Beat The Holiday Stress

The holidays are a special time of the year for a lot of us. For others it is a very difficult time. Every year around this time I notice the number on my caseload increases, not decreases. Family stress and conflict, financial strain, busy schedules,  and social pressures can be more overwhelming during the holidays. Please remember you are not alone. Here are some tips to help get you thru the holiday season.

image

Advertisements

Thigh Gaps and 6-Pack Abs

I am saddened and, quite frankly, sickened by modern perceptions of beauty and what this is doing to women, young and old. I love fashion. If I ever return to school for a second career it would be to work in the fashion industry. I love fabric, accessories, makeup, beauty products, shoes, clothes, and the art of fashion. I am intrigued by models. I find them beautiful and I find them alluring. I find that I want to wear or carry whatever it is the models are wearing or carrying. As I flip through the most recent addition of Vogue and I see the gorgeous photos shining back at me, I feel a bit conflicted and convicted. Does my love for fashion and this media standard of beauty mean that I support the unhealthy and unrealistic expectations of beauty?

As a fitness competitor and as an individual that works in the health and wellness field I spend a lot of time focusing on the body. Bodybuilding athletes spend a great deal of time trying to shape their physique to meet a specific standard. Countless hours are spent in the gym, time with friends and family is neglected, and sheer dedication to stick to a meal plan are all required to achieve a particular body. Once this body is achieved there is pride in the work. Then the individual faces a panel of others to have their body judged, critiqued, and evaluated. Does this support media standards of beauty?  Then once the competition is over, life continues.  The lean muscles and the “fit” physique do not make daily life any easier, nor does it make the average individual any richer or more valuable.  For most, this physique does not pay the bills nor does it improve relationships with others.

The current standard in beauty is a “thigh gap” and “6-pack abs”. People believe to have the body shaped in this way means a person is more beautiful. But what does achieving this body mean? What does this body say about this person? I asked a group of young girls about this. To achieve the ideal body means someone is more popular, happier, smarter, and more successful in life. What we need to realize is that the physical body is only a shell of a person. A pecan shell may indicate a yummy, healthy pecan is inside, but once cracked up it displays a rotted, spoiled nut that cannot be eaten and left for garbage.

I am afraid these media standards are not going anywhere and they are not likely to change anytime soon. We will constantly be bombarded with thigh gaps and 6 pack abs. Rather then change media outlets (please continue to fight for realistic, less unhealthy versions of beauty in the media), we need to focus on changing our individual selves to value who we are, what we do, and how we look.

The easiest way to change how we value ourselves is to examine our beliefs. One way our beliefs develop is through our personal experiences. Most people believe in the notion that as humans we live in a Just World. In other words, it makes most sense to believe that things happen in life to us and to others because it is deserved. We may think that a person deserves abs and a thigh gap more than ourselves. We think the “beautiful” person has been rewarded their figure.

Most people walking around this planet have experienced heartache, disappointment, hurt, rejection, and fear. Sadly these experiences influence how we feel about ourselves and have the tendency to cause us to believe we do not deserve better (Callan, Kay, & Dawtry, 2014). A recent research study found people use this thinking to develop patterns of behavior. These behaviors include beliefs one is not capable of achieving better and that other people believe the individual is not deserving of better (Callan, Kay, Dawtry, 2014). Let’s say you have a goal to lose weight and want to be more fit so you start attending the local gym on a regular basis. You walk in and see people that appear “fit” and healthy to you. Rather than become motivated by their physiques you start to doubt your ability to squat that much weight, run that fast, or jump as high. Because you are not able to keep pace with the more “fit” person you assume you are not deserving of a better physique. This self-doubt will keep you from your goals. If you do not believe in yourself, you will struggle to achieve your dreams.

What also happens is people think others are judging them (Callan, Kay, & Dawtry, 2014). I hear people say all the time they are not willing to enter the weight room for fear of others judging them as they work out. If you feel bad about yourself, you will think others think bad about you as well.

The reason for selling yourself short and doubting yourself is related to the thoughts and experiences you hold. Every single person on this Earth has positive and negative experiences and every single person will base their opinion of self based on these. It is not true that individuals with the body and life you want are more deserving than you. In fact you deserve it as much as them. The difference between you and them, is their ability to see self in a more positive frame of reference.

A research study suggests that individuals that can retrieve positive self-images had not only increased self-esteem but also improved social interactions. The researchers found people had to deliberately conjure these positive self-images (Hulme, Hirsch, & Stopa, 2012).  To be more successful and love yourself more, you need to image your best, most fabulous self, and you have to do this on purpose and with intention.  It will not always come easy but creating a reminder of this best self, is sure to help remind you to recall how great you really are.  

  • To feel better about yourself and forget about the images bombarding you, image your best self.
  • Think about all the times you have been told “I love you”.
  • Imagine a time you were successful and proud.  
  • Write all of this down.  Include pictures if you have them.  Include pictures where you look happy, proud, and excited.  Include letters and memorabilia.  Place all of this on a wall, in your car, in your purse, in your pocket, in your workout bag, etc.  Keep it somewhere to remind you how great and beautiful you are.  

Remember a thigh gap and 6-pack abs will not pay your bills, will not keep you safe, and will not love you back.  These “status symbols” do nothing to improve an already fabulous you.  The things you have listed above determine your value and your worth.  Those things are more beautiful than a thigh gap and 6 pack abs, the thigh gap and 6-pack abs will disappear soon anyway.   

References:

Callan, M., Kay, A., & Dawtry, R. (2014). Making sense of misfortune: Deservingness, self-esteem, and patterns of self-defeat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, (107)1.

Hulme, N., Hirsch, C., & Stopa, L. (2012). Images of the self and self-esteem: Do positive self-images improve self-esteem in social anxiety? Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 41(2).

20140804-164314-60194917.jpg

Do Whatever You Want

My first competition is drawing closer and closer. Each day requires getting up early going to the gym and training, eating according to my plan, and returning to the gym for more training. I must also remember to practice posing and maintain energy to maintain a home, a husband, a full-time job, a dissertation, and various social commitments. Needless to say energy and motivation is lacking at times. It is hard. I will be honest and say I have wanted to quit, on more than one occasion. I tell myself I can skip this cardio or I can lift less during this training session. I tell myself a bite of cheese or dessert will not mess up my plan. I want to sleep in, skip a workout, and cheat!

However I don’t. Every single day I get up early. I wake up with energy after the first alarm. I sometimes dread my workout as I get ready to head to the gym. As I start my cardio I think I may not make it. Yet every single time I do!  I go faster. I recover quicker. I have increased energy. As I approach my lifts for the day I worry about how heavy the lifts will be and how it will challenge my body. Yet every time I train I am shocked at how much stronger I feel. I have read other competitors lose strength during prep.  I have been prepared to use that as my excuse to not lift as heavy and as strong.  However I continue to progress in my strength and training.  I continue to get stronger. 

This is not because I have super powers, special genes, or unique talents. I am human and I am an average adult woman.   I keep growing simply because I can. 

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. 

Lou Holtz

 

Anyone can do anything. I have said this before and I will say it again. So many people sell short, do not reach their potential, and doubt their ability. I want to see people know they can do whatever they want. It is possible to set our mind on something and to be successful and achieve that something. All you need is ability, motivation, and attitude.

Abilities will vary from individual to individual. Some people have mental ability. Remember high school and how your class had a class valedictorian?  That person (if it was you – Way to go), probably worked hard. They may have also had more brain capability. Research has found that some brain development is related to IQ (Lange, Froimowitz, Bigler, & Lainhart, 2010). However not every valedictorian is a genius with a high IQ and a pre-wired brain. I read an article recently that discussed a study that indicated certain genes were related to athletic ability and performance (Eynon, Ruiz, Oliveria, Duarte, Birk, & Lucia, 2011).  This same article explained these findings are small and there is not enough collective research to claim that athletes perform well because they are genetically wired a certain way. 

What this means is that everyone is born to be able to do something. Ability is what you can do physically. I cannot physically learn to snow ski in North Texas. I can travel or move but I am unable to find a slope to ski down where I am currently living. I am not able to create beautiful paintings because I have not engaged and grown my creativity. I lack patience and therefore I am not very good at customer service jobs. I understand that sometimes we are limited due to our physical, emotional, and situational experiences. Someone disabled and unable to walk will have physical difficulty running a marathon. However ability is not the only thing required for success. People that are disabled physically, emotionally, and cognitively accomplish dreams and overcome obstacles every single day. Our limitations are used as an excuse and cage us, but understand, you are able to do something. Those who are able, can! 

Add motivation to ability and the chance of success increases. If you really want something you will do it. You have heard that saying, “when there is a will, there is a way”. Motivation is that will. If you want something what is stopping you? We have clarified you are likely able. Now your success depends on your desire and willingness to overcome. How hard will you work?  How bad do you want it?  How far can you go?  For me, I keep going because I want to stand on stage knowing I gave  my all. The package I bring, no matter the outcome, is because I kept going. I am motivated by my ability to succeed and be the best possible me. What is your motivation? 

We have determined you are able. Now if you are highly motivated then how you think about the situation will influence your success moving forward. I hate cardio. I just hate it. I dread it every time and minutes leading up to my cardio session I am anxious and question how I will get through it. My attitude about cardio sucks. This attitude is quickly followed by a desire to quit, take it easy, or cheat. Then I remember the only one being cheated is me!  I literally have to chant to myself, “you can do this!” or “you got this, almost there!” to improve my attitude about the interval approaching. I can do it because I am able. I can do it because I am motivated to do it. When I think I can, I get through each training session feeling proud, strong, and one step closer to my goal. 

I encourage you to make a list and answer the following questions: 

  • What are you able to do? Write down everything you can do!
  • How motivated are you?
  • What obstacles are in your way? If you identify obstacles, which ones can be removed or avoided. For obstacles that cannot be removed or avoided, consider what resources (skills, tools, people, etc) you have to help you overcome the obstacle?
  • List your feelings about the task you are about to start. Keep the positive thoughts and feelings to continue to motivate and encourage you. Take the negative feelings and get rid of them. Simply change the negative thoughts to positive ones and you will find your attitude will improve. 
  • Focus on the positive thoughts and feelings you have and you will find you are succeeding. 
It gets hard when working toward any task. We all need little tricks and tools to keep us pushing forward. My hope for you is that you will stop letting excuses, fear, and doubt keep you from your dreams. Use what you have to get you going and use what will learn to push you forward.  If you are able, and you want to, then you can!

 

Reference:

Eynon, N., Ruiz, J., Oliveria, J., Duarte, J., Birk, R., & Lucia, A. (2011). Genes and elite athletes: A roadmap for future research. The Journal of Physiology, 589(13), 3063-3070. 

Lange, N., Froimowitz, M., Bigler, E., & Lainhart, J. (2010). Associations between IQ, total and regional brain volumes, and demography in a large normative sample of healthy children and adolescents. Developmental Neuropsychology, 35(3), 296-317. 

Slow Your Role

We spend so much of our time being BUSY. We have work responsibilities, family obligations, social commitments, and leisure activities that compete for our time and attention.  Lately I have been focused on the future and all the things I need to do to complete my to-do list. I spend so much time making to do lists, setting goals, and planning my days that I have been forgetful to deal with my present moment. 

I am not the only one with lots to do. I am not the only one with goals, dreams, and aspirations. And although I believe we can do anything I worry we spend too much time looking forward. Recently I am working on being content and being in the present moment. 

Rather than worry about all I need to do later I want to be Ok with what I am doing right now. I want to strive to improve and strive to be a better version of myself.  I want to learn to be OK with who am I right now. I am trying to remember “I am enough”.  

 

Lately the above Scripture has been floating around in my head. Perhaps it is my soul telling me to slow down and be in the moment. I have all that I need right now.  I am fully equipped with the strength and emotional ability to manage whatever task I am working on right now. This verse reminds me to slow my role and be OK because who I am today is exactly who I am to be. This verse helps me slow down and reflect that I am truly blessed with so much love, respect, support, hope, and resources. All of those things will help me accomplish goals today and in the future. I can relax and be current with myself and others.

Psychologists refer to this as mindfulness. Psychology Today defines mindfulness as a state of active, open attention on the present. Mindfulness requires being ok with thoughts, feelings, and surroundings right now in the present moment. Mindfulness does not mean you enjoy being in a state of upset or distress but, rather acknowledging that and then accepting the upset so that steps can be taken right now to make the moment better. 

Focusing on the future or focusing on issues beyond our control keeps us from solving problems now. In order to be better problem solvers and more relaxed and focused we need to “slow our role”, accept the situation, and proceed. Here is why practicing mindfulness is in your (and my) best interest. 

  • Researchers found that individuals that practiced mindfulness had less worrisome thoughts and decreased depression.
  • Mindfulness reduces stress.
  • Studies found that mindfulness improved focus, attention, ability to ignore distractions, and improved ability to recall information. 
  • People that were more mindful became less emotionally upset and were better at self-reflection and self-awareness. 
  • Research studies support that mindfulness can improve the quality of relationships (Davis & Hayes, 2012). 
  • Mindfulness has demonstrated a strong ability to improve health as evidenced by improved immune systems. 
  • Mindfulness improves happiness. 
  • Mindfulness helped people remain practical and rational during a stressful situation (2011). 
Being aware in the present moment and achieving mindfulness requires some skill. However anyone can master it. You do not need to be a master at meditation or spend hours doing yoga or prayer to achieve mindfulness. Anyone can start practicing mindfulness at any time. The more mindfulness is practiced the easier it becomes. 
 
  • Observe your current moment and sense the current environment. This requires just looking at the current environment. 
  • Look at where you are, smell where you are, experience the sounds and feelings of where you are, and identify any feelings you are having.  Try describing the current environment and situation as if you wanted someone to read it and be able to see and understand your situation as well. 
  • Remember the “to-do” list will never be blank. We will always have something to do, unless we are dead. Rather than rush to clear a list that will never clear, slow down and take it one thing at a time. 
  • Ask yourself “what do I need to do right now”?
The key is to not label the situation and any feelings or people as good or bad. Mindfulness requires you to be an objective observer of the “now”. Once you are in the “here and now” you will relax, think better, and be able to focus. This will help you make a decision that will benefit you right now as well as in the future. For example over the weekend I had the difficult task of working to understand and efficiently communicate a very difficult statistical procedure. I was frustrated because it is a statistical method that is foreign to me and I was not sure how to proceed. To make matters worse I feel like I have been working on my dissertation for a very long time and I just want to be finished. I was focused on completing the tasks and finishing my dissertation. However that only frustrated me more. I realized that would not help me address the issue in the current moment. I chose to accept my frustration and let that motivate me to figure out the solution. I chose to stop thinking about the future and completing the task and I chose to think about what responsibility I had now.  Once I was more accepting I felt more calm and I was able to focus and solve my problem.  
 
Staying in the moment will keep us from missing opportunities. We will be better spouses, siblings, employees, coworkers, friends, parents, and ultimately a better self. I vow to work on being current, present, and aware. I vow to take one thing at a time and enjoy the time that I have right now. I know being present and mindful now will make me a better me in the future. Can you commit to be more mindful with me?
 
References: 
 
Davis, D., & Hayes, J.  (2012). What are benefits of mindfulness? Monitor on Psychology, 43(7), p 64. 
 
Doing and being: Mindfulness, health, and quiet ego characteristics among Buddhist practitioners. Journal,of Happiness Studies, 12(4), 575-589. 

Be Content to be More Fit

Living a fit lifestyle has a way of changing your perspective of the world and living healthier will change the way you think about things. Living a life that promotes health, wellness, and freedom causes one to be more self-aware, alert, and thoughtful. Living a fit and healthy life causes one to have more hope for the future, set more goals, and seek improvement.

Goal-setting is necessary to establish and maintain healthy life choices. I have discussed the importance of goal setting for living a healthy and fit life in several posts. Scientist also understand the importance of goal setting and cite that a future goal will maintain focus and lead to greater future success. Specifically a study suggested that in order to maintain health a person must consistently and frequently set goals, evaluate these goals, think about the goals, and pay attention to goals (Mann, de Ridder, & Fujita, 2013). What this means is that when trying to maintain health one must often and frequently think about individual goals, evaluate progress toward those goals, and take any additional steps required to achieve the goal. As I aprepare for my competition I daily evaluate my goal to be ready and able to compete on show day. This helps me stay motivated to work hard and follow my plan. Goals give us reason to move forward.

Setting goals keeps one looking to the future.  Looking forward helps provide motivation to achieve goals. Studies indicate future orientation, looking to the future, can change behaviors in the present. For example one study found that individuas focused on the future were able to decrease aggression and anger (a goal of study participants) in the moment (Stoddard, Zimmerman, & Bauemeister, 2011). Clearly goal setting and having a direction pointed toward the future helps achieve success. As I am focused on my future competition and all the work that is necessary to achieve my desired physique I also wonder what I am missing in the current moment.

If you are like most people pursuing a goal, patience can be difficult.  The outcome becomes a longing and as we yearn for our success and achievement we grow impatient, weary, and perhaps a bit frustrated. I know I personally struggle with this. I want to achieve my desired outcome and constantly looking to the future makes my goal seem unattainable. I, then start to feel overwhelmed and frustrated and fight the urge to quit. I feel confident I am not the only one that feels this way. Perhaps setting goals and focusing on the future distracts us from the present moment. This notion is supported by research. A study found that individuals focused on diet and weight loss goals had increased distraction and experienced increased failure of tasks in the moment (Jones & Rogers, 2003).

What this means is that if I am thinking about my goal at my competition at a later date I may become too distracted while working out. This distraction will keep me from successfully completing reps, progressing in the exercise, or improving my performance. You do not need to be a body builder working toward a competition to experience decreased focus and lack of progress. If you are working to maintain a diet or lose a certain amount of pounds you may struggle  to feel satisfied when eating or working out. Future orientation and remaining focused on goals may be stealing your joy. Constantly thinking about the future keeps us preoccupied, lacking, and feeling unsatisfied. I understand how all this information can be conflicting. On one hand it is apparent remaining fit requires goal setting and thinking about the future, while on the other thinking about the future can limit progress in the current moment.

During my quiet time the other morning it occurred to me the problem was that I failed to feel contentment. The following statement cued me to my problem: ”

“Contentment isn’t a matter with being content with your situation in life and never trying to improve it. It’s a matter of being content with what you have — but realizing that as humans, we will always try to improve, no matter how happy we are. If we don’t, we have given up on life”. Leo Babauta

I always want to improve, grow, and live my passions and goals in the future. Although hope for the future is great and necessary to become a better person, it keeps me from realizing all the blessings and positives I have in the moment. Becoming content is a key component to maintain balance and overall health and wellness.

Finding contentment is needed to enjoy the work, the progress, and the journey. Contentment brings pleasure to the current moment and brings joy in life. Rather than focusing on what is to come it is important to evaluate and appreciate what is now. The current moment is all that is guaranteed and, although we can hope for the future, the future is not guaranteed. Contentment is easy to achieve.

  • Count your blessings. Recalling what you have, the people in your life, and what you have accomplished thus far brings to perspective the realization that we have much and have achieved much.
  • Look at where you have been compared to where you are now. You are not the same person. You have grown. You have changed. You have experienced success and have achieved goals.
  • Appreciate the people in your life that support and encourage you. Feeling loved and supported brings peace of mind and a sense of relaxation and joy. Knowing we are loved helps us settle into the moment and focus on the task at hand.
  • Recall future goals but do not remain focused on them. Remember the reason for the hard work and recognize the overall goal and then move on. Think about what you are doing in the present. Think about what can be done right now to bring you happiness.
  • Focus on the task at hand and the current moment. This moment in time will influence your future so use this time now to be present, aware, and engaged.
We find peace and contentment only by focusing on the present. You can choose a behavior and an action that is beneficial to the future or will stall future goals. We are better equipped to make positive and helpful choices when we choose to be happy with what we have, where we are, and who we are with in the current moment. I can choose to change the outcome in the future by making a choice to benefit me right now. Choose happiness, choose acceptance, and choose confidence that you are capable of improving your future right now!

References:

Jones, N. & Rogers, P.  (2003).  preoccupation, food, and failure: An investigation of cognitive performance deficits in dieters. international Journal of Eating Disorders, 33(2), 185-192.

Mann, T., de Ridder, D., & Fujita, K.  Self-regulation of health behavior: Social psychological approaches to,goal setting and goal striving. Health Psychology, 23(5), 487-498.

Stoddard, S., Zimmerman, M., & Bauemeister, J.  (2011).  Thinking about the future as a way to succeed in the future: A longitudinal study of future orientation and violent behaviors among African American youth. American Journal of Community Psychology, 48(3-4), 238-246.

Wellness Is for You!

I get asked more then I should if I can personally train people. Although I am flattered I do not feel comfortable training people. Although I have knowledge of working out (due to my own experience) I am not a trained professional (in that expertise anyway). In fact I use coaches and personal trainers to lead me. If you are looking for exercise advice or ways to lose weight you cannot go wrong with a trainer. The stuff I post is to motivate and encourage people in a world where negativity reigns and obesity kills more and more every year! The exercises I post are my attempts to be a show off and do what I see the pros doing. I also do not feel comfortable sharing meal plans or workouts because not only did I have to pay for that service for myself but what I do and what I need is totally different from what others will need. A trained professional can best tell you how and what to do. But what I do do is help others. So many people are stuck in a rut. So many people are abused (or currently being abused), keep making the same hurtful relationship and life choices, use drugs, alcohol, and food to cope, hate their bodies and self, and so many are lost, depressed, and seeking. I preach health and wellness because I care about you; The whole you and what can be done to overcome the barriers and the issues that keep you stuck. I preach fitness because it saved me, it is fun, and I love it. However the focus should be on being a better you! May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I want to focus on letting people know they are not alone, there is hope, and you can overcome!

Are you Fully Well? 31 Steps to Find Happiness in Life

We all want to be happier, healthier, fitter, richer, and more successful.  As humans, we fundamentally have this right.  Although we have this right, I question if many of us are truly well.  Wellness is having  happiness, physical, emotional, and spiritual health, success, loving and supportive relationships, and ultimately satisfaction in life.  Millions of Americans are constantly pursuing this yet so many struggle to find it.

All seek wellness but many struggle to achieve it.  There are many reasons people struggle to find life satisfaction.  A major reason people struggle to obtain wellness is because limit their focus on improving only one area of life.  Wellness includes many different facets of being human.  Wellness is what makes a person whole and wellness involves all human thoughts, actions, beliefs, experiences, hopes, and expectations.  Rather than working to improve the whole person many people become fixated on fixing one area of life.  The expectation is that improving in one area of life will bring ultimate wellness.  A common belief is that to become more fit and lose weight means more success in relationships, health, emotions, thinking, and behavior.   It is true that making positive changes will increase confidence, health, thinking, behavior, and interactions with others.  However people are more than physically fit creatures.  Achieving physical fitness will not improve relationships, job happiness, emotional health, or spiritual health unless individuals work on these areas daily as well.  The “psyche” (who you are) strives for balance in all areas of life.  When one area starts to decline, other areas will all decline.  Whereas when areas of a person start to improve, other areas also need to improve to achieve wellness.

Lisa Rankin, MD describes the concept of wellness and explains that in order to find wellness a person needs to achieve satisfaction and happiness in different areas of life.  Lisa describes the areas of wellness as, physical health, mental health, finances, environment, creativity, sexuality, spirituality, work and purpose in life, and loving and supportive relationships. (You can read more about Dr. Rankin and her wellness model by clicking the link associated with her name above).

Finding happiness in these areas brings happiness with self and with life.  Part of achieving wellness is honoring your own beliefs, morals, values, expectations, hopes, and dreams.  The heart of wellness is connecting to “who you really are”.  I know this is a concept that millions struggle with.  Age does not mean a person has achieved wellness and many will waste a lifetime questioning who they are and their purpose in life.  However working to find balance in all areas of life can help people figure this out.  A person can achieve wellness in life by daily practicing behavior that will strengthen and improve these areas.

1.  Seek pleasure!  Find something that makes you happy and do it every day.  If you enjoy chocolate have one piece of dark chocolate a day.  You do not have to limit yourself or deny yourself things that you like or enjoy.  That is the opposite of wellness.  Do not over indulge either.  You are allowed to enjoy while you work to achieve wellness.

2.  Volunteer and help others.  We live on a planet with billions of others and all of us are connected.  We can make the world a better place when we decide to help others.

3.  Remember and recall your blessings daily!

4.  Hug the ones you love as much as you can.  A hug makes them feel better and will make you feel better as well.

5.  Be physically active every day.  Take a walk.   Walk the dog.  Play tennis or basketball with your kids.

6.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Try to eat a cup of fruit or vegetables at every meal.

7.  Do not be afraid to seek medical care.

8.  Journal for 20-30 minutes a day.  Find a pen, paper, and a quiet spot and simply write your thoughts and feelings in that moment.  Journal pleasant and unpleasant thoughts and feelings.  Journaling these things can help you release emotions, connect your mind to your body, and help control thinking and feelings.

9.  Do not hold onto emotions.  Many people are fearful of expressing feelings like sadness and anger for fear of consequences.  Feelings are never a bad thing, rather the reaction to the emotion may hold devastating consequences.  Find ways to express emotions in healthy and socially acceptable ways.

10.  Engage in positive thinking daily.  Negative thinking causes negative emotions.  Simply switching thinking will improve your mood.  Read affirmations, count your blessings, think of happier times, and engage in behaviors that make you smile.  These things will improve your thinking and your mood.

11.  Make a monthly budget.  Determine when bills are due and establish a budget based on spending patterns last month.  Keep this budget with you when you go shopping or leave the house.  Spend only money allowed according to the budget that has been established.

12.  Be in control of your money.  Tell your money where to go.  Your money does not control you.  You are the boss of your money and you can use your new budget to determine how and when money is spent.

13.  Limit spending.  We live in a society where we believe we need certain items to make us happy, successful, and satisfied.  Sadly these things do not love us back and continue to leave us lacking.  There are few things that we as humans really need (food, shelter, water, and connection with others).  All other things can wait until you have saved enough to purchase it.

14.  Where you live, work, and play determines how you feel.  Make your home comfortable.  Clean out and organized drawers and throw away any unnecessary items.

15. Rearrange items or furniture to give your office or home a new fresh look.

16. Take a walk in a park or sit outside in a place full of nature.  Spend time enjoying the ambiance of the outdoors and the creatures that live there.

17.  You do not have to be an artist to be creative.  Try reading a book or listening to music.  Let this inspire your mind.

18.  Journaling can also spark ideas and solutions.

19.  Take a class to learn more about a creative outlet.  Try a cooking class, a pottery class, painting lessons, or a dance class.

20.  Be proud of who you are!  You are you.  You are unique.  This is what makes you and the world special.

21.  Find confidence in your body by highlighting areas of your body that make you proud.

22.  Respect your body.  It is your body and it is only one you will have.  Express yourself and avoid limits but practice self-control and know your boundaries.

23.  Meditate/pray daily.

24.  Connect with your Higher Power.  You do not need to be a Christian to have spiritual practices and beliefs.  Know there is a source greater than you that is in control.  Letting go of control to a Higher Power gives freedom.

25.  Let go and forgive others.

26.  What did you want to be when you grew up? Ask yourself this question to help discover your passion and purpose in life.

27.  Make an effort daily to work toward or learn what you need to do what you want to do. Make a To-Do list of things needed to prepare you or start living your dreams.

28.  Find what you love and discover your passion by talking and serving others.  Volunteering not only serves others but will serve you to discover your purpose in life.

29.  Make time weekly to spend undistracted time with loved ones.  Turn off cell phones, TV, cancel all other responsibilities, and make a day where you can focus on the ones you love.

30.  Listen to your loved ones.  Hear what they are telling you and acknowledge how they feel.  This does not mean you have to agree, it only means you hear what they are telling you.

31.  Do not assume your loved ones can read your mind.  They cannot!  It is up to you to tell them what you need and what you expect from them.

This list is not exhaustive.  There are hundreds of ways to find wellness.  Wellness is unique to each person. The key is to seek fulfillment in all areas of life.  It is great to focus on your physical fitness, but are you neglecting those you love as a result?  It is great to have lots of friends, be kind to others, and serve others but you may neglect your self by not maintaining boundaries or allowing yourself to do things you truly enjoy.  Wellness is worth pursuing.  You deserve health and happiness in all areas of your life.