Wellness Series - Part 3: Everyday Wellness
Part 3: Everyday Wellness
Welcome to part 3 of the Wellness Blog Series. This post will focus on the importance of Everyday Wellness.
The first two blog posts of this series focused on coping with intense situations in life, whether it be grief and loss or major life changes. Today’s blog post is centered on everyday wellness. Building a strong foundation will assist future selves in dealing with intense situations. Once the foundation of wellness is built in a sustainable manner, it is much easier to weather the storms of adversity and improve the chances of full recovery from those situations as well as helping others as they navigate life’s challenges.
One useful tool that impacts everyday wellness is goal setting. Using dimensions of wellness - social connectedness, exercise, nutrition, sleep and mindfulness - an everyday wellness goal can be identified. When setting goals, it is important to break large goals down into smaller, achievable chunks.
Using sleep as an example, let’s set a goal of getting 7 hours of sleep a night. What will it take to make this goal happen? Many things! In order to achieve this goal, it must be broken down into smaller tasks, each of them with an approach to get that task done.
Setting a realistic bedtime: Working back from when we need to get up in the morning is a good place to start. If the alarm goes off at 6:30, we’ll want to make sure we are asleep by 11:30pm to get a full 7 hours of sleep. Let’s look at what might prevent us from getting out of bed and starting our day at 6:30am. For some, nothing. Once that alarm goes off, they are out of bed right away. For others, the snooze button is simultaneously our best friend and arch nemesis, and we should set a bedtime for 11:15pm to compensate. There are very few of us who fall asleep within minutes of resting our head on the pillow, so we may want to account for 15-30 minutes to actually fall asleep, setting bedtime at 10:45pm-11:00pm.
Creating a realistic bedtime routine: Part of what prevents us from falling asleep right away has to do with what we are doing the 30-60 minutes before we get in bed. It’s important to create a bedtime routine that helps us wind down, physically and mentally, as well as signal to our bodies that it’s time to sleep. Building on the above plan, we would aim to start out bedtime routine between 9:45pm-10:30pm. For those who’ve parented young children, remember how important those bedtime rituals were? We are often forced to give up those rituals due to family or work obligations, lure of social media and entertainment and/or shifting schedules. The good news is, we can reclaim those routines in the name of everyday wellness and health! What does a healthy bedtime routine look like for you? Different things work for different folks. Some things you can try:
- No electronics for 30-60 minutes before bed
- No heavy dinners
- Refrain from eating 1-3 hours before you lay down,
- Engage in some gentle stretching (https://www.doyogawithme.com/ has some free classes)
- Practice some breathing exercises
- Try some meditation (guided recordings here: http://www.beloved.org/)
- Listen to a sleep story (that and other resources here: https://www.calm.com/blog/take-a-deep-breath)
- Read a book or magazine
- Give yourself options! Create a bingo card with different ideas or a fortune teller (remember those from when you were a kid? Instructions here: https://www.wikihow.com/Fold-a-Fortune-Teller)
Accountability: Once you have some ideas for a routine, one way to make your hard work stick is to figure out a way to make yourself accountable. If you live with someone, you could ask for their help in sticking to your routine. If you live alone, ask someone to be your accountability partner, checking in each day to either remind you of your goal or for you to update them when you’ve practiced your bedtime routine. You can also create a star chart, whereby you list the different aspects of the routine (breathing, reading, stretching, etc.) on a chart and give yourself a star each time you do them. You can set a micro goal, let’s say 3 bedtime routine activities 5 out of 7 nights in a given week, and reward yourself with weekly prizes when that micro goal is reached!
Play Scientist: Try out different things and record how their impact, both the positive and the negative, without judgement. Over time you’ll be able to collect enough data to notice trends. Are there certain situations where different bedtime activities yield better sleep? You can then curate a specialized bedtime routine based on different circumstances.
Plan for Success: Start small. Make changes one at a time and allow time for those changes to have an effect. Plan for when things don’t work out and how you will recover from those. Didn’t do your bedtime routine 3 nights in a row? Explore what those obstacles were and come up with ways to mitigate those circumstances and then use night 4 to start fresh. Celebrate the successes, starting with getting to the end of this blog. You’ve made the time to think about changing habits and behaviors to improve your overall wellness. Why not celebrate with your favorite warm beverage (it is getting cold out here in Camden!) or by standing up, stretching and taking 3 deep breaths.
Thank you for joining Center For Family Services on this wellness journey! If you have additional questions, need support, or would like to share your experience practicing these wellness tips, email [email protected]