How to Develop a Wellness Program
It’s important for all of us to take responsibility for our health and overall wellness in life. If you are serious about improving how you feel and how you look then developing a wellness program is the way to do it!
Why have a wellness program?
Developing your own personal wellness program will enable you to fully appreciate what it means to have a healthy balance in life and give you a plan for achieving it. You will be amazed at what you can achieve when your body and mind is optimized.
If you want to familiarize yourself with the concept of wellness before you read further in this post then take a look at our article on what is wellness and why is it important.
The Core Areas
There 8 dimensions of wellness and within them there are several core areas in your life that you should review and focus on when developing your wellness program. All of these areas are important, yet some of them are often ignored because of our busy schedules or a lack of appreciation as to their necessity. These core areas include:
- Your thoughts
- Your Feelings
- Leisure Time
In order to create a program that will have a genuine impact on your wellness, it’s vital to include all of these areas in your plan. This is because, ultimately, all of these key areas have a big influence on how we feel – both physically and psychologically.
You can get a more thorough view on the different pillars of wellness by reading our post on the 8 dimensions of wellness.
Building a Wellness Plan
Let's break this down in the core areas mentioned above:
A program that is designed to boost health and wellness should always start with a nutritionally balanced diet so your body can function in an optimum state. The important word is balance – consuming the right number of calories with enough variety to give you a healthy split of macros and all the minerals, vitamins and nutrients you need.
A good starting point is to try to make the most of your daily calories to be made up of:
- Fresh fruits
- Fresh vegetables
- Lean proteins
- Whole grains
If you want to take this seriously then limit the take-aways and the prepackaged foods you consume and try to cook as often as possible with fresh, raw ingredients so you know what you are eating.
Your local health food store or farmers market are often good places to find the ingredients that are going to give you great nutritional value, great taste and limit the number of toxins entering your body.
Exercise is another important element of success when it comes to developing a wellness program. Not only does exercise help you lose or maintain your weight, but it also increases endorphins that make you feel good and boosts the amount of oxygen pumping throughout your body.
The cells, muscles, bones, and other components of the body are heavily dependent upon oxygen and the body’s ability to properly circulate the blood. A healthy, oxygenated body will have more energy, which will make you more productive and generally feel happier.
Exercising doesn’t have to mean spending hours in the gym or on the running track every day. The recent global lock-downs forced us to exercise in our own homes and find more creative ways of keeping fit and in shape. It also encouraged us to make the most of the vast array of resources available on the internet to help. Just because lock-down is over doesn’t mean you should forget any new techniques you have learnt.
Walk around your block, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk through a nearby mall to increase your levels of movement every day. Make small improvements consistently and you will see the benefits soon enough. It’s about staying active, keeping your body in motion and burning the right amount of energy each day.
An even better way is to take up a physical activity that you will actually enjoy - this way it is much more likely that you will keep it up. Perhaps that's playing soccer, swimming or boxing - find your physical passion and keep going with it. If you considering exercising more to burn calories then check out what exercise burns the most calories.
You should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise or 15 minutes of intensive exercise each day in order to at least maintain your body. If you want to lose weight, build muscle or increase fitness considerably then you will need more than this.
Thoughts and Feelings
A crucial part of wellness is to try to frame your thoughts and feelings in a way that is positive, optimistic, and complimentary to your life. We are constantly exposed to both good and bad situations and our thoughts are highly influential towards our actions – but you can train your mind to take a positive approach most of the time.
Here are a few tips that you can follow which will help you master your thoughts and feelings:
- Accept that your mind will not always think how you want. You can learn to rewire your brain, to re-frame thoughts and to filter out negativity, but you can’t actually change your brain for another one so be at peace with it. Negative thoughts don’t necessarily need to lead to negative actions or outcomes - accept that they will be there from time to time and focus on creating better outcomes regardless.
- Remember that thoughts are just thoughts and no more. Our minds can work in funny ways, but the good news is that most of the worst thoughts that go on in there will never amount to more than just thoughts. It’s a private conversation between you and your brain – no-one needs to know about it and nothing bad needs to happen.
- Understand triggers for negativity. It’s likely that there are patterns to the type of things that trigger negative thoughts or feelings for you. Sometimes it’s best to face these (an irrational fear for example) but sometimes it’s better to know what triggers are going to affect you in a unfavorable way and avoid them. An example of this might be situations that cause you to drink or smoke unnecessarily. Hone your judgment so you become more accomplished at knowing what the best road to take is when these instances crop up.
- Visualize success and happiness. Do this passionately and vividly. The more real your vision of success feels then the better chance it has of manifesting into the real thing and keeping away the fears that can hold you back. A technique that many of the worlds successful people use is to see their goals as already complete and obsess on it until it becomes a reality. Note that this will take action too – your vision is not going to become real by magic.
- Constantly repeat positive thoughts. Repetition is a proven technique to help human beings learn new things. Children have to repeatedly fall before they can walk and run, repeatedly mumble before they can talk and repeatedly be told what is right and wrong. Even as adults we have to repeatedly practice something to get better at it over time. Well your brain is no different – if you need to reprogram it then you will need to repeatedly remind it to re-frame bad situations and repeatedly force it to take more of an optimistic view.
- Know that it is ok not to feel ok sometimes. You are not a robot and so there are inevitably going to be times during your life that you are not going to feel great. These difficult times may be triggered by a traumatic event, by loss or failure, perhaps by fatigue or boredom, and sometimes even for no particular reason at all. Whatever the cause may be, it’s perfectly fine to not feel 100% all the time. Try to adapt and respond to the way you are feeling rather than avoid it, or you will end up mentally exhausted.
- Be self-compassionate. Give yourself a break when it’s needed! Your emotions may be trying to tell you something – take the hint and look to support yourself. Don’t mistake emotions or periodic vulnerability as weaknesses. It can actually be the opposite if you learn to manage and harness it. It’s the stronger of us who feel confident in talking about the way we feel without fear of fear of being judged.
Making time to enjoy yourself in the right way is important. Leisure time gives you an opportunity to free your mind from life’s daily worries and struggles and give you some much needed relief from stress.
There are studies like this one that scientifically show how taking time for enjoyment can have physical and emotional benefits such as stress reduction and a lowered heart rate. It can improve your mental health and actually make you more productive overall.
It would be wise to distinguish pleasure from happiness when it comes to your enjoyment. Pleasure is usually more short term and you can think of it as being more external. You can gain pleasure from a good movie, alcohol or sex for example. Happiness is more of a longer term and internal feeling that is aligned with your objectives in life. Pleasure is definitely useful and you should allow yourself to experience it regularly, but real happiness is the ultimate goal.
So remember, you must focus on both the physical and the psychological aspects of who you are in order to have an effective wellness program. Use some of techniques covered in this post as a guide to developing your own program and then follow it religiously - you’ll enhance your life well into the future if you do.
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