We humans are an interesting breed. We grow, learn, accomplish, and meet a variety of developmental milestones throughout our lifespan. From the outside looking in, unless we are struggling with abuse, addiction, poverty or some terminal illness, most people will assume all is well. Many people in therapy will say things like, “I really have no reason to be depressed or anxious.” Yet, the rates of anxiety and depression continue to rise (this trend began even before COVID) and our youth tend to be struggling more than ever (thinking the rates of self-harm here). Some will blame technology, not enough structure, too much structure, the Democrats, the Republicans and _______________(insert your favorite scapegoat here)! I will not pretend that I have THE ANSWER because I recognize that living well means different things for different people; however I will say that through my experiences personally and as a therapist I find the following to be helpful in living well:
- Spending time in nature. There is nothing more invigorating than capturing a sunrise, a sunset, waves crashing at a beach, leaves crackling under your feet, or snow crunching behind you. Take advantage of the simplicity, stillness and wonder nature has to offer.
- Making our space our haven. Surrounding ourselves with things we love provides us a great deal of contentment and serenity. Whether it’s our garden, office or bedroom, we need to make sure that when we look around, we feel like it is a reflection of ourselves.
- Exercising for health. Although exercise is great for our body image, confidence and appearance, I am advocating for the health benefits of exercise. Believe it or not there are a handful of psychiatrists who will not give meds for depression or anxiety unless the client is exercising. Why is that? Because there is so much research that points to the psychological benefits of exercise. This is not necessarily defined by vigorous exercise. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise and can be done by most people.
- Eating well to live well. It is no secret that we must nourish our bodies to be healthy physically and mentally. Non-processed foods give us the best chance of absorbing nutrients and vitamins. Drinking water is great for our metabolism and cleanses us from toxins.
- Taking time for gratitude. I learned a few years ago that believing “it just can’t get any worse” is a falsehood. I was in a situation where after saying that, it did get worse… a lot worse. Since then I have learned to appreciate that in every situation there is something to find gratitude for because it can always be worse.
- Taking a risk…Trying something different…Trying something new. I’m not advocating for impulsive risks here. I’m suggesting reaching out to the person we have been afraid to talk to, committing to something we’ve always wanted to try, booking that trip we’ve been contemplating, or risking rejection by injecting our personality into that latest project. Because ultimately we want to be…
- Living without regrets. Realistically, we will all have some regrets but the choice of how much we regret about our lives will be up to us. Perhaps we shouldn’t wait until tomorrow to fix broken relationships, begin that Master’s program or start exercising. Perhaps if we want to live without regrets we need to seize this moment and make a change.
- Being true to ourselves. This means making decisions that will make our hearts swell with pride as we give little to no consideration to the negative judgments of others. It means saying “no” because it’s what right for you or saying “yes” because you’ve always wanted to try.
- Giving Back. Volunteer. We’ve all had our good times and hard times. Giving back is about recognizing that there are those less fortunate than us at this moment in time and that we would like to soften their blow as others perhaps have softened ours. Volunteering to help others provides us with purpose and appreciation for what we have.
- Being Mindful. This is about recognizing that right now if we open our eyes, minds, and hearts to the present, we will experience life richly and fully as we take in this very moment.
There are many additional possibilities that could and should make the list, but I will open it up to you to suggest the next bullet points. Email ChristineAbbott@LiveWellholistic.com to expand this list.