Recently here on COMPASSion’s blog we looked at a model of health that encompasses mind, body, spirit and community. It may seem that some people are just blessed with good genes and are able to stay healthier than others. But for most of us, staying healthy requires making it a priority and staying committed. To follow-up with some inspiration and encouragement, our staff and some of our board members have agreed to share their favorite health habits. Happy Friday, and be healthy!
The one healthy thing I can’t live without…
Sr. Lakshmie Napagoda, LCSW, Executive Director:
I practice Tai Chi Chih (pronounced tai chi cha) almost on daily-basis. It is a set of 19 movements completely focused on the development of an intrinsic energy called Chi. When I practice Tai Chi Chih, I experience a physical, emotional and spiritual connection. I end my practice with a prayer. On days I do not find time to practice Tai Chi Chih (or when I get lazy), I can tell the difference and that is usually a sense of disconnectedness.
Here is a link to learn more about Tai Chi Chih – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONjHjM4puGY
Jessica Reed, LMSW, Counselor:
Self-care is an important aspect of a therapist’s career, and one that is too often overlooked. Healthy behaviors to take care of ourselves are invaluable, even though many of us view them as a luxury; therefore, they aren’t prioritized. For me, a daily walk outside with my dog is my favorite, and probably healthiest, part of my day. I get to reflect on my thoughts and feelings, breathe in fresh air, get some exercise, and be with my best friend who will always listen and never judge me. He also gives me a healthy dose of perspective; if I have had a hard day and am feeling down, I watch my dog, who is happy go lucky, and his ability to just be present in the moment. As a person who is a worrier by nature, his constant reminder to let go and “just be” is what helps me to stay healthy and grounded. -Jessie
Caroline Whitaker, Master’s Candidate in Clinical Mental level Health Counseling, Intern:
Yoga! I try to go to a class a few times per week, or just take some time during the week to watch a Youtube video and practice by myself. It helps me feel more connected with myself – mind and body must work together in order to relax each other. I get a chance to breathe, stretch, and strengthen my body, while at the same time clearing my head of stress, focusing my thoughts on wellness, and releasing any lingering negativity in my life.
Tom Slawson, MBA, Board Chair:
While I enjoy the benefits of exercise, I can’t say the effort necessary to obtain a more physically fit body is pleasurable. I manage to make it more palatable by listening to Mr. Springsteen while on the elliptical or jogging around the neighborhood, but it’s always a struggle. The same goes for eating healthy, which I have to force myself do because all the bad stuff tastes so good. However, there is one thing that I do for my overall health that is both good for me and that I truly enjoy. Several years ago, I chose to put myself on a structured plan to read the Bible in a year and what a great decision that was! The 15+ minutes of time spent in God’s word quickly became the most beneficial part of my day. This yearly plan set me in motion to become a consistent reader of the Bible and is something I have continued in the years since. I am just about to finish my fifth time through and can’t wait to begin again. There’s little doubt in my mind that my overall well-being has been greatly enhanced by daily scripture reading.
Greta Smith, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, Board Vice-Chair:
Each week I meet with two friends for coffee and fellowship. We end each meeting with prayer, but otherwise we have no agenda except to share with each other. Somehow, we always seem to come around to something all three of us are struggling with. During busy weeks, I have sometimes wondered if I really have time for such a liesurely meeting, but over time I have come to appreciate that it not only helps me stay grounded mentally and spiritually, but it improves my physical health as well.
Lauren Fugate, Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Secretary:
I try to make sure the kids and I have some type of outside time/exercise every week, regardless of the weather. Sometimes this means making a mess in the mud and rain or making snow angels, or ideally, taking a walk to the park to play. I want them to be ok with getting dirty and messy and just enjoy being in nature. It is not always easy since I am a wimp in extreme temperatures, but I know it is good for us all to be outside and move.
Suzanne Stratton, LCSW, Board Member:
Stress greatly impacts my physical, spiritual, and emotional well being. I have been trying to alter my lifestyle to reduce my amount of stress over the last couple of years. One of the best ways I have recently found is meditation. In the beginning, I had trouble breathing correctly and relaxing. Instead of being focused on my body and clearing my mind, I would find myself concentrating on my next “To Do” list. However, once I chose a Bible verse to say with my breathing exercises, my mind cleared and I could hear the sounds of nature around me. The deep breathing helps with blood flow and circulation. I have found it is easier to stay calm throughout the day. This practice helps to keep my mind, body and spirit healthy.
Rick Hudolin, Platinum Financial Funding, Board Member:
Almost 2 years ago I had my annual physical…bloodwork and all that. My blood sugar was elevated, triglycerides, cholesterol…everything except blood pressure were way up there. My doctor recommended that I take medications to control everything…including a daily injectable, Victoza. I began using these medications but I didn’t look at the “big picture”. My job in the mortgage industry can be very stressful, as well. Taking all of this into consideration I felt it was time to make some lifestyle changes. I began working with a personal trainer 2 times per week. Even though I considered myself a relatively healthy eater before all of this, I cut certain things from my diet pretty much altogether…sodas and such. In 6 months I was able to drop my A1c’s from over 12 to just above 6. It has improved my energy levels, aided with stress and has now become a habit. I still have foods that I want to have from time to time, but 90% of the time I look for healthy options instead of a quick fix such as a bag of chips or a candy bar. Working out is still hard sometimes but I write it into my daily schedule as I would any other appointment and I follow through with it…even when I don’t feel like going to the gym. If nothing else I just walk. It’s therapy.
Rev. Dr. Anne McKee, Campus Minister, Maryville College, Board Member:
It seems to me that every stage of life offers different gifts and challenges. So, trying to find healthy patterns that work for the stage I’m in now, I’m currently settled on a few things:
I stopped going to the 6 am gym class, because I just couldn’t figure out how to go to bed early enough to get enough sleep. Adequate rest has become a priority, both to remind myself that I don’t have to constantly be productive, even if there is always work to do; and to feel good enough to work well during the day. My guilty pleasure these days is letting myself watch an episode of a TV show while on the elliptical machine at the gym (my drug of choice these days is “The Good Wife”). It’s 40 minutes of bliss, helping not only with fitness (in the absence of the early gym class), but also giving me a bit of quiet, unfocused time in a life otherwise filled with constant conversation and thought. These are things I couldn’t do when my kids were little, when time alone and adequate sleep were hard to come by. And I assume that before long, the season will change, and I’ll have to find new patterns. But that’s ok, too. In the meantime, it’s nice to have routines that nurture body, mind, and spirit.
We hope we’ve inspired you to take an inventory of your healthy behaviors–including thinking outside the box–and make them a priority! What’s the number one healthy behavior you can’t live without?