With rising expenditures on health and fitness and a growing global wellness industry, we know how much people want to be living healthier, happier lives.
And given the information age, there are more resources and education to support them to do so than ever before. This vastness of options alone can leave people feeling overwhelmed with where to start.
Creating your own structure
Emily Reed, Founder of Wellness from Within, has studied and taught wellness practices (including Ayurveda, yoga, and meditation) extensively for the past 15 years.
She could easily give advice on which next tool you should be ‘using’ amongst all the options. Instead, when I spoke to her as part of a series of Women In Wellness interviews, she suggested sustainable wellness is less about which tool and more about having the right structure in place.
While a period of insomnia got Emily curious about yoga in the first place, it wasn’t until much later that the hunger for learning more grew. When she started creating more structure around simple things in her life like meal patterns, socializing and sleep, she really experienced a lasting change.
And whilst this structure and certainty is an intrinsic human need, world-renowned Peak Performance Strategist, Tony Robbins, suggests it’s how we meet this need that dramatically influences our experience of life. Suggesting that “Most people meet their needs in a way that works in the moment, but not long term”. And Emily believes we can set ourselves up for long term wellness if we get this foundation in place first.
Finding your own rhythm
Before her ‘wellness journey’ she says her own pattern of behavior was more one of ‘righting the wrongs’. And this is a cycle familiar to many—periods of high intensity, followed by breakdowns that knock us flat and then reaching for the reset button.
The ancient science of Ayurveda, which is based on nature’s cycles, refers to these extremes as rajasic or tamasic. Creating a more sustainable way of existing is about finding a healthy rhythm between each.
Emily says becoming more aware of how these show up in daily behaviors gives you back a sense of control. For example, identifying where are you pushing to fit too much in your day (too rajasic) or feeling lethargic and unmotivated to get things done (too tamasic). This all helps to bring life back into a healthy balance or harmony.
When I feel well. I’m not desperately running after things or craving, I’m moving with fluidity in my relationships, decisions and emotions. It’s all about how I’m approaching life and moving through the transitions.
A multi-pronged approach to balance
She says because wellness is about both an emotional state and a physical vibrancy, we need a multi-pronged approach to get us back to balance.
Emily started to use the five elements of nature (fire, earth, water, air, and ether) which are taught through Ayurveda as pillars for creating more balance and wellness in her life—translating them in a way that made sense for her western and modern way of life.
For herself that’s meant creating structure and non-negotiables in her daily routine, like morning meditation and breathing exercises, through to getting clear on boundaries, knowing she needs regularity (three meals per day) and getting fresh air each day for mental clarity.
Handling stress and emotions
And yes, stress does show up for everyone—even conscious living advocates and Ayurvedic health counselors like Emily. However, she says having this framework gives her back a sense of stability, and she’s able to pick up on her signs of stress much more quickly and easily. From noticing the cracks appearing in her emotional resilience, to feelings of overwhelm, or feeling tired despite having slept well.
She now uses a fully integrated approach for her clients—touching on anything from digestive health through to yoga and energy work—to make positive and lasting changes to their physical and emotional health.
Emily’s vision for wellness extends far beyond the individual, believing we can see greater wellness in our communities and society in our approach to cultivating wellness within ourselves.
We can all feel well. And we can all contribute to a more healthy and sustainable society. Taking responsibility for ourselves is us sowing the seeds for a healthier planet.
Emily Reed is one of eight UK ‘Women In Wellness’ I interviewed in 2019 across different types and stages of business, to understand how they are growing successful businesses whilst bringing balance and well-being into their own lives. The remaining articles will be published throughout March in celebration of International Women’s Day.
First published on Forbes.com on 18 March 2019.