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  • Allison van Camp

The Art of Being Well



This mama needed a break. I don’t mean the hiding in the closet with the last granola bar while your children hunt you down kind. What I needed was a real break.

The tasks of motherhood, once broken up by periods of freedom, had taken over my life, thanks to the quarantine. While the time together has been a blessing for my family, no human can possibly act as mother, housekeeper, chef, laundress, loving spouse, gardener and teacher for months on end without eventually cracking.

That’s why I’m now sitting in a cabin about 200 miles away from my kids, feeling nothing but gratitude for long showers and the ability to drink a full cup of coffee without interruption.

The cabin is quaint and clean. It’s morning and the sun is rising over Lake Chatuga. I’m still snuggled up in bed and the sounds of nature fill me with a sense of peace. I will rise when I want and enjoy a leisurely breakfast with my friend. We will eat healthy meals, do yoga and hike in Unicoi. It is the perfect prescription for a few days of wellness.

But what exactly is Wellness? Is it only a weekend away in a cabin? It looks different from person to person, but the foundation is the same for all. It is defined by the Global Wellness Institute, as the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health. Notice the active pursuit piece of the definition. Wellness doesn’t just happen to you; you have to do the work.

For the past nine years, as a nutritionist, and more recently as a yoga teacher, I have been helping others to uncover and follow their personal path to wellness. Despite my passion for nutrition, the truth is that eating well is only a piece of the wellness pie.

I like to explain wellness as being the solid roof over your house, supported by six equally important pillars:

· Body

· Mind

· Environment

· Spirit

· Heart

· Community

Though these pillars can overlap, they all need to be accounted for, in order to achieve total wellness.

Two weeks ago, I had to admit to myself that the quarantine was starting to have a negative impact on my mental pillar. My husband saw this before I did and actually suggested this mountain getaway. Sometimes we need a break and often, we need someone to help us recognize that and to tell us it’s okay.

Though part of me feels guilty about needing a break, I know that I am not alone. A recent poll done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that close to half (45%) of American adults consider their mental health negatively impacted by COVID-19-related stress. Stress is no small inconvenience. If ignored, chronic stress can contribute to the development of a number of diseases including Type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and mental disorders.

Incorporating stress management techniques to support that mental health pillar can keep us from becoming sick over time. Some proven strategies include staying active, connecting with others, regularly meditating, eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, doing pranayama (breathwork) and keeping a positive attitude. Yoga has become very popular in recent years, due to its ability to help manage stress through a combination of these modalities.

So today, I encourage you to take a look at your personal wellness, enjoy a healthy meal, and maybe do some yoga. It’s truly ok to take a break.



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