you put into your body.
Live a Life of Optimal Health
Enjoying optimal health means more than just not being sick. Optimal health means reaching a state of optimal wellness and enjoying every moment of our life. It means that all our physical, mental, and emotional parts are in balance. It integrates all aspects of who we are as we improve the quality of our life each day.
Understand that your health is your responsibility, not your healthcare provider’s. As a matter of fact, you are responsibility for the healthcare provider you choose. You decide on your lifestyle, and you decide what is best for you. You are responsible for the decisions you make regarding your life – both the goods ones and the bad ones.
In other words, you have the power to decide the state of your emotional, physical, and mental health. You create your own state of wellness.
You use your power every day when you make decisions regarding your life. Each choice builds on the other, with the final result being your well-being. If you do nothing, you will surely reap the consequences. If you do the bare minimum, perhaps as suggested by your doctor, you will enjoy bare minimum health, wellness, and happiness.
To create rich and total wellness, you need to integrate your whole being. For instance, if you decide to excise and run a good five miles each day, you are making a good decision. If, following your jog, you go to work and join your colleagues for lunch at McDonalds’ you are deciding in favor of poor health and a lesser wellbeing.
You act as your own health team. To be effective, all members of your team must work together for your benefit. If there is conflict, your wellness suffers. Your health team includes a guardian for your body, a guardian for your emotions, and a guardian for your mind. By working together, they serve your wellbeing and will lead you to optimal health and being a whole person. That means enjoying life as it was meant to be enjoyed.
As we have seen above, when one of your guardians (the one looking out for your diet) lets you down, your whole person suffers, even if you do some exercises. When you deny that you are angry (mental), you can become depressed (emotional) and start suffering from stress (physical). This integrated relationship you have with yourself is referred to as the mind/body connection, and each part requires attention in order to function at optimal level.
Physically, you need good, healthy nutrition to function at your best level.
Emotionally, you need laughter and joy.
Mentally, you need positive thinking, positive self-talk, and a positive image of yourself.
If you are not sure how well your wellness team is working, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do you face each day with enthusiasm?
2. Do you have enough energy to accomplish all that you need to?
3. Do you laugh often each day?
4. Do you engage in some form of exercise?
5. Do you feel confident that you are able to handle problems as they arise or do you feel overwhelmed?
6. Do you feel that people appreciate you?
7. Do you have friends you can depend on?
Here’s what your wellness team should be doing:
Physical guardian needs to make sure you:
1. Eat fresh food every day.
2. Hydrate your body with plenty of water.
3. Find some pleasurable exercise, jogging, dancing, walking, skating, etc.
4. Get enough sleep.
Emotional guardian needs to make sure you:
1. Have fun every day.
2. Have someone in your life you trust enough to share your feelings.
3. Are able to create warm, beneficial relationships.
Mental guardian needs to make sure you:
1. Reach out of your comfort zone and be open to new ideas.
2. Remain more positive and criticize less.
3. Trust yourself and explore your creativity.
4. Live in the present instead of the past.
No one's life is perfect. We all have difficult situations, hard times, and losses to deal with. However, some people see it as a failure and catastrophe, while others see it as part of life and a challenge. Can you imagine whose situation will work out better?
The person who is actively involved in his or her wellness will do what is necessary. This person understands that he or she is responsible for making the right choices. The person who is passive remains a victim of circumstances that can become overwhelming. This person passively accepts what life dishes out and feels increasingly hopeless, fearful, and anxious.
Having a choice in how we react is extremely empowering. It means we are never at the mercy of another person or life’s ups and downs. We are the captain of our own little ship.
Begin taking charge by being aware how you feel. If you feel anxious about a situation, that is a hint that you need to make some changes. By changing your behavior, you will change how you feel. Even if your actions are not successful, just knowing that you took action will raise your self-esteem. Keep in mind that it is better to act to achieve positive results than to act in order to avoid negative results.
To achieve your optimal wellness target, you need to know exactly what you want. The goals of a retired school teacher will be different from the goals of a twenty-something looking for love.
Knowing your goals will help you determine the areas where you want to make changes. Simply start by doing more of what is beneficial to you and less of what is harmful. As you see the changes in your daily life, you can adjust your behavior for greater benefit. You’re in charge, and the decisions are yours.
Here are some small steps you can take:
Add one beneficial activity to your life. For example, you can practice walking meditation.
Learn an activity that you have not done before. This can increase your creativity. For example, join a dance class.
Rid your life of one unhealthy activity. For example, don’t eat processed food. You don’t have to go cold turkey on all of your unhealthy choices. Simply cutting down on some processed foods will help. Then cut down some more. This is supposed to be fun, not hard.
The chances are excellent that if you make a start at wellness, you will feel the difference in your wellbeing very quickly. As a result, you will be more eager to enhance your wellness lifestyle for even better results. Wellness is achieved one small step at a time and continuing in the right direction without giving up.
Be aware each day of the choices you make and the choices you could be making. As you become conscious of your state of wellness, you will become aware of more and more choices. Continue acting in your best interest. Remember, if you want to enhance your wellbeing, you must be an active participant.