Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: {Problem Solving & Creativity}

Trust that little voice in your head that says "Wouldn't it be interesting if..."  And then do it.  ~Duane Michals, "More Joy of Photography"

To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.  ~George Kneller

Welcome to another Wellness Wednesday post! I can't believe how many weeks this weekly post has occurred. If you've missed some of the previous posts, click here to check them out!

Today I'll continue to work my way through Life Task 2, discussing Problem Solving & Creativity.

Myers & Sweeney describe this factor of wellness the following way:

Being mentally active, open minded, ability and desire to be creative, curiosity, need to know, need to learn, capacity to collect data, analyze, synthesize, choose and evaluate consequences of outcomes (i.e. divergent and convergent thinking), capacity to change one’s thinking to manage stress (cognitive restructuring), capacity to apply the above characteristics in resolving social conflict.

Problem Solving & Creativity, which involves intellectual stimulation, can help increase neural connections, leading to greater brain plasticity later in life. Myers and Sweeney (2005)* state that this component is “necessary for healthy brain functioning and hence quality of life across the life span” (p. 23). This component is not only necessary to increase everyday functioning, both at work and in our personal life, but is also necessary for physical health in the later years of our life. 

I have to be honest. I have always wished that I was a more creative and artistic person. When I first started researching the components of wellness, I realized that I am creative! Meeting with clients takes a lot of problem solving and creativity skills, from helping guide them to change, realizations & self awareness in life, and creating treatment plans for them. It's not what we typically think of in terms of creativity, but it is using the brain in a creative fashion. This is also a crucial component in learning to deal with stress. Unless we can identify the causes of the stress, what things trigger us, and what situations these things occur in, and then learn to implement appropriate coping skills, we will be stuck in a pattern of unhealthy behaviors. Problem solving is important to learning to deal with and conquer the stress in our lives.

When we learn to apply a set of criteria to a situation to solve a problem, we build neural connections, as well as confidence in self in the future. 
When I go about trying to solve a problem, here are some of the steps I take:

  1. What problem are you trying to solve? Define your terms and create a question to answer.
  2. Categorize problems from urgent to less urgent.
  3. Collect as much information as I can about the situation: Talk to multiple parties, get expert advice, learn from the mistakes of others, and do as much research as possible. It's easy to make a decision without being informed, which can lead to problems.
  4. Evaluate the information and put it into a few general categories or ways to solve the problem.
  5. Rate each category on a scale of 1-10. If you want to make a pro-con list for each, and then rate each item for each category, this will give you even more information.
  6. Decide on a plan to best implement your solution to the problem.
  7. Action! Put the plan into action and follow up with evaluation to determine if the problem has actually been solved.
Of course I don't take each of these steps with every problem- some situations require more steps, while some require much less. 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself for this category:
  1. When you stumble across a problem, do you think through various options or jump to a conclusion without thinking?
  2. Do you do activities to increase problem solving skills (i.e. sudoku or logic problems)?
  3. How do you currently experience creativity in your every day life?
  4. What can you do to increase creative experiences in your life?
  5. What is your approach when you hit a problem and need to come to a solution?
  6. When feeling stressed, are you able to identify the stressor and implement appropriate steps to decrease the stress?
Here's what I'd like to know:
How do you experience creativity in your everyday life? What can you do to increase your problem solving skills?

*Myers, J.E., & Sweeney, T.J. (2005). Counseling for wellness. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Guest Post: Do You Do Your Homework?

Are you all reading for another FANTASTIC guest post? I started reading Allison's blog a number of months ago, and have loved hearing her stories of training, racing, her sweet dog, and the new transitions in her life. After checking out this post, please swing by her blog and check it out! You definitely won't be disappointed! Thank you so much Allison for guest posting today!

Hi everyone!
My name is Allison, and I am the girl with curls behind

There, I talk about my work as a YMCA health educator, the crazy antics of my one year old puppy (Happy), running, and my recent acceptance into UNC Chapel Hill’s MPH program.  Even though I am pretty new to the blogworld, I must say: I love it! And I was *so* honored when Karolina emailed me to write a guest post for her! Of course, I agreed without hesitation, as her blog is one I hold in high regard. 

As a health educator, I spend a lot of time working with people who are trying to adopt healthier lifestyles. A lot of the people who come in to see me are referred by their doctors, so while they know they need to change some of their daily lifestyle habits, they may not necessarily want to do it… for themselves.

I mean really, haven’t we all been there -- you know you should be doing something, but you just plain ‘ole don’t want to? (Umm, I sure have cough.couch.elbownudge.cough laundry, cleaning the toilet (yick), servicing my car… the list could go on and on!).

A lot of my clients feel this way in regards to exercise and food. They have nutrition information available to them. They’ve heard it all before in the news, nutrition counselors, RDs, heck… even family members have been harpin’ down their necks.  And yet, nothing has struck that chord within them that has made them want to change because they want to.

I call this little dilemma: not being ready for change.

You cannot force change upon someone who is not ready for it. You just can’t. Change is a scary thing. And changing habits? That’s an even scarier thing. We’re talkin’ about taking people’s comfort zones and throwin’ them out the window. So when changes involve a certain lifestyle… it’s very hard for some people to do. And it’s hard for some people to talk about. Because really, who wants to admit that they’re living the wrong kind of lifestyle?

It’s a fine line to walk, my friends.

And yet, I have somehow struck a chord with many of the people I see (Not all, of course. Ya can’t win ‘em all!).

Care to know how?
Of course you do!

Well, let me paint a picture for you.

Say you’re in the market for a new car. Or a new computer. How much time do you spend researching these kinds of items? A few days? A week or two, maybe three? Perhaps a month? Heck, if you’re from my family, you’ve probably been dreaming of that new car for a few years, now…
Alright, good. You get the idea there.

Now let’s talk about how long these items actually last. A laptop or computer probably has a life of five to seven years. And that’s if you take really good care of it. A car? Ohhh, I’d say about ten years, give or take.

Now let’s recap, here… how long did you research these purchases?  Ah yes, we agreed that a month or two of research went into these items. And these items last, at maximum, ten years.

Now let’s think about our bodies. How often do you research the things that you put into your bodies? Are you truly informed about the types of products  in which you are fueling your body?
Be honest. (I’ll let you pause and think about that one. No judgment here. I promise.)

I know that some of you can probably say that you do, in fact, know a good amount about the ingredients in your food… (and to you folks, I know I am just preaching’ to the choir!). Y’all cook your own food.  (Or you at least flip over the nutritional label and read the facts that are provided for you). You know how those added sugars… well, add up (no pun intended) and you try to avoid preservatives, nitrates and all those other crazy things that are pumped into processed foods. Heck, you probably avoid the aisles in the middle of the store because you know the whole foods are located mostly around the perimeter. To you folks, I give major props. You’ve done the research, and you know what your body deserves.

But there others out there. Ohhh yes, there sure are. There are people who have never thought about their bodies in this way. They have never considered the fact we’re only given one body for our entire lives, and what you do with that body (move around? Sit on the couch?) plays a big role in determining your quality of life for years to come.  If your computer gets that horrible blue screen of death (you know the one I’m talkin’ about…) and the next thing you know, your harddrive is wiped out, well…yes, that sucks (truly! It does, I’ve been there…) but, you can always get a new computer. (And do better research the next time around :P). If your car’s engine suddenly start’s smoking’ up a storm and dies on the highway… you can call AAA and be on your way in a rental car, most likely later that day.
But if you suffer a life-altering heart attack or stroke and subsequently lose the ability to speak, or become paralyzed on one whole side of your body? Well, there’s no 1-800-HALP-MEE  number or Geek Squad for that.

So with that, my friends, I must say… do your research. And treat your body well. Oh, and as always wear sunscreen :P

Do itttttt!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  ~Thornton Wilder

The more I focus on these Thankfulness Project quotes, the happier I am that I've chosen to add this practice to my life. It helps me to focus on gratitude throughout the week, and getting this to be a natural part of our thinking is crucial for a healthy lifestyle! Please join in and list what you're thankful for-either in the comments section or posting on your own blog! If you choose to post on your own blog, please put the link in the comments section! I'd love to see this continue to grow across the blogging community!

With that said, I have a heart full of thankfulness this past week. Here are a few of the things I'm loving:

  • Spending Time With Someone I Love Deeply: There are certain people in my life that I wish I could spend time with every day, but only get to see every few months. The month of August I've gotten to catch up with a number of these people, and I'm so very thankful for the time that I've gotten to spend with them. I'm grateful that these are the types of relationships where I can pick right back up and it's fun and normal immediately!
  • School Sports Games: This weekend I went to a college soccer tournament, and it was a lot of fun! College students have so much energy, and they definitely help make sports games more fun!
  • Qdoba Mango Fresh Salads: I love the special meals that restaurants bring in for the summer, and I think I've taken advantage of this salad about 5 times in the last month. I love mango, and the fact that I can get it on a salad makes me love it even more!
  • Quotes: I've always been a big quote fan. Not only does it allow us to think only bits of wisdom from people in the past and the present, but they shed light on almost every issue out there. And, if you've read my blog for very long at all, you know that I LOVE to start my posts with them!
  • Trips: I'm someone who doesn't get stressed living out of a suitcase for weeks on end, which is a good thing considering my life! This summer I have been on the move constantly, and I'm loving it! I get the chance to see a lot of people and places that I wouldn't normally see, and I'm thankful for that!
Now it's your turn:
What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Food Finds While Traveling

I've mentioned this in a few posts, but these last weeks I've been busy traveling quite a bit! It can be a challenge to eat healthy, as fast food restaurants are plentiful and cheap on the road. If you haven't read my last two posts on health and safety while traveling, here they are:
Health & Safety While Flying
Health & Safety While Driving

There are a number of new products I've gotten to try while on my travels, so I thought I'd post some pictures of them here! Enjoy (and try not to let your mouth water TOO much!)

I love eating plantains, so I was incredibly excited when I found plantain chips in a grocery store in Florida!

Frozen Yogurt (ok...not the most healthy choice, but completely delicious). This was orange sherbert (dairy free) with a little cake batter, topped with brownie bites, mango, kiwi, and strawberry. YUM!

I eat this for breakfast almost every day I travel. Pomegranate Chobani with granola. Packed with protein and calcium, which is a perfect way to start the day!

Qdoba Mango Fresh Salad, topped with Guacamole! I've eaten this a number of times over the last month, and think it's delicious!

I love guava, so I was really excited to see these on the shelf at the grocery store. Bonus- they are lactose free!

Also lactose free! 

I'm a huge fan of tropical flavored things, so I was excited to see Coconut Soda. I hardly ever drink soda, but decided to splurge one day on this!

Because I can't eat ice cream, and I couldn't get my hands on any frozen yogurt, I bought fruit and mango sorbet from the grocery store. It was ALMOST as good as the real deal. 

I eat these all the time while I'm traveling! Healthy and delicious!

This is one of the most delicious and refreshing teas I've ever tried in my life! 

Here's What I'd like to Know:
Have you stumbled upon any new foods recently that you are loving? What's your go to health food when you're traveling?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fantastic Fridays (Life's Tiny Delights)

H2O:  two parts Heart and one part Obsession.  ~Author Unknown

I think I may be cheating just a little bit today, as I'm using one of the things from my Thankfulness Project Monday post for my tiny delight of the week: POOL TIME!

Palm Trees in the middle of a pool? Yes Please!

 Lounge Chairs so I can sit by the pool and read!

A pool overlooking a lake? I'll take some of that!

I've gotten to hang out at quite a few awesome pools over the last few weeks, and I have to say, I could get to used to this on a regular basis. It's pretty easy for me to live in the present moment while I'm by the water. I find it peaceful and relaxing to feel the sun hitting me, laying around without a care in the world, soaking up a good book, and cooling off in the water. The views don't hurt either. I'm actually thinking that we might be more mentally healthy people if we could do this more often. I'm trying to not only soak in my last bit of pool time, but the last few weeks of summer. This in itself is a good practice in mindfulness and living in the present moment, and I'm excited for the challenge!

And of course, here are a few fun search terms for the week:

What I'd like to know:
Do you enjoy going to the pool? If so- where's your favorite pool? Do you have any weekend plans?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guest Post: How I Recovered Using the Principles of the Wellness Wheel {Part 2}

If you missed Part 1 of RecoverReflect's guest post, click here to catch up!

In order to maintain a healthy balance in my overall wellness, I take time to do things I enjoy:
1.     Craft. I love crafting, scrapbooking, drawing, and painting. Being creative is a great outlet for me.
2.     Hot bath. I love taking a hot bubble bath and just soaking. It is a time that I permit myself to stop thinking completely about any stress I am under.
3.     Stay in touch. Isolation is a huge trigger for slip ups for me, so I actively take time to maintain relationships I have with friends and family.
4.     Exercise. Now that I can exercise in moderation, this is a huge factor in my ability to care for myself physically and mentally. Exercise clears my mind, kicks up my endorphins, and keeps me feeling healthy and making healthy choices for myself.
5.     Playlists. I make new playlists all the time to boost my mood. I also love singing at the top of my lungs on my drives to and from work, so they come in handy then, too.

Sense of worth. Before recovery, I felt the only way to stand out and be worthy was to starve myself/be sick. And, even through recovery, I struggled with feeling worthy of recovery. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere without my eating disorder “identity.” However, again, through definition of my spirituality, I was able to develop a sense of worth.
·      My optimism for myself, others, and the world in general gave me the desire to help others improve their lives.
·      My belief in a higher power gave me the belief that I am here for a reason.
·      My tolerance and acceptance for those different than myself helped me see that everyone serves a purpose in this world.
·      My appreciation for the simple pleasures in life gave me a sense of grounding and gratefulness.
·      My purpose in life: I truly believe (and have believed since I was in the midst of my eating disorder) that I went through my eating disorder so I can effectively help others who are suffering (hence my career choice as a psychologist). Having a purpose in life gave me a reason to live. It gave me a reason to heal, a sense of identity, and something to strive for. By choosing to help others recover, I feel purposeful, worthy, and powerful.

While there are many subtasks that I have already explored greatly within myself in order to achieve wellness, learning about the Wellness Wheel through Musings of a Counselor’s posts has helped me greatly. I have identified areas of my wellness that I have ignored and have chosen to start working on them. For example, I have not put much thought or paid much attention to Gender Identity, Cultural Identity, or Sense of Humor. However, I now realize how important these dimensions are in overall wellness, and I am excited to continue my pursuit of health, happiness, and recovery with the help of the Wellness Wheel.

Thanks so much for you awesome two part guest post! I hope that you'll go over and check out Recovery Reflections blog!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: {Emotional Awareness & Coping}

If you don't manage your emotions, then your emotions will manage you.  ~Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman, Transforming Anxiety

The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.  ~Jim Rohn

Instead of posting all the links from the previous "Wellness Wednesday" posts as I have been doing, I decided to create an entire tab on my blog which gives some information on wellness, along with a link to every post. You can check it out (& catch up on previous "Wellness Wednesday" posts) here.

Today I'll be focusing on another component of Life Task 2: Emotional Awareness & Coping! 

Myers & Sweeney describe Emotional Awareness & Coping as the following:

Being in touch with feelings, being able to express/disclose feelings appropriately, ability to respond spontaneously and appropriately to life experiences from the full  range of possible human emotional responses, enjoying positive emotions, coping with negative emotions, lack of chronic negative emotional states (E.g., anger), sense of energy (vs. depression)

One belief I hear often from people is that all negative emotion is bad. The truth is, however, that it is not, and to feel the entire range of human emotion is what is healthy and normal. In life it isn't about trying to hide or deny any negative emotion, but it's about recognizing and dealing with it. Emotion tells us a number of key things in our life, and when we don't identify it, we miss many valuable messages and bits of information. If we open ourselves up to emotion, we WILL feel the negative, but we will also feel the positive. We can't just selectively choose emotions, and therefore we can't force ourselves to only feel the positive. BUT we can learn to deal with the negative in such a way that the positive will have a much bigger foothold in our lives.

Many times in this blog I've talked about the thought-feeling-behavior connection. What we think changes how we feel, which changes how we behave. Learning to become aware of our feelings is essential, because without awareness, our feelings rule our actions and behaviors (and let's be honest- that can be scary!).

Many times in life we feel an emotion, but it's actually an emotion that is covering the emotion behind it. For instance, we are hurt that our friend bailed on Saturday plans. Instead of telling her how hurt you are, you instead lash out in anger, which makes you less vulnerable. In order to be emotionally well, we need to be able to ask ourselves if the emotion we are feeling is being used to cope with or cover over another emotion, and what's the need to not deal with the primary emotion up front.

There's a lot that I could discuss in dealing with emotional awareness and coping, but seeing as there are an incredibly number of emotions and situations we need to cope with, I cannot do this. I will leave, however, give you a list of questions to start yourself thinking:

  1. Am I in tune with what emotion I am feeling, or do my emotions sometimes confuse me?
  2. Do I feel the entire range of emotion (negative to positive)?
  3. Am I afraid of certain emotions or are some emotions unacceptable to feel?
  4. Do I use some emotions (like anger) to cover over other emotions (such as hurt)?
  5. Am I aware of what situations trigger emotion?
  6. Can I recognize negative emotion as it is building (verses as its boiling point)?
  7. Do I have coping strategies for my emotion & negative life events? 
  8. Are these coping strategies healthy or unhealthy?
Now it's your turn:
Do you feel like you have good coping skills for negative emotions? Do you sometimes use one emotion to cover over another emotion? How does emotion change your behavior?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Guest Post: How I Recovered Using the Principles of the Wellness Wheel {Part 1}

I'm so excited for you all to be able to read a two part guest post by RecoverReflect I'm a recent reader of RecoverReflect's blog myself, but everything I've read so far has been excellent! After reading her post, make sure to swing by her blog and check it out! Thank you so much for posting here today and Thursday!

Hello everyone! I’m RecoverReflect from Recovery Reflections! I write about all facets of eating disorder recovery, using my own experiences as inspiration for others. I am excited and honored to be writing the following guest post for Wellness Wednesdays and I’d love for you to stop by my blog and say hi! But, without further ado…

As per the Wellness Wheel, spirituality is at the core of our being, the essence of our soul. Having suffered from an eating disorder, it took me many years to understand, define, and accept who I truly am. If you would have asked me 10 years ago to explain my spirituality, I would not have even been able to answer. Now, healthy and recovered, I have made conscious efforts in developing “me” and can finally articulate my spirituality. For me, spirituality encompasses several aspects of my being:

·      My optimism for myself, others, and the world in general
·      My belief in a higher power
·      My tolerance and acceptance for those different than myself
·      My appreciation for the simple pleasures in life
·      My purpose in life: I truly believe (and have believed since I was in the midst of my eating disorder) that I went through my eating disorder so I can effectively help others who are suffering (hence my career choice as a psychologist)

Identifying, defining, and loving the aspects of my core were the first essential steps I had to take in order to begin recovering from my eating disorder. And now, years later, I look at the Wellness Wheel and understand why: spirituality is at the center of all other aspects of one’s wellbeing. Without it, how can one purposefully begin to fulfill and enhance the other aspects of the self?

After analyzing the 12 subtasks of the Wellness Wheel, the two that stuck out for me most as I reflected back on my recovery were self-care and sense of worth. These were two aspects of wellness that were severely disturbed and disrupted from my eating disorder. However, once I began my journey through recovery and developed my sense of spirituality, I began to work on each of these aspects of wellness, slowly but surely. Because self-care and sense of worth were not obvious underlying symptoms of my eating disorder (like exercise, nutrition, emotional awareness and coping, and realistic beliefs were) they were not the first areas on which I focused to improve and make healthy. However, having finally concentrated on these two aspects of wellness, I feel they have profoundly changed my life for the better.

Self-care. Through years of therapy and personal discovery, I gave up my self-destructive habits and behaviors. This satisfied my doctors, parents, and friends. I was no longer starving, over exercising, or purging. I was eating a “normal” amount of calories and maintaining a healthy weight. However, for me this wasn’t enough. I was in this state of neutrality, not hurting myself, but also not doing anything special or caring for myself. At first, this idea of “self-care” did not even occur to me. It was through my spirituality that I realized I deserved to be more than neutrally existent. I deserved to enjoy life. How did spirituality relate to this?

·      My optimism for myself, others, and the world in general gave me hope for a better, enjoyable life.
·      My belief in a higher power helped me believe that God did not want me to be living in a life with out happiness and self care.
·      My tolerance and acceptance for those different than myself helped me realize that my compassion for others could also be applied to myself.
·      My appreciation for the simple pleasures in life gave me a better outlook on life in general, which helped me see my life as worthwhile.
·      My purpose in life: I truly believe (and have believed since I was in the midst of my eating disorder) that I went through my eating disorder so I can effectively help others who are suffering (hence my career path to become a psychologist). Having such a purpose in life gives me reasons to maintain my health, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, as well.

Make sure to check back on Thursday for Part 2 of this post!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

It's hard to believe it's Monday, and that it's time for another edition of "Thankfulness Project Monday." If you are unfamiliar with the idea of the Thankfulness project, you can click here for some background information.

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.
-- Epictetus

Here are a few of the things I'm thankful for this week:
  • Time to read at the pool: I spend almost every day of winter dreaming of this very thing! I love sitting and relaxing, while reading a great book for fun! I love reading for work, but it's nice to have a break and get to read something completely unrelated to the field of counseling and psychology. This author has actually written 2 books about her life, and they are fascinating!
  • Dancing: This past weekend I went to a wedding, and had a fabulous time! Weddings are not only a lot of fun (read: getting to dance all night!) but also a great time to see friends I haven't seen in awhile. I was pretty sad that the wedding weekend couldn't have continued for a few more days. 
  • Time With People I Care About: The last few weeks, I've gotten to see a lot of people I haven't seen in many months, and it's been so good for my heart to be able to be with them. I'm so thankful that I've gotten to see as many people as I have these past days!
  • Music: I think it's good for the agree? When I'm in a bad mood, music has the ability to help life my mood almost immediately, and it helps make many situations more fun!
  • My Guest Posters! Every Tuesday and Thursday this month I've had some wonderful bloggers write guest posts for me. These have been fantastic, and I hope that you've enjoyed reading them as much as I have! If you'd like to share your own health or wellness journey, let me know! 
Now it's your turn!
What are you thankful for this week? I would love to see you all doing your own "Thankfulness Project Monday" posts too, so know that you are more then free to do so! Just link back here and let me know:) 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fantastic Fridays (Life's Tiny Delights)

Last week I chose a food item for my tiny delight of the week, so today I thought I'd share another food item. This is actually sort of a tiny delight for the summer, and for a long time to come I think. I've always loved eating peanut butter, but up until this summer I've just eaten plain or plain w/honey peanut butter. This summer, however, that all changed.

I'm a fan of chocolate, so when this Dark Chocolate peanut butter caught my eyes, I quickly picked it up and put it in my cart. Seriously, this stuff is delicious. They have a White Chocolate one that I would love to try! And, if you're looking to add a little zing to your peanut butter sandwich, this is a great way to do it! I had wanted to try almond butter for awhile, so when I found it I picked up a jar as well. Again, I was not disappointed. This stuff is delicious and healthy! I didn't end up making too many sandwiches with it, but i did eat it as a snack with animal crackers. Both of these changed up a very common meal and snack for me, and I felt good about the food choice I was making! 

Here are some search terms for you:
Here's what I'd like to know:
What's your favorite type of Peanut Butter? What's the weirdest way you eat peanut butter?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guest Post: Mental & Physical Wellness

I stumbled across Errign's blog a few months ago, and have really enjoyed getting to know part of her life through her posts. After reading this post, please go over and check her blog out. Thanks Errign for guest posting! 

Hi Everyone!  I’m Errign & I blog over at Errign’s Adventures, where I try to focus on living the best life for me, whatever that may mean at the time.  When Karolina asked me to write a guest post about what wellness means to me, I was both excited and intrigued with the topic, since I know the definition of wellness can vary so much.

Personally, my total body wellness comes from both mental and physical wellness.  I don’t dwell as much on the spiritual aspect of wellness, because I find personally that if I’m both physically and mentally well, I feel at peace.  Being at peace for me is enough, though for others, spiritually may be more important, but I guess that’s the beauty of being individuals, right?  So, I figured I’d focus on my definitions of physical and mental wellness and how I go about achieving them.

Physical Wellness:  For me, physical wellness begins in the most obvious place – taking enough proper care of my body so I don’t get sick.  Luckily, I am a pretty healthy person – I got the flu for the first time a few years ago and I seriously thought I was dying.  To keep myself from getting sick, I get the right amount of sleep for me (I think this really does vary person to person, regardless of what doctors & studies tell us), I eat healthy, wholesome foods that make me feel good, and I exercise.  Exercise is my biggest part of physical wellness, because it balances me out & keeps me centered so well.  I have favorite forms of exercise – running, mountain biking, yoga, and skiing.  I enjoy the rush of endorphins and the accomplishment in reaching a new goal, but I mostly use exercise as a way to appreciate my body and respect my health.  A day or two without exercise certainly won’t kill me, but exercise is how I keep myself together and is where physical wellness really begins to tie into mental wellness, for me.

Mental Wellness:  Mental wellness is obviously, the feelings and appreciation I have for myself.  I like to think of maintaining my mental wellness as a massage or a nap for my brain.  Maintaining my mental wellness is sometimes something I can struggle with, because personally, I usually have to take time to recharge, relax and withdraw from the world to maintain mental wellness.  Unfortunately, “taking it easy” is not something my type-a control freak personality does lightly and I spend a lot of time reminding myself to take a break, to take a night off go-go-go, and to take rest days from exercise.  My favorite ways to boost my mental wellness are to plan days where I have no responsibilities to anyone but myself, to watch movies or TV shows I love, to take long hot showers, and by taking the time to be in nature by myself, whether I’m skiing, mountain biking, running, or just taking a walk with my dog.  I love to schedule fun girl’s dates with my friends for pedicures or drinks out, or just an evening in on one of our couches with some Ben & Jerry’s and Circle of Friends.  I do think that mental wellness is even more important than physical wellness, even though they’re so intertwined and it’s a constant learning experience for me to remember to respect my mental wellness.

I truly do believe that proper levels of mental and physical wellness must go hand in hand for me to function properly, and on the days that I just feel “off”, I can usually pinpoint why & how I am going to adjust.  I know wellness means different things to different people, so thank Karolina for letting me share my viewpoint!  To anyone reading, come on over to my blog & say hi!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: {Realistic Beliefs}

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! If you haven't read the rest of the series, you can catch up on the posts here:
Wellness Wednesday: {An Introduction}
Wellness Wednesday: {An Introduction pt. 2}
Wellness Wednesday: {The Wheel of Wellness Part 1}
Wellness Wednesday: {The Wheel of Wellness Part 2}
Wellness Wednesday: {Life Task 1: Spirituality}
Wellness Wednesday: {Life Task 2: Self Direction}
Wellness Wednesday: {Sense Of Worth}
Wellness Wednesday: {Sense of Control}

For those of you who have read some of the posts, you might recall that I'm using the idea of the Wheel of Wellness to visually represent wellness for the individual.

Last week I talked about the second subtask of self direction, which was "sense of control". Today we will be moving on to the third subtask: Realistic Beliefs.

Myers & Sweeney define Realistic Beliefs the following way:
Ability to perceive truth/reality accurately (i.e., accurate information processing), lack of unrealistic expectations/wishful thinking.

If you're new to my blog, you may not know that I LOVE talking about cognitive distortions and changing irrational thinking to rational and realistic thinking. This was an area of wellness that I struggled severely with through high school and college, and it took a lot of hard work to start changing this around. There's a lot I could say here about this area of wellness, but I've done a series of posts on this topic that will give you the most information about the topic. Here are the links:
When we distort our beliefs about ourself and the world, our mental health tends to plummet. When we hold to irrational beliefs, are relationships tend to become strained, and our ability to connect well is diminished. I cannot possibly emphasize how important having realistic and rational beliefs is to our overall health and wellness. The problem- thoughts can be distorted ever so slightly, and we don't realize it. As it distorts further, it becomes difficult to realize, and thus makes it harder to change. The "Challenging & Changing Cognitive Distortions" link will give you many clear steps to help with realistic thinking! 

We each struggle with realistic beliefs at some point. When are your unrealistic beliefs most likely to be triggered? How do you challenge your unrealistic beliefs?