Hello and welcome! My name is Antonio Stephens, a wellness enthusiast and coach based in Washington, D.C. I’m so thrilled and deeply fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute and share my thoughts and insights on all things wellness with the Özemi Community. It’s my hope that through my contributions to this community, you’ll all begin to refine your wellness practice and or create the space and time to explore further and figure out what might work best for YOU to create a sustainable and holistic ecosystem of practices that will ensure a fulfilling and purposeful life – centered around internal peace, grace and gratitude.
Understanding The Basics
I hear this question so often and know there are so many definitions – what is wellness? Many dictionaries, wellness practitioners and researchers have classified wellness in terms of physical health — nutrition, exercise, weight management, etc., but it’s so much more. Wellness is a holistic integration of physical, mental/emotional, financial, social, intellectual, environmental, occupational and spiritual well-being; fueling the body, engaging the mind, and nurturing the spirit.
The term and concept has taken the world by storm in the last few years since the start of the pandemic. Globally, we’re still adapting and looking for ways to adjust to the current state of the world and our existence. What might seem easy and descriptive for some is still a challenge for many. The wellness space today is so crowded and at times can be overwhelming. Trust me, I know and I’ve been there. We’re constantly coming across posts on social media of people pushing these one-size fits all plans and programs, but those don’t begin to scratch the surface. Here’s the truth: you’re the only one that will have the answer on what holistic wellness looks like for you.
My wellness journey began when I was 13 years old, believe it or not. At the time, that’s not how many would have described it, but that was the beginning of this incredible journey on a quest to discover a greater sense of self while exploring what it means and looks like when you’re living a life in alignment with your purpose. Coming into adulthood, my environments and experiences accelerated my journey – listening to the prompts of my life, surrendering to my circumstances and situations – coming to peace with my sexuality, going to the depths of my inner being to explore and discover my limits and grounding in the present moment – transcending these into action as a Wellness Coach on a mission to drive human optimization and help others navigate and experience the light we all possess within us.
Sports and athletics have been my gateway and foundation to my wellness practice. Your body and mind are at the core of all the focus areas we deem holistic wellness. Seeking practical applicable wisdom and through great coaches and mentors, I’ve learned to discipline and maintain these two, which have allowed me to prioritize and find balance across all areas of my life.
Creating a routine
Routine and consistency are everything. For me, this is one of the ways I hold myself accountable -- to my nutrition, exercise, spiritual and intellectual practice. This helps to provide a sense of direction and ease to operate throughout the day without friction. Also, over time, you can assess how you’re growing as an individual and from there see what you may need to add or remove from your routine to ensure you can be your absolute best.
Advancing your understanding of your emotions
This seems simple right? I thought the same but as I get older and the more people I come in contact with, I’m beginning to realize how many of us lack a general understanding of our emotions and how powerful they are. This past year, I made a commitment to double down here -- equipping myself to better understand what I and others around me are or maybe feeling to have more meaningful connections and to better navigate the world around me and my experiences. Therapy is a great place to start; you can also read books and or get into the habit of journaling to declutter. My favorite read on emotions is Atlas of The Heart, by Brene Brown!
Being intentional about your environment
The people around you will always reflect where you are in your journey! Slow down, and pay attention. Life is always speaking to you. Where and who do you want and know you can be? If your environment is not fertile ground for you to plant yourself and grow, then it may be time to reconsider the people in your life and the role they play. The right people will make all the difference in how you radiate and shine as an individual. You want people that will encourage you to be the best you and will be brutally honest with feedback that nudges you in the right direction.
Nurturing your intellect
Knowledge is power and freedom! I’ve always heard this, but I‘ve now come to know the truth for myself. Everything you could ever imagine wanting to know is now at your fingertips, and all you have to do is take initiative and inspired action to acquire the information you seek. There are endless accounts of people that have led this life successfully, and they have so many valuable and practical tips and insights to help you do the same. Many will say they’re too busy with work, family etc. but there are ways to maximize the use of your time. For me, I love audiobooks and aim to listen to one a week while I do dog walks or en route to the gym.
Committing to selfless service
If all of this sounds daunting, or you're still not sure if you’re ready or where to start, this is a good one. Give back without attachment to any outcomes, and see where that takes you. I promise that over time you’ll begin to connect to the oneness of our existence and from there; you may find and discover purpose, which will in turn set you on the path to holistic wellness.
Choosing Yourself First
I know for sure everyone who’s on or has thought about embarking on a wellness journey is capable of fulfilling that intention. Wellness begins with you. What you want and know you can achieve, sits deep within your heart. All you have to do is get to a place of stillness, sink below and find your inner guide - you’ll always know what to do next.
Much love, peace and gratitude. Until next time.