Increased Wellbeing = Increased Immunity
Increasing Wellbeing (Hauora) Increases Your Immunity
Do What Makes Me Feel Good. Those Around Me Will Soon Feel Good Too.
After going through rough patches of mental health in my life I have developed a fascination with and curiosity for different ways and techniques in which people develop their own individual ‘game plan’ for living a wholesome life and feeling awesome as often as possible. A huge realisation for me is that there is no big fix-it, instead it is the tiniest habits that make the most impact for me.
What a wonderful opportunity it is now for each and every one of us to regroup and work on our own game plan.
Finding Balance: Do You Live to Work, Or Work to Live?
In the past I have often felt like life has just gotten on top of me a little, instead of the vision of grabbing this life by the horns, I would feel a little (or a lot) drained.
Too often life gets a hold of us, rushes us from commitment to commitment, from one meeting to another, from dropping kids to school to rushing around doing everything at once, earning a living to support family and keeping up with the constant demands of everyday life.
In this hectic rushed way of living, the danger is us becoming almost robotic in our actions, losing the reasoned conscious decision making that as humans we have inherent in us throughout life. Many of us feel like we live to work instead of working to live, as the cliché goes. It becomes too easy to forget what makes us feel good. The reason we work. The reason we live! We are constantly stressed and never fully relax.
Scientific western research in a number of fields consistently agree on the fact that a healthy individual with low levels of stress and anxiety spends less time in our “fight of flight” mode and more time in “rest.” Spending more time in our rest state has been proven to reduce inflammation, improve quality of sleep and many more benefits.
If you’re anything like me, we often focus on pleasing others, meeting a manager at work’s expectations, looking good for someone else, supporting a friend in their time of need. But in the frenzy of life, when do we actually make time to support ourselves, to really place emphasis on our own individual wellness.
'Fill Your Own Cup'
To borrow a much-used phrase in the wellness industry – it is time to fill your own cup. The beauty of being human and having the conscious ability to choose your own actions, your own behaviour and decision making is that any one of us can wake up tomorrow and decide to start fresh. We are able to choose which feelings and thoughts we give credit to, and which we ignore. Each dawn is an opportunity to be who you would like to be. Habits and patterns of behaviour can be deeply ingrained in us, but they are not fixed by any means.
What if we chose to use this isolation period to start fresh? To aim to work on our own wellbeing, so that when we come out the other side of this period, we can bring a new perspective, a fresh energy and change of pace to life. What if we bring curiosity to our own self, inquiring as to what really makes us feel good, and then ensuring before we focus externally, we first secure our own foundations – our whare (house).
It was with this mindset that I chose to complete my Yoga Teacher training (image below) with Awhi Yoga & Wellbeing, based in Wellington. Jase Te Patu & Justine Hamill took me on a journey of wellbeing, combining elements of Māori Culture with traditional Yogic teachings. We can learn a lot from both eastern and indigenous philosophies.
The Concept of Wellness, Hauora
In Te Ao Māori, it is taught that the concept of Hauora can be divided into four walls of a house, our own whare.
1. Tinana - Physical
2. Hinengaro - Mental, Emotional
3. Wairua - Spiritual
4. Whānau - Connection
This concept of wellness closely reflects and aligns with the Yogic take on life.
Food – eat a balanced diet filled with nourishing whole foods. Restrict sugar.
Movement – move in any way, preferably outside be it running, yoga, walking, swimming.
Sleep – find what works for you but roughly 8-hours with a slightly earlier lights out time then you’re used to, early morning rises with the sun are key.
Breathwork – there are many different techniques to be found out there, but a short period of focusing on deep slow steady nose breathing each day can be calming and allow your body to move into the parasympathetic nervous system.
Acknowledging feelings and thoughts, and not letting them rule you. Everyone has negative thoughts from time to time, they do not define you.
Realising that all we have is the present moment, anxiety looks to the future, depression can focus on our past. Enjoy and accept this fact.
Acknowledge the waves – up and down that occur in the mind. We all go through ups and downs.
Articulate to yourself your purpose, your reason for being here, your vision of what you can do in this life with your energy. This could be to raise loving kids, be a great family person, support your friends, regenerate the environment or simply to be kind. This gives a focus and a context for all that we do.
Be a part of a “bigger picture” – Different religions have a God or a Buddha, but to be spiritual does not necessarily mean to be religious. Maybe it is just to accept that all people are the same, connected in so many ways or maybe for you it is to believe that the earth we live on, Mother Nature, is all important and should be at the forefront of all decision making.
Connection to others is so important. Both those we know and those we don’t. Keeping in contact with family, friends and colleagues gives us our “fix” of connection. Acknowledging the work others do for us, farmers growing our food, nurses and doctors keeping us healthy, the police keeping us safe.
Being of service to others produces positive feelings within – whether it is simply making a flat mate a coffee without being asked and without expecting thanks or anything in return or whether it is sending food parcels to elderly family members.
The Brothers Green Hauora
One of our core ideas and elements to our purpose here at The Brothers Green is to improve Hauora; at an individual level, a community level and at an environmental level. To put it simply, we believe a healthy “well” person will be nicer to others and nicer to the earth.
One does not have to go on a course to incorporate wellbeing into a daily routine. You can start now, one thing at a time, one breath at a time, one day at a time. The tiniest steps can make the most impact.
Choose two things you can do daily, that fall under each of the four walls.
My plan for the lockdown period (and once it ends) looks a little like this:
- Walk my dog Monty in the morning through nature.
- 5 minute breathwork session.
- 30 minute yoga once a day.
- Fast from 9pm until 11am.
- Eat healthy whole foods, focusing on incorporating ingredients that reduce inflammation.
- Practicing gratitude daily – whenever I feel myself beginning to be stressed about work or the health of loved ones – I take a big breath and remember how lucky I am to live in NZ and have the opportunities in life that others don’t.
- Focusing on the now – one task at a time with complete attention, not letting 10 tasks at once clamour for my energy.
- Read over my own personal mission statement every day.
- Help people, community and the environment in everything I do.
- WhatsApp my family overseas.
- Check in with a work colleague daily.
I have by no means “nailed” my wellness… I look upon it as a constant work in progress! What I have noticed is that every time lately that I find myself feeling stressed or anxious about life, I have let slip on my daily wellness routine lately and forgotten to practice the things that I know make me feel good.
Take this template below and build your own Hauora Plan. Notice how you feel after practicing your own daily wellness routine daily for a week or so. If you feel like it, drop us a comment and let us know!
- Michael Burnett