What to do when well-being gets overwhelming
Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
Drink 8 glasses of water a day.
Mange your stress.
Eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Eat at home!
Exercise 30 minutes a day.
Commit some time each week to self-care.
Did you get stressed out just reading this list? (Let’s take a few deep breaths before we move on.)
When it comes to wellness, the things I’ve listed above are just a few of the many habits that health-care advocates are promoting. Change is hard and sometimes we make it harder on ourselves by trying take on too much at once. Here are a few suggestions to help you make well-being less overwhelming.
Take inventory of what is going well- You may not be giving yourself credit for your habits. Before you start overwhelming yourself with a long “wellness” to-do list, take some time to think about some of things that you may already have some consistency with. For example, maybe you walk to work and you walk with your partner or your companion animal every evening. So physical activity is looking pretty good and you can direct your energy and attention to something else. It’s encouraging to start with what’s working well for you!
Let go of the black and white/all or nothing thinking- Some people get caught up in the “if I can’t do it all, why bother doing anything?” mindset. I’m here to tell you that something is always better than nothing. We all have different levels of responsibility and commitments in our lives. There may be periods of time where you have limited time and energy to devote to change. In these instances, give yourself some grace and the permission to address what you are able to, when you are able to.
Identify one (maybe two) habits that would make the most difference in your life right now- In step one, you may have already discovered a few healthy habits that you have some consistency with which probably cut down your wellness “to-do” list. Now you can review the things that need your attention and decide for yourself which 1-2 habits would be the most important for you to address immediately.
Using the SMART goal technique, set a realistic goal for yourself to get started- For those of you who aren’t familiar with the acronym, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. This is the difference between saying “I am going to work out more!” and “I am going to go for a 30 minute walk 4 times a week.” In the second example, you have created a specific goal that you can measure your progress against. If you are currently not eating any vegetables, creating a goal of having 2 servings of veggies with every meal every day is probably not realistic. Instead, choose you might choose one meal to add vegetables to every day to build your consistency and confidence.
Journal your experiences- Keeping a journal (it can be as simple as a small lined notebook) will help you in organizing your experiences, emotions, and progress. A journal will give you the opportunity to look back and reflect on what went well, your challenges, and how far you’ve come.
I invite you to take another deep breath. Think about where you are on your wellness journey. Allow yourself to be free to do what you can, with what you have, where you are.