By Kristen Crusoe RN MN EdD
April, a time for renewal, regeneration, and new beginnings. Spring buds are bursting out all over, we feel a lift in our hearts and spirits, as hope for a fresh start emerges out of our long winter. And as we look ahead towards Spring and Summer, we might feel pressure to “fit in” with certain expectations, our own, and others.
What if, instead of striving to fit in, we opened space in our hearts and minds for “fitting out” and being our most authentic self. Bio-individuality is a core concept for health. Finding the best fit for yourself, in all things, can release so much stress and pressure, allowing you to express your unique gifts and share them with others. Let’s take a look at our Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s Circle of Life and find areas that we can focus on to fit out, in our own true to self-way. When we express ourselves fully, all areas of primary food – the things that feed us that aren’t actually food – improve greatly. And primary food is the most important key to a healthy, happy life:
First, let’s take a close look at our relationships. Are they really meeting our needs or are we suppressing our needs in order to serve others? It is important to be honest with our partners, our family, friends, about what we truly need in order to live our most authentic life. And then, we have the capacity to love more fully, give freely, and experience joy and contentment. And to strengthen the relationships we have and do want to invest in, the Gottman Approach is a positive way to affirm, align our relationships with our personal values, and reignite the love that nurtures and sustains us through challenging times.
The power of human connection
Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, at the Gottman Institute, emphasize the “art and science of love-a two-pronged approach to human connection. Through their research, they discovered that happy couples tend to have five times as many positive interactions as negative ones, while unhappy couples have a balance of positive and negative interactions. They have also identified four “horsemen” that influence those negative interactions. The four horsemen are:
And to counter these, we can instead, hold our loved one in deep regard and assume good intentions. Show appreciation, even for the smallest things.
Other ways to strengthen our relationships:
- Schedule a weekly date, by phone, a walk, virtually, any way that you can connect.
- Listen fully. Give your loved ones your full attention and practice listening more than you speak.
- Share your day with someone you care about. Take the time to exchange stories of what went well, focusing on the positive.
Next, let’s consider our work, or career. This can be a source of positive energy or a drain. And anything that drains our mind, energy, spirit, also suppresses our immune system, and can lead to depression, and physical illness as well. If we can find work that we love, that fuels our energy, our lives improve. How do we find the work we love?
- Make a list of your inherent strengths and interests and ideas on how they could translate to an inspiring career or work, or even volunteering.
- Be creative!
- Research the options you’ve narrowed down, gathering information about each of the paths you’ve considered and how they can influence and shape your long-term goals.
- Talk to others about your ideas. Don’t be shy. If you want to advance, or change your focus, reach out to people who can help you meet your goals.
How to Fit Out
And with Spring here, we may be thinking about becoming more physically active. But what if we really don’t like Exercise? But what if we find an activity that we enjoy? Then, it changes from being the dreaded “Exercise” to enjoyment. Pleasure. Joy. Fit out by choosing an activity that you love, because it makes you feel fantastic. And live each day with the freedom to choose what is right for you. The important thing is to move.
- Stand up at least every 30-60 minutes, getting your blood flowing. Wiggle your ankles in circles, flex and extend your feet, even while sitting several times a day.
- Take stairs rather then an elevator if you have an opportunity. Park your car further away from the store or office, or wherever you are walking to, for those extra steps.
- Find a new activity, something you have never tried before. You don’t have to do it again if you don’t like it, but you might surprise yourself and find a new hobby or activity you love.
Remember, health is a journey, not a destination. It’s important to enjoy the walk. Take small steps forward, rather than making a radical change. Small steps are attainable and allow you to easily identify the things that are working for you and those that aren’t. Amplify those things that work, let go of the ones that don’t work. And these small, successful steps will add up to a new pattern, one that you can sustain over time for meaningful improvements in your overall health and well-being.
Kristen Crusoe RN MN EdD, Health Coach, is a consultant with Elderwise Inc. From a health coach perspective, Kristen shares advice about holistic health and how we can live our fullest lives, now and into our preferred futures.