August is National Wellness Month! Did you know wellness encompasses various aspects and concepts that are rooted in the confidence that people have the ability to proactively increase the quality of their lives, through managing their health and well-being? Yes! And wellness Month is about promoting and celebrating the ways in which we can all prioritize our self-care, manage stress, and encourage healthful lifestyle routines. Perhaps this August is the month that you finally prioritize, encourage, and celebrate you!

What happens if we don’t celebrate wellness? Well…when we don’t take care of ourselves, our body, mind, and spirit will eventually do whatever it takes to get our attention and if we are lucky, we will have a chance to turn that boat around. The World Health Organization (WHO) shares in their research column, “Promoting Mental Health: Concepts, Emerging Evidence, Practice;” that wellness refers to the state of being in good physical and mental health, leading to an overall sense of well-being. This includes aspects such as proper nutrition, regular exercise, stress management, adequate sleep, and maintaining healthy relationships. While the concepts of wellness are growing, the attention is well deserved, because the outcomes of those making dedicated commitments to their wellness are showing an increase in their quality and quantity of life.

Here at The Wellness Center, we have been fans of wellness for over 40 years. In 1982 we knew that wellness was something the NEK needed, and North Country Hospital believed in it so much, they were the first hospital in the state to open their own “Wellness Center.” The Wellness Center has always prioritized programs for all ages, abilities, and lifestyles by creating what we call a “meeting place for fun, health, and fitness.” Over the years programs have included our most popular offering: fitness classes and nutrition classes, stress management workshops, meditation, art classes, safe driving classes, babysitting classes, and much more. Why, because wellness matters, and it takes a lot of tools to help us all be as well as possible!

Sadly, many people shut down their focus on wellness with the pandemic in 2020 and have yet to prioritize theirs since. We see this all around us as more people than ever are increasingly sedentary, eating poorly, sacrificing their sleep, and refusing to manage their stress. This trickle effect is felt in the short tempers we see and hear around us. Americans also got used to certain spending habits that have caused an impact on people’s financial wellness and some are still self-isolating, and that is impacting their social wellness too. Wellness isn’t just physical fitness and eating well, wellness is about a total body, mind, and lifestyle balance. Wellness is how we take care of all our needs from self-care to financial planning and even our social web.

The Wellness Center first “opened” in February of 1982. While it didn’t have its own physical place as it does now on 1734 Crawford Farm Road, The Wellness Center held classes in many schools, churches, and community spaces. We have always had the community in mind with the lowest rates in the state for classes, sliding scales, and scholarship opportunities. The Wellness Center has also always been a safe space for meeting new people in a safe environment. If you are finding you need a kick-start to wellness, we may just be the first place you start because we make it easy. If not us, think about how you can make your life easier too! How can you start on the journey to greater wellness without a financial strain or continuing habits like self-isolation?

What matters most about wellness is finding things that fit so nicely into your lifestyle that they feel just like that, lifestyle. Many of us have learned that how we take care of our own physical, mental, and emotional needs is hard, so we do that through group-based activities led by a professional at places like The Wellness Center or by seeking support from other professionals too. At The Wellness Center over the decades, we’ve also learned that groups make a difference! We see how well people thrive in the community! Yes, even those who come to us who are introverted and quiet, soon are enjoying the encouragement, accountability, and fellowship that groups bring. Not to mention when you are in a space that’s all about wellness, it’s hard not to feel that contagious energy. With our longevity we’ve also learned that being in a space like The Wellness Center can also help us to stay more focused without the distractions practicing from home/work can bring. Whether you join us or you go it solo, consider making a special space for your “wellness” time and activities.

What if you aren’t ready for wellness, think again. Your health isn’t waiting for you. There is no shame or judgment for those who aren’t ready to practice, sweat, or stretch in groups yet. This is why we still have our virtual studio to accommodate those who aren’t ready or just really love the at-home opportunity. These virtual options range from meditation and sleep yoga to total body workouts and more. But for you, maybe your wellness journey still starts with journaling or a quick 5-minute meditation you found online. Maybe you will go online and find a therapist this month or commit to a daily walk. Perhaps your biggest wellness need is talking to a financial advisor who can help you get your finances in a row. It all matters and each step you take will have you feeling the difference!

Wellness is about self-management. What serves you, may not be what serves someone else. However, we do know that our wellness takes effort and energy now! So what’s missing or what’s off balance for you? Do you need to make a friend date? Do you need to get in some activity or eat something that’s not prepacked or filled with caffeine? August comes and goes pretty quickly, and so can our health and well-being. Here’s your reminder! Your Wellness Matters!

Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center