What Does it Mean to Live Well?

What does it take to live well? First it takes an awareness that there is something flat and off key and you know it could be better. Maybe it is prioritizing an important relationship that you realize is stagnant. You could jump start that, you don’t have to wait for the other to make the first move. Or it could be that you finally ran out of excuses for not beginning that exercise program, and you know you have to start. And why not now? And you do. It might be time to take that first step to reconnecting with your spiritual life that you left behind when you left your parents’ home. You remember there was something essential and mysterious that touched you deeply and opened your heart. Maybe, a realization arises and you pick up the phone and make an appointment for a physical because you have been low on energy for far too long.

A flash of insight peaks through and you know that it is up to you to define and discover what it means to live well. Live well no matter what circumstances are present.

Deep bow of gratitude to the brave participants in the initial offering of a new program, Cultivate Health, Learn to Live Well with Cancer. A circle of people came together from the comfort of their homes to share in this webinar, to reflect, discuss and engage in thought provoking questions and exercises around what it means to each of them to live well.

Throughout the 6-week program each person was invited to engage in and reflect on several areas vital to living with more ease and wellbeing. These included stress management strategies that prioritized working with habits of thinking and ways to challenge the negativity bias. Taking stock of social connections in order to define relationships that empower and energize rather than drain vitality and create stress. The latest research on ways to improve quality of sleep were discussed, as well as unlocking the vividness of the sensory world; participants discovered what a valuable resource our senses are.

Expanding vocabulary for feelings is a way to be with them that puts them in their proper place. No need to get swept up by emotions. This happens less when all feelings are acknowledged and can be just what they are, here, felt and then gone. You learn that feelings are temporary. This changing nature of life naturally led us to talk about death.

We reflected on ways to plan for and talk about desires for the end of life. When you relax the heart to the inevitable reality of death, a flood of energy creates a renewed sense of urgency for living. Knowing what you value is the foundation for what matters most.

It was a deep dive into patterns, barriers, aspirations, and the always present yearning of each of our beautiful, beating hearts.

Don’t wait, the time to live well is in the present. Not someday when all things are mapped out, certain or perfect. All an illusion. Life awaits your attention. Life is calling you to Cultivate Health and Live Well NOW.

 

Caring for Your Emotional Life

Where do emotions come from? Many of our emotions have to do with things that have happened in the past; situations, experiences, memories, or anticipating the future. Emotions also arise from how well we are regulating our body budget; an accounting of our bodies’ energy needs and what our brain predicts this means for our future. This is a cornerstone of the mind/body connection.

All emotions count, so it’s important to acknowledge  the full range of your emotions.

 We each experience emotions differently. How you create your emotional self-care plan will differ based on how you do or do not acknowledge your emotions. Gently turning toward your emotions, letting them surface, feeling and acknowledging them and then letting them go is the healthiest thing you can do for emotional care, and it’s not always easy. Those emotions you do not acknowledge show up in unexpected ways that may surprise you.

Since you are the one in charge of your emotional self; emotional self-care will depend on the practices and strategies you engage in. These should support and honor your emotions, connect you to your experience, and allow you to make meaning. Use this mindful checklist to create your personal emotional self-care plan to support emotional wellbeing.

Take inventory. What drains you? Look in this order; people, home tasks, work tasks, community. Teasing apart obligations  from those that are based in self-imposed shoulds can bring clarity to how you spend your time and with who

  • Consider people; do they bring life to your life or do they bring you down with negativity and criticism? Are they doom and gloom and gossipy or do they have a positive outlook and generous spirit? Stress and emotional reactivity are contagious and it’s easy to get swept away with negative emotional energy. Your time is limited, choose wisely the people you spend time with.

  • Homes tasks; look carefully at what really needs to be done and what would be nice to get done. The house doesn’t have to be spotless all the time, just because you can fix the plumbing doesn’t mean you have to. Let things be easier at home, it’s better to spend quality time with your family playing a game, communicating face to face or watching a movie together than holding yourself to a too high standard

  • Work tasks; this is a bit trickier, but still doable. What is absolutely necessary and what can you say no to? Learning to set boundaries is an essential skill of time management and emotional self-care. If this is an area of difficulty for you, reach out for help with a life coach or mental health provider, your physical and emotional health will thank you.

  • Community; it feels good to share your gifts and skills in the community, but not if it comes at the expense of your emotional health and wellbeing. Use discernment regarding what you want to contribute versus time available. Just because you’ve done something in the past, does not mean you need to keep doing it now.

Be honest as you self-reflect, what really drains you?

What brings you energy? Again, look in this order people, home, work, and community. Identifying what brings energy and making room for those people and activities gives a positive boost to emotional self-care. Emotions are transmittable, both positive and negative so it’s time well spent to reflect on who, what and where brings energy to your life.

Take time to pause. This doesn’t have to be a big deal, it can be as simple as stopping and taking a few conscious breaths, opening awareness to body sensations first, then to what’s around you and in that moment acknowledge that you are okay right here, right now. Learning mindfulness meditation helps you become aware of the gap you can step into and honestly see what is happening.

Manage sleep. Often overlooked, but of vital importance, sleep is needed for restoring the body systems to homeostasis. This in turn gives you resources for acknowledging all emotions and responding rather than reacting to them.

These are just a few ideas for emotional self-care, and a good start. To learn more about specific emotions and corresponding mindful checklists continue reading past blogs posts and gain further insight into ways to care for yourself and your emotions with self-compassion and honest self-reflection.

“There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by my self.”

– Brian Andreas