The Benefits of a Plateau

And how to get moving again.

Have you ever climbed a mountain or dreamed of climbing one? Did you get to a plateau where you could sit, rest, and take in the beauty below and all around you? Have you ever reached a plateau in life? 

Sometimes we stall in our progress towards a health goal. We may climb one mountain only to find ourselves stuck, unable to move forward. Many people get frustrated upon finding themselves on a plateau, but a plateau can be a fantastic opportunity to rest, reflect, assess, appreciate the surrounding beauty, and gather tools to move ourselves forward again.

On a plateau we can stop for a moment to simply rest. We can pause to recognize exactly how far we have come on our journey, and enjoy the beauty of our current surroundings. 

A plateau affords the opportunity to look back and see how far we have made it towards our goals. Remember at the start of an exercise goal when everything hurt and left us breathless? On a plateau we find ourselves breathing comfortably with maximal physical effort, and we may not recognize the incredible cardiovascular progress in that easy breathing.

A plateau is an opportunity to pause and re-assess our health and wellness goals. Are our efforts still consistent? Are we working towards our goals with the same intensity? What worked well to get us this far? What did not work and are we still trying to do that? Are our goals specific enough- not just “be healthy”, but “get eight hours of quality sleep at least four nights a week”? Are there new obstacles such as grief, anxiety, or injury that we need to address before we can move forward?

Finally, a plateau allows us to pause and gather the necessary tools to re-start our journey. Do we need specific feedback more frequently to measure our progress? Do we need additional data that we can track to make sure we stay motivated? Perhaps focusing on mindfulness or a new exercise program can re-ignite our energy. 

If you find yourself stalled, I can help you recognize and celebrate your progress, help you re-assess your heath and wellness goals, and help you find tools to make progress on your health and wellness goals again! I can help you see the beauty in your health journey and inspire you to keep going!

Practice Gratitude

A positive outlook can bring health benefits.Although most of us appreciate all that we have in life, studies suggest that taking time to focus on our gratitude benefits our health and well-being.

In studies authors defined “gratitude” as an affirmation of goodness in our life. Gratitude includes the recognition that goodness comes from outside our own being- other people, a higher power, or a benevolent world. Studies in which participants kept gratitude journals at least four days a week reported significant improvements in scores of depression, stress, and happiness. Other studies have shown a host of benefits that include:increased levels of oxytocin (a relaxing hormone)decreased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone)decreased symptoms of depressionimproved painincreased life satisfactiondecreased blood pressureimprovements in self-careimproved satisfaction in interpersonal relationshipsTry taking a few moments each day to write down at least one thing for which you are grateful. The world can feel like a more giving place and we can recognize the kindness of others when we focus on the good. Remember to remain focused on what you receive rather than what you are missing and avoid comparing yourself to others. Simply appreciate and write a quick note of thanks.

This article describes additional health benefits of keeping a gratitude journal and even more ways to practice gratitude.  I am always grateful for my clients and their continued inspiration.