Hey guys and gals!
Over the next month or so I will be putting out a Wellness Series through my blog, starting today with Part One- Planning. The inspiration to do a multi-blog exploration of wellness came from seeing both the important people in my life, and my self, struggle to balance the many things needed to be physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy. Through studying Social Work, the practice of Self Care has been highlighted as an absolutely essential part of not only the job, but of everyday life, and I want to integrate this concept into an overall practice of wellbeing.
To me, Self Care encapsulates the need to allocate time to activities that contribute towards our overall wellbeing. The nature of these activities should aim to nourish the mind, body and spirit, so that every component of wellness is being addressed. There are many things that I have discovered to be essential to my wellness, and one of those is the need for Self Care Sundays. My Self Care Sunday basically entails a relaxing Lush-bath-bombed bath, a face mask, an episode of Sex and the City and, if the mood strikes, a cheeky glass of white wine. Its a combo of simple pleasures that makes me feel relaxed and grounded, and is such a comfortable way to finish the week. Other people may unwind with an evening walk, or by watching a documentary. My point is that there are many ways in which we can take care of ourselves, but unfortunately many of us don’t allocate the time, or are unsure of where to begin this journey to feeling wholeheartedly happy and healthy. My first suggestion is to create your own Self Care Sunday routine, and practice it regularly as a kind of ritual of thanks to the week that was. Take care of your mind and your body, and acknowledge your ability to survive and thrive through the many challenges that the week may have brought.
So the first practical step that I want to talk about probably seems incredibly fun to people like me (organisation freaks/lovers of stickers and lists) or tedious to others (the people who leave their laundry on the floor next to the basket instead of inside of it). In my experience, planning is the only tried and true way to kick start the journey to wellness, and without it, things are bound to fizzle out in a matter of days or weeks. The planning process is designed to give you a kick up the butt when needed, and help you to stay focussed on your goals. I will highlight some key planning activities that I have found super helpful, and hopefully you can use some/all/a combination of these to get yourself set up for a successful journey to wellness.
So the key premise to make any successful changes in life is to have a clear image of where/who/what you want to be. The need for specificity is crucial! Its all good and well to have the overall goal to ‘improve health’- but you need to define exactly what that is. What does good health mean to you? Does improving your health mean that you want to lose/gain some weight? Or that you want to go to that doctors appointment you’ve been putting off? Be clear about your goals, and by working backwards from that, you can create a plan of how to get there.
Task One: Pull out a nice notepad/open a word document/ source some colourful post-its and get ready to define your goals for the year, and possibly some overall goals for further in the future. Following the formula of SMART goals, create goals that adhere to the following magic rules:
Specific– Define the goal as much as possible, try to address the who/what/when/where/how/why. (For example instead of “get fit” try writing “Go to two gym classes at *insert gym* a week to improve strength and stamina”)
Measurable- Have a way in which you can track your progress towards achieving your goal. How will you know when you have achieved your goal? (For example if your goal is to improve your diet, be sure that you have a way to measure your idea of achieving this- it could be through having a little chart in your diary where you can tick off whether you ate 2 fruits and 5 vegetables that day)
Attainable- Be sure that your goals are both realistic and reasonable. Setting impossible standards for yourself will only be a recipe for disaster, and lead you to feeling super low when you don’t hit the mark. (For example, if you are deathly afraid of public speaking then maybe don’t make it a goal to act in a play within the next few months. Allow yourself to work up to things at a reasonable pace)
Relevant- Be sure that the goals you set for yourself hold actual significance to YOU, and that they aren’t just somebody else’s idea of what’s good for you. Your goals should feel worthwhile and exciting to you. (For example, if your parents are hounding you to spend more time visiting family even though they make you feel terrible and drained, don’t make that a goal for yourself. Not surprisingly- you are the expert of your own life. You understand best what will contribute to your wellbeing, and your goals should be aligned with that)
Timely- Each goal should have a projected time frame for completion, whether it be in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year or 10 years. Having timely goals will create a low-key sense of urgency, and motivate you to achieve them within the time indicated. (For example, if you want to declutter your house, have a time frame for which this should be completed. Having an overall goal with no time in which it should be completed makes it far too easy to forget about it or to put it off)
Quite possibly my favourite way to plan my goals for life/health/travel is to create a Vision Board. Vision boards can be a combination of print outs, photos, decorative bits-and-bobs, fliers, newspaper clippings and post-it-notes that help to keep you motivated and focussed in a really fun and personalised way. Mine is a cork board, but you can make a poster, white board, black board, a photo frame, or whatever feels most useful and unique to you! Your Vision Board should hold visual representations of your goals, as well as tokens of happy memories and practical reminders and lists if you so desire. Vision Boards work with the concept of Manifestation, in which the positive energy you put towards your goals and wishes assists both yourself, and the energies of the karmic universe, to bring them closer to fruition.
Here’s a pic of my current Vision Board/Work Space. On my board I’ve included happy pics, images of places i’d like to travel within the next year, a fitness challenge sheet that I made, my gym class schedule, little clouds with goals written in them, and other such planny-things!
I am an avid believer that having a great diary is the key to so much success. My sister got me the GREATEST week planner from Officeworks and it has seriously kicked my motivation into high gear! Having plans written down in advance is not only practical, but it acts as a self-check system when used in conjunction with goal checking and scheduling wellness activities. Just as you would allocate time to go out to dinner with a friend, you must schedule time to spend with yourself to work on your wellness goals. Most people don’t block out specific periods of time to spend on Self Care, and unfortunately that means it can easily fall by the wayside, and as organised as you many be in other avenues of life, you may end up neglecting to spend real, quality time with yourself. I make it a point to note down Self Care Sunday’s in my diary every week to ensure that I don’t schedule over that time with anything else. Just as you wouldn’t cancel on a friend last minute, don’t cancel on yourself. Take the time to be alone and tick off a goal on your Self Care Wheel (I make these wheels and fill them out weekly as a reminder to stay holistically well). If you live with your partner or a friend, be careful of having your Self Care time invaded- it can very easily become just another session of hanging out with someone, instead of quality, relaxing time with your lovely self. Anyone who has your best interest at heart will respect your need to be alone for a little while to work on keeping grounded and to give yourself a little R&R.
The Self Care Wheel
I mentioned the Self Care Wheel in that last section, and what that is is a little creation I use to make sure that I am addressing different segments of wellness throughout the week. I have broken down my practices of Self Care into 8 sections, and will pop some suggestions alongside each wellness goal:
Quiet Time- Taking time to read a book, meditate, stretch, practice yoga
Pampering- I love a good face mask! Pampering can include anything that makes your body feel extra special, like a self mani-pedi/a hair mask/applying some scenty body butter
Movement- Any type of exercise that contributes to your health and happiness! Weekly goals for movement can include going to a new gym class, going on an evening walk, hiking with a friend, or blasting music in your room and dancing around like a big ol’ goose (my personal favourite)
Friends & Fam- Allocating time to see people who make you feel loved and heard is a great way to boost feelings of belonging. Be sure to plan at least one catch-up a week with someone special
Health- If there’s an appointment you’ve been putting off (like going to the dentist…), be sure to bite the bullet and just GO. Your body will thank you for it. Staying on top of your health needs in this day and age is crucial. Even if you don’t get around to it that week, keep it on your upcoming Self Care Wheels- it will make it harder to forget/avoid/dread
Creativity- A lot of us lose touch with our creative side as we get older, but it can be a wonderful way to unwind and practice some unintentional meditation (aka. being present in the moment). Creative activities can include painting, scrap-booking, taking photos, journaling, writing a blog (this is mine for the week), drawing, playing music, the list goes on and on. Basically just do anything that an uptight, angry, ego-maniac lawyer would consider to be a ‘waste of time’
New Things- When we get into a routine of work/partners/friends/life, it’s easy to forget the joy of trying new things. It can be as simple as cooking a new recipe for dinner, or watching a Ted Talk to expand your knowledge, or going to a jazz club on Friday night. Trying and learning something new can be great fun, and is so good for your mental health
Fun- Be sure to make time in your life for actual fun. It doesn’t have to be screaming-at-the-top-of-your-lungs fun (actually quite scary to see an adult do), but having a wine with your hilarious friend, purposely making a dick of yourself for a good laugh, watching a comedy special on Netflix or taking your dog to the beach all apply
So through the next few weeks (months?) I will be continuing the Wellness Series with blogs that cover a different aspect of Wellness and Self Care each time. I am aiming to include some little interviews and tips from some of the amazing people I am blessed to know, so that we can get a well rounded idea of what wellness means to a variety of people.
If you are keen to have a copy of the Self Care Wheel, please feel free to subscribe to my blog via email, as I’ll be emailing out the worksheet templates that I use for Self Care and Wellness as I post each blog within the Wellness Series! I have created each little worksheet myself and really hope that they are helpful to you on your wellness journey!
Lots of love,