This article was written by by Juliana Bateman (Director of Spiritual Care), Nahleen Salvador (Director of Wellness *pictured above), Heather Smith (Director of Residential Services), and Byrony Treser (Director of Rehabilitation at Infinity Rehab).
From loneliness and dismay, to hope and community, the Pandemic has brought about so many feelings and experiences that many of us would not have imagined. One of my favorite quotes comes to mind: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” It has been a time of reflection amongst staff and residents –reflecting on how things were, how things are, and how things could be. In the past few weeks, there have been conversations with other team members, residents, family members, and friends –and all seemed to resonate an underlying message: we are ready for a change. Working together, we’ve taken this feedback and are infusing it into programming that encompasses the whole of someone. Over the next year, you are going to see and hear things that sound familiar, but maybe look a little different. Every program and activity will tie into Wellness. The goal is to promote wellness across all dimensions of our lives and community. This will be fun, reflective, intuitive, and sometimes, you’re going to want to say, “I loved that!” While other times, you’re going to say, “Never again!” But the beauty of it all is that we’re going to all have and share these experiences together. We are so excited to work with both staff and residents on this initiative and share the ideas we’ve heard and gathered to promote wellness!
The Wellness Center:
This definition of wellness is a favorite (there are many): “the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health”. Wellness is not something that is achieved and then you are done, it is constant, having to continually adjust to life’s twists and turns. This past year has proven just how much effort goes into having optimum whole well-being. One visual that always comes to mind is a garden. We all go through our seasons; some seasons take minimal effort because all the circumstances are just right, while other seasons seem like it takes all the tricks in the bag to achieve a tiny amount of growth. A thriving garden requires persistence, consistency, cultivation, and care. With a thriving garden -or personal wellness -you cannot force progress.
We find strength in things we do when we are surrounded by people that we have a connection with and can share and foster ideas. Going forward, the Wellness Center is striving to collaborate across multiple departments and connect programming to reflect a community wide culture of wellness. By working together, we can nurture the strength in our community.
Everything is connected. How we eat affects how we feel. How we choose to process grief and anger affects our physical health. How much exercise we get affects how well we are able to think, and problem solve. What we think about ourselves influences how we relate to others. And so on.
When it comes to Spiritual Care, we are especially focused on fostering spiritual wellness. What does that mean?
Spirituality can be defined as how we make meaning and find purpose. And our spirituality is characterized by how we are connected to ourselves, our environment, each other, and the Divine.
So how might spiritual wellness manifest?
Finding a regular practice or ritual that allows us to get to know our deepest selves, and our deepest values, allows us to be able to live with Authenticity and Integrity.
Meaning and purpose are often found through Self-knowledge. Self-acceptance. Self-expression. Self-offering. Rich connections are made possible when we are able to share our true selves with each other.
Therapy and Recovery:
Living into wellness and healthy aging is something we can all do. When we increase our awareness and understanding of our bodies and become actively engaged in not only the management, but the prevention, of disease, injury, pain, and impairment, our potential continues to expand. Our society has created many preconceived notions of what aging means and we often internalize and take to heart these messages, sometimes ignoring early signs of a disease process. When we write an ache or pain off as “getting older”, or discount the decreased energy, or increased challenge of completing a daily task, we miss opportunities for living out our best selves. What we end up doing is limiting ourselves and our capacity for engaging in the world around us. The fields of occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology can help address challenges when they arise but also help promote healthy lifestyles before problems develop so we can continue to live out our potential.
Occupational therapy helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Physical therapists identify, diagnose, and treat movement problems to help people maintain or restore as much function as possible. Speech-language pathologists address swallow, cognition, and communication concerns to help people engage in their environment.
Creating a culture of wellness brings into focus all the dimensions in our lives. By bringing mindful energy to our physical fitness, our occupational and leisure pursuits, are emotional, cognitive, and spiritual practices, we become more connected and invested in the community. This allows us to build, create and shape rich, inclusive, and just communities. And the strength of that community cannot be underestimated.
Want to learn more about wellness? Tune into Bayview’s “Wellness as a Lifestyle: Panel Webinar” on November 17th, 2021 at 11am (PST). Register here: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_GylhAM65QcmzmgEWYVrBOQ.