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Archive for Monday, March 7, 2011

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Use springtime to add new wellness routines

March 7, 2011

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Spring is once again around the corner. Many of us can now move out of survival mode. It is a good time to build some new behaviors into your life. It is often easier to develop new behaviors during the spring and summer months, and if you practice them regularly, they will become entrenched in your daily routines and easier to continue through the next round of winter. Many of these are obvious, but they’re worth repeating.

• Develop a mindfulness program. Mindfulness is like a wonderful vacation from daily struggles. Like a vacation, mindfulness enables you to take a break from your time-based, task-oriented life and allows you to stay present, avoiding the worry of what has happened before and what is coming later. We recommend books by Pema Chodron to get you started.

• Practice viewing your emotional experience with acceptance rather than judgment. For example, be aware of what “stories” your mind adds to feelings. If you feel lonely, it doesn’t mean you are not a lovable person.

Here is a quote from the late, esteemed basketball coach John Wooden, “If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier.”

• Express gratitude each and every day, as often as you can. Expressing gratitude is an essential building block to overall improved emotional balance.

Another Wooden quote, “You can’t live a perfect day until you do something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” A boy we know was asked what he remembered most about Christmas Day, and he quickly said, “delivering dinner to shut ins.” We think that says it all.

• Establish a more intimate relationship with nature and animals. Studies show that people with strong relationships with animals and nature tend to have fewer illnesses.

• Engage in daily exercise and change up your routines. There is virtually nothing more important to your overall health and resistance to disease.

• Regulate your sleep. Work hard on establishing sleep routines that ensure quality and appropriate quantity. Remember to avoid alcohol within hours of sleep because it is activating to the central nervous system and disruptive to essential deep restorative levels of sleep.

• Balance your eating patterns. Go back to basics to ensure you are getting what your body needs.

• Nurture your relationships. Don’t let small spats or minor differences get in the way of your friendships. Another Wooden gift, “…if Lincoln could pray fervently — and contemporary reports indicate he did — for the people who were opposing him, how much more can we do for someone we just find a little irritating?”

• Be sure to include some spiritual exploration each day to feed your soul and your spirit.

Any one of the above can make a difference; however to truly experience lasting change incorporate all of the above into your daily life. Do your best, and you will soon realize big dividends from your wellness program.

— Ed Bloch, LSCSW, and Jena Bloch, LCMFT, are directors of the Life Enrichment Center in Lawrence.

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