Have you’ve been considering creating a personal wellness plan? Perhaps it has seemed too daunting, or you’re not quite sure how to start. Or maybe you’re not sure what a wellness plan is and how it can benefit you. Taking responsibility for your own health and wellness is personally empowering. Think of it as building your own health insurance plan by investing in yourself.
A wellness plan is a dynamic, multi-faceted guideline for your life that evolves as you grow and change. Your plan sets you up for both long-term and short-term wellness goals in several significant life areas or dimensions. These areas include your physical wellness, nutritional wellness, emotional and mental wellness, financial wellness, intellectual wellness and environmental wellness.
For each of the areas, you set realistic and attainable goals. The focus is on ways to create healthier habits and behaviours that allow you to achieve a greater sense of well-being in your life. There’s no “quick fix,” and the plan is meant to serve as a support for you in improving many aspects of your life. Once you decide on your personal goals, you decide activities or action steps to achieve them.
Taking responsibility for your own health and wellness is personally empowering
A wellness plan helps you attain personal goals that provide you with an optimal sense of well-being. Along the way, you may discover a greater sense of confidence, happiness and enjoyment of your life. Greater clarity of thinking and tapping into your best potential are other benefits associated with wellness plans.
You’ll find that many areas of your wellness plan overlap with each other, creating a synergistic effect in motivating you. For example, improved nutrition can help better fuel your workout activities, which buoys your sense of emotional well-being.
Recognizing the inter-relatedness of the wellness areas gives you a greater appreciation for how your choices impact your life. You’ll also discover what’s unique about you and how you can best motivate yourself in fostering healthier habits.
The best approach is to start with an outline. First, write a personal mission statement. A mission statement is a short, overriding philosophical statement about your purpose. It doesn’t have to be fancy or profound. Just write something that has meaning to you. For example, your mission could be to create greater happiness and well-being in your life by achieving better wellness.
Next, think about each of the wellness areas mentioned above and jot them down, leaving a section for each of them. You’ll need space for both long-term and short-term goals and your activities for reaching those goals. The key is to set manageable goals. Behaviour change happens incrementally, so be realistic. Small steps can become bigger steps in time.
To get you started, we’ll go through each of the major wellness areas. There’s no right or wrong. Just stay with goals and activities that improve your well-being and sense of self-efficacy.
This isn’t a competition. It’s a personal journey to achieve optimal wellness for you. Once you develop your plan, keep it somewhere you can view every day. Each morning review your plan, which, it should not be forgotten, is designed to guide and support you. If you stumble, congratulate yourself for what you are achieving and keep going.
Most people start their plans with physical wellness. What are some of your goals? Perhaps one goal is to become more physically fit or to launch an exercise program. For example, your goal is to begin a fitness program. Some steps to achieve this could include taking a 30-minute walk three times per week or joining a gym to work with a personal trainer. Choose action items that make sense for you and are doable.
Be sure to include preventative care and health screenings in this section for both medical and dental treatments.
Eating better, whether to lose weight or just improve your dietary habits, is important to many people. From what we know about diet and its influence on illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes, it’s clear that your food choices can have important consequences for your health. Your action steps may include incorporating more vegetables or reducing sugar consumption or carbohydrate intake. Working with a nutritionist can be an important action step, too.
For many, this section offers an opportunity to include more opportunities for self-care. Emotional and mental wellness means the ability to manage stress and adapt to life’s changes and challenges. Unfortunately, with our stressful and busy lives, self-care is often overlooked or the first thing knocked off our schedule when things get hectic.
Your goals may include reducing stress and anxiety, getting quality sleep or trying to have a more positive outlook. Yoga, meditation, massage and unplugging your electronics may be steps you achieve better emotional health.
Financial wellness can include living within your budget and saving for retirement. Both are common goals, but you may have others such as paying off a loan or credit card debt.
In establishing your financial goals, meeting with a financial advisor or setting a written budget are often helpful activities. Your financial goal setting and activities will most likely be influenced by your age.
Intellectual wellness is about keeping your mind active and having a strong desire to learn. Learning to paint or learning a foreign language are examples of ambitious goals. But goals can also be simpler. Set a goal to stay better informed in current affairs or read a book every week.
Whatever your goals, think about the activities necessary to achieve them. Sign up for a class, go to the library every week or subscribe to a new journal or magazine.
This is about your surroundings, and especially your home, but also your work and neighborhood environments.
For example, how does your home promote your well-being? Think about items such as your cleaning products. Do they contain toxic chemicals? Set a goal to use household products less harmful to you and the environment. Your action steps could include cleaning with non-toxic cleaners.
Do you have a stressful job? How can you incorporate more soothing elements into your office décor that can help keep you calm throughout the day? Many of us spend a good portion of our lives at work. Our well-being at work can be a critical part of a wellness plan.
Does your employer have a corporate wellness program? Nowadays, many businesses provide wellness perks at the job. Some perks include yoga classes, health screening events and on-site fitness centres.
Keeping a journal can further support your wellness plan. If you are new to journaling, it may seem a tad difficult at first. Journals are an important tool in helping you notice behavioural patterns, acknowledge accomplishments and keep you motivated on your wellness journey.
When journaling, try to commit to daily entries or at least two times per week. Even if briefly written, capture the highlights of your day, any challenges or achievements and your feelings associated with your activities. Most people find journaling at night before going to bed the most helpful. Choose a time a day that works best for you. And if journaling seems too overwhelming, try and commit for just three months and reassess after that time period. You may discover the journal helps to keep you motivated and solidify new habits.
Update and modify your goals and activities as needed. Maybe you set an ambitious goal to go to the gym five times a week but, realistically, you can only go three times a week. Or maybe some goals just aren’t feasible due to the circumstances in your life right now. Adjust these as needed, too.
Don’t see these adjustments as failures. Your aim is to improve your well-being over the course of time in a way that works for you.
Have you attained a personal goal such as losing weight? Establish new activities to help you maintain your weight loss. Your wellness plan is not a static document and will undergo many revisions.
And remember to congratulate yourself as you reach your goals and establish new habits. You’ve worked hard at self-improvement and deserve to celebrate your successes.
Enjoy the journey of self-discovery on your road to better health and wellness!
Your journal is one tool that can help you stay accountable to your wellness goals. Other ways to get support include family and friends. Encouragement can go along way in helping stay on a new path and form life-enhancing habits. Do you have a friend or family member who can provide that support?
Striving for your best takes courage. Be easy on yourself as you navigate through new, healthy behaviours. Developing your wellness plan is a significant step in taking responsibility for changes you want to make. Don’t judge yourself by another’s standards. If necessary, make small, incremental steps to start you on the path of change. These are lifetime habits and patterns you are establishing. Make sure you enjoy the journey of self-discovery on your road to better health and wellness.