Health and Wellness Day at the Allwood Library
Health and lifestyle experts will tell you that self-care is everything, but who has time? The short answer is no one, and in that case we’re told to make the time. So it was that when the Women’s Federation for Health and World Peace, an international organization founded 30 years ago with a branch in Northern New Jersey had a health and wellness day Saturday at the Allwood Library, that I made the time.
The event was open to all, free of charge, and featured arts and crafts, hand and neck massages, Zumba, Yoga, and a presentation on nutrition and wellness. Close to 100 people gathered, ranging in ages from infants to senior citizens, to do a variety of crafts such as coloring, rock art, even building a small train set. The focus of the day was on self-care, empowerment, and taking care of ourselves so that we could take care of others with a minimum of stress.
I walked into a bright room at the library with upbeat music and a cheerful crew welcoming us with smiles, fruit and tea, and a flier that told about the group’s mission of peace. Children sat at crafts tables, coloring beautifully with pencils and crayons, and their older siblings, parents and grandparents painted small rocks with inspirational messages, played dominoes and card games, and caught up chatting with one another.
An energetic Zumba instructor led a class geared to all levels of fitness, and everyone participated, young and old, dancing and clapping along to salsa, merengue, and even a spirited tango! That was followed by a lunch, featuring a pasta salad that was beyond delicious (and presumably made up for those calories we’d burned during Zumba!). And on the subject of food, a Registered Dietitian from RW Johnson Medical Center spoke about the importance not just of good food, but of the mind-body connection. She talked about the Seven Pillars of good health which include Community, Physical Activity, Nutrition, Meditation, Stress Management, Spirituality, and Sleep.
Community is the role we play with our loved ones and our environment. We learned, for instance, how a smile can help make someone who’s having a bad day feel just a bit more hope and joy. She emphasized how we all need to move more, repeating that “sitting is the new smoking” and shared that even a walk around the block has benefits. She gave specific information on how to build a healthy plate with veggies and fruit, lean protein, and complex carbs, with a focus on good hydration: drink a 12 ounce glass of water first thing in the morning and sip water throughout the day to stay healthy.
We all deal with stress and need to take the time to meditate, relax, and find a personal joy for stress reduction. The most difficult thing for us to find, according to the speaker and many recent studies, is getting enough sleep – a problem most of us contend with. “Find a video on YouTube that teaches guided mindfulness, find what gives you pleasure and relaxes you, and make sure you give it enough time. Be patient and I promise you, in a few weeks, you’ll be sleeping well and waking up refreshed, and eager to live your lives!” Definitely words to live better by.
We finished our day of self-care and nurturing with a 40 minute chair yoga session and the instructor told us that the workout would be something we could all do, no matter our level of fitness, for health benefits. I watched the participants, some who were obviously experts while others were a bit hesitant. Everyone did the best they could; even the children were calm and participated and seemed to really enjoy the workout. And while I consider myself to be fairly fit, I will tell you that yoga is what you make of it; I definitely felt my muscles work out!
This was four hours of chatting with others, watching people enjoy themselves and learn new skills, and most importantly, four hours of relaxing, self-care and learning about stress management. I’m glad I went and would recommend that everyone find a group or an event to attend just to learn some new techniques and to recharge, energize, and live your best life.
The Allwood Branch of the Clifton Public Library is located at 44 Lyall Road. Click HERE to see the libraries' calendar of events.