Strength is a really interesting concept. We can be physically strong but there are also other areas we can grow our strength as well. These are sometimes referred to as the “4 Pillars of Strength,” which include: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual strength. When you think of The Wellness Center, you may think the only muscles you can tone are your physical ones, but as we approach our 40th Anniversary we assure you that there are many other ways to build strength aside from the regular biceps and brawn. As we approach 2022, ask yourself what’s strong with you?
Before we are able to fully assess our strength, we must first know what it means. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary online: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/strength, Strength is a noun, meaning:
1: the quality or state of being physically strong
2: the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force
3: the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way.
Take a moment to think about these meanings before we head into the four key areas.
First, and probably easiest to self-evaluate is physical strength. This is our ability to be physically “strong,” the ability to resist physical force, by moving, lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying an object. Many people come to The Wellness Center looking to gain back strength, but for many, it’s hard to tell how much strength they really have until they’ve lost it. Think about how strong you physically are right now. Are you happy with this this? Are you hopeful to maintain that strength and/or gain more? How do you plan to go about it? There are so many ways to build physical strength from holding a plank in a yoga class, to lifting heavier weights in All-Star Workout, to being able to add more resistance on your Spinning® bike as you do an uphill climb. How will you keep your physical strength or increase it in the days to come?
Next, we look at emotional strength. This is the ability to carry that not literal weight that we all have from a variety of feelings and emotions. Emotional strength is measured in not just how we carry but also how we cope, react, and respond to outside stressors. How is your awareness of your own emotions? Are you able to express yourself in a way that you feel self-assured? Mindbody classes can help us to build our emotional strength as we make time to breathe, scan our bodies and minds, and set intentions for how we want to react and respond. Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yogalaties, Piyo® Live, Yoga and other classes at The Wellness Center offer this, but there are also many other resources. How strong are you emotionally? Do you have room for more strength?
Mental strength is our next pillar and can often be confused with the other columns. This is about our ability to focus, which we sometimes call mindfulness. It’s our ability to withhold the external factors that can stress our internal focus through the highs and lows of life. Mental strength is also about our ability to have our own thoughts and be respectful of others to do the same. It’s the skill of strength when it comes to making your own conclusions and learning from past choices and circumstances. This is a hard muscle to strengthen at times, because it takes a lot of work on our end. Group classes can help us to stay focused and on task, whereas when left to do this alone, we can become distracted. Communities of people, like at The Wellness Center, also allow for a safe place to build mental strength, because everyone else is working to do the same. Everyone is focused on the greater good of learning to strengthen how they learn from themselves and others. Would you benefit from some extra mental strength?
Lastly, is spiritual strength, and while this can incorporate religious views, it’s not a religious thing. It’s one’s own personal convictions about their personal values and beliefs. This is a commitment to perhaps living, speaking and acting in a certain way that aligns with that commitment. These virtues should be in alignment of what is best for not only oneself but for others too. Part of this is learning to accept, respect and value that others can do the same, and that they do not have to be the same as yours. One way to strengthen in this area is to have a set time for reflection, self-connection and contemplation. For some they do their best thinking dancing in a Zumba® Class, while others prefer a slower-paced Yin Yoga class or even a nature walk. Are you making time for spiritual strengthening?
When it comes to getting stronger, this often comes with some growth pains. For example, our muscles literally break down a little before they rebuild into stronger muscles. Sometimes when working on our areas of strength, we have to break down in other ways too; letting go of some things, setting healthier boundaries or perhaps even letting down some walls around us, and that can be hard. But with strength, it sure gets easier! And when you make a consistent commitment to your own strength, it spreads like a bright light into all other areas of your life!
Strength means being able to hold up, lift higher, carry along, push aside or pull up the things that are needed, meaningful and important in your best life. Whether you want to use the community resource of The Wellness Center to do that, or you want to find your own avenues on the road to overall total strengthening, we believe it will be worth it. What’s even more powerful is that when we as community members take care of these four areas of strength, we become even better neighbors, coworkers, friends and family. Imagine a community where we are all working on being our strongest selves? Start with one or start with them all, and ask yourself, what’s strong with you?
Director of The Wellness Center