Now that we are getting a reprieve from the pandemic, it’s time to connect with the sources that bring us some level of calm and fulfillment. Summer is here and the nation is beginning to open up after being isolated for a year. For some of us, it’s a slow process. As we begin to re-enter society, it may take us time to adapt to a new normal. So let’s check in on our health and well-being.
Cultivating our well-being is a deeply personal matter. It requires us to check in with ourselves regularly and to be open to this new reality. It may take time to feel less stressed as we move into the unknown. In this guide to well-being, we will explore 5 habits that you can integrate into your daily life that will serve as helpful tools in creating and sustaining emotional wellness.
1. Connecting To Your Inner Source
Develop a daily meditation practice. If meditation is new to you, start with 10 minutes a day. It can be an easy process worth your investment of time. Meditation is a special place where each moment is savored. Set up a time and place where you will not be distracted. Turn off all phones and digital devices. Sit with your back in an upright posture, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Let your thoughts move through your mind without resistance or judgment. The aim is to train your mind’s capacity for concentration and awareness of the present moment by focusing on a single point of attention, the breath. Starting your day with meditation can help with managing stressful emotions and increase attention. Making it a habit helps us to become less reactive to normal stresses and challenges we encounter.
2. Engagement and Flow
Tuning our attention into engagement with something that we enjoy is another practice to consider. Think about an activity that brings you joy. It can be drawing, painting, coloring, building or creating something, running, or anything you can think of. As you engage in that activity, give it your complete unwavering attention, it can bring you into a state of “flow.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was one of the first psychologists to research states of flow. He describes flow as the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else matters. The experience itself is so enjoyable that nothing else matters. Csikszentmihalyi’s research illuminated the connection between flow and well-being. So, think of something you can do that brings you enjoyment and give it a try.
With ADHD comes a whole host of frustrations, disappointments, and emotional struggles. As you think about compassion you might think about the feelings you have for a friend, relative, or partner. Compassion adds love and caring for others. But what about compassion for ourselves? Compassion for ourselves can free up the negative self-talk we have running through our thoughts making us feel sad, disappointed, or even angry with ourselves. Think about opening the doors of compassion to yourself. One of the most recent neuroscience experiments on compassion was led by Helen Weng. Researchers used functional MRIs to measure the brain activity of participants viewing images of human suffering. Participants were given 30 minutes of training in compassion meditation for two weeks. The research found that the brain activity of the subjects had shifted radically. Those in the compassion training groups showed striking changes in brain function, particularly in the amygdala. The amygdala is the section of the brain that controls our fight-or-flight response. In as little as two weeks you can positively change your brain to develop more self-compassion. Try searching online for Loving-Kindness meditations to boost your own self-compassion.
4. Human Connections
We are all living beings connected to this powerful Universe. The isolation we experienced during the pandemic has had an emotional impact on humans around the globe. We need human contact, yet many of us struggle to make connections with others. If this sounds like you, here are some suggestions to think about. Email or text a friend or loved one that you have not communicated with in a while to just say “hi, how are you doing? What is happening with you these days?” If you like to write, share your thoughts and send a card to someone you have been thinking about. If you are feeling particularly isolated, take your computer to a coffee house or café. Sip on a latte and strike up a conversation with someone next to you if the opportunity feels right. Another idea is to think about an interest you have and join a group to share that interest. An idea would be to join an online class where you can practice something you love doing while interacting with others in a digital classroom. One example that is particularly interesting to me is taking an online class to learn how to paint. Once connected you can enjoy being involved with an activity that brings you joy while engaging with others.
Now that summer is here, spend time outdoors walking, exercising, gardening, biking, hiking, or cross-training. Get your body moving. An article in Time magazine entitled “Sitting is Killing You” proved evidence of the profound impact the lack of movement has on our health and well-being. The ordinary habit of sedentary behavior is problematic for many reasons. The more we sit the less energy we exert. We burn fewer calories and reduce circulation. So now is the time to make movement a regular habit in your day. If you need to be indoors, take regular breaks throughout your day. Stand up and walk into another room. Get up and stretch your body, and if time permits, search YouTube for an online yoga or stretching class. You can also turn up your favorite music and dance like a fool alone or with someone else. The point is, get your body moving!
Victoria Roche, MSW, PCC