“We are all a work in progress. Our personal and collective wellbeing depends on our ability to grow.”—Desiree Watson, President, Wellness Interactive Branding, LLC
Someone once said, “Nothing is constant except change.” All of us at the Global Wellness Institute wholeheartedly agree. Transitioning to a new job, adopting (yet another) new technology, breaking up with a partner, becoming the caretaker for a loved one, suffering an unexpected health issue—each of our lives is continually in flux. And this flux often doesn’t feel like flow.
Resilience Rather Than Resistance
Even as a wellness leader, sometimes you meet disruptions in life with resistance rather than resilience. When your world is upset, your amygdala (an almond-shaped set of neurons deep within the brain) goes on high alert and physiologically shouts, “SOMETHING’S WRONG!” This sets off a stunning chemical cascade in your body to help you fight, flight or freeze against the danger you perceive. When this happens, you are more likely to react to fiery feedback from a life partner or boss with the same intensity as you would a real fire. Even changes you’ve intentionally set in motion, such as pursuing your personal wellness moonshot, may cause you to feel stressed.
The challenge? Most situations in life are not life-threatening. When we activate the stress circuit again and again, it takes its toll on our physical and mental health, contributing to high blood pressure, artery-clogging deposits, anxiety, depression and addiction.
As committed wellness leaders, it’s time to ask: How can we embrace change as an opportunity for growing wellness wherever we live, work and play?
Growing to Be Well
Based on your vision and goals for living and leading wellness, experiment with these actions to proactively embrace change for growth and wellbeing.
Short-circuit the stress-circuit with breath
We arrive into this world by inhaling and leave this world by exhaling. In between, breathing is an invaluable, constant resource for resetting our inner balance. Try this: Inhale evenly through the nose for the count of four, pause, then exhale for a count of six. Repeat this cycle 10 times and notice its calming effects. Do this breath any time you feel reactive or as a daily wellness practice, for example, while driving to work or standing in the check-out line at a grocery store. Better yet, begin your next family meal or team meeting by participating in this mindful breath together.
Fuel yourself for change
Proactively eat, move, sleep and connect with the intent to better manage your energy and buffer yourself from stress. You are less likely to react to change with frustration and fatigue when you feel physically and emotionally well-resourced.
Choose a growth mindset
Does upheaval at work or home cause a little voice in your head to say, “I’ll never be able to _______”? (Fill in the blank!) Research by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck suggests you may be adopting a fixed mindset, a limiting (usually unconscious) belief that assumes you cannot change in any meaningful way. Here’s a different possibility: Every situation in life is a chance to expand who you are. This growth mindset says that everyone—you, loved ones and colleagues, enemies and friends—is capable of learning and evolving. Try out any of these 15 ways to take on a growth mindset to profoundly shape your happiness, success and wellbeing.
Use awe on purpose
Most of us can’t help but admire a dazzling sunset or the miracle of birth. Our sudden sense of awe quiets our worries, improves our moods, and connects us to something greater than ourselves. But, how can we purposefully use awe to grow wellness? Take “awe” walks outside or indoors. Get stimulated by taking a new route to school or work. Whether parenting children or leading a team, awe shifts our states of consciousness, opening us up to change, wellbeing and growth.
Amplify wellbeing through women and girls
Invite your community to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. Encourage family, friends and neighbours to talk about wellness with their daughters, sisters, mothers and nieces. Make sure women have power at your workplace. Studies have long shown that if you want to grow well and change-hardy families, workplaces and communities, you must elevate the wellbeing and involvement of women and girls.