Joyful Musings
By Joy Birnbach Dunstan, MA, LPC, MAC

Restoring Body, Mind, and Spirit


Joy-4-11It’s June, the month the long-awaited rains traditionally arrive to soak our parched Lakeside with life-giving water. Dormant grasses and trees spring to life, turning the dusty brown hillsides lush and verdant seemingly overnight. All the ingredients for a luxuriant landscape lay patiently asleep awaiting the liquid that restores it to life.

This ongoing cycle of dormancy and renewal is fundamental not only to the physical world around us, but also to ourselves. Getting a good night’s sleep gives our physical self a chance to rest and rebuild, and balanced nutrition gives our body the necessary ingredients to stay strong and healthy. Regular exercise keeps us in good physical condition.

The ways we replenish the physical body are fairly obvious, but we humans need regular rejuvenation on the mental, emotional, and spiritual levels as well. Research has shown that lifelong learning, especially activities like studying a foreign language, doing puzzles, and reading are powerful preventatives for dementia. Make time in every day to do something that stimulates your brain.

An ounce of prevention goes a long way in keeping ourselves emotionally restored. Paying attention to your emotional landscape provides information to help take care of yourself. If you’re not aware of how you’re feeling, you’re powerless to change it.

Are you feeling hurt, afraid, annoyed, or sad? Notice what situation is contributing to these feelings and figure out what you can change or do to avoid this problem to help you through it. Remember the man who complained to his physician, “Doc, it hurts whenever I do this,” and the wise doctor replied, “So don’t do that.” Sometimes it’s that basic if you just stay mindful of what’s going on.

When you’re feeling joyful, pleased, excited, or contented, savor these feelings and consider how you can bring more into your life. Often it’s as simple as remembering to congratulate yourself for a job well done instead of taking your successes for granted. Recognizing what promotes positive feelings gives us the opportunity to do more of it so we can fill our emotional reserves for those inevitable stressful times.

Spiritual rejuvenation provides the fuel that gives us the desire to get up for another day and be the best we can be. We nurture and replenish our spirit through meditation, connecting with nature, and being grateful for the many gifts in our life. Be truly in the now instead of swept up in regret about yesterday or worry about tomorrow.

Slow down enough to truly notice the birds singing in a nearby tree. Take a stroll and be aware of each footstep connecting with the ground. Let yourself be surprised at the many sights you’d never before noticed. Deeply inhale the fragrance of a sweet-smelling blossom or the enticing aroma of a delicious meal. Savor the flavors of each mouthful as you enjoy a favorite food.

Make the most of each day, giving yourself both uptime when you’re active and busy as well as downtime to relax and just “be.” The most important time to relax is when you don’t have enough time for it. Invite newness into your life: new learnings, people, ideas. Have fun. As John Cleese reminds us, “If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.”

Editor’s Note: Joy is a psychotherapist in Riberas. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 765-4988, website:

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