As discussed in my previous post, the essence of wellness is found in good relationships. Everything else falls apart when we are bitter and unforgiving, when life is littered with broken relationships. In this world, marriage is the strongest relationship we will ever have. Two become one! When marital harmony is disrupted, it is therefore especially destructive. We must work on our marriages constantly and ask God for help at all times. Having laid that foundation, I’d like to discuss other ways a trip to the Islands can contribute to wellness. And by the way, if such a trip is not practical, most of this discussion can be applied to a week set apart very close to home.
At VitalSigns, we’ve often taught that the pillars of wellness are stress management (which includes relationships, finances, work, substance abuse etc…..), sleep, diet and exercise. This trip covered most of those bases. Stress management? One short phrase speaks volumes. “Island time”. Island time means let go of your desire to schedule and control everything. In the words of Bobby McFerrin “don’t worry, be happy“! Enjoy the sounds of nature: wind, water, birds or the silence, except for your own breathing, of snorkeling. Contemplate the myriad beauty of God’s creation while reflecting on his goodness. We had no cell phone connection, which forced me to disconnect and not worry about email, phone calls, texts, twitter or all the other ways our phone can become a ball and chain. Don’t get me wrong. I love the advantages of a smart phone and am writing this post on my i-phone right now. It’s just that it becomes all-consuming at times and a time to disconnect becomes crucial! I propose a periodic smart phone fast for those of us who lose perspective. Are you with me?
What about sleep? There’s something about rising with the sun and going to bed at dark with minimal screen time in between that brings refreshing sleep. We’ve long taught that sunshine in the morning is a great and natural way to set our sleep biorhythm. Melatonin production shuts down and we are ready for another day. 15 or 16 hours later, darkness brings a surge which induces wonderful sleep! When the boat is moored in a harbor, gentle swaying is an added bonus. We must consider how to bring some of this home. I keep coming back to a reduction in screen time, especially in the evening!
Exercise? Let me count the ways! Snorkeling was new to me and the work is almost all in the legs. Of course, the awesome beauty and variety of the reef is a distraction that makes one forget about exercise. I’ll admit here that the cool water made me forget about the sunshine which resulted in a sunburned back 🙁 We also took 3 hikes: at the “baths”, to a “bubbling pool” and to the previously mentioned chapel. Helping hoist sails was more work than anticipated. Manually pulling the ropes on the wench was a great arm work-out! Finally, I got in 2 “sprint 8” work-outs. It’s a high intensity interval work-out involving 8 x 30 second all out sprints each followed by 90 seconds of rest. I was able to do one on a very steep hill in Tortola and another on Savannah Beach in Virgin Gorda having snorkeled to shore.
Right from the start, I’ll confess that my diet involved some compromise. I indulged in more bread and other starchy foods and deserts than normal but without guilt. However, the realization that the price would be loss of energy and some weight gain kept me from totally blowing it out. We enjoyed a good variety of healthy foods including grilled meats and seafood, fruits, vegetables and nuts and best of all some wonderful grilled lobster on the beach in Anegada. .
I am so thankful for this trip. It was health producing in many ways. We were exposed to limitless fresh air and sunshine and the beauty of creation. Also, it was a wonderful time with good friends laughing, learning from their example and shared wisdom and growing in appreciation for one another. Captain Ricky Lee became a new friend and in patiently teaching us about sailing proved to be a blessing. If you get a chance, give sailing in the islands a try. If not, consider applying these principals wherever you are. In everything, give thanks!