On Thursday evening, I returned home after four days at the 2013 National Wellness Conference (NWC) in Stevens Point, WI. I went there to be inspired, for personal rejuvenation, and to contribute to the learning experience by presenting on blogging for wellness (my favorite thing to do!).
The NWC attracts wellness professionals in a variety of roles ranging from medical doctors to nurses to health coaches to wellness directors. All of us have at least one thing in common: We are interested in figuring out new, effective ways to bring wellness to people around us (and ourselves!).
Here are some of the themes that I enjoyed:
Larry Cohen of Prevention Institute gave an inspiring and thought-provoking opening keynote on Monday morning. A dynamic speaker who is not worried about being “politically correct,” Cohen emphasized the need for policy and organizational change to prevent illness and promote wellness.
I was especially interested to learn about the California campaign in the 1980s called “Friends Can Be Good Medicine” and that only 3% of total health care spend is on prevention. This last point made me even more determined to work for prevention in my role as a health coach.
During the second break-out session of the day, I was intrigued to learn that the speaker, John Weaver, is the author of a book titled The Prevention of Depression. Weaver’s presentation focused on how we can pay attention to healthy living and thus build new habits.
I found myself longing for integrative health care to become pervasive in our culture and wishing that in the near future, we will follow the Traditional Chinese Medicine concept of rewarding doctors for preventing disease.
I was able to attend the Coaching Academy on Monday afternoon and enjoyed learning from representatives from the International Coach Federation (ICF). It was especially exciting since I recently decided to pursue an ICF certification (which will probably be a year-long process).
The key take-aways from this and other sessions on coaching were these:
- Coaching is NOT telling people what to do (but I already knew that!).
- The same approach doesn’t work with everybody.
- Coaching can serve as a preventative service.
- Motivational Interviewing is cool.
- Coaching is an art.
I’m absolutely thrilled to be starting up my coaching practice and can’t wait to finalize the details around a coaching group coming up this fall!
I think almost every session (including my session on blogging!) included some kind of breathing or meditative exercise. You just can’t go wrong with focusing on your breath.
Self-care is key to being able to partner with clients to achieve optimal wellness. I practiced lots of self-care by going to bed early, going for runs around a lake at the nature reserve in the mornings, eating nutritious food prepared by others, and listening to my latest audiobook, 11/22/63 by Stephen King.
I re-discovered that my food cravings disappear when I’m off the computer and engaged in my passion (duh!). I ate when I was hungry and enjoyed some good Wisconsin ice cream after a couple of the meals.
The Key to Wellness
I continue to believe that the key to wellness is becoming aware of our actions and thoughts and being present in everything we do. When we are aware of our body, we can adjust our actions to make it feel good (by sleeping, moving, resting, eating more/less). And when we are aware of our thoughts, we can rewire our brain to ask the right questions (not “What’s wrong with me/others?” but “What is it I am here to learn?” and other similar questions).
We also need to build up a certain level of resilience, so that when the going gets tough, we can bounce back. And it all comes back to sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and stress-management. Those are the foundational needs we have as humans that everything else builds on.
I’m so glad that I spent my vacation going to #NWC2013. I learned a lot, met some great people, and came back home energized and ready to take my coaching practice to the next level.
Next year: Minneapolis!