Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spreading Wellness: Is social wellness part of your health plan?

Soon after I had graduated with my Associate's of Applied Science/Physical Therapy Assistant degree, my Granny (Great-Grandma) had a stroke. She needed some assistance so that she could move back to her farm. She had been at my Grandma's (her daughter's) house, but she was antsy to get back to her own home. This led to an amazing opportunity for me...I went to live with her until she could function on her own. My stay lasted about 9 months. In the mornings, she would send me off with her signature smile and wave from her front porch. and by the end of my stay, I was coming home to a snack on the table, and 3 course dinners.

In the evenings we shared stories, many times over a game of scrabble. My claim to fame is that I beat her one time! Something that didn't happen for most people. In her 90's, she was one smart woman! I enjoyed listening to her stories and experiences that she had growing up, and it was amazing to hear first hand about the historical changes that had happened in her lifetime. From foot travel and trains, to automobiles. But the one day that sticks out is the day that I asked if I could record her stories, and she said "no, I won't talk if you have a pen and paper." I asked why, saying that she has so much to teach all of us, and I would love to be able to look back upon her stories so that I could remember the history that she shared, and the lessons that she taught. She became very quiet, and her tone changed to one that was full of deep reflection...she said, life just isn't the same anymore...sharing my stories now is not the same as it used to be. I begged to differ, saying they were wonderful to hear. But, she nodded and said something like, "No, they aren't the same for me. I'm ready to go anytime...my last friend just passed away...reminiscing about my life was more fun with people that shared my experiences." I wanted to tell her that we were all her friends, but realized she was talking about the friends of her generation, so I stayed quiet, and never asked to record her stories again. I have them in my heart, and can reflect upon them...remembering some of the lessons that she taught me, and grateful for the time that I had with her.

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Now, as a health and wellness researcher, I've read many studies about the importance of social connection and health. Jane McGonigal and Dan Buettner are two scientists that have compiled applicable research on healthy aging. (Click on their names to listen to their Ted Talks.) Both share about the importance of social connection. One thing seems sure, humans are meant to connect, and fostering healthy connections is vital to our health. I learned this from my Granny, and when I read research on social connection, I remember that moment when Granny was sitting in her rocking chair and I on her couch, when she shared with me her feelings of loneliness.

During every one of our programs at E3, we share research about holistic health and wellness, and how to age youthfully. We at E3 combine Outdoor Education with Exercise Science, and every adventure with us includes a mini group wellness coaching session. We also create fantastic group experiences, with opportunities to socially connect with others in a natural way. This is one of the reasons behind our 6 week series programming. This past week, 2 participants had met at a community event the weekend before, realizing that they have many of the same friends! Super exciting! We recently read an article that stated it takes 7 meetings with someone to consider them your friend. We didn't dig to see if this was scientifically researched or not, but it did seem to make sense. So after 6 weeks of our programs, you just might walk away with many new friends! But for sure, you should feel a welcoming sense of belonging.

Registration ends on April 7th. 
Registration ends soon, on April 2nd.
Our "Introductory Rates" continue for 2 more series - Women's Outdoor Adventure Group and our New to the Twin Ports group. Then in June, we will have 8 programs running! Registration is now open, and we encourage you to sign up soon. Space is limited in all programs, and a minimum number of participants are required for them to run. So gather your friends today, and register together! For more registration information, check out our newly updated website www.e3twinports.com, follow us on Pinterest for all of our latest programming and educational information, and like us on Facebook for daily updates and inspiration.

Has anyone in your life shared stories about social connection or loneliness? Are you taking care of your own social wellness? Maybe this is one of your strengths, or maybe you want to make it part of your health and wellness plan. We would love to hear your stories about connection! Feel free to comment on our blog, or send us an email. We enjoy hearing from our readers. It helps us to feel connected to those that are following us! :)

E3 Twin Ports, LLC
Energy and Empowerment through Exercise
Combining Outdoor Education Programming with Exercise Science and Health and Wellness Research.
You don't need a gym to be healthy and live a long, active, and meaningful life.

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