Wellness, like water wells, springs from what occurs naturally. The sound state naturally is the source of performance. Exercise can create the sound state by eliminating distractions, clearing the mind and improving attitude as well as increasing fitness. However, excess exercise can also be a distraction. Overworking the body adds more stress physical such that it’s detrimental to overall health. Wellness is the time in the state of optimum health, which can be a combination of a healthy mind, body, spirit, and context. (1) Balancing these 4 quadrants through meditation, exercise, faith, and work blend our actions into an integrated wellness lifestyle.
Here are a few things to do to create the sound state of a wellness lifestyle:
First, don’t rely on technology to maintain your relationships. The connections we have are only as deep as the effort we put in, so take the time to show people that you care and likely they’ll reciprocate. Deep relationships can be meaningful sources of joy.
Second, develop daily habits into a wellness routine. Gentle meditation in the morning builds a sound state for the day ahead. Journaling in the evening provides an opportunity to reflect and process emotions. Exercise can be cathartic in moderation, even light stretching reduces stress and anxiety. Eating right is also important. Don’t let the routine run your life, but rather expect it to evolve to meet your needs.
Finally, integrate the insights from your wellness routine. Recognize what works and anticipate how to integrate those insights into your day. For instance, pack a salad for lunch, ride your bike, check your bank account and be kind to others. Improving the routine takes time and can seem hard or unmanageable at first, but the benefits are realized as increased performance, health, happiness, patience, and resilience.
Take commuting by bike for example. At first, everything needed to commute seems overwhelming, but piece by piece a kit comes together and before long commuting is part of life. In fact, riding past traffic is an active reminder of the benefits of making the choice to commute by bike. When you arrive to work, you’ve already had a bit of a workout, so your mind is primed for work. Further, after a long day of sitting in chairs, a bike ride is perfect to unwind. Integrating bike commuting as a daily habit means that you don’t have to spend as much time going to the gym. The net benefit is that you are exercising rather than sitting in traffic.
Obviously, there are drawbacks to commuting, cold weather, stolen bikes, rain, expense, however, another layer of the wellness lifestyle is mental. Learning how to develop the habit of seeing such things as obstacles and not roadblocks means you cultivate the tendency to persevere in everyday life. This is one of the biggest lessons I learned in Ironman triathlons, of which I’ve done two. There is a mental advantage I recognize between when I’m training and when I’m not. One of my favorite quotes is from Jocko Willink, a retired Navy Seal Officer, in his book Discipline Equals Freedom, and it is something like:
“rely on discipline, not motivation.”
To have discipline means to understand why you do what you do and how it connects to a larger purpose. Being grateful is a habit, not a fact, so remember to count your blessings often.