Finding Wellness Under Pressure
by Karl Knopf, EdD
The concept of wellness, like a diamond, has many facets. Diamonds are precious stones that are formulated over time and under intense heat and pressure. Pressure and stress can have both positive and negative effects on our health and wellness. Even positive changes are stressful. Getting married, moving to a new house, bringing a new child into the world are positive, exhilarating, exhausting and certainly life-changing examples of happy stresses.
The right amount of pressure at the right time in our lives can create diamonds within us. “High-quality stress” often results in how we chose to respond to those stresses. A muscle will get stronger under the gradual and progressive stress of weight training. A person becomes stronger in their integrity by making honest and informed choices. We are all diamonds under construction and the pressure of this process isn’t easy.
Lessons from Centenarians:
Don't spend time alone; make friends!
Don't get married to your TV; it will be a lonely life.
Don't sleep the day away; avoid the bathrobe syndrome.
Have a pet; not only for snuggling but it gives you someone to care for and about.
Don't depend on anyone else for your happiness.
Here are a few ways to maintain wellness, even amidst the pressures of life.
Get your daily dose of happiness.
Happiness is a choice. Putting your mindset in the spirit of gratitude can open your eyes and heart to all the joyful possibilities in your life. Whatever we focus on expands. If you allow your thoughts to dwell upon the negative elements, the positive things fade to the background making it harder to experience joy. Even if you can only think of one thing that you are grateful for, let the positive energy of that one element be your focus and your mantra.
Laugh often, laugh loud, laugh long.
Laughing is a great exercise for the abdominal muscles and the lungs as you take deep breaths; it also creates the “feel good” hormones in the brain. However, we need to recognize and acknowledge other emotions including sadness and grief, as they too are a part of life. How we manage the trials of each day determines how we age that day.
Be your own best friend.
We experience the hellos and goodbyes in life because people come and go. The only person that is with you every day and every moment is you. Wherever you go, there you are. The best we can do is try to get along with ourselves and try to be our own best friend.
Create a ripple.
What kind of ripple do you leave behind – one of kindness or discord ? Make sure you tell the people in your life how much you love them. If you only had 5 minutes to live, who would you call? Chances are that it wouldn’t be your stockbroker, banker or any businessperson. It would be members of your family or friends, for these are the relationships that hold the most value. Don’t let the gratitude papers on the desk of your life stack up. Keep the love letters flowing to those that mean the most to you and you will live without regret.
“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends
will leave footprints in your heart” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Forgive and forget it!
Ask for forgiveness; give your forgiveness. It seems that the hardest person to forgive is ourselves because we know all too well all those shadowy corners of doubt and imperfection. Cancel that guilt trip and give yourself permission to enjoy a little slice of vacation and re-creation in every day. Take gratitude breaks (a moment to reflect upon the joyful things in your life) throughout your hectic day. Live in the moment and savor each moment.
Re-direct the inner critic.
Pay attention to your inner dialogue and self-talk. How do you treat yourself when you’ve made an error, forgot an appointment, misunderstood directions, lost an important item? Do you beat yourself up with name calling and self-loathing? Sometimes we treat our own souls with more anger and impatience than the crazy driver that cut us off on the freeway. It’s certainly okay to be aware of areas of needed improvement in our lives, but it’s not at all helpful to flood the mind with self-punishing dialogue. Cut yourself some slack! You are the only one who can give that special gift to yourself.
Improve your serve.
When we chose to become a part of something bigger than ourselves, we learn that, no matter the odds or barriers, we really can make a difference in this world. Trust that the energy will be there when you put forth the effort to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Reach beyond your own comfortable sphere into the greater circle of giving. You will find that whatever good cause you give yourself to, you will receive tenfold in joy and purposefulness.
Looking for happiness?
If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody. ~ Chinese Proverb
We cannot avoid all the pressures of life, but we can use this stress to become beautiful diamonds!
Dr. Karl Knopf has been involved in health and fitness for over 45 years, working in almost every aspect of the industry – from personal trainer and therapist to consultant. While at Foothill College, he was the Director of the Fitness Therapy Program, a teacher of adaptive PE, and recognized with several awards for teaching excellence. For 15 years, Dr. Knopf served as the President and Founder of Fitness Educators Of Older Adults. He has authored many articles, has written over 20 books, and has been a frequent guest on the Sit and Be Fit television show.