Two words we hear and read more times that we can count.
Yet, what do they truly mean?
Cristina Beal Dunst, my latest speaker, CEO and Co-founder of EMBODY Wellness Company defines it as:
“any action, way of thinking or being that brings you back to your highest, most balanced self. “
So, let’s pause for a second and think about this.
If we stop and attempt to understand this definition mindfully, we’ll discover two wonderful aspects that are at the core of how Christine defines wellness. (1) wellness is personal, what works for me, might not work for you, and (2) we have control (for the most part) over what we do for our wellness and how we do it, meaning we have choices.
I can consciously choose my actions on how to react to the varied stimulations/triggers in my life, perhaps by eating the first thing I see because I am so stressed at work, not exercising because I’m so busy with the kids, or running on a lot of caffeine because I’m so tired. The same holds true for choosing my thoughts, maybe by allowing negative self-talk about my body appearance, engaging in toxic conversations with others or being on social-media way more than I’d like to admit.
The list goes on and on, and what I realize it comes down to is that our day-to-day is a chain of micro decisions. Micro decisions that, once accumulated, show results in our mental and physical health. It is empowering to truly understand that we have the ability to take care of our heart, soul, body, and mind. Let that sink in for a few seconds. You, me, we all have the power to decide, in our own unique ways, with our personal differences, challenges and skills, but in the end, and for the most part, we have a choice.
So, when Christine duly exhorts us by saying “You are up to you!” this is exactly what she is implying, that you have the power to decide if, and how you wish to invest in your personal wellbeing.
It’s not that what she’s saying is unheard of, it makes absolute sense, but I don’t think I had truly assimilated this truth. I have the power. The whole idea gives me a sense of freedom… and then…panic!
Panic because it all seems like so much! Acknowledging that I am responsible, and can be in control and in charge of my own wellness is empowering, yet daunting at the same time.
And that’s where Christine shared another piece of important wisdom to manage that panic: “tweak your perception towards self-care, instead of carrying it out as a routine, embrace it is as a ritual.”
Ritual versus routine. What’s the difference? And why does it matter?
The difference between a routine and a ritual is the attitude behind the action. While routines can be repetitive actions that just need to be done—such as brushing your teeth or unloading the dishwasher—rituals are viewed as more meaningful practices which have a real sense of purpose. Rituals give our busy lives meaning and connection, they provide a circumstance where we can be present. There is a sacredness that differentiates it from the mundane and tedious nature of a routine, or from the difficulty or unpleasantness of a chore.
This got me thinking, do I have certain actions that I always perform no matter what? Actions I love doing and don’t even think twice about doing them or not? In other words, do I have any rituals?!
And I do! For example, I realized that no matter what, where, how late it is, or even if I have taken other showers during the day, I always take a shower before getting into bed. If I think hard about the nature of this action, it has much more meaning than the obvious hygiene purposes (routine). To me it represents closure, washing off the day and ending my day with a clean slate. Physically it relaxes my body. Many times, I innately do a visualization where I imagine the water washing away whatever hardships my day had, or washing away my exhaustion. Mind you the showers are tops 5 minutes long, but they are enough to reset my body and brain, and get me ready to go to bed - clean ;)
Another ritual I noticed I have is that of the creams I use at night after my shower before bed. Creams for my face currently fall (honestly have always fallen) into the “routine” category, whereas I do it diligently for a few weeks in a row (specially if I just bought myself some fun new creams!), maybe even a few months, and then I fall right off the wagon, over and over. However, the body cream, I never fail. I use a thick cream that smells of pine trees for the colder months and a light jasmine oil during the warmer months. This whole having-creams that-match-the-seasons came to be organically, and I just love it. This I do for me, and me only.
And here’s where Christine’s definition of wellness comes into play and the word “you” is so critical: “any actions that bring YOU back to your highest, most balanced self”. I can appreciate that my seasonal cream ritual may seem cumbersome or effortful to others. But it really doesn’t feel that way for me – to me it’s a treat. I know a few women that wake up voluntarily before their entire family just to have their coffee in silence or to run a few miles. This is a ritual. It sets the tone for their day, it’s a little self-care before the rest of the day which encompasses caring for everyone else. Although I understand their reasoning and admire them for doing this, for me the thought of getting up any earlier than what I already do is painful. So again, wellness is uniquely personal.
Another important takeaway from our wonderful evening with Christine was: You do not have to do it all at the same time. Baby steps! (**THANK YOU! ** ).
Wellness rituals are built up over time, slow and steady, organically, and some of our rituals will change, depending on what stage of life we are in. What worked for us and gave us balance in our 20s 30s might not necessarily work completely (or at all) in the same way for us in our 40s 50s …Thus, wellness calls for self-awareness, grace and flexibility. What is it that I need now? What makes me feel better, more whole and balanced?
There is a myriad of actions that can be performed for our wellness—nutrition, exercise, stress control, physical health, mental health, etc. At the end of the day, our bodies have the wisdom to tell us what feels right and what doesn’t. We just need to recover, or perhaps re-learn, the natural skill we were granted at birth—which is listening to our body and trusting our instincts. Also, more does not mean better! pick a few small actions to begin with. Ones that render you the most happiness and wellbeing, and embody them with joy. It’s not a competition, it’s your personal journey, what you want, what you need, and what is realistic for you to do—in this moment in time.
I noticed another very interesting aspect of personal wellness, which is that although it is uniquely personal, you need others to do it, you need your tribe. Having the support of your tribe, be it your family, an accountability buddy, a support group, and/or the motivation and guidance of a coach like Christine, makes all the difference.
Christine is an exceptionally wise human, with a gift of truly caring for others. She was so generous in sharing not only her time, but the wealth of her knowledge, she selflessly shared wellness tips, strategies, books and recipes, in addition to her own experiences throughout her personal wellness journey. I am deeply grateful for being a recipient of so much of her wisdom and goodness. The love and passion she has for what she does is infectious, as well as admirable, alongside her soft and steady voice that soothes your soul and body, making you feel safe and cared for.
In continuing with her generosity, she kindly has shared her notes with all of you. You can find them in the link below:
Additionally, you can connect with and/or learn more about Christine through:
www.embodywellnesscompany.com (see blog for more recipes, etc.)
Finally, I encourage you to reflect on your life and try to identify any rituals you are performing already, I think you’ll be surprised! Then set aside some time and ask yourself what is it that you truly need? One thing, small and manageable, that you would really want to do for your wellbeing, something that you might be missing? And then ignite that fire deep inside you and give yourself all the goodness you truly and undoubtedly deserve.
For more on Christine Dunst's work visit her website @ https://embodywellnesscompany.com/ or follow her on IG @ embodywellnesscompany