The Kaleidoscope of Wellness
The year end brings lots of emotion and often motivation for a resolution. It can be filled with goals like going to the gym more or eating fewer desserts. It’s no secret—they usually don’t last long. Instead of a resolution, try viewing health through a different lens, like a kaleidoscope; colorful dimensions that together create something whole and beautiful. Your health has dimensions like the kaleidoscope that rely on each other for better or worse. Every dimension affects your health, and your health journey is not just about the gym or the desserts. Recognizing all your life’s dimensions can give you courage and the confidence to thrive.
Conquer the Winter Blues. Self-care is the thing you do daily to support your health, like drinking water, eating nourishing foods, and getting enough sleep, but in the winter months as the days get shorter and colder, it’s very important to make this a priority. All the daily year-round self-care principles still apply, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not a bubble bath, a good book, and a glass of wine. Before the winter blues set in, why not try some of the following to put the extra effort into protecting your mental and emotional health:
- Bundle up, take a daily walk outside for fresh air and make it a point to see the sun
- Write down your priorities and remember that you can say “no”
- Turn off the electronics, enjoy the silence and read any genre you like
- Watch a funny movie and laugh with the family, play a game, or have a girl’s night full of giggles
- Keep a journal and practice gratitude on your way to work. Learn more here.
- Be creative with a DIY gift, a coloring book, or a new craft
Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Learning Never Exhausts the Mind.” One of the greatest self-care things you can do is be a life-long learner. The brain needs exercise just like your body. It can be as simple as engaging in creative activities, trying new things, or expanding your knowledge in any capacity. Play a game, do a crossword puzzle, try out a new hobby like pottery, baking, or painting, learn a second language or a musical instrument. Use your brain while strategizing during a pickleball match. Check out a local art gallery or museum. Pick a topic you want to know more about and find a podcast. If you are a reader, or want to become a reader, give these two local authors a try: Tailspin by John Armbruster, or All That We Have and Sorrow’s Trace by Cate Michels.
The Magic of Food. The power of food isn’t really magic—but it is amazing. Food fuels your body to give you energy for your day, can cause disease or cure it, and does affect your mental health. The real magic is outside of the direct health benefits. Food brings people together through celebrations and parties, meeting a friend, or making a meal with your partner or children. It’s essential to life and health in so many ways.
Try this recipe as a dish-to-pass or salad this winter. It’s packed with seasonal foods and bursting with flavor. Making recipes with in-season items helps save money while giving you a nutritious, delicious meal.
2 cups shaved Brussels sprouts
1 apple, thinly sliced
½ cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup feta cheese
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp garlic powder or 1 clove minced
Salt and pepper to taste
- Slice brussels sprouts thinly, discarding the stem. Add to a large mixing bowl.
- Add pomegranate seeds, pecans, and shallot to the bowl.
- In a separate bowl or jar, add dressing ingredients. Whisk or shake well.
- Add dressing to the brussels sprouts mixture.
- Let sit for at least 15 minutes to soften the brussels sprouts.
- Add apple and feta cheese, mix until evenly distributed. Serve and enjoy!
Pro tip: Do you prefer walnuts to pecans or craisins to pomegranate? Would you rather have roasted brussels sprouts? Be creative and make this salad your own!
Social Hour, Anyone? Whether hosting game night, enjoying the holidays alcohol-free, or having a night to yourself, easy-to-make mocktails are the perfect choice. Make it simple or get fancy, use sleep-promoting ingredients, add health-enhancing herbs and spices, or just make it taste delicious. Mix it up with this simple recipe:
½ cup cranberry juice
½ cup sparkling water
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp honey
- In a glass, muddle mint, lime juice, honey, and a splash of sparkling water.
- Add ice then cranberry juice.
- Fill the glass with sparkling water.
- Garnish with an optional orange wedge, mint, or cranberries.
Pro tip: Unsweetened cranberry juice is packed with nutrients and avoids added sugar, but it’s very tart. If using unsweetened cranberry juice, use less juice and more water.
The Season of Giving. Buying gifts is stressful. It’s hard to know what someone wants or will use and stay within your budget. Whether it’s for the holidays, a birthday, or an anniversary, it doesn’t need to break the bank or induce stress. In fact, gift giving can be enjoyable, meaningful, and affordable. For more on holiday budgeting, click here: Holiday Budgets from ViaroThrive. Here are some budget-friendly gift ideas:
- Give something you love and tell them why you love it, for example, a makeup brush, a coffee mug, or a book. The recipient will think of you every time they use it.
- Pick a theme and shop second hand to build a thrift store basket. One man’s trash is another’s treasure!
- Make your famous cookies, a framed art piece, or any of your favorite recipes.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside. The weather may not be inviting but the beauty of the outdoors is alive and well during the winter. Studies reveal that the nature-human connection is a powerful contributor to keeping us well. Here are five benefits of getting outside:
- Nature supplies vitamin D. We don’t get enough Vitamin D in our food, but we can get it from sun exposure. Vitamin D helps with immunity and fights diseases like osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
- Nature improves vision. Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is caused by spending too many hours staring at a computer screen. A solution that improves focus and eyesight is looking at green grass, trees, or anything outdoors.
- Nature cleanses the body. Spending time outdoors is a natural purifier, releasing toxins from your body, and leaving you feeling rejuvenated.
- Nature builds strong bodies. Being outdoors is naturally associated with physical activity. Be it walking, running, biking, snow-shoeing, or cross-country skiing, exercise builds healthy bodies. Visit La Crosse’s Outdoor Recreation Alliance for walking and cross-country ski trails, and moonlight walk events.
- Nature heals. Get clarity and awaken your senses. Studies show that people with a close connection to nature think more positively, have better coping mechanisms, and are more focused and emotionally balanced.
What’s My Purpose? A big topic that deserves its own article but take some advice from Dr. Frank Lipman in his book How to Be Well, “Purpose is not discovered. Instead, it comes from following your passions and interests, and spending time on the small things that are important to you.” Your sense of purpose blooms and grows from the choices you make every day. You can avoid the need for instant gratification by reminding yourself that finding your purpose is not instant. It’s a step-by-step journey that takes patience, time, and commitment.
Uncover your Purpose. Finding honest answers to these questions may lead you to a sense of feeling capable, appreciated, grounded, loved, and content.
- What lights me up?
- What small moment leads to an experience of contentment for me today?
- What have others complimented me on or observed about me?
- What bothers me that I would like to find a solution for?
- What do I have in common with the people I choose to be around?
- What is important to me?
Without calling it out, this article touched on all the dimensions of the wellness kaleidoscope. As you reflect on 2023 and look forward to 2024, how have these dimensions affected you? What would you like to work on?
Cheers to a strong and colorful 2024!
Heidi Kutz, Education Specialist
Lila Tully, Health Education Specialist
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