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What is Wellness and why is it important

When you think of wellness, what comes to mind? Possibly a serene picture of someone doing yoga on the shores of a serene beach? How about a social scene of friends around a table having a healthy meal and laughing. Maybe it’s a couple in the woods taking a hike or even someone getting a raise at a job.

The word “wellness” can be seen everywhere we look: commercials, magazines in social media, and even on food packaging. And while the word health is generally well understood, the word wellness is not.

Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth. “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – The World Health Organization

Maintaining an optimal level of wellness is absolutely crucial to live a higher quality life. Wellness matters. Wellness matters because everything we do and every emotion we feel relates to our well-being. In turn, our well-being directly affects our actions and emotions. It’s an ongoing circle. Therefore, it is important for everyone to achieve optimal wellness in order to subdue stress, reduce the risk of illness and ensure positive interactions.

8 dimensions of wellness

Emotional, Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, Environmental, Financial, Occupational, and Social.

Each dimension of wellness is interrelated with another. Each dimension is equally vital in the pursuit of optimum health. One can reach an optimal level of wellness by understanding how to maintain and optimize each of the dimensions of wellness.

Emotional Wellness

Emotional wellness relates to understanding your feelings and coping effectively with stress. It is important to pay attention to self-care, relaxation, stress reduction and the development of inner resources so you can learn and grow from experiences. For instance:

  • Being optimistic and focusing on the positive aspects of life
  • Learning to accept your emotions, whether good, bad, or ugly
  • Building and maintaining strong relationships
  • Staying in the moment
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Smiling as much as possible
  • Maintaining a good work/life balance
  • Getting enough sleep at night
  • Seeking professional support when necessary
  • Managing stress through positive coping methods

Environmental Wellness

Environmental wellness inspires us to live a lifestyle that is respectful of our surroundings. This realm encourages us to live in harmony with the Earth by taking action to protect it. Environmental well-being promotes interaction with nature and your personal environment. Everyone can have a strong environmental conscious simply by raising their awareness.

  • Recycling whenever possible
  • Gardening and landscaping your home
  • Turning off lights and electronic devices when not in use
  • Limiting the use of heating and cooling systems
  • Using reusable shopping bags and water bottles
  • Electing to walk or bike to your destination of choice instead of driving
  • Taking the time to enjoy the great outdoors through a walk, hike, or jog
  • Conserving the use of water running
  • Stopping the delivery of junk mail
  • Cleaning with environmentally friendly products

Financial Wellness

Financial Wellness involves the process of learning how to successfully manage financial expenses. Money plays a critical role in our lives and not having enough of it impacts health as well as academic performance. Financial stress is repeatedly found to be a common source of stress, anxiety and fear for college students.

  • Not spending more money than you have
  • Paying off your credit cards each month
  • Building up an emergency fund
  • Creating and following a personal budget
  • Setting short-term and long-term financial goals
  • Managing your credit score
  • Paying off your student loans
  • Shopping for sales and purchasing off-brand products
  • Investing in your retirement through tax-efficient investments
  • Consulting with a financial professional to get your personal finances on track

Intellectual Wellness

Intellectual wellness involves having an open mind when you encounter new ideas and continuing to expand your knowledge. It encourages active participation in scholastic, cultural and community activities.

  • Traveling the world to experience and learn about different cultures
  • Trying out new hobbies
  • Cultivating your own views, opinions, and ideas
  • Being open-minded abut the views, opinions, and ideas of others
  • Learning a foreign language
  • Reading fiction and nonfiction books to spark your imagination
  • Learning a musical instrument
  • Exploring your creative side
  • Mastering time management with to-do lists and priority systems
  • Taking an online course on a subject of interest

Occupational Wellness

Occupational wellness is about enjoying your occupational endeavors and appreciating your contributions. This dimension of wellness encourages personal satisfaction and enrichment in one’s life through work.

  • Thinking about the types of work that brings you joy and satisfaction
  • Shadowing or volunteering for professionals in various lines of work
  • Roleplaying conflict management with friends or coworkers
  • Establishing a good work/life balance to avoid burn out
  • Building strong relationships with co-workers, colleagues, and executives in your industry
  • Setting career goals that foster positive growth and professional development
  • Focusing on the positive aspects of your career and find ways to minimize or remove the negative aspects
  • Establishing strong workplace habits to maximize productivity
  • Scheduling time for innovative thinking and professional development
  • Attending industry conventions

Physical Wellness

Physical wellness relates to maintaining a healthy body and seeking care when needed. Physical health is attained through exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep and paying attention to the signs of illness and getting help when needed.

  • Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day
  • Consuming a well-balanced diet
  • Practicing portion control
  • Eating breakfast every day
  • Practicing safe sex
  • Scheduling routine physical exams with a medical provider
  • Getting enough sleep at night
  • Committing to a smoke-free lifestyle
  • Limiting the consumption of unhealthy fats, sugar, salt, and alcohol
  • Learning to listen to your body and recognize early signs of illness

Social Wellness

Social wellness helps you perform social roles effectively and comfortably, and create a support network. This dimension of wellness allows you to not only develop encouraging relationships with peers, but also intimate relationships with romantic partners.

  • Getting involved in your school, workplace, or community
  • Scheduling time to be with family or friends
  • Reaching out to friends you haven’t talked to in a while to see how they’re doing
  • Practicing active listening when others are talking
  • Being respectful in the way you communicate with others
  • Practicing self-disclosure to those you trust
  • Embracing laughter
  • Making an effort to build new relationships
  • Refraining from blaming, judging, or criticizing others
  • Being confident in yourself in all social situations

Spiritual Wellness

Spiritual wellness allows you to develop a set of values that help you seek meaning and purpose. Spirituality can be represented in many ways, for example, through relaxation or religion. But being spiritually well means knowing which resources to use to cope with issues that come up in everyday life.

  • Becoming a practicing member of an organized religion
  • Performing daily positive affirmations
  • Taking time to appreciate the natural forces of the universe
  • Practicing yoga
  • Forgiving and forgetting the actions of those who have wronged you
  • Meditating
  • Reflecting on the meaning of past events that occurred in your life
  • Taking the time to think about who you are and exploring your inner self
  • Digging deeper and exploring things you’re curious about
  • Practicing acceptance

Overall, the word wellness may appear complex. I’m here to tell you it shouldn’t be. In a nutshell, you should think of wellness as a series of positive choices you make to live your life to the fullest!

Are you ready to get on the path to better wellness?

After reading this article, I hope your answer is YES! If you have any questions, feel free to contact Anna Genest at Anna@montanallamaguides.com. Also, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more information on how to live your life to the fullest!

Black Thunder Gear | For the backcountry llama packer

Montana Llama Guides is proud to introduce a company with new innovation in llama packing equipment :: Black Thunder Backcountry Llama Gear.

Built to bring quality, durability, ease of use, comfort, and functional gear to a growing interest in backcountry llama packing, founder and designer, Brett Jones of Bozeman, Montana, was inspired by the designs of legendary llama packer Wes Holmquist and Decker style mule pack saddles. Thus in 2019, Black Thunder Gear was created to bring quality products and a packing system that is intuitive for the beginning user and bullet proof for the hard core outfitter. Our products are well thought out and designed by llama packers with nearly 100 years of total field experience.

Introducing our Llama Pack Saddles

After years and years of research and development, Black Thunder Gear has developed a light weight, easily adjustable, built-for-the-mountains tough llama pack saddle. Made with the lightest weight and most durable fabrics, webbing, and buckles, these pack saddles are built with laser cut powder coated steel horns, laser cut aluminum paddles, and assembled with structural rivets for the most extreme conditions.

Comfort and fit for the llama

Comfort and fit for the llama is one aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked and taken seriously. All llamas are shaped a little differently and not all saddles fit the same. Hinged at the top of the horns to easy adjustment for different body shapes, our saddles feature 1.125 inches of form fitting foam neatly placed against our laser cut aluminum paddles. We’ve then created a unique integrated padding system wrapped in a tight weave 400 Denier diamond ripstop nylon/polyester blend fabric for superior strength while still being very light weight. With our thick padding and the llamas natural coat, there’s no need for an additional saddle pad. This will create efficient breath-ability and comfort for your trail harden pack llama.

Each llama saddle comes with a breast collar with over-the-neck-strap and crupper for under the tail. The breast collar is super nice for keeping the load centered on the up hill. The over-the-neck-strap keeps the breast collar from falling down into the feet. We like the over–the-neck strap versus riggings that have a strap that goes between the legs and to the front cinch. Many dog harness are similar. Though these may be great concepts, we’ve found many llamas do not like their feet touched. Therefore, it can be very difficult to correctly fit a saddle if you can’t get all the straps to buckle. Safety first. Use our over-the-neck system.

The crupper. Some outfits don’t even bother with rear support. We believe rear support is needed to keep the load positioned center not only on the up hill but especially on the down hill. The crupper doesn’t need to be overly tight. In fact, we prefer to have it loosely snug. This will aid the llama is weight distribution on the down hill which can be some of the toughest terrain for llama and wrangler.

For front and rear cinch, we’ve chosen two simple 15-strand cinch with large rings tethered together. The front cinch is most important making sure its tight enough for just your finger to fit behind while the rear cinch is only tight enough for your hand to fit behind. A well fit and properly cinched saddle make all the difference in a fun, hassle-free llama pack trip.

Built-in Top Load Pack System

One of the coolest features of our Black Thunder Llama Saddles is our unique Top Load Pack System. We’ve incorporated 1 inch webbing straps and buckles on each side of the saddle attached to each horn allowing you to securely cinch tables, chairs, fly rod cases, electric fences, axes, or shovels perpendicular to the llamas back laying across the panniers. This is a great and efficient way to back long equipment and not make it awkward for our trusty trail companions.


  • Easily adjustable
  • Extremely durable
  • Light weight
  • Built-in top load straps
  • Laser Powder coated steel horns
  • Laser cut aluminum paddles
  • Durable Buckles
  • Structural Rivets
  • 400 /Denier ripstop blend
  • 1.125″ integrated padding system


8.22 lbs


Built with pride in
Bozeman, MT USA



Nature Really Is Good For You

Enveloping our lives in the forms of nature can be transformative. The Forest Agency of Japan coined the term “shinrin-yoku” or “forest bathing”. It is the practice of getting into the woods for body and mind renewal, to counter lifestyle related health issues.

Since then, a growing body of research shows that spending time in the mountains – hiking through the forest, observing plant and animal life, or even playing in water features – can improve your physical health while reducing stress and anxiety.

Nature has a way of enhancing our senses. The sounds of that distant bird chirping out its song set, the stride of the wind rushing through the trees. The sound of our soles crushing the trail! We see the sea of green in shades. The vastness of nature; the emptiness and fullness in duality. The details in the mountain scape, the trail terrain, the unusual formations of nature.

Let’s not for get the smell of fresh, crisp mountain air. The combined smells of leaves and grasses decaying into the earth or the oils emanating from trees releasing pure natural scents. Take a sprig of sage and crush it in your fingers and breath it in. Tell me that’s not one of the best smells ever! There is a stillness, calmness and a sense of serenity out in nature. There is a feeling of being alive that we don’t get from our urban life. What is it about nature that makes us feel good? What is that feeling? Why does nature heal, sooth and restore the mind and body?

Vis medicatrix naturae means “the healing power of nature” which was established by Hippocrates, the father of medicine. Practitioners of Hippocratic Medicine followed certain principles, one of which, is that organisms left alone can heal themselves. Organisms are not passive to injuries or disease and, instead, rebalances themselves to counteract ailments. The body has the ability to heal itself. Nature is the best physician.
Recent studies have linked nature to symptom relief for stress and anxiety, keeping the heart rate variability normal, lowering blood pressure, improving mood and sleep disorders, easing symptoms of ADHD, helping recovering addicts or current addictions, boosting self esteem and relieving depression.

Consider this, there are invisible chemicals, called phytoncides, (basically pungent essential oils) in some trees that can reduce stress hormones, lower anxiety, and improve blood pressure and immunity. Being outdoors provides you with the benefits of getting natural sunlight, which produces vital vitamin D. Being outside naturally stabilizes melatonin in the body, which is offset when you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen or mobile device

Blood tests revealed a host of protective physiological factors released at a higher level after forest walks according to a review paper in Frontiers of Psychology. Among these hormones and molecules, a research team at Japan’s Nippon Medical school ticks off dehydroepiandrosterone which helps to protect against heart disease, obesity and diabetes, as well as, adiponectin, which helps to guard against atherosclerosis.

In other research, the team found elevated levels of the immune systems natural killer cells, known to have anti-cancer and anti-viral effects. Meanwhile, research from China found that those walking in nature had reduced blood levels of inflammatory cytokines, a risk factor for immune illness, and research from Japan’s Hokkaido University School of Medicine found lowered blood glucose levels associated with obesity and diabetes.

Basically, we all need to Get Outside.

Studies show that just three days and two nights in a wooded place increase the immune system functions that boost feelings of well being for up to seven days.* (aeon.co) Human response includes increased awe, greater relaxation, restored attention, and boosted vitality. Health outcomes are astounding: enhanced immunity, including reduced cardiovascular disease, fewer migraines, and lowered anxiety, to name a few.

Even short nature breaks an be beneficial. According to a recent small study, people who spent just 20 minutes in nature experienced a drop in stress hormones. Looking at a stunning waterfall or undulating countryside can do more than enrich your Instagram feed: it can also elicit feelings of awe that bring a number of health benefits. Feelings of awe will even make people more kind.

“Experiences of awe attune people to things larger than themselves,” says Paul Piff researcher at University of California, Irvine. “They cause individuals to feel less entitled, less selfish, and to behave in more generous and helping ways.” The benefits of awe are physical too: regularly experiencing moments of awe has been linked to lower levels of inflammatory compounds in the body.

Being with the llamas is spiritual for me. They are so alert and gentle; focused and cautious. The group interaction is amazingly impactful as the entire experience brings people together with a sense of purpose and harmony. Dennis, your approach and that of your guides, is without judgment for skill level and very in tune to each participant’s needs. Experience of a lifetime! Can’t wait to go again!

Peg M. Cody, WY

“If everyone were to make time for nature, the savings on health care costs could be incredible,” says study author Danielle Shanahan, a research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia.

“Nature is undemanding,” says Shanahan. “It requires effortless attention to look at the leaves of a tree, unlike the constant emails at work or the chores at home.”

For many people suffering from physical or emotional ailments, the best medicine isn’t found In a pill bottle, but rather in the forest, in the wilds of a trail, on the top of the mountain.

What we know is that we feel good out there, a notion firmly supported by science and supported by our senses.

Get Outside. Go for a hike.

The best remedy for life health challenges, both mental and physical, is to Go For A Hike. Even if it’s a short one. It will do you and everyone around you good.

Now we’ve found that nature is great therapy for mind, body and soul. Couple nature with the soothing and comforting effects that animals provide for our spirit and you have the perfect Wellness Recipe.

Join us as we explore the Power of Nature with our Wilderness Wellness Llama Treks in Yellowstone National Park or our Montana Alpine Lakes Basecamp.

See you on the trail.

Spring Training | Fly fishing with pack llamas

The intermittent snow squalls are a reminder winter is still holding on. With the warming temperatures, there’s something about the sunny and 45 deg that makes me forget about backcountry skiing and instantly think about llama packing and fly fishing. To initiate the first day of spring, I was fortunate to get out with the backcountry llama string for a day of fly fishing.

Think of it as Pack Llamas and Fly Fishing | Spring Training. Watch here.