August is national wellness month, so your inbox is probably full of wellness tips from well-meaning brands and employers. But with all the talk on wellness, the messages tend to get watered down.
It’s hard enough to maintain your day-to-day life…but pursuing components of wellness can feel like another task stacked on your impossibly high to-do list.
It’s easy to get sucked into mental guilt traps.
I’m not drinking enough water.
I should focus more on my mental health.
I didn’t get enough sleep last night.
I should probably eat an actual vegetable today.
From doctors to ads to company newsletters, we’re constantly encouraged to improve our wellness. We’re given endless tips and tricks on how to do it. …yet these “tips” seem to meld into the same broken-record advice.
We have more resources than ever, but changing times with social media and world events create whole new obstacles. Considering the stress levels we’re dealing with today, it’s clear that pursuing wellness is easier said than done.
A more sustainable step towards wellness is asking better questions when you do a self check-in.
How do you develop a wellness lifestyle? For starters, don’t begin with a guilt trip. Instead, give yourself space for questions that are truly relevant to your lifestyle.
Instead of: I should drink more water.
Ask yourself: What kinds of hydration do I really enjoy?
We have plenty of access to water, yet we’re still a dehydrated nation. Clearly, staying hydrated doesn’t hinge on having access to water or understanding how much we need it.
Drinking more water is obviously the go-to advice for improving your hydration. But have you ever asked yourself what your favorite ways to drink it are?
Do you like it cold, with ice? Or do you prefer a less biting room temperature?
Maybe the classic narrow neck of a freshly-opened plastic water bottle feels nice and familiar. Or maybe having water in a glass is the only way you can enjoy it.
How about a water bottle with a built-in straw? A glass with a straw?
And if water truly isn’t your style, consider some other alternatives. We all know that coffee, soda, and alcoholic drinks aren’t hydrating. But you don’t necessarily have to give them up to stay hydrated.
Consider having more than one drink. Why can’t you have two drinks at your station?
And if all else fails, consider some other water-based hydration options, such as hot tea, flavored water, and sparkling water.
Instead of: I should exercise more.
Ask yourself: What body-engaging exercises do I actually find engaging?
Like drinking water, it’s safe to say we should all be exercising more. But if you simply don’t have the time—or the motivation—to hit the gym or do a routine at home, what can you do?
Consistency is more important than having a perfectly balanced exercise routine.
What activities have you moving your body, yet have you forgetting you’re even exercising?
Is there an activity that you look forward to—or company that makes it fun? Dance, aerial silks, yoga, biking, hiking, or walking around an area you love are great ways to look forward to exercising without plugging away at the gym.
Even mindfully doing high-calorie burning activities can help you get the most out of them. Power-walking, house cleaning, playing with children, doing yard work, and climbing stairs are just a few serious calorie burners.
Instead of: I should sleep more.
Ask yourself: What routines help me go to bed and wake up refreshed?
Sleep hygiene is a health concept that’s gotten lots of hype since it originated in 1977. Sleep tremendously impacts your health, from your brain function to your metabolism.
Instead of beating yourself up for not going to bed as soon as you’d like, reflect on what actually supports you feeling rested. What activities do you enjoy doing to wind down? What helps keep you away from the things that hinder you from winding down?
Routines of taking an evening shower, watching a comfort show with blue light blocking glasses, or doing a skincare routine you enjoy can help prep your body to get a better night's sleep.
Instead of: I should take better care of my mental health
Ask yourself: When have I felt mentally at my best?
Mental health is a broad subject. It’s easy for well-meaning mental health messages to get watered down.
There’s no need to ask yourself unhelpfully generic questions. Instead, think about when you have mentally felt at your best.
What people, circumstances, and routines were present? Who was around when you felt happy, accepted, and at peace? What routines do you think fondly of?
The seasons of our lives are always changing. Thankfully, there are often clues to your unique wellness from your past season that you can pull into your current season.
Instead of: I should reduce my stress
Ask yourself: What’s stressing me out? What has helped it before?
It’s easy to say “just quit your job if it’s stressing you out that much” or “just cut that toxic family member out of your life.” But what about when it’s not that simple?
If you have the bandwidth to abandon what doesn’t serve you, go for it. But sometimes, our stressors are simply out of our hands. Thankfully, methods of handling them aren't.
If you’ve been dealing with a stressor for a long time, when have you felt the most in control and capable?
If things have always felt out of control, who do you know that has handled the same issue successfully?
Don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel. Tap into the people around you. Poke around blogs and internet forums. When you sit down and workshop your stressors with people who understand them, you’ll be amazed at the creative tips others have to share.
Instead of: I should be more mindful.
Ask yourself: What am I thankful for today?
Being intentionally grateful is a proven way of improving your mindfulness and your general well-being. Plus, it’s a free source of joy.
What interactions made you feel best?
What part of the day had you breathing a sigh of relief?
What simple thing in your day seems to have extra magic?
What process or item made your life easier?
Being mindful is also a wonderful way to beat the guilt we feel over being unintentionally disconnected from the people we love. This leads to another self check-in question…
Instead of: I feel bad I haven’t reached out to (friend’s name) in a while.
Ask yourself: Who can I send a positive message to?
You promised to catch up with that friend over coffee. Then five months slip by and you feel terrible.
An easy, low-commitment way to reconnect with someone is to send a positive message their way. Text a thank you, or something that made you think of them. Of course, make time to call or meet up with them if you can!
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