“Fitness, nutrition, mind, body and spirit are all connected,” said Hillcrest Employee Wellness Coordinator and RN, Rose Hosler. She suggests five, low- to no-cost ways that improve overall well-being and keep stress levels in check.
1. Take Time to Breathe: Sit quietly for one minute, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. You could do this while driving to and from work, before sitting down to eat, or at bedtime.
The Benefit: Research shows taking deep breaths four times a day improves cognitive function by 20 percent. “Just step back. When you pause to take a deep breath, it calms your mind and body,” said Hosler. For emotional and physical benefits, she suggests breathing deep four times a day.
2. Use Aromatherapy: Essential oils are a nice addition to your regular routine, she said. For example, take lavender oil, put a few drops on a tissue and inhale. This will calm you, and it promotes sleep. Mandarin calms the nervous system without sedating. Citrus oils, like lemon, uplift the spirit and calm at that same time. Lemon also doubles as an antibacterial. Peppermint oil is also used to perk up.
The Benefit: Aromatherapy uses true essential oils that are plant based, non-synthetic, to provide therapeutic benefits, lessen sleep anxiety and improve skin care. They also have antibacterial and antiviral benefits. Essential oils can be purchased at the Cleveland Clinic's wellness website, www.clevelandclinicwellness.com, or at a grocery store like Whole Foods.
3. Practice Gratefulness: “At night, I think of three things I am grateful for,” said Hosler. “It is a great way to end your day with positive thoughts and put you in a peaceful sleep.” You don't have to choose a huge or major event to be grateful. “Sometimes I am grateful for just being in bed and laying my head on a puffy pillow,” she said.
The Benefit: The positive thinking switches off negative thoughts, and promotes well-being by speaking to the mind, body and spirit. Hosler emphasizes the importance of making the connection between the three because one enhances the other.
4. Laugh: “If you can laugh at it, you can survive it,” she quoted Bill Cosby. Laughing diverts your attention from negative feelings like anger and stress. “People underestimate the power of laughing, but it's huge,” she said. Visit www.worldlaughtertour.com for ideas on how to bring laughter to your life.
The Benefit: Laughing is a workout. It works the shoulders, diaphragm and abdominals. When you're done, the body is in a relaxing phase, which it loves. It releases stress, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system and changes your perspective on things. Researchers say preschoolers tend to laugh 400 times a day. “A child is always smiling and think of times you laughed with a friend ... afterwards, you're relaxed,” she said.
5. Listen to Music: Music is universal and ageless. Its uplifting spirit can take you out of a mood. “If I had a bad day, I get in my car, turn on the radio, and feel the energy,” she said.
The Benefit: Music therapy is used at Hillcrest to promote healing. “Music makes you feel good, and anything that makes you feel good enhances your well-being,” said Hosler.