From Zen to Zany: Learning to Feed Your Soul for Optimal Health in 2016
I’ve been doing holistic psychotherapy, wellness education, and health promotion for over 25 years. The biggest challenge I hear when working with others is that very few people know 1) how to really feed their soul and nourish themselves at a deep level, 2) what to do to relax and fully restore themselves, and 3) what activities cause them to laugh enough to really have fun. Work and no play is always a formula for feeling unwell, whether emotional, physical, or other branches of health are affected, but now is the time to learn how to truly nourish oneself at the deepest level—the soul level. This knowledge will help you both to withstand whatever storms life brings your way, but also allow yourself and your soul to evolve in such a way that there is no going back.
Ask yourself: What do I do to relax? What specific activities take away the stressors of the day? Are these healthy behaviors—or vices that only temporarily distract you from the source of discomfort?
Although some may know what it takes for them to really unwind, few actually take the time to engage in these activities due to perceived time constraints, guilt, and the tendency to care for others before one cares for themselves. Learning to soothe your soul with restorative activities ensures not only a less stressful life, but also more optimal and radiant health.
For instance, simply pausing to take some slow, deep breaths can immediately decrease your heart rate, blood pressure, and overall sense of stress. Practicing meditation, journal-writing, and gentle movement such as yoga, tai chi, and mindful walks around the block can clear the mind, increase optimism, and improve your immune system. Doing creative activities such as painting, drawing, gardening, and decorating provide a mini “mental-vacation” so that you can become more peaceful and centered. Any “zen-like” activity will help you to feel more balanced, but finding the right one for you makes all the difference in guaranteeing your optimal soul health.
On the other hand, it’s also essential to learn how to have fun—and more importantly, how to give yourself permission to do so! Countless times, I’ve heard that people feel guilty for taking time to play and laugh, noting that there’s too much to do to allow oneself to let loose and enjoy some good-hearted fun. Many also say that they don’t know how to allow fun and leisure into their busy day or week, neglecting to prioritize playful activities in lieu of the long list of responsibilities. However, there is clear evidence that fun, laughter, play, and all jovial goings-on have an undeniable, positive impact on radiant health.
For instance, when was that last time you did something that was out of the ordinary? What was it that made you laugh to the point of tears in the last few months—year—or longer? Are you afraid of how you will appear if you do something that is fun to you?
Now, remember how you felt after you took time to relax and restore—and how much more energetic and light-hearted you felt after a good laugh. Reminding yourself of the results of allowing yourself to be both “zen” and “zany” will instill a restorative nature to your approach to the year—one that is crucial in paving your path to optimal living.
Take the time now to jot down a few things related to fun and leisure that you would like to incorporate into your life. Then, pull out your calendar to identify times in which you can most effectively integrate these activities into day-to-day living. By learning to feed your soul, you will undoubtedly enhance your overall sense of well-being, as well as improve your soul health.
Join me in this year, From Zen to Zany
, and create your deepest sense of radiant health yet!