“If you watch how nature deals with adversity, continually renewing itself, you can’t help but learn.”
—Bernie Siegel, MD
When it comes to renewing ourselves and others—an imperative during the global Coronavirus pandemic—we wellness leaders can learn a lot from the moon. This beautiful sphere, unifying us all, orbits the Earth in about a month. Each day it appears to grow larger (waxing) or smaller (waning), reminding us earthlings that there is a natural cycle to everything. This cycle offers time to redouble our efforts toward achieving our personal or shared wellness moonshot and time to reset our priorities and personally refresh.
The world is awash in symbols inviting us to renew. The Christian cross promises its followers transcendence and resurrection. The phoenix in Greek mythology rises out of the ashes, demonstrating our power to continually regenerate. The sacred lotus flower used in Buddhist, Jain, Sikh and Hindu traditions emerges boldly from a muddy bog to open its petals of glorious color. Celebrated by cultures around the world, the snake connects us with nature’s cycles of birth, death and rebirth. These symbols deliver a clear message: Even in challenge and suffering, we are innately designed with the ability to heal, evolve and rejuvenate.
Yet, Our Lives Can Feel the Opposite of Renewal!
As if the pace and complexities of our world aren’t already designed for possible burnout, the global pandemic created even more pressure on people this year—often eroding our mental health; creating imbalances in our lives and work; influencing potential epigenetic changes linked to everything from inflammation to infertility; and revealing inequities in medical care, employment, and other key social determinants of our health. (Children across the world may particularly feel the brunt of this pandemic.)
Day-to-day, our energy gets zapped by the grind. We may relapse into comfortable mindsets and behaviors—even when these wear away at our health and wellbeing. We may become disenchanted and disengaged as the meaning in our lives and work deserts us. We may feel stuck or bored or hassled, operating from an energy deficit that starts to seem so normal that we lose track of what it means to thrive. When this happens, we are in danger of losing compassion for others, as well as ourselves.
The journey of wellness leadership is a path of unending renewal. The question is: How can we deliberately renew in mind, body and spirit—and help others do the same?
Make Renewing an Intention
The German writer Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe says it well, “We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden.” Focusing our intention on renewal helps us adapt to our constantly-changing circumstances, grow from our experiences, and cultivate wellness with greater acceptance and ease rather than willpower.
Apply these strategies to renew yourself and others.
Shake up your routines.
Break up your work schedule by walking outdoors. Eat breakfast for dinner. Take these actions to bring wonder and joy into your day. Play! Give yourself permission to forget being serious, at least for a little while, and allow your humorous side to wake up. Lightness of spirit is refreshing to mind and body. Invite your family and team to join in the fun.
Practice beginning again.
Yes, it’s been a rocky year. And we’re still uncertain about the outlook ahead. Yet, dragging past worries or future anxieties into your next conversation won’t make matters better. Show up for your colleagues at work and loved ones at home with a beginner’s mind. Every moment is a fresh start, an opportunity to renew your relationships, your attitudes and your whole being.
Share your concerns.
Research shows feeling isolated is twice as harmful to health as obesity. And feeling burdened with stress can be a heavy load to suffer alone. Reach out to three or four people you trust—a mentor, a peer, a friend, a counselor—who will listen to you completely and even provide a different perspective on your problems without attempting to fix them (or you). The intimate bonds created by sharing vulnerabilities with others can bring you a sense of relief and rejuvenation. Take this a step further by being a trustworthy outlet for others.
Take it outdoors.
Natural light is one of the most synchronizing agents for the brain and body, improving your mood, natural sleep-wake cycle, hormone release and work performance. Hold the next work meeting or family dinner outside and notice its renewing effects.
How we eat, move, sleep and rest, use water and breathe can nurture vitality or erode it. With your teammates and loved ones, take an honest look at each of these wellness behaviors and ask: What shifts in life and work could make each day more renewing? Make this an opportunity to recommit to one another through wellness.
Let adversity be your teacher.
No person, organization or community has escaped the effects of our global pandemic. We can all cite how we’ve suffered. Yet, how has the pandemic challenged you, your family or your team to stretch and renew? If we set our minds and hearts to it, we will evolve healthier ways of living and working through this adversity together.
Let Purpose Renew You
As we shift into this ninth month of 2020, now is a good time to reflect on the reasons you are part of The Wellness Moonshot. Why? Because reconnecting to your unique purpose for leading wellness, particularly in this time of chronic global stress, can open up a wellspring of renewing energy for you.
Let us know how it’s going! Celebrate how your ability to renew helps you effectively lead wellness at home or work by sharing your experience on social media. Make sure to include #wellnessmoonshot, and we’ll spread your inspiration to the growing network of wellness leaders worldwide.
Think of each month’s The Wellness Moonshot as a guide or “lesson plan” to empower wellness. Plus, invite others to join in The Wellness Moonshot! Our next step in this wellness leadership journey highlights how movement can help you lead wellness at work, at home, and in your community.
- Take the “Are You a Wellness Leader?” quiz to see where you can grow.
- Find medical evidence for authoritative studies on the benefits of wellness modalities at Wellness Evidence.
- Explore GWI’s Wellness at Work Initiative.
- Read the Wellness Q&A Series to see how various industries and businesses are renewing their efforts post-COVID.