Volume 18, Issue 1
A Year of Living Well: Own Your Life
There is a lot of talk about healthy living, making healthier choices, and ‘wellness”. It’s in the news, in medical flyers, local health clinic mailings, employer communications, government sponsored websites. “Wellness” focuses heavily on physical well-being – your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol level, amount of activity and exercise, hours of sleep… But there is so much more to wellness.
This year we will explore other ideas on wellness, expanding our understanding of living well, of “well-being”. After all, regardless of how physically healthy you are, what makes for a full and satisfying life is being happy, living with purpose, enjoying today and looking forward to the future.
The first step toward improving overall life satisfaction and achieving well-being in its broadest sense is: Own Your Life. “Own Your Life” is the idea that each of us is responsible for how fully alive and happy we are. Here are some thoughts on how we can own our own lives.
Enjoy today, plan for tomorrow. While we can’t ignore tomorrow and what its expectations of us will be, we can only live today. Today is where it’s at. Those who continuously miss the present moment will end up feeling like they didn’t live long enough. Today—this moment—is the only one you can experience right now. Are you paying attention to the small kindnesses, the miracles, the joys and challenges, the smells, tastes, views, voices, that can only be savored in this moment?
- If you think you need to wait to overcome an obstacle in your life before you can feel satisfied and happy, happiness will never come. There will always be another obstacle. Choose to be happy in this moment, not waiting until a better moment comes along.
- Own your joy. Joy comes from the inside, not the outside. Have you ever met someone who seems joyful in spite of their circumstances? They don’t have an unrealistic view of their circumstances—rather they are choosing which aspects of their life they will focus on. What is good about today? What do you like about yourself? What positive things have you done in your life so far? Make a choice to focus on the positive, the good, the joyful, in your life and the lives of those around you.
- There is nothing about the past that you can change, so don’t live there. There are infinite possibilities for the present, however. Pick one.
Know what matters to you – these are your values. We are most effective and satisfied with our lives when we are true to our values. Do your goals align with your values? Do you use your resources to live out your values? If not, take a little time to think through what you can change today so that what you do more consistently reflects what is important to you.
- Focus on what you can control – how you think, your actions, what you do with your feelings. Let go of what is out of your control. As someone has said, “Let go, or be dragged.” You can’t change the circumstances – you can control your responses and outlook. “Own your life” by making a positive impact where you can, where you have some control.
- Commit to not dwell on things that are out of your control: the past, the future, others’ choices and behaviors, the weather, genetics – and the list goes on. Worrying about these things, trying to change them, or becoming resentful and angry about them, will not improve your life in any way. “A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour.” (author unknown)
As you think about wellness throughout this year, pay attention to the many ways that you can bring well-being into your own life. Adversity, challenges, tragedies—these are unavoidable, but you have choices in how you respond to these. Don’t avoid joy.
Today—this moment—is the only one you can experience right now. Are you paying attention to the small kindnesses, the miracles, the joys and challenges, the smells, tastes, views, voices, that can only be savored in this moment?
Improve Your Sleep; Improve Your Health
Getting the sleep you need
Scientific studies have shown that humans must sleep daily for seven or eight hours or risk irritability, accidents, decreased productivity, and ill health. Sleep deprivation has been linked to heart disease, depression, diabetes, some neurological disorders, and more. Among other things, adequate sleep is necessary to:
- Clear our brains of toxic by-products from the day’s activities
- Rebuild and repair muscles and joints
- Give our hearts a break as our heart rates drop during sleep
- Reinforce our short-term memory.
If you have insomnia, you’re not alone. According to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health, 30-40% of adults have experienced insomnia symptoms within the past year, and about 10-15% of adults suffer from chronic insomnia.
Whether you have insomnia or are the type that can sleep through anything, there are steps you can take to improve your sleep.
During the Day
Don’t take a nap. You want to be tired at bedtime.
- Avoid exercising late in the evening.
- If you are taking prescription medications, make sure to take them at the time of day specified.
- Don’t use nicotine or drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks (e.g. coffee, tea, caffeinated sodas), or eat chocolate within a few hours of bedtime.
- Try to get some sun light every day. This will help to set and maintain your body clock
During the Evening
- It’s okay to have a light snack in the evening. The key is to keep it light.
- Stop drinking liquids at least an hour before you go to bed to reduce your need to urinate during the night.
Right Before Bedtime
Do something quiet and soothing.
- Learn some relaxation exercises to do before you go to bed. (For in- stance, you can focus on your breathing or relax each of your muscles in turn, or do yoga.)
- Listen to soothing music.
- If worrying keeps you awake, take some time each day to write down your concerns or “to-do” items. You may even come up with some constructive problem-solving ideas that can help put your mind more at ease.
- Don’t watch TV or read in bed. Train your body that bed is for sleep.
- Turn your clock away from you.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends. Your body works in cycles and will appreciate the regular rhythms.
- Keep your sleeping room cool, dark, and quiet
- If your spouse or partner’s snoring is keeping you awake, consider separate bedrooms or asking him or her to get treatment.
- If you snore heavily and experience daytime sleepiness, you might want to talk with your healthcare provider about being tested for sleep apnea, which can cause significant sleep disruption and can put sufferers at risk for serious health problems.
- Don’t take over-the-counter sleeping pills without talking to your doctor first. And never take a friend’s prescription sleeping pills (or any other type of pills)
- If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes or so, get up, go to another room, and read something that’s not too exciting or take a warm bath. Don’t turn on a lot of lights. Don’t watch TV.
If these methods don’t solve your sleep problems, talk to your doctor or call your EAP for assistance. There are a number of options to help you resolve your sleep difficulty. But don’t just shrug off the problem. We may not know a lot about the mysteries of sleep, but we do know that we need it for optimal health.
Laugh Away Stress
It’s no secret that humor helps to control stress. The Mayo Clinic cites a number of benefits. Laughter:
- Activates the relaxation response
- Soothes muscle and emotional tension
- Improves your immune system
- Relieves pain
- Improves oxygen exchange in our heart and lungs
- Increases endorphins and improves our mood
Here are some ideas on bringing more healthy humor into your life:
- Hang comic strips and photos with a humorous twist where you can see them.
- Find a way to laugh about your own situations. Laugh and the world laughs with you.
- Spend time with friends who like to share a good laugh.
- Watch an internet video of a well-known comedian. The best comedians can point out the comedy of the commonplace.
- Know what isn’t funny – don’t laugh at others’ expense.
PAS’ call center is similar to having a personal concierge available to provide immediate assistance without transfers to someone else who can help you. When you need to talk, our counselors are right there for you—no waiting for an appointment, no automated attendant system, no back and forth messages. Our counselors take the time to understand your needs and help you to develop an immediate plan of action for the concerns you are facing. Please call us anytime you need:
A calming and supportive presence to help you cope during a difficult time
- To connect with a compassionate person when you are feeling isolated, sad or afraid
- Guidance on how to resolve life’s challenges including:
Legal and financial matters
Care for aging parents
PASWord Express © 2015 is published by Personal Assistance Services, 9735 Landmark Parkway, Suite 17, St. Louis, MO, 63127 -9968 (800) 356-0845. Material may not be reproduced without written permission.