In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I’ve come to realize the importance of having a wellness plan. We have an escape plan in case of emergency, why not create an escape plan in case we start to notice ourselves heading down a slippery slope of neglecting our mental health?
As I sit here and wait, and wait, and wait for baby, it’s a great opportunity to learn more about who I am when the mask of busy-ness is stripped away. As someone who is easily defined by her job and validated by daily accomplishments and checking off to-do’s, what on earth am I supposed to do with myself when there is NOTHING ON MY CALENDAR? Truly, this strikes fear into my heart, and has the potential to turn into me, snuggling with my dog in bed until 1pm, then feeling guilty about doing nothing and spiraling into a pity party of one, trolling facebook and thinking other peoples lives must be better than mine. Not pretty, helpful, or healthy in my book.
This is where a wellness plan comes in. When you spot yourself slipping into using coping mechanisms that end up leaving you feeling worse off than you did before, you have the power to make a conscious choice to change the channel on your actions and your mood.
Wellness happens on many levels, including body, mind, and spirit. Each of these areas breaks-down into further categories that require attention and nourishment. Through conscious attention to these areas of our lives, we are able to achieve optimal wellness.
Whitmeyer, Sweeney, and Myers (2000) developed the Wheel of Wellness, detailing several of these areas. The image to the left is a simplified version of this model, depicting the integration of these seven areas of life.
In order to begin crafting your wellness plan, take time to reflect on each of these areas as outlined in the questions that follow. Perhaps write this in a journal or a place you can revisit whenever you need a reminder to step up your wellness game. Often these practices are things we know we should be doing, but we need a little nudge in the right direction to take full responsibility for our own well-being. There are no right or wrong answers to these queries, they’re meant to raise your awareness. Some questions might have longer answers, or multiple answers. You may even want to investigate some of the sections twice, for example Social can be in-person friendships, and social media if that is a part of your life. Or there may be a few Environments where you spend a lot of time that you’d like to explore.
My two favorite ways to be physically active are_____________________________
My diet is ___________________________________________________________
One way I neglect taking care of my body is _________________________________
I would be physically healthier if ______________________________________
My sleeping habits are ______________________________________________
I would feel more rested and relaxed if___________________________________
Two ways I practice being spiritually connected are__________________________
My spiritual community consists of ______________________________________
One thing I would like to add to my spiritual practice is _______________________
Two things I enjoy in my occupation are____________________________________
One thing that could improve about my work is_______________________________
One thing I would like to change in my work environment is_____________________
Two ways I care for my emotional health are _________________________________
One thing I could add better support my emotional health is ______________________
One thing I could remove from my life to support my emotional health is _____________
Someone I can turn to for support is________________________________________
What I love most about my home environment is______________________________
I would like my home to feel______________________________________________
I could create this feeling by _____________________________________________
I am intellectually stimulated by__________________________________________
I would like to learn more about _________________________________________
I learn best through ___________________________________________________
My social outlets include______________________________________________
I feel energized through my social outlets when______________________________
I feel depleted through my social outlets when______________________________
The right amount of socialization for me includes_____________________________
Review your answers. Notice if you’ve written something down that is super nourishing for you, but you haven’t done in a while. Notice if there’s any areas that you feel exhausted or depleted, and what might be toxic for your well-being. How can you make shifts in each area so that your choices serve you in a way that creates optimal health and wellness? Don’t overwhelm yourself with making all the changes today. Instead, prioritize. Make one change at a time and notice how you feel. Become a detective about your health. Whenever you find yourself exhausted, review your answers and notice if you’re repeating an old patten that doesn’t serve you, or if you’ve forgotten to tap in to one of the self-care practices you’ve noted in your wellness plan.
How good can you feel?
Myers, J., Sweeny, T., Whitmer, J. (2000). The Wheel of Wellness Counseling for Wellness: A Holistic Model for Treatment Planning. Journal of Counseling and Development. 78, 251-266.