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Patient Stories

Wellness… “I’m getting used to it”

By Bob Skipper, M. Div., LPCC, Pastoral Counseling Center of Miami Valley Hospital (MVH)

The dictionary definition of wellness is “the condition of good physical and mental health especially when maintained by proper diet and exercise.”

We can characterize the word good with these one-word definitions: positive, desirable, appropriate, sound, beneficial, reliable, genuine, and real. The word diet infers a regulated or prescribed system. Further, the word exercise basically means “an act of using.”

I recently asked a client who has been very deliberate about being in therapy how she was aware of her wellness and she replied, “I’m getting used to it.” That is an incredibly accurate and heart-felt response to living into wellness.

A person exercises or uses wellness in engaging in life. He or she gets used to being good, that is, sound in mind, body, and soul; benefiting from a healthier self-image; relying on healthy decision making; being genuine in relationships; and, being real with oneself and others in the here-and-now.

One makes a diet of healthy living on wellness. This does take some getting used to and trusting into a new way of living.

When a person enters into therapy, there is usually some mental, emotional, relational, personal, or other block that has disrupted things. Living has become not well. One might choose to enter therapy or seek other avenues for support and care, but whatever course is chosen, hopefully things begin to change for the better.

What I witness in the therapeutic encounter is that, as an individual moves through the initial presenting life issue, the person begins to experience a sense of wellness that at first feels somewhat odd, new, and even tenuous.

They may feel they do not deserve to feel well, happy, and good about themselves. It takes some getting ‘used to.’ Yet, this can and does grow to become an on-going and wonderful epiphany in living.

While the Pastoral Counseling Center of Miami Valley Hospital offers services for those in difficult and critical mental, emotional, and spiritual moments in living, we also have the privilege to offer a safe and caring setting to grow into wellness in everyday living. It is more than just arriving at an outcome or remedy. It is about learning and trusting into wellness as a most authentic way of living.

Life is Something Like a Slinky

By Bob Skipper, M. Div, LPCC, Pastoral Counseling Center of Miami Valley Hospital

One of my favorite toys as a kid—well, perhaps as an adult, too—was a Slinky. You know, the great spring contraption that one could send down the stairs. In principle and with a little imagination, that Slinky would go on and on if an endless set of stairs were available.

The Slinky’s dual energy sources are gravity and tension. It wouldn’t work without either. It especially requires tension to make it work. If it got too stretched out or too closed in, it wouldn’t work. Tension in the spring supplied the force or energy to give it life.

Life is something like a Slinky. Life has its ups and downs. Life has its cycles. Life gets stretched as well as closed in at times.

Life also has its tension—or stress—to give it movement, action, activity and direction. Without a bit of stress, we may become unmotivated. With too much stress, we may become a bit crazed, unaware, tired, mean spirited… you get the picture.

We thrive best by being balanced — like holding the ends of a Slinky in your hands and moving it from one hand to the other. One can feel the energy flowing, just as it does in a balanced life.

We live in a culture, however, that thrives on stress. Oh, I know that sounds ludicrous. But, how we do like drama! We like to account for our stress by saying things like: “I had so much to do today that there wasn’t time to eat”… or “I’ve been working so much I can’t think of the last time I took a day off”… or “I’ll just die if I don’t get that room cleaned up.”

We accommodate much more readily to stress than to being relaxed or at ease. We thrive on multi-tasking as a way of accounting for our worth.

So, what are we to do? Let’s start by remembering that the essential element we need most in any given day is only a breath away. Oxygen is such a wonderful part of creation. One really has to give God a lot of credit. Oxygen is readily available and it’s free.

As a chemical agent, it is the most soothing agent we know. It allows us to breathe in the Spirit of God. Why don’t you stop right now and take a breath? Enjoy the moment. And while you are at it, take in another.

What do I do next?