What Does YOUR Wellness Look Like?

Wellness Look

Art Journaling Prompt of the Month

Our own personal wellness is unique to each and every one of us.  While we have the same aspects of wellness, such as physical, emotional, and spiritual, we are not the same as individuals.  Wellness is fluid, dynamic, and integrated; always changing and evolving.  As we enhance one area of our wellness, it will impact all of the other areas.  This month, your challenge is to figure out what does YOUR wellness look like?  Are you satisfied with it?  If not, what would you change?  What areas can you work on?  What do you see, feel, and experience in your wellness journey?

Quote of the Month

When the mind is exhausted of images, it invents its own. -Gary Snyder

Looking for more inspiration? Check out the latest AJW, covering this month’s prompt and featuring artistry by Lissa Rankin.

Ignite Creativity With This Practice

Image Credit: Holistic Hippy

Last week at CCNY, I presented on the topic of spirituality in college counseling.  As part of the presentation, I reviewed a modified examen, a spiritual practice adapted for daily use by anyone.  The audience seemed to enjoy this reflective practice and gave  great feedback.  So, I wanted to share it with you as examen is not only a simple, reflective spiritual practice that can enhance your well-being and help you to build resilience, but it can also be used to ignite creativity.

For those unfamiliar with examen, it is a Jesuit, spiritual practice that is focused on reflecting on one’s experiences and actions.  It is a method for taking stock of experiences  we’re grateful for, as well as ones we  regret or wish to learn from.  I taught this practice by a Jesuit at Le Moyne College and have incorporated it into my Mastering Stress Management group with much success.

Below is a modified examen, in that religious content has been removed in order to make it a practice applicable to anyone in five easy steps.  Typically, examen is not intended to take more than 15 minutes; however, you can do this practice for as little or long as you feel comfortable and engaged.  You can perform  examen at the end of your day as way to reflect or before beginning a creative practice (e.g., art journaling, mask making, etc.) as a way to mediate on your day, life, and overall well-being.  Examen has the power to ignite creative juices in your wellness practice.

1) Presence
Take a comfortable, yet alert position.  Become present to yourself, perhaps closing your eyes, paying attention to your breath.  Become aware of your life at this moment.

2) Gratitude
Begin to review your day, from the time you woke up until now.  Pause to savor with appreciation and gratitude all the moments for which you are thankful for today.

3) Enlightenment
Bring your intention to exploring moments that you may regret or may have left you feeling sad, angry, impatient, etc.  Bring your willingness to learn from these moments and to grow in self-awareness.

4) Exploration
With patience, review these moments and draw insight from them.

5) Preparation
Looking toward tomorrow, make practical resolutions to how you might proceed differently.  Express thanks for your chance to gain insight, wisdom, and grace from this experience. 

Wellness Approach

Over the years as a mental health counselor, my interest in holistic care and utilizing a wellness-based approach have been gaining more and more of my interest.  Not only has my clinical work evolved over the years, but so has my research exploring wellness and integrated care.

Today, I was presented with two media stories (see below) that reflect why I believe we should treat clients holistically and that having a one model of healthcare is not enough.  First let me preface this by saying that I am not anti-medicine.   There is always a time and a place for medicine, and oftentimes it can be a courageous decision for someone to choose this route.  I see huge improvements for some of my clients when they are being treated with medications.  But the gap I come across in the traditional medical model is the continued Cartesian dualism approach–that is that the mind and body are two separate entities.  This belief system still exists, despite research having shown this not to be true.  Often clients present physical symptoms to their primary care doctors that can be a physical manifestation of a mental health concern.  For example, it is not uncommon for me to receive referrals from the health staff for students who present with problems related to headaches, stomach aches, and/or difficulty sleeping.  Through my work with these students, we often discover that the underlying cause is anxiety or stress.  Together (myself, health staff, and the client), we can create a treatment plan to help the student develop healthy coping skills needed for managing anxiety and everyday stressors, in addition to proper nutrition (college students don’t always eat so well!), sleep hygiene (nor do they get enough sleep!), and fitness.


Image Credit: Psych Central

The two following media stories demonstrate the vastly different ways of understanding mental health, in particular childhood attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.  I believe these issues support why we should strive towards holistic care (sometimes referred to as a biopsychosocial approach), as opposed to a one-size fits all approach.  One-size does not fit all!  It is important for health professionals to identify the unique needs of their clients and create treatment approaches designed to support their clients in developing the best that they can be.  

Take a look at the articles and share your thoughts below in the comments.


Attention Deficit Leads US Kids’ Mental Health Problems, CDC Reports

The most comprehensive report on specific mental disorders in children shows attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed problem in kids aged 3-17, with close to 7 percent of kids having a diagnosis…


Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD

In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?