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The Nine Steps of Wellness: Live a Better Life

By developing a wellness plan (using the nine steps in this article), anyone can increase the likelihood of a longer, happier, and healthier life.

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

Living a life of wellness -- of good mental and physical health -- is something that most of us strive -- or should strive -- to achieve. Wellness not only improves our current state of living, but by developing a wellness plan (using the nine steps in this article), you can increase the likelihood of a longer, happier, and healthier life.

Step One: Eat Well -- and Wisely. Don't consume junk food or too much fast food -- both are full of bad things (fat, salt, sugar, calories, carbs) -- but don't starve yourself either. Eat fruits, vegetables, and fiber. Eat meat if you so choose. Watch your calorie, fat, and carb intakes. Don't eat more than you need, but do eat on a schedule that fits your lifestyle. Don't follow fad diets, but do try and make a lifestyle choice based on proven dietary results. Remember, too, to drink plenty of fluids (water mostly) to keep everything in your body hydrated and to assist your body in flushing out toxins. Speaking of toxins, regardless of how well you eat (or don't), consider detoxifying you body at least once a year. (I recommend -- because I do it at least once a year -- the Fat Flush Plan.) Find more resources to help you achieve this goal in the Nutrition Section of EmpoweringRetreat.com.

Step Two: Exercise Daily. If you're not currently in good physical shape, you'll want to start this step slowly -- and only after you've consulted with your physician. Once you're good to go, you should strive to find several types of exercise you enjoy -- and ideally a combination of aerobic exercising and strength-building. Some very good low-impact exercises include yoga, swimming, biking, and walking. Lifting light weights and performing crunches and push-ups will strengthen your muscles and your bones. Ideally, carve out an hour a day to exercise -- and note that you can break that hour into smaller chunks throughout the day, just as long as you achieve your goal and avoid making excuses not to exercise. Find more resources to help you achieve this goal in the Fitness Section of EmpoweringRetreat.com.

Step Three: Get Enough Rest. The body and the mind both need to be shutdown for periods of replenishment and renourishment. Studies vary on how much sleep people need, but the underlying fundamental element in all of these studies is that people should make time for sleeping. The brain especially needs "time off" to recharge. There is even growing evidence on the benefits of "power napping" to improve productivity.

Step Four: Strive for Optimism Rather Than Pessimism. Strive to view situations as half-full rather than half-empty by focusing on the positive elements of your life and situation. Positive people live longer -- and make things better for everyone. Try to make something good out of even the worst situations. And whenever possible, focus on finding the good in all things and people. Consider partaking in random acts of kindness and other positive and well-natured methods of giving back and improving other people's lives (and ths improving yours along the way).

Step Five: Seek Out and Nurture Healthy Relationships. Make new friends and reconnect with old ones. Phase out so-called friends who are users or whom cause troubles. Find your soulmate and commit to a life together. People who are surrounded by love tend to be happier and healthier, and thus life longer lives. There is no set number of friends you need, but start with at least one (your soulmate) and move on from there with as many friends as you need.

Step Six: Review and Reduce Your Drug Use. Obviously, if you are under the care of a doctor and taking the correct dosage of your medications, you'll need to keep on that path (unless you feel overmedicated; in that case, seek the advice of another doctor). But if you are self-medicating, overly dependent on certain medications (headache remedies, allergy meds, or sleeping pills), or taking someone else's medications, you need to stop. If you are using legal or illegal drugs (including alcohol, tobacco, nicotine) -- whether to simply get high or escape the problems of your life -- you must stop. Don't let your drug use cloud your judgment and impair your ability to think clearly.

Step Seven: Practice Forgiveness. It's so much easier for most of us to hold a grudge against those we think have somehow wronged us, but by doing so, we are really only hurting ourselves by keeping our anger (or disappointment or hate) bottled up inside us. By forgiving others, we release the negative energy that eats away at us, while setting a good example for our friends, children, and others around us. Most of the time, the things that bother us the most are petty misunderstandings, so let them go and start feeling better. Live by the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would want done to you) and attempt to follow "turning the other cheek" when wronged.

Step Eight: Manage and Reduce Your Stress. Some amount of stress is good for us because it makes us more efficient in what we do, but too much stress leads to a variety of negative consequences -- both mentally and physically. If you have too much stress in your life, seek out ways to reduce it by finding solutions to the underlying problems. For example, if you get stressed from having too many things to do, consider: simplifying your life, reducing the number of demands on your time, and developing an organizational/planning scheme to keep everything in order. If your work has overtaken your life and that work-life balance is out of whack, consider options (new job, new employer, new career) to fix the situation.

Step Nine: Celebrate Life. One of the most important things you can do each day is to carve out some time for yourself -- where you can do something fun just for yourself or simply sit in solitude and celebrate another day of living. Try and have fun everyday -- even if only for a few minutes. Snuggle with a friend. Read book or magazine. Watch the sun rise or set. Play with your kids. Walk your dog. Listen to the birds chirp. Work on your hobby. Go to the beach. Tend your garden. Walk through a forest. Take time to meditate or pray. Stop and smell the flowers.

Final Thoughts on Wellness

Take these steps one at a time and build a life of wellness and well-being. Don't worry if you can't always follow these steps or if you slip up occasionally. The key here is to be aware of the activities and attitudes that can improve your life today -- and extend your life into more tomorrows. You'll find resources in the other sections of EmpoweringRetreat.com to assist you in achieving fitness, eating, work-life balance, and serenity goals.

Finally, remember wellness is both mental and physical -- and when you have issues beyond your control seek the help of a medical professional. Regardless of your current state of health, if your healthcare plan allows it, partake in an annual physical, blood work analysis, and consultation with your doctor.

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Avid wellness guru Dr. Randall S. Hansen Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., is an avid bicyclist, adventurist, environmentalist, and student of wellness and photography, with a mission of empowering others to lead great lives. He is Founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites. Dr. Hansen is also the founder and caretaker of this site, EmpoweringRetreat.com, as well as founder of EmpoweringAdvice.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com or reach him by email at CEO(at)empoweringsites.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

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