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12 Months of Wellness: January

Welcome to 2018!

This year I am writing a series of blogs related to creating wellness in a variety of ways in your life. By no means do I think that wellness is as simple as a short blog once a month. However, I am hopeful that the ideas shared each month might provoke you to make small and meaningful changes in your life. I am also hopeful that these changes, spread out over a year, may lead to increased health and wellness for you in an effective and sustainable manner.

January will be our month to focus on:


Each person reading this will likely find a different way of expressing their creative selves. I encourage you to consider ways in which you have been creative in the past and ways that you might like to try out new creative expression. You might choose to pull out the paints and work on a painting for 30 minutes each week. Maybe you are able to finish one painting each week and will have four paintings by the end of the month. Maybe you will try something different each week. It's up to you! For inspiration, please consider the following possibilities for creative expression:

Week 1: Creative Expression via Music

You do not have to be a musician to creatively express yourself via music. You might choose to make a playlist of songs that inspires you to feel more relaxed, more joyful, more motivated or just generally distracts you. Maybe you are able to attend a live performance to experience the creativity of music. Many coffee shops or local venues have free and low cost performances. Maybe you have been wishing to identify yourself as a musician and now is the time to pick up a new instrument or practice your singing or song-writing. Speaking of singing, only you can decide if you are musical in this way. Perhaps your shower-ballads are just the thing to incorporate more of this week.

If you are a musician, but have not played in a while, dig out that instrument from the closet or the garage and play some notes. Remind yourself how good it feels to create and express yourself. If you are a musician that already regularly plays, pull out your instrument and play something just for fun. Play something that speaks just to you or play something from long ago that has positively associated memories. If your instrument is your voice, you may choose to write a song, sing a new song, or sing an old set of favorite songs. Spend time with your music this week, even if only for 30 minutes, to check in with the creativity you experience through sound and song.

Week 2: Creative Expression via Art

With the advent of adult coloring books, there are so many new and easy ways to engage your artistic proclivities. There are detailed adult coloring books, wide-spaced adult coloring books and all manner of designs. Being creative this month is much more about self-expression than being "good at it." So, let yourself scribble, draw stick figures, or color outside the lines.

You may have a particular artistic medium that calls to you. Consider exploring drawing, painting or coloring. Consider all types of artistic tools, such as chalk, acrylic, water color, pencil, marker or crayon. I recently found a set of sparkle markers that are just wonderful for coloring. You may choose to leave behind paper medium altogether and set yourself to graphic designs, wielding a stylus, your finger or a mouse pad. Consider all types of art subjects, such as abstract, shapes and swirls, people or landscapes. You may choose to doodle your next tattoo or maybe your friend's next tattoo. Perhaps there is a wall in your home that needs a mural. There is no artistic expression too small or too large to satisfy this month's endeavor.

Consider that art includes photographic representations. Try your hand at black and white photography. Try photographing items at very close range to capture the small details of life. Try photographing people, nature, animals or items.

Finally, consider that the written word is also a form of art. Maybe you haven't written poetry since high school, or maybe you've never tried writing poetry, but now is the time. Perhaps it's time to purchase a journal, or pull out the one you had been meaning to work on. Writing can be nonsensical, one-word, lists of words, letters to an unknown or stories. Stories can be short, comical, fictional, non-fictional and more. Let your mind wander and write whatever comes to you. For inspiration, review the following list of ideas: Daring to Live Fully: Journal Promtps.

Do not put pressure on yourself to have a finished product, but just to allow yourself to experience creation. This month you are setting yourself to the task of creative expression and the only goal is just to begin. If you snap one photo, draw one line or write one word, you have been successful.

Week 3: Creative Expression via Movement

Our bodies love to move. One reason our bodies love movement is the positive effects on mental health. The following article outlines the effects of movement related to decreased anxiety and depression as well as increased self-esteem (Harvard Health: How Simply Moving Benefits your Mental Health). Some people's bodies love to move more than others. Some people's brains would love their bodies to move, but physical barriers make movement difficult. Remember to attend to your own level of ability, including medical indications for movement and include as much or as little movement in this month as possible.

There are so many ways we can move our bodies. You might have fun dancing. This would be my own favorite form of movement and I have found that there is so much variety in dance. What excites or engages one person will certainly not speak to another. Try out couples dancing, such as tango, two-step, waltz or swing. There is solo dancing, such as hip hop, ballet, jazz, modern or line dancing. You can free-style dance in the club or in your own home. Turn on Pandora, shake your groove thing in the living room kind of dancing. Turn up the radio, wiggle in your seat, bob your head in the car kind of dancing. Whatever moves you, whether it is to song, beats, spoken word or silence, move that body!

Dance may not be the movement that inspires you. Maybe you enjoy yoga. Just as with dance, there are so many types of yoga to choose from. You can choose a grounding yoga or an invigorating yoga. You can choose to engage in yoga at home on your own or with a you tube video. You can join a class that is upbeat and fast paced or slow, focused and meditative. You can do muscle-building yoga or restorative yoga. For every personality and need, there is a yoga. If you have physical limitations, there are ways to modify yoga - just ask your teacher! If you are not connected to a studio or class, consider the following article that relates to pose modification and listening to your body (Yoga District: Be Safe in the Wild World of Yoga: Modifying for Injury/Conditions and Knowing When NOT to listen to Your Yoga Teacher.) If you choose yoga this month, consider trying a new style or returning to one that has worked for you before. Either way, move that body!

At this point, maybe you are thinking, "I'm not a yogi and I do not dance." Perhaps you have considered the martial arts? I myself have not explored martial arts in great detail, but I am aware of the many benefits related to body movement and control as well as meditative and mindfulness to be gained from the practice of martial arts. Of course, as I have already noted, there is variety within each area of interest. Martial Arts is no different! From Tai Chi and Kung Fu to Jui Jitsu and Karate, you can find a practice that will inspire movement and engagement. While you can certainly sign up for one-on-one instruction or join a dojo or take a class, you can also watch YouTube videos at home and get a taste of whatever you might like to try. Consider the following recommendations for choosing which practice might be right for you: WikiHow: Choose-a-Martial-Art.

Whatever your choice is, remember to move that body!

Week 4: Creative Expression via Craft

Some people hear the word craft and think of preschool arts and crafts projects with paper and glue. If this speaks to you, then go for it! However, keep in mind that craft can mean so many different things! You may enjoy wood working activities. If you haven't tried working with wood, it can be very satisfying to take a block and turn it into something fun or useful. If this level of wood working isn't for you (maybe you don't have the tools required), your local craft supply store has a variety of wooden objects ready to be sanded, painted or decorated.

You may find yourself inclined toward textiles, such as quilting, crocheting or knitting. In terms of cost, this craft is a little easier on the budget. Purchasing a crochet needle and some yarn does not have to be a huge investment. The library and the internet are also full of books and articles ready to help you learn the trade from the beginning or hone your skill with a new stitch. If you choose to peruse this type of craft, consider making something for yourself or a friend/family member. You might also make something decorative to remind yourself of your creative endeavors this month.

Other people may find themselves more crafty in the kitchen. You can try your hand at crafting a new recipe or making personal care items, such as, lip balms, lotions or bath salts and scrubs. There are many easy recipes available that take as little as 3 ingredients, a microwave and 10 minutes. My go-to craft right now is lip balm. I found some small containers at the dollar store and set to melting the ingredients any evening that I need a little creative boost. About 1 cup of ingredients can make 10 pots of lip balm. Great for putting one in each coat pocket, one in my purse, one on the sink, one at the office and a few left over to hand out to friends.

Craft ideas are really endless. Take a trip to your local craft supply store and you will see aisles and aisles of options. You might choose to make some new home or office decorations. You might decide to make some new jewelry or re-purpose some old jewelry into new items. Jewelry can be made from twine, fibers, chain, stones, beads and more. You might choose to try your hand at clay work, pottery or figurines. These are great ways to create something that will remind you of your endeavors this month.

A final note about creativity:

You may not have found something on the lists this month that speaks to you. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all creative opportunities and options. If you have thought of another creative outlet, please share in the comments! I would love to hear from you! I do hope that you have found at least one creative outlet this month to speak to that part of ourselves that benefits from self-expression. Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments!

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes and your consideration only. You are not required to engage in any of the ideas presented here.

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