The tragic acts of violence exposed over recent weeks and months have once again left the nation reeling with anger, pain, grief, and distress. As we attempt to cope with the trauma and violence that we are constantly exposed to in our lives; as we comfort our friends, family members, and colleagues, who are also affected by this pervasive violence; and as we take action to advocate for marginalized communities and to fight for social justice, we often forget the importance of our physical and emotional health. We know that chronic stress brought on by exposure to trauma and violence can negatively impact our health in many different ways, so it is vital that we not only consider personal wellness, but that we make it a priority in our lives. With that in mind, we’d like to share with you this article written by A Thousand Joys that describes eight different strategies we can all try to make personal wellness a priority!
Community wellness starts with you! Take a stand and make your wellbeing a priority!
Chronic stress impacts our physical and emotional health in numerous ways and exposure to violence is a contributing factor to many people’s stress levels. Given the violence that we all are exposed to, in communities and in media, it is important to look towards personal wellness.
The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” A commitment to personal wellness is a good first step to mitigating the impact of high stress and to being our best selves in order to help our communities heal and thrive. Pivotal to this commitment is to make ourselves a priority. Wellness is a lifelong process, versus a one-time event, so it may be good to start small. What small commitment can you make today to increase your physical, mental and social wellbeing?
At A Thousand Joys, our team has made a commitment to workplace wellness. Here are some simple things that we do together in meetings or on our own to keep personal wellness a priority.
Stretch it out: Stretch your arms over your head and reach for the sky. Then gently fold over and reach for your toes imagining you can stretch into the earth. Take 3 long, deep breaths and wiggle your spine to release tension. Straighten your back, put a slight bend in your knees, and lift up to a standing position. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Free writing: Get all those racing thoughts out of your head! For 1-5 minutes, write everything that crosses your mind without worrying about punctuation, grammar or what is being written. Get it out.
Shake, rattle and roll: Relax your body and shake your right arm from the top of your shoulder down through your fingertips. Then shake from your elbow to your fingertips. Now shake your hand only. Take a moment to notice the difference between your arms. Repeat with your left arm. Then repeat with each leg.
Compliment your co-worker: Before the start of a meeting, ask people to say one positive thing to a co-worker sitting across from or next to them.
Laugh: Share a joke or a funny story. Or, try this exercise to make everyone laugh. Start by repeating “HO HO HO” for about 15 seconds. Switch to “HA HA HA” for 15 seconds. Then, laugh loudly (even if forced) for 15 seconds. Fake it until you make it!
Affirmations for joy and happiness: Repeat this affirmation 10 times with your eyes closed. I choose love, joy and freedom. My heart is open and wonderful things flow into my life.
Deep belly breathing: Place your hand below your belly button so that you can feel your breath fill your abdomen. Take a deep breath in filling your abdomen. Then breathe out fully so your belly gets flat. Focus on your breath as it moves through your body. Anytime that your mind wanders, re-focus on your breath. Repeat for 2 minutes.
Gratitude practice: Have everyone write 3 things they are grateful for today. Go around the room and have each person share one thing they wrote.
A Thousand Joys (ATJ) was founded in 2006 to help individuals and organizations reach their highest potential. We specialize in working directly with high-risk children and families, and we support the organizations that serve them. Our innovative, comprehensive programs focus on trauma-related stress management, emotional regulation and healing. For more information about A Thousand Joys visit www.athousandjoys.com.