A whole health approach to wellness

Most of us have to work for wellness and there are practices that help. This is Part Three of my wellness plan/practice, which includes gratitude, massage, and medicine. Previously, I discussed connection, meditation/mindfulness, healthy eating, adequate sleep, movement/exercise, and time in nature as fundaments to my wellness.


Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky found that 50% of happiness is determined by your genes, 10% by the circumstances in which you live, and a full 40% of happiness is determined by your actions, your attitude or optimism, and the way you handle situations. I am happier and calmer when I intentionally practice gratitude for what’s good in life, instead of focusing on what’s bad.

Most days I list things I’m grateful for in a journal — my family, a good meal, a telephone conversation, a kindness received, a sunny afternoon. This practice improves my mood and changes my thoughts for the better. Even in bad times, there is something to be grateful for.

Recently, after surgery for a shattered femur, I stayed in a rehab center for three weeks. I didn’t much like it, but I could be grateful for caring staff, a nice conversation with a fellow patient, and messages from concerned friends. I could be thankful that I injured one leg and not two.

Gratitude makes a positive difference.

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Massage soothes the body and the nerves. I started enjoying regular massages included during visits to a chiropractic clinic when I had neck pain. Now I stop by the massage store in the mall about once each week. Research confirms the benefits of massage. So, what might seem like an indulgence is really more than that. Massage can reduce anxiety and remedy insomnia. If you’ve never tried it, you might consider it.

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In a perfect world, I wouldn’t take any medication and I’d feel great all the time. However, in this world, I take medication for anxiety. I don’t know exactly how it works, but it works for me right now. I visit my psychiatrist every four months to renew the prescription and to discuss if modifications are needed.

Although psychiatric medications don’t cure mental illness, they can improve the symptoms. It can be difficult to find the right medication and sometimes medications need changing. In some cases, they may be supplemented with other interventions like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) Deciding on medication or an intervention is best made in partnership with a medical provider. There should be no shame in taking a needed medication.

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Start a daily gratitude journal — write a simple, short entry or pour everthing out on paper.

Try massage if you haven’t yet.

The right medication can be a game changer — do you need to visit a medical practitioner to start or make changes with meds?

“I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health.” ~ Voltaire

Contributed by: Jean Spahr, volunteer, NAMI Arapahoe/Douglas Counties
A whole health approach to wellness