Over the past few years, I’ve been striving to find balance with myself. This past week, I’ve thought about what I’ve learned over the past years about what seeking balance means to me and how I can obtain overall wellness.
Some of the things I have learned include:
1. Wellness is not one-dimensional.
In my own life I have witnessed how health wellness involve more than just the physical aspects of eating nutritious food, exercising and strengthening muscles, and sleeping/resting. Wellness also involves social health, emotional health, spiritual health, environmental health, mental health, and occupational and financial health in addition to the well-known physical health aspect. Each of these aspects of health interconnects and directly or indirectly influences each other. The things we do every day have an effect on each category of wellness – not just one. We have to look at wellness from different angles to get a better picture of the whole situation. In my own life I have found that I may do doing well socially, but if I’m not doing well spiritually or mentally then I feel sort of “sick,” lacking in one area or another.
2. Balance, Health, and Wellness relate but differ in their meanings.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
Balance is “a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance” (source). Thus, if I am striving for balance, I need to set priorities, make sure each area of my life has the right amount of focus/importance, etc. Family, work, school, health, friends and relatives, blog, life, home, finances, goals for future, etc. There’s a lot to find balance with in life, but that adds to the fun of it.
Health is “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially: freedom from physical disease or pain” (source). Nonetheless, I don’t think life is entirely without pain or disease. Some individuals may have a disease beyond their capacity or control. Intolerances, Allergies, Conditions, etc. I think being “healthy” involves finding what works best for your body, determining how your body reaches its balance best, and then following through with it.
Wellness is “the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal” (source). I really like this definition. Wellness is an actively sought goal.
So, is wellness achievable or is it just a goal? Is wellness maintainable? I think wellness has to do with the homeostasis concept: its level doesn’t “stand still” and act passive., but it also isn’t exactly in the same stage at different times in life. It can stay within the same “realm” of wellness though. (Does that explanation make any sense? If not, let me know below.)
3. Stress can be a good thing and a bad thing.
The difference is how we use and react to that stress. Through school, stress helped me focus on my schoolwork and give me motivation to do my best. However, it could also have a negative effect if I didn’t use properly. For example, if I have a very stressful day and don’t work the energy out of my system, it can build up inside, want to explode, and not let me sleep. I know that when I have a stressful day, working out that energy building up inside me is one of the best ways for me to relax, refocus, and calm myself down.
Some of the best ways I’ve found to relieve stress include: exercising; calling up my family on Skype; putting on my favorite music and singing along; doing my favorite hobbies (I love baking, frosting and decorating cupcakes, cross-stitching, coloring/sketching, playing the piano, blogging, etc.); going out with my friends; playing dress-up (yep, I still do it – I love mixing and matching different outfits and picking out different things to wear that week); doing a manicure/makeover/”spa-day;” watching my favorite videos on YouTube; etc. Sometimes I just need a little peace and quiet, so a walk can do the trick.
4. Starvation can occur on a macronutrient and a micronutrient basis.
If I don’t feed myself the nutrients my body needs, it will still be “hungry.” I believe this concept also resonates spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and occupationally (to an extent). One of my beliefs is that the modern world employs too much effort in curing diseases than preventing them. Don’t take me wrong — there has been a lot of good that has come with modern medicines, but I also think modern medicine has its place. I feel we should try to balance our bodies (nutriently, exercising, relieving stress, etc.) first and then consider medications instead of just popping in the pill. I do wish doctors would solve certain nutrient problems in a more natural way to get some individuals off of medications they are taking unnecessarily. Truly, if all the benefits of exercise could be put in a pill, it’d be the most prescribed medication on the planet. (Btw, always talk to your doctor before making changes in the kinds and amounts of medications you take.)
QUESTION: Does balance mean having the self-control not to eat the cookie because you know it is not micronutriently nourishing, or is balance in relaxing and allowing yourself the cookie without feelings of guilt? What does having a balanced diet mean? What do you think?
5. “Crying is not a sign of weakness. Since birth it’s been a sign of life.”
I must admit: Sometimes I don’t allow myself to cry. Sometimes I just hold it in, bite my lip, and keep the tears in. Maybe someone forgot I was there and skipped over me; maybe someone said something that hurt; maybe I miss someone and wish he or she was there – whichever the case, I typically hold it in. I tend to be a quiet person, especially when I feel hurt or alone. When I cry, my stress and emotions tied in with those tears flow out instead of building up and exploding. I feel better. I feel more at peace. It’s okay to cry. Sometimes they are happy tears; other times they’re sad. But either way, they are a part of life.
6. Laughing is the best kind of medicine.
Even though there are times to cry, most of the time it’s better to focus on the positive. The world has a lot going on now. Wars and rumors of wars, chaos breaking out, man’s care and concern for his fellowmen failing – it can fill an individual with a lot of despair. I find it hard to read the news. It’s just filled with so many sad things happening in the world that it hurts to read or hear about them. But then again, as my mother emphasizes to me, it’s important to know what is going on and be aware of the circumstances. When I have these sorrowful feelings, looking for the good in the world can change my whole perspective. Yes, there is dark in the world, but there is also light, especially the grandest Light of all.
7. Sleep is an important nutrient.
With college classes, it can be easy to find excuses for staying up late and not getting to bed at a decent hour. Stuff to do, things to write, items to look up – the lists gets longer and longer until – oh gosh, it’s practically morning! With my experience up at college, I know I am always more productive throughout the day when I get a good night’s sleep the night before. I focus better on my readings for class and understand with better clarity the things my teachers are saying. I study more efficiently. I’m more “alive” and less grouchy. I also always sleep longer and better when I get to bed at an earlier hour. If it’s past midnight when my head finally hits the pillow, I’m lucky to get 6-7 hours of sleep. However, if I get to bed by 10:00 p.m., I can sleep 9 hours and wake-up at 7:00 a.m. easily. Honoring my body’s signals that she’s tired (not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally too), I can take better care of her and allow her to rest so she can bloom.
8. “When we stop learning we stop growing.”
I’m far from perfect. The more I learn, the more I realize there is so much more to discover and learn. Actively learning new things on a daily basis feeds my mind. Feasting upon the words of Christ feeds my spirit. Recycling, choosing less processed foods, and picking natural products over more commercialized ones can help nourish the environment. Reaching out of my social comfort bubble and serving others helps me become a better friend. Recognizing the blessings in my life and thanking others for their generous love and care towards me increases my ability to see the good in the world and not take things for granted. Every day is another day to try a little harder to be a little better. I’m only a sophomore in college. I’ve learned a lot up to this point about life, myself, things bigger than me and things beyond the sight of the eye; and I still have a lot to learn in the next years of my life.
9. Setting goals has an incredible impact on our lives.
I’m not talking about those bucket-lists of things to do, but actual goals you want to achieve. It’s amazing how setting and writing down goals in a place I can see them regularly motivate me and stimulate my mind to think of ways to achieve them. For instance, one of my goals was to become a tutor at my college and a teacher assistant for my favorite professor. When I set those goals, I started planning in my head how I could achieve them and then took the opportunities as they came. A few of my other goals include: learning Spanish, working at the wellness center on campus, playing all the hymns in the hymnal, earn my Bachelor’s degree, becoming a Certified Health Education Specialist (as well as a Certified Work-site Wellness Coach and Health Coach), certifying in CPR and First Aid, earn a Master’s degree, and many more. Goals keep me motivated. I love checklists where I set goals for the day and I can check them off as I achieve them. That feeling of scratching them out is the best! This goes along with the learning and growing point above. Setting goals helps us grow and accomplish things we never thought we were capable of before. It helps us see we are stronger than we think.
10. Quality is better than quantity.
I’ve been pondering this one a lot recently. Whenever I’m at the store, I’ve found that getting only a few pieces of clothing of higher quality is worth more to me than multiple items of less quality that I’ll never wear. (Another reason I love the thrift store – I can find some amazing quality pieces while spending less than I would at the department store. I don’t care for the brand name of the clothing – the quality of how it’s made and what it’s made of is worth more than the name on the tag.) Whenever I’m spending time with my family, I want the time we spend to be more than just passively watching television and not talking. Talking, laughing together, doing activities together, growing, learning, giving of my time – love truly is spelled “t-i-m-e.” Whenever I’m studying for my classes, I quality of my study is better than staring at it for hours on end not taking in the information. (That’s one reason why I made sure to go to the Anatomy and Physiology Open Lab each week before class and study the muscles/bones there. I would learn as much there in 30 minutes as I would at home in 3 hours trying to do it by myself.) I want to live within my means, be the best mother I can (when that time comes in my life), share the light and joy I feel through Christ with others, and provide for my family and future family in the best way I can. I know that through the Lord’s strengthening hand, I can learn from my experiences, develop the talents He knows I can develop, and find balance with my body, my spirit, and my mind.
11. My body is a temple.
And it deserves to be treated like such.
Remember: You are loved. You are special. You are of worth. <3
I would love to hear your opinion, thoughts, and/or experiences with seeking/striving for balance and wellness in your life. What are some of the things you have learned this past year? What are you are grateful for?
With lots of hugs,