As we enter the season of new beginnings, it’s difficult to ignore the many solutions offered to the age old quest for optimal wellness. It never ceases to amaze me how many paths to overall well-being have emerged over the millennia, and how abundant commercialized options have become in our current culture, particularly as we approach the new year.
As a curious learner of various wellness and healing modalities, I’m convinced that most are born of a genuine desire to help others live their best lives. Where we tend to get into trouble as humans is when we make the leap that something that is right for us or those around us must therefore be right for all, and in extreme variation- the only way.
The foundational basics most systems for optimal wellness- both ancient and modern- have in common are:
Mindful attention to a healthy diet and eating habits
Physical activity that supports a strong, supple body
Rituals that support proper hygiene and body systems maintenance
Philosophies and practices that support mental/emotional relaxation and well-being in an ever-changing, challenging world
Connection to something greater than ourselves, including a community that supports our world view
An overwhelming number of variations on these themes inundate us annually as we transition from the excesses of the holiday season into the season of resolutions. As a general rule, the following considerations should help you navigate the sometimes overwhelming range of options we’re greeted with this time of year.
Any system, modality or philosophy that attempts to tell you they are the only or best way for you to achieve your goals should be met with caution.
This is not to say that genuine results are not to be had, or that it isn’t genuinely the best choice for you. However, any offering that attempts to make you feel fearful or pressured into accepting their way as the only way- especially at a financial cost to you- should be met with a healthy dose of skepticism and a deep breath taken before committing. Tried and true methods toward wellness are generally intuitive, universal, and for the most part can be implemented with low or no cost variations.
The best routine for you is the one you’ll do.
The various testimonials you’ll hear delivered from people who claim a specific modality worked for them means exactly that- it worked for them. Regardless of how scientifically sound, or how amazing the potential results might be, simply put- no self care regimen will work if you don’t do it. At any given life stage your daily routine, responsibility load, financial situation, and a range of other factors create unique considerations that you alone are aware of when deciding what will work for you.
Trust your instincts.
Your instincts will guide you more skillfully toward what is needed in your life than any sales pitch can, and you don’t always need to know why something does or does not feel right to be guided toward your next best step. Perhaps you feel pulled toward a specific studio and end up falling in love with their yoga classes, or you can’t stop thinking about how great a massage would feel, and when you finally get one realize how much tension you’ve been carrying. Your system is designed to communicate with you at all times, and it’s often when we’ve ignored the faint whispers for too long that we find our bodies screaming in distress. What gentle step is your body urging you to take at this time?
Small, incremental changes over time can be just as effective as jumping into a full-on lifestyle overhaul.
While it might be tempting to wake up on January 1 thinking, “This is the year I eat a pristine diet, exercise 5 days each week and experience continuous bliss”, all or nothing changes often fail because when we can’t do it all, we end up doing nothing. Small, incremental changes over time are often easier to integrate and maintain than all-at-once approaches. Perhaps committing to increasing the percentage of vegetables on your plate leads to more energy and better sleep, and one positive choice supports the implementation of the next. If you’re truly ready for an overhaul, go for it! However make sure to add to your goals a commitment to giving yourself the necessary grace to navigate missteps without feeling like a failure.
In short, once we get over the inundation of options, most of us are inherently capable of recognizing the changes we need to make in our daily lives to move toward better wellness. By trusting our instincts and committing to what we will truly do, we’re all capable of making great strides toward better health in the New Year.