This blog first appeared on the ACHS health and wellness blog here
Developing a wellness plan sounds overwhelming, but it does not have to be. Like most plans for wellness, the hardest part is staying on course.
Before we get started, I want to emphasize that wherever you are on any given day is exactly where you should be. There is no room in life for self-sabotage or limiting beliefs. Always love yourself! Look for the positive in every situation, and you will be on your way to wellness.
This article will not be about eating or exercise. The “wellness” that most of us struggle with is our thoughts: our emotional and mental wellness. The goal is to master your mind instead of being its slave.
Here are 10 ways to foster mental and emotional wellness and a stress-free life that work for me:
1. Accomplish Your To-Do List
Many of us have incredibly long to-do lists. Sometimes it feels as if the list never gets shorter.
I recommend picking three things from your to-do list every day, and focus on those three things. Narrowing your focus helps you to feel less overwhelmed with all there is to do. At the end of the day, look at the three things you completed and enjoy your accomplishment.
2. Evaluate, Don’t Dwell
When encountering a problem in life or a change of plan, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate. If you step out of a situation and give yourself time to calm down, you may realize it was not much of a “problem” after all.
Once a problem is identified, think about possible ways to solve it. Ignoring the problem is not the answer. Once you have made a decision on how to handle the issue, move on. Don’t dwell on it.
3. Sidestep Drama
You can probably identify things in your life that trigger stress or negative feelings. This could be a person, place, or situation. If there are people or things that throw you off course, I suggest avoiding them altogether.
If it is something that cannot be avoided, try creating a mantra to repeat when needed, such as “I can handle whatever comes my way.” It’s simple, yet can be very effective. Surround yourself with people that lift you up.
4. Remember: You’re Responsible for Your Own
If you work with clients everyday this section is especially for you!
So many of us spend our days working hard, doing what needs to be done, and graciously helping others, but not spending much time on ourselves. I have an exercise for you. It’s time to make a list.
Make a list of all the things you can think of that make you happy. Spend 15 minutes on this exercise. Do you like to read, paint, sing, dance, do yoga, spend time in nature, read a book, or take a bath? Make the list as thorough as you can. When you are done, look it over. How many of those things do you do everyday? You are responsible for you own happiness; start doing things every day that make you happy.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” – Joseph Campbell
5. Don’t Forget to Breathe
Let’s face it; there are times when a problem cannot be fixed. When you hold on to things for too long, it can become an energy leak.
One method I use to let things go, stay present, and reset my mind is through my breath.
Try a technique called the 4–7-8 breathing technique. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “The 4-7-8 Breath (also known as the Relaxing Breath) is the perfect, portable stress antidote, as it puts the practitioner in a relaxed state almost immediately. It takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere.” 
Breathe in through your nose slowly to the count of four. Hold that breath to a count of seven, and then slowly exhale through your mouth to a count of eight. Perform this exercise five to ten times for maximum benefits.
“You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” – Wayne W. Dyer
6. Take Electronic Vacations
By electronic vacations, I don’t mean take all of your electronics and sit on the couch all day. What I mean is put them away. There is plenty to see around you. Turn off your electronics and look around. Do not let the beauty of real life pass you by. Electronics have their purpose, but our society is addicted. Getting back to nature would do all of us a lot of good!
7. Practice Guided Imagery
Guided imagery or guided visualization is a great tool to utilize when you need to take your worried mind to a quiet, blissful sanctuary. Do you have a favorite place that helps all the stresses of life melt away? This may be a place you went on vacation or a place that resides only in your imagination.
To utilize this relaxation tool, get comfortable either sitting or laying down, and begin to focus on your breath. Close or soften your eyes and transport yourself to your favorite place. Take in all of the sights, smells, and sounds. Five to 10 minutes in your happy place will leave you both relaxed and energized.
8. Forgive Yourself
We all make mistakes, but how we recover from them is important. Replaying mistakes over and over again is exhausting. You cannot go back and change it, so you have to move forward. Realize you did the best you could, and move on. Mantras work great as does tapping or the Emotional Freedom Technique. A great website that can teach you just how this works to diffuse negative feelings is: http://www.thetappingsolution.com/ 
“Love yourself—accept yourself—forgive yourself—and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things.” – Leo F. Buscaglia
9. Take an Aromatherapy Bath
An aromatic bath is a nice treat at the end of a busy day and can help promote restful sleep.
1 cup quality Epsom salts
1T carrier oil such as jojoba oil OR full fat milk/cream
3-5 drops essential oil (Try lavenderLavandula angustifolia and Roman chamomile Chamaemelum nobile)
Directions: Mix together in a non-reactive container. Fill your bath and add a few drops into the water.
10. Pay it Forward
Contribute to your community or your field. Selfless compassion for others is very rewarding. Helping others lifts you up like nothing else can.
In the words of Helen Keller: Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
Incorporate some of these ideas into your wellness plan, and I believe you’ll find yourself more grounded and at peace. If you can work to calm your mind from the busyness of life, you will be better equipped to help others and on your way to improved wellness.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a student of American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are my own. This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 Breathing Exercises, 4-7-8 Breath. Retrieved from:http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/VDR00160/Dr-Weils-Breathing-Exercises-4-7-8-Breath.html
 The Tapping Solution. Retrieved from: http://www.thetappingsolution.com/