Wellness After 30: Getting The Most Out Of Later Life

How do you define your Wellness? How does it show up in your life currently? About 15 years ago, I ask myself these questions many times. When I was in my early thirties, I watched my body, my health, my emotions and my sense of “self” slip away. I did not know what it felt like to wake up with a purpose and the will to move forward. I wanted to get a handle on my life and find a better way of living, one that would enhance the quality of my life as I aged.

After researching, soul searching, educating and defining what was important to me, I’ve come to believe that incorporating wellness habits into your life on a daily basis is the key. I recognize that wellness is unique to each person; it encompasses every aspect of your life and requires work, determination and commitment to bring about change. The change needed to bring balance and harmony to your life. This means wellness is a choice. What an enlightening discovery, I thought. Once I realized that it was a choice, I found a way to tap into my “self “strength and saw a time of change as an opportunity to be a better me.

Wellness is a choice. It requires that you do something everyday to honor your body, mind and spirit. Achieving wellness means taking control and directing your life where you want it to go. It means you are in command of all aspects of your life: physical, career, relationships, finances, spiritual, environment and emotional well-being. As you know, this is easier said than done. I’ve been a wellness coach for several years and find the denial of self-improvement and the lack of effort to achieve wellness, especially for those over the age of 30, dangerous.

The dictionary definition of wellness is: “The state of optimal well-being, not simply the absence of illness, but an improved quality of life resulting from enhanced physical, mental, and spiritual health”.

Many people are not willing to do the work to achieve wellness and go into denial about how well they really are. After a while they find comfort within their denial and use it as a coping strategy to avoid bigger problems. They will continue avoiding small problems until a major crisis develops, and sometimes even then it doesn’t trigger any action. The areas of life someone thinks about in the privacy of his or her heart (or alone in the dark) are exactly the areas that need to be honored–the mind, body and spirit.

Some reasons why adults don’t incorporate wellness activities into their daily lives include lack of time, effort, desire and commitment. I was talking to a client of mine the other day and he told me a co-worker had challenged him to run in a race. My client has been a heavy smoker for years and has not been physically active. I asked him how he planned on running the entire distance. He then told me about what a great runner he was in high school – more than twenty years ago. I explained to him that he had become very comfortable with denial about his health and wellness, and that I needed him to accept the truth about his overall well-being. We then set some goals to get him through a race at a later time, which included kicking the smoking habit as a first step.

It’s not only the physical being that affects wellness; stress is a growing contributor and excuse preventing people from taking control of their own destiny. Investigating where your time is going and then adjusting your priorities to free up time to incorporate activities important to your health and wellness reduces stress. You must re-evaluate your daily priorities and approach them in order of importance for your efforts to be successful. One suggestion might be instead of working 12 hours per day, work 10 and spend the two extra hours honoring your well-being.

According to time-use researchers and exercise experts, we’re making excuses about our time. “People certainly do have time. There are about 40 hours a week of free time in this country,” says John Robinson, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and co-author of Time for Life: The Surprising Way Americans Use Their Time. People are watching TV an average of 15 to 20 hours a week, so they have “room to carve out more time to be active.”

The main thing you should do is put yourself at the top of your priority list. Wellness is important, especially after age 30, because getting older brings with it an abundance of new metabolic, physical, physiological, emotional and mental challenges. And while change can be unsettling, this time of change can also be viewed as an opportunity to get the most out of life.

Later life can be a time of rest, fun, relaxation, maybe even retirement, and most of all a time to enjoy life. It should be a time to embark on new adventures whether it’s travel, a hobby or a fun job. Here are some suggestions to start creating a life that honors your wellness:

1. Be honest about how well you really are.

Realistically look at the areas of your life: physical, career, relationships, finances, spiritual, environment and emotional well-being. Identify the area(s) that need improvement. Set goals to achieve desired results one step at a time. Buy a journal to track your activity.

2. Assess your readiness for change and willingness to embrace it.

Identify and write down the benefits of wellness to your life and your willingness to make the necessary changes. Remember: every move, forward or back, is part of the normal process of change.

3. Identify and eliminate barriers and challenges that could impede your success.

There are always barriers to overcome as we move toward our goals. Select one barrier to work on at time. For every negative message you encounter, turn it into a positive one. For example,”I don’t have enough time” can turn into “everything that needs to be done will get done”. Learning to replace the negative messages with positive ones is a matter of establishing new habits. It takes time and practice.

4. Set clearly defined and measurable wellness goals.

Create fun and interesting ways to fulfill your goals. For example, to be more physically active at work, you may want to take a two-minute walk every hour around your work environment. Break your goals down into small, incremental steps.

5. Create meaningful wellness priorities.

Take a closer look at how you spend your time on an average day. Record your daily activity. Find opportunities for wellness activities you might not have known existed and incorporate them into your daily life.

6. Challenge your wellness changes and strive to achieve even more.

Make simple changes first and then take a look at the things that are harder and that will require the most change to achieve your desired results. Tackle them one at a time.

7. Design and refine your goals so you’ll get the most out of them everyday.

If you don’t get the results you want in a reasonable amount of time, go back to the “drawing board.” Re-design and refine your goals to fit what works for you. You may even want to get some professional help.

8. Make lasting changes to your lifestyle. Identify and celebrate your accomplishments.

Reward yourself! Review your favorite activities. Try new activities to renew your motivation.

The pace of today’s world is so fast that we expect quick solutions to everything. If results are not immediate we’re quick to quit. However, the long-term results that extend our lives are well worth the time, work and effort that we put into taking care of ourselves. Wellness is a way of life. Get yours back!

Change Your Life In 21 Days

Another New Summer is upon us. You’ve probably got lots of grand plans for change. We all know that every year we start out with good intentions and within a few weeks the drive and motivation diminishes. If you are ready to make a lasting change that positively impacts your life, get the ball rolling with a well thought out plan for change. The first thing I recommend is look at what you want in your life right now. The second is to pick one habit that you could change or create within the next 21 days. Experts say that it takes a minimum of 21 days to change a behavior. Are you ready to make a commitment to change? Now, let’s get started creating a successful plan to create one new habit in 21 days:

Imagine what your life would look like with this new habit. What would you have then that you don’t have now? Visualize what you want for yourself so that you can create it right now. Your ongoing, passionate connection to a clear vision will help you stay motivated to take steps every day to create what you want.

Write down the benefits of creating this new habit and your willingness to make the necessary changes. Be honest. What was your motivation for the change? What was your attitude at the time? Your level of readiness to change will determine how successful you are, and how much time it will take. But you need to be ready, able and willing to make change happen in 21 days.

Identify goals that will support your new habit. Write them down on a calendar or daily planner. Jot down all the tasks and activities (steps) that will support your goals over the next 21 days. Be specific. Use action verbs. Let your goals have measurable outcomes. Specify completion dates. Also record what your reward will be for achieving the goal and read it every morning and night. This will help you to be more committed to creating a new habit as each day passes.

Eliminate roadblocks that could impede your success. There are always roadblocks to overcome as we move towards creating new habits. Select one roadblock to work on at a time. For every negative message you encounter, turn it into a positive one. For example, “I‘m going to fail” can turn into “I have everything that I need to succeed.” It takes practice daily to be successful.

Build a support network and enlist family, friends and like-minded people who can help move you towards the first steps to what you want to achieve. Establish a discussion group and meet in person, on the phone or online with individuals where you can share common concerns and feelings.

If your life is already too full and you don’t have time to add anything else, which is the case for most people, take a closer look at how you spend your time on an average day. Record your daily activity. Free up some time you might not have known existed and incorporate your goals into your daily life.

Write down a few paragraphs describing what you’ve accomplished and how your life is better as a result; challenge yourself. Strive to create even more new habits. Make simple changes first and then take a look at the things that are harder and that require the most change to achieve your desired results. Tackle them one at a time. Make lasting changes to your lifestyle and reward yourself each step of the way.

Start right now! Over the next 21 days: make a commitment to yourself to identify one new habit that you can create successfully—and start doing it! Explore ways to integrate your goals for your new habit with your current obligations, and take those first steps into the New Year with renewed desire and commitment. You’ll soon discover that a new habit can change your life.

Stay Healthy – Learn To Meditate

Wondering how people who live to be 100 with a great quality of life do it? In his book, “Aging Well,” Harvard researcher, George Vaillant, M.D., found out just what centurions do. They cultivate a sense of peace, well-being and maintain a positive attitude. How? Here’s one of their biggest secrets: meditation. What’s ironic about meditation is, it has just become known in the West as a healing technique, but it has been practiced for ages in the East. So in my quest to give you easy sensible ways to purify your energy, I’ll begin by defining meditation, then I’ll show you how easy it is to apply to your daily routine.

Meditation Defined
Meditational exercises primarily use the experience of the body and thought as a means to reconnect with the environment and its healing power. Meditation, when practiced frequently, has been proven to promote inner peace and wellness. Meditation is also a mental practice in which the mind is directed to one area, often the breath. It draws its energy from the human connection to nature and creates a sense of unity or one-ness with it.

This unity has been shown to increase communication with the spirit of the body. It has also been known to allow positive thoughts in and to stimulate positive physiological and psychological effects. Meditation techniques are easy to learn and can easily be incorporated into any lifestyle. If practiced regularly, meditation will bring balance to your body and mind.

General benefits of meditation and breathing exercises include:

• Deep inner peace
• Improved self-esteem
• Increased creativity
• Physical health/healing
• Reduced medical care
• Slowing/reversal of aging
• Reversing of heart disease
• Stimulation of the body’s immune system
• Reduced stress

I have found there is really no one right ways to meditate. Here are a couple of my favorite meditational exercises that will get you started. Remember, there is no wrong path here. Try these, or simply sit in silence for 20 minutes, daily. You’ll be glad you did.

Meditative Grounding Exercise

• Sit with your legs crossed in a comfortable (Indian-style) position with your hands relaxed on you lap. Close your eyes and imagine a beam of light dropping from the base of your spine through the earth and connecting you to its center.

• Allow this beam of light to expand in width until it is wider than your own body and envelopes it. This is your personal space.

This exercise places you totally in your body and reminds you that you are anchored to the earth. Remember, the more grounded you are, the more aware you are. Sense the presence of your higher self: listen to its voice.

Energy Cleaning Exercise

Now that you are grounded, it’s important that you cleanse this personal space. Often we collect other people’s energies and are not aware of it. We do this both through interaction with others and basic activities of daily living.

• To remove all foreign energies from your space, imagine holding a brush and sweeping away the debris.

• Allow the debris to fall to the ground and become washed away. Let the light from the previous exercise envelop your body and spread its healing energy to the edge of your space, forming a protective force field around you.

Cleaning out the area surrounding your body will keep you grounded, define your personal boundaries and declare your space. Then choose who and what you wish to enter you space, keeping disease and illness out.

Breathing Exercise

• Follow your breath as you slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Count with each exhale until you reach 10 then begin again at one.

• If you find yourself past 10, acknowledge this and begin again at one from wherever you are.

• Imagine your body’s cells being replaced with fresh, pure oxygen and positive healing energy from this power source. Picture yourself exhaling old cells, stress, illness and worries.

• Let your thoughts pass through your mind like drifting clouds. Let them in and gently let them pass through. If the mind should harbor a negative thought, refocus on the breath.

• Thank any persistent negative thoughts for coming into your mind then gently let them go.

• Listen only for the positive, pronounced voice; the voice of your body.

Retrieve Your Energy Exercise

Since foreign energy often resides in your space, let’s also assume that you leave energy in other places. After completing the preceding exercises it is necessary to re-energize and call energy back.

• Imagine you have an energy magnet used to attract your energy back to you. Visualize energy flowing back to you, filling your body with light, health and empowerment.

• Allow a few minutes for the process.

Journal Questions:

1. Record in your journal any problem or trouble you may be having – emotional, physical or otherwise. Let problems go and give them over to your meditation.

2. Do you notice solutions coming to you throughout the day? Do you notice with regular meditation that your body and mind are becoming calmer and clearer?

Ideas To Consider:

Make time for your spirit daily. Exhibit behaviors and self talk that show your reverence for yourself.