Doing a simple internet search, you can find a plethora of information about well-being and health. Being happy and well is a goal everyone should aim to achieve. However, I find many of the tips out there are simply unattainable. It may be that I am just a fail at true inner peace and that my inner tsunami doesn’t let me rest. Or it may be that the tips just don’t fit into my well-being template.
So, how can you achieve well-being without hurting yourself or others?
You don’t have to like yoga and/or meditation. Both are great practices that have helped so many people. I will not deny that. However, if you read many blogs out there, you would believe that if you can only get into the yoga habit and start meditating, all your troubles will melt away and you will find inner peace. Kudos to those who have had this work for them. But, I am neither flexible enough or calm enough to be successful at either undertaking. In fact, I am a notorious klutz who once felt stressed on a beach in Hawaii because I didn’t have anything to do. Some people may achieve great joy doing the downward dog pose, but I fell over once and knocked a few people down along with me. Trust me, there are some people who don’t want me to try it again.
Skip the diet. There are all kinds of diets out there: the ketogenic diet, Atkins, South Beach and on and on. Heck, there is even the Paleo diet that emulates the way humans ate back in the cavemen days when life expectancy was only 20 to 30 years. If there is an idea for a diet, people will publish a book and start selling their products around it. You don’t need those diets. Skip the junk, try to incorporate some healthy foods like fruits and vegetables in your diet, cut your carbs, and moderate the portions. And if you have a craving for chocolate, go ahead and eat a small piece. Do everything in moderation, and you will be much happier and healthier than eating like someone else advises you based on their business plan for fame and fortune.
Exercise the way you want. For many years, experts have recommended getting 30 minutes every day of cardio exercise. There are all kinds of videos and books that tell you how to do this. There are cycling classes and aerobics classes. Again, these are great, and many people would be well to do them. However, many people get overwhelmed by the fact that they don’t have time to go to the bathroom during their busy days yet alone find 30 minutes to exercise. But, it can still be done. Some research now shows you can break down the minutes throughout the course of the day rather than doing it at one long stretch. So, get up and move every once in a while. Walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. And try to do some strength training somewhere in the course of the day. Carry stretch bands with you and do a few minutes whenever you get a bathroom break. You don’t need to join a gym. Walk, run, swim. Whatever you like. When my patients ask me what exercise they should do, I tell them the one that they will keep doing.
If you want to scream, scream. I just read one tip that suggests finding a quiet place to calm down if you are feeling anxious. As a doctor, I have people coming at me all the time in work. I can’t go hide in the closet just because a patient yelled at me. First of all, my staff learned that is where I hide and will come get me. Plus, I believe in facing problems head-on. When you push frustrations aside, they come back at you in the future. When I was in medical school, I used to get vertigo from the microscope in my histology class and had a very non-understanding teacher. Of course, a medical student can’t go off on a medical school professor and hope to come out alive. Instead, I found a cliff, a really high one that I had to walk a great distance to so no one would find me. And I let out a few screams. If finding your quiet place works for you, so much the better. But, it is also OK if you need a screaming place. Just don’t let anyone get it on film or you will find it on social media.
Be sure to get enough sleep. Yeah, if you can but for many of us, sleep doesn’t work. It is easy to tell someone to sleep. But you can’t just tell someone to sleep and make it happen. I think a better tip is to take a break. You need to slow down at some point in the day and reenergize. If you can sleep, great! But for many of us, we need to just embrace our inner insomniacs and not get so stressed out when sleep eludes us.
Connect with others. Many experts recommend this tip and I completely agree that it is important to have strong relationships. No one wants to end up a cat lady with no friends. Although, I very well may turn out to be the dog lady that walks around Pet Smart talking to myself because I forgot the dog is in the grooming salon. However, I say ditch others: those who are toxic. You want to gossip and spread rumors about me, go ahead. I just don’t need to acknowledge or care about it. Life is too short letting other people upset us. Be kind to others, appreciate others but don’t let people beat you up. You will never change them, and they may just very well change you in a bad way.
Take deep breaths and imagine yourself kicking the wall. There are many exercises out there that urge you to imagine pleasant, peaceful scenes. But after a long day of having to tell patients bad news or seeing them at their worst, I just don’t feel very pleasant. In fact, I feel very angry. Why did this nice patient get cancer? Why is this patient not getting better? We sometimes need to let the anger out. If you feel calm imaging yourself at the beach, bravo for you. I may one day come with you. But as for now, shooting rubber bands at objects in my office greatly helps me release the bad feelings. I expect this is not a solution for most people. After all, it takes a lot of practice with a rubber band to actually be able to hit things. Find your release valve!
Be kind to others, even if you don’t feel like it. There is no better feeling in the world than doing a good deed for someone else. It is not all about us. In fact, it shouldn’t be all about us and our well-being. Let’s make it about bringing joy to others, and it will surely come back to us.
While there are great tips out there about finding well-being, people need to realize that they are not one size fits all. Not all these tips work for everyone. In fact, I encourage people to try them out and find the ones that work for them. After all, my tips may not be for everyone. In fact, they may not work for anyone else but me. But that is OK. Find what is your well-being place (just be careful who you stand next to when you are doing the Eagle Pose).
Linda Girgis is a family physician who blogs at Dr. Linda.
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