Do you have your wellness plan set? Are you excited about the benefits of these positive changes in your life? Visualizing the best?
Good… now one more question. Do you imagine you will miss some of the old behaviors you are changing?
Yes, of course, you will miss your old habits. That’s normal and the nature of habits. Whether good or bad, we tend to gravitate back to old behaviors in times of stress. What to do? Plan for these times by exploring healthy ways to soothe yourself as you increase wellness in your world.
Before we get down to listing alternate soothing practices, think for a few minutes about your old, “less well” practices. What did they really do for you? Before you can plan effective new comforting alternatives, you need to understand what your old choices were filling. This might be a good time to pull that journal or list of goals out and add to it.
- What feeling did you get from your old choice of action?
- Did it calm you?
- Did it divert your attention from something you did not want to deal with?
- Did it somehow make you feel stronger, less fearful?
- Did it make you think you were less socially awkward?
- Did it give you the energy to work on past the point where you began to experience fatigue or discomfort?
Take a bit of time to reflect on these questions. An important aspect of wellness is truly understanding your own needs and desires. Reflect on whether the old behavior was to calm you, or maybe you needed more social interaction. Be aware and honor your own singular needs. Wellness is all about taking care of yourself in the ways that are best for the unique you.
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Choosing your alternative soothing practices involves a bit of visualizing and even selling yourself on the new changes. That’s why it helps to take the time to plan alternatives ahead of time. You might be cutting down on desserts. At first glance, you might think, “What? Eating a piece of fresh fruit instead of a piece of cake… that will never work.” An important aspect of moving towards wellness is to coach yourself through these changes. Take time to imagine how your body will feel after 6 months of replacing desserts and candy with the piece of fresh fruit most of the time. The substitution will leave you healthier, thinner and much, much freer.
Did you note that the suggestion that you will make healthy choices “most of the time”? Yes, most of the time. Your path to increased wellness is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Let’s say desserts are a comforter that you want to minimize. Most of the time, you might think cake… but choose fruit. Excellent. But when attending grandma’s 100th birthday party, having a piece of cake as part of her celebration is just fine. Perfection isn’t really part of wellness.
Here are some soothing practices that fall into the healthier, calming and enjoyable categories. See what resonates with you.
Meditation or Mindfulness Practices
Learn to calm and settle your mind into this moment. If you think you can’t, you just need some more effective instruction. You’ll find a lot of great information in this blog. Just search for “meditation.”
Take a Deep Breath
Deep breathing is your body’s natural calmer, calling the rest-and-repose part of your nervous system into play. Taking a deep breath is a sort of pause button for life. A deep breath can slow things down a bit so that you can make healthier choices, even when stressed. You might want to learn about Pranayama, a yogic breathing practice that can calm and revitalize.
Take a Walk
Getting into nature, feeling a fresh breeze, the warmth of the sun is a wonderful way to distract the mind and soothe the body and soul.
Use Some Mindful Self-Talk
Speak to yourself as though you are talking to a dear friend who is experiencing what you’re going through. Practicing positive self-talk is an important aspect of wellness.
The sense of smell is really powerful. Essential oils carry the power and energy of fresh plants. They have real potential to calm you or energize you. Inhaling a fresh Zen scent can be all you need to break an obsessive string of thinking. Using a blend like Forest can bring on a few deeper breaths and even nudge you to take a hike. Essential oils are easily portable, especially the new personal diffusers. Take your nose on a little vacation and find a scent that makes your smile.
Sometimes writing about your feelings is helpful as it diverts you from the old behavior but also serves as a tool. You can reread your writings, remembering all that you’ve experienced and see progress. Journal your feelings, write poetry or list things you’re grateful for.
Healthy Comfort Foods
Trying to avoid desserts? Then keep fruit on hand. Trying to eliminate unhealthy snacks? Try crunching on some lovely organic carrots. Dying for a donut from the lunchroom at work? Reach into your desk drawer and pull out a healthy snack- nuts, raisins or a protein bar.
Take a Tech Break
Walk away from phone, computer, and television for an hour or a day.
Vary Your Schedule or Routine
If you always drive to work this way, go that way. If you always walk in one place, drive to that other park and take a walk. If you always read non-fiction, try a novel recommended by a friend. How do you know if you like hip hop or classical music until you give it a try?
If your work keeps you busy talking to people, maybe taking a silent lunch could be the midday refreshment you need.
Calling a Friend
Just to talk with someone you care about! This might be a nice time to call your grandma or aunt Tilly? Nothing like hearing about someone else’s “stuff” to make your stuff calm down.
Make a Cup of Tea
Tea is somehow different than coffee. We make coffee in the morning to get going. Tea is different. You can put water on to heat then look at your assortment of teas on hand to make a choice that will help get where you want to go- calming, warming, filling or spicy.
Read a Book
Reading is a bit like a conversation with someone about their world. Try to have several choices handy in times of change so you can trade your reality for someone else’s without indulging an old habit.
Listen to Music
Music soothes the savage beast, the busy mind, and anxious heart. You know what works for you.
This comment isn’t just intended for musicians. Even if you think you know nothing about music, explore the idea of drumming or playing Native American flute. Both instruments can be enjoyed by the beginner. There is something magical about making beautiful sounds. They work on the world outside and inside
Going to get a massage is a great therapy however, often requires planning and cash. Keep some bottles of massage oil with therapeutic grade essential oils in them and use them to massage your hands, feet, temples or shoulders when needed
Repeat Your Mantra
Don’t have one? Write one! Find some suggestions in a previous article on Motivating yourself.
Make sure they are positive and at this moment. Not “I will become well,” but “I am well and strong.”
There are points on your body that if you apply pressure, can elicit a physical response. Your acupuncturist has a deep knowledge of hundreds of these points all over the body. You can gain a simple working knowledge of six or so points to calm, energize or help you sleep. Search for “acupressure points to calm, etc.”
fluorescent light and some other types of light may cause a stress reaction for some people. There are pulses in these lights not visible to you but which affect your body. Getting out into the sunshine can feel very different, very soothing and might boost your vitamin D levels.
Try making a meditation place, gazing into a candle, getting up 15 minutes early to read inspirational books, turning off the TV and playing board games with your kids. Get creative and shake up your routine
Stand Up Straight and Stretch
This one applies especially to those who have sedentary jobs. Getting up, moving, stretching on a regular basis helps your body function better and feels so good. Just a few minutes makes a big difference.
If you’ve not tried yoga, it does not require you to put your body in strange and compromising positions. Yoga is an essential form of exercise that allows the body to stay flexible and maintain a good range of motion and balance. Call a local studio and tell them you’re a beginner and ask for class recommendations. Wear comfortable clothes but know that Lycra is not required.
Go to Bed
powering through when you’re really tired isn’t what your body or mind needs. Studies have shown that getting regular, adequate sleep is important to health and wellness. Naps also qualify as wellness builders if you need one.
Take a Deep Breath
There are so many more ideas but hopefully, the list got you thinking. Take the time to write down some of the ideas that resonate with you and your new walk towards wellness. Planning and being prepared for challenges as you make changes in life help smooth the path to success.
We all know it is pointless to try to not think about some old indulgence. Plan some alternate subjects you like to think about and keep the list handy. Some examples from Susan Albers book, 50 more ways to Soothe yourself without food include: fantasize about your future career, plan your next vacation, visualize floating on the waves in the ocean, think about someone you’d like to kiss, imagine walking down the aisle of your favorite store, imagine doing something wild and out of character for you, remember the funniest incident you can think of.1
Plan for wellness, visualize wellness, decide what is best for the very unique and wonderful you. Then take action! You can do this!
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