Yesterday, on my commute home from Jade I was struck by an episode of the New York Times culture podcast “Still Processing.” The conversation centered around wellness and how that word is now used to cover and sell everything from face creams to vacations. For many, that makes wellness feel inaccessible. Not everyone has hours a day to take care of themselves in the way that some marketing says we should. So instead of falling prey to feeling incapable or shut out of wellness, it may be time to redefine it for yourself. Afterall, wellness should be about what makes you feel good, whole, and healthy.
Here are some examples of finding free wellness where you can.
Infuse some fun into frustrating tasks.
All of us have sources of frustration that can throw us out of a groove. That might be tackling an errand you hate, completing a chore, or commuting. Eliminating all of these isn’t realistic- nor is hiring all of them out. So, try to shift your perspective.
Real life example: I take the bus to work whereas I used to walk. Standing outside in the dark and cold for 15 minutes or so can be frustrating for me so I have to come up with tricks to get me through it. I have recently starting exercising while waiting. That may mean walking up and down the sidewalk, using an exercise band that fits in my bag to do arm curls, or doing some squats. It allows me to move a little which helps my mood and keeps me warmer while it is cold out.
2. Embrace change
Routines are important. When it comes to sleep, exercise, and diet, routines make healthy choices part of your autopilot mode. However, life throws curves and embracing those can be just as important. Being flexible is a skill, and one that lets you keep more smiles on your face despite the rain, traffic, noise, etc. Next time something gets in the way, try looking at that obstacle as a chance to add variety to life.
Real life example: “Who needs a gym membership when we have winter.” This is a quote from my neighbor uttered this morning as we were shovelling the driveway side by side. I recently started a goal of 30 minutes of exercise per day. My preference is to get this movement outside in the form of a walk or run. However, ideal is different from real. So after yesterday’s weather forecast I set my alarm for a little earlier and planned for 30 minutes of exercise via shovelling. I got to be outside, and did a much more complete shovel job than usual - even sweeping the deck because I had allotted 30 minutes to do it and the snow was easier to move than I had planned for.
Meditating, being mindful, and being present are all touted as wellness tools. Part of the appeal is that they all require us to slow down and take a minute to reconnect with ourselves and surroundings. One meditation goal is to reconnect with the breath. This is something you are doing anyway but it is also a daily activity that is really easy to ignore. Instead, once a day just notice that you are breathing.
Real life example: I had a slip on an icy sidewalk earlier this month. I was rushing to get across the street and wasn’t paying attention to my footing. It was a minor slip and fall so I was lucky, but still a little shaky when I got up. Before I started walking again I took 3 deep breaths. It was comforting to take a moment to pay attention to each breath and say to myself “You’re breathing, you’re OK.” This wasn’t a 15 minute meditation session with a lit candle but it was a way to bring me back to the present quickly and calm my heart rate.
These scenarios may not be transferable to your own life. But, they are examples of finding wellness that don’t take a lot of time, cost a lot of money, or look particularly Instagram ready. My hope is that by sharing them you will feel empowered to redefine wellness and find ways to integrate it into your life in whatever way works for you.
Meet Carole Wyche L.Ac! She is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and a NCCAOM Diplomate of Oriental Medicine. She obtained her Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAOM) from the New England School of Acupuncture. She has treated in several integrated settings including neurosurgery, Boston Medical Center, and Cambridge Health Alliance. Carole works in our Portland office.