Dimensions of Wellbeing

Foster abundance, energy and vitality

Today is World Health Day and a great opportunity to reflect on our wellbeing.  Although it’s a complex concept with many layers of meaning, if you ask most people they’d all agree that their health is important to them. Without good health, it’s much harder to live life to the fullest.

What’s exciting is that wellbeing is starting to be taken far more seriously in the workplace and there is also more and more serious research into the topic from the health sciences to the field of positive psychology.

I like to think of wellbeing as fostering abundance – of energy, vitality and zest for life.

A simple way for us to examine our wellbeing to consider

  1. Are we healthy of mind?
  2. Are we healthy of body?
  3. Are we healthy of spirit?

These are deeply entwined and interrelated with each impacting on, and shaping the other. And for each person, our relative emphasis on these dimensions will inevitably be different. Moreover, what helps one person foster wellbeing in each of these areas will look and feel different to another.

What matters is that you have a balance across all these areas and a variety of tools up your sleeve to help you promote your overall health and wellbeing.

Below are some simple tips for fostering wellbeing.

MIND

  1. Schedule some reflection time – do you start your day booting up your computer and diving straight into email? Each morning for the next week, see if you can start your work day in a different way. Perhaps give yourself 15-30 minutes of quiet reflection time, thinking about the most important tasks you need to achieve, the relationships you want to foster, and the impact you want to have on others in the process. Give yourself an opportunity to focus on what matters most.
  2. Notice the substance and quality of your thoughts – we spend a large part of our day on autopilot and often miss some key opportunities in the process. Periodically throughout the day, take some time to notice the sorts of things you think about. What does the dialogue inside your head sound like? Do you give yourself grief about stuff? Are you preoccupied with small trivial matters? In particular, can you tune into the negative self-talk and rewrite it to be more positive and self-affirming?
  3. Pause – It seems that the pace of work is more and more frantic with each month that passes. We bounce from task to task, meeting to meeting, without much, if any time to think. When you move from one task to another can you stop and take 3 deliberate slows breaths? Give yourself a little mental space.

BODY

  1. Increase your incidental  movement – when it comes to physical wellbeing there’s loads of focus on exercise, and rightly so. But we don’t always have time to hit the gym to bring some movement into our day. Can you expand the way you see ‘exercise’ and look for ways to bring more incidental movement into your day? What opportunities do you have to move more where you are? Can you go for a walk and talk with a colleague, take the stairs, or jump off the bus or train one stop early?
  2. Release tension – we hold a lot of our stress and tension in our bodies. Consider when you’re annoyed or tense what happens to your hands or shoulders or jaw for example.  Can you take a moment to notice the tension you’re holding onto in your body right now? Where it is? What can you do to ease that tension a little? Open and close your hands or roll and relax your shoulders or soften your jaw.
  3. Foster abundance and vitality – our lives are made up of a series of gentle habits. We get home from work, perhaps pour a glass of wine or flop onto the couch to put our feet up. Many of us spend time watching TV or engaging with multimedia. Can you carve out a new habit somewhere in here and opt to make a different choice today? Perhaps you’ll take a walk after dinner or skip the TV and read a book, go into the yard to play with the kids or opt to take a bath.

SPIRIT

  1. Connect with someone – social connection and a sense of belonging are absolutely vital to wellbeing. We come across people all day long, but how often do we take the time to truly connect with them, ask them more than the requisite ‘how are you’ and then take the time to really listen to their response? Is there an opportunity for you to connect more meaningfully with someone today?
  2. A little kindness – it feels good to do good. All the research tells us this. So why not create an opportunity each day to do something small for someone else? It could be a simple as lending an ear or stopping yourself from interrupting to allow them to finish their thought or giving them some positive feedback.
  3. Be generous – like kindness, all the research points to the feel-good component of being generous. And being generous doesn’t have to be with money or things. Are there opportunities for you to be more a little more generous with your time or with your words? Can you find and share the positive in someone or something or bring a little extra energy and enthusiasm to your next meeting? These are all ways of sharing a little something with others and being generous.

World Health Day is a wonderful reminder for all of us to bring our health and wellbeing into conscious focus more often. It can start with bringing one small thing into your day.

Feel free to add and share your own ideas to the list we’ve shared here – we’d love to hear your suggestions!

From all the team at M.A.D. we wish you well!

Thank You.

Foster an attitude of gratitude

Foster an attitude of gratitude.

The festive season has become such a busy time. Yet it’s also a time to pause, reflect and celebrate. That makes it a wonderful time to say thank you.

The simple act of expressing gratitude can make us feel better – and there is plenty of research to this effect*.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or profound, just one small thing you consciously choose to be thankful for and a practice you cultivate regularly.

  1. Think of something, anything, you feel grateful for – the sun shining, the rain falling, the food in your fridge, your friends, a helpful colleague, a new perspective …
  2. Make a conscious point of expressing your gratitude for that person, experience or thing – put it into words and say it to yourself, in your mind or out loud.
  3. You may wish to express your gratitude directly – with a card, text, email, a phone call or in person.

Who will  you celebrate this festive season?

Can you pause for just a moment to say … Thank you. I’m grateful that you …

It might just be the best gift you give them and you this Christmas.

So on that note, I’d like to say Thank You. For supporting me as a professional. For asking questions and spurring discussion. For sharing your research and ideas. For engaging with me and my work.

I sincerely wish you all the very best for the festive season and look forward to deepening our professional networks and connections through the coming year.

With Love and Gratitude,

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator, www.madyoga.com.au

*For more information on the links between gratitude, happiness and wellbeing see;

Wire Your Brain for Gratitude in 30 Seconds

The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier

The Grateful Brain

The Science of Gratitude; More Benefits Than Expected

Have a Mindful Day.

Choose Your Own Path Into Mindfulness

Choose Your Own Path Into Mindfulness

Wondering where to start with all this mindfulness mumbo jumbo?

It’s really rather simple. Here’s some suggestion for fostering mindfulness in your day:

MORNING

  • Waking – take 3 slow breaths before you get out of bed.
  • Bathroom – look in the mirror and make an affirmation or set an intention for your day.

“Today I will bring positivity to all I do.”

“Today I will find humour in frustrating experiences.

”Today I am confident and in control.”

“Today I will listen with an open mind.”

“Today I will take the time to connect with those around me.”

  • Eating – tap into your senses. Take the time to sit down to eat your breakfast. Chew slowly. Pay close attention to the taste of your food and the smell of your morning tea or coffee.

WORK

  • Getting started – sit down, take 3 slow breaths before you open your computer. Repeat your affirmation for the day.
  • Emails & Calls – switch off your email alerts and even turn your phone to silent. Schedule set times to check your emails and phone so you minimise distraction and maximise focus.
  • Meetings – commit to be there early or on time today. Can you listen to others without judgment, criticism or preparing your response. Just listen.
  • Between activity – pause and take 3 slow breaths before you shift from one activity to another, one space to the next. Consciously commit to let go of what you’ve just done and commit your full attention to what you are about to do.

EVENING

  • Transition – harness your commute to switch modes from work to home. Breathe in. Consciously breath out any preoccupations, to-do’s, and negative self-talk. Visualise them dissipating with your out breath.
  • Dinner – reflect on the food you have and where it has come from. Consider all the people and processes that brought it to your table. Cultivate a sense of gratitude.
  • Wind-down – lie on the couch or in bed. Place one your hand on your chest and one on your abdomen. Feel your hands rise and fall as you breathe in and out.

Mindfulness is simple. You can practice it in an endless array of ways that aligns to who you are and what’s important to you.

But it isn’t easy to switch off “doing” mode and move into “being” mode.

That takes practice.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

www.madyoga.com.au

Just Because It Feels Good.

Just because it feels good.

Just because it feels good.

Katherine. What do you like doing? I like going to the shops. What do you like doing Katherine?

I like going to the shops too” I tell Nicole.

I like handbags. And Shoes” she says.

Oh. Me too.” I replied with a smile from ear to ear. “Who doesn’t like shoes and handbags!

Sorry. What’s your name again?” asks Nicole.

It’s Katherine.” I reply.

Oh yes. I’m sorry Katherine.” Nicole says with abject sincerity.

My Mum died Katherine. I miss my Mum Katherine. Where is my Mum? I miss my Mum” whispers Nicole.

And she must miss you.” I said, tears welling in my eyes at the thought of this innocent soul left to the vicissitudes of a world without her Mum.

I’d spent the day at The House With No Steps. As a volunteer, you help the people who work there with their daily tasks. On Tuesday it was packing Faber Castel highlighters ready for shipment to stores.

The people who work at the house with no steps are amazing. In our society we call them “people with disabilities”. The very word implies a sense of lacking, less than whole.

Yet the individuals I met last week are larger than life. They are certainly more whole than I. Lisa, Adrian, Nicole, Mark and Amber were honest, kind, thoughtful, frank, real and connected in a way that I simply can not describe.

They were fantastic conversationalists. We traversed everything from vegemite and the debunking of Tony Abbott, to the pain and heartache of losing loved ones. All in the process of sorting and packing a bunch of highlighters.

They were also open and up front. There was none of the usual social awkwardness, dilly-dallying and politics most of us usually experience at work and in life. The minute you were in their presence out came a hand and a hearty handshake followed promptly by a ready introduction and a warm welcoming smile.

I was almost bowled over by Colin at morning tea. His beaming smile and proud tenor spoke volumes as he introduced himself and exclaimed,

I’ve worked here for over thirty years!

A Scot I am” he says.

Been to the tattoo in Edinburgh.

Yeah and a lil’ol town they call Paris too” he says with a grin.

I couldn’t hep but smile. From ear to ear.

All day long.

It just felt so good working and chatting away with these lovely people who welcomed me so readily into their work place for the day. They shared their rituals, routines and tea break with me. They shared their stories, their thoughts. And they opened their hearts as we worked together throughout the day.

What struck me most was the unabashed sincerity, honesty and insight my new colleagues possessed. Adrian made a comment he later deemed inappropriate. So readily announced he was sorry if he offended. Lisa started talking about her brother who had died. So she cried a little and told us she felt sad. Nicole worried about running out of shower soap. So asked for advice about how to go and get more.

We go about our lives. And for an abundance of reasons, we add screen after screen, build wall after wall. Instead of saying sorry, we launch into an all out defensive trying to cover our butts. When our hearts ache and we feel pain, we do everything we can to numb the senses so we can get on with what’s supposedly more important. When we don’t know how to do something or which way to go, we lurch blindly instead of asking for a little help, a little advice. (Perhaps Buddha had a point when he said suffering was a matter of our own choosing).

I felt so damn good after my day at The House With No Steps. I spent a day doing a repetitive task that was inherently meditative. More importantly I spent a day with some people who interacted with me from their hearts and without the usual ‘screens’.

It was joyous, uplifting and liberating beyond words.

It felt really really good.

Yes, I know I said that already.

It felt really really really really good.

The only strange thing was at the end of the day. I was given a certificate for being a volunteer. I did nothing.

Lisa and Adrian and Nicole and Mark and Amber and Colin and all the wonderful people at The House Of Steps did all the giving.

Spending the day with them was a truly wonderful gift.

When I teach yoga to teenagers, I feel exactly the same sense of reward and joy. Their energy is electric and contagious.

When we connect positively with others, for a reason beyond ourselves, or for no reason at all, it feels absolutely fantastic! It brings buoyance and cultivates pure joy.

As we move into the school holidays and the end of Q4 for the year, we have an opportunity to pause before we launch into exams or that final spurt of productivity to hit target.

Why not re-energise with a random act of kindness?

For anyone. Anywhere. And just because it feels good!

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

www.madyoga.com.au