What is wellness? One hears and sees the term everywhere these days, ubiquitously drawing over a billion hits in a quick Google search. Explained simply, wellness is a state of being healthy in body and mind. The caveat in this definition being the deliberate effort, or intention, required to enter into this reality. We all know the benefits of being well, having energy, and feeling grateful towards life. We all also know how difficult it can be to maintain feelings of optimism. We may have aging parents or struggling kids, dissatisfaction in our workplace with disharmony at home, and an inundation of information impossible to process. How can one feel “well” amidst so much strife and suffering?
My name is Jennifer and I am the new Wellness Education Coordinator VISTA here at Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation. While I don’t have all the answers, I can facilitate a dialogue that can help all of us to feel a little less isolated and a little more “well.”
One of the services we provide our community is the Student Stewards Program, which offers STEM-based, outdoor hands-on learning for our Washoe County students. This year we are introducing a wellness component to our existing lesson plans in order to greater facilitate academic engagement and convert our students into lifelong learners. But, in order for our kids to feel “well,” their trusted adults must feel “well” as well. So, we are going to share some of our ideas for you all to incorporate into your personal or professional lives.
Another term we hear constantly is mindfulness, though not as pervasive as wellness—Google found only 172 million hits. But we shouldn’t let ourselves run from this besiegement or feel overwhelmed by our confusion. Mindfulness is the key to wellness. Merely the state of being mindful or aware, it’s practice is also extremely simple, easily adoptable, and can yield immediate results in stressful situations.
Did you know that we have over 200 parks in Reno? There may be one within walking distance to where you are right now. The next time you are feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, or disconnected visit one of our local parks. But, please be present when you do so. Do not allow yourself to ruminate on the frustrations you are experiencing at the moment. Your feelings are valid, but you are going to take a break from thinking about them. Notice how your feet tread differently on grass or concrete. Look down and see how many different insects you can see. Can you find an arthropod? Look up and see if you can identify the trees. Do you know which are native to Nevada and which are invasive? Close your eyes and listen. Can you hear the river? How many different birds do you singing to each other? Take a deep breath. Summer is winding to a close with the smell of harvest in the air.
[Photo: Virginia Lake]
Now your heart rate and pulse have normalized, your thoughts are clearer and more organized. The problems and issues remain, but your approach is calmer and you have regained perspective. Nature is healing. Join us in our journey this year, guided not only by the youth in our community but by the eternal youth living in our hearts and souls as well.