Taking the time to sit down with a pen and paper and writing down your thoughts on each aspect of your life (relationships, social concerns, employment, financial health, missed goals, etc) will go a long ways toward developing a game plan to re-claim a positive and optimistic outlook on life.
Develop a Plan of Attack
For each concern you identify, ask yourself and record your thoughts on the following questions:
1. What do I need to take personal accountability for (i.e. letting myself stay up too late, buying too much junk food, eating out too often, bringing work stress home, having unrealistic expectations from those around me).
2. What are my current expectations for each of these? Are they realistic? What concessions to these expectations could I live with, at least in the short term?
3. What is my plan of attack to close the gap from where I am today and where I want to be in the short term and long term? Be sure to include realistic milestones that will help you measure your progress.
4. Review whatever you are comfortable sharing about from your notes with a trusted confident(s) that knows you well, requesting their honest input. Be sure to not be defensive and keep in mind you asked them to share their honest opinion.
5. Consider if there are any items on your list that you should review with a trained professional or counselor. A good place to start would be your employer’s employee assistance program (EAP), a counselor from your place of worship, or often there are counseling resources provided through local non-profit organizations for specific concerns such as abusive relationships or addictions.
Elevate Your Heart Rate on Your Terms
This is the dreaded “remedy” for many of us, but exercise is scientifically proven to directly combat both many of the physical conditions we encounter as well as the symptoms we experience specifically attributed to stressors in our life. The reason for this is that physical activity provides a healthy outlet to release the “fight or flight” hormones being produced by our bodies and causing the unpleasant symptoms. Not only does exercise pump out the bad hormones, exercise also pumps endorphins, or “positive feelings” hormones, into our bodies. As you can imagine, this exchange is extremely beneficial to our bodies in reducing or eliminating the stress-induced symptoms mentioned earlier.
Exercise doesn’t have to include running marathons or turning into a gym rat. In fact, you should be intentional about setting attainable goals and starting “small” when it comes to exercise. Often, we think we are in better shape than we are and so the early attempts at exercise often leave us discouraged when we see how quickly winded we are or how sore we are the next day. For that reason, start small and ease into it, but have a plan for growth and turning up the intensity dial as you progress. The beginning is always the hardest, but if you can develop a consistent routine, it will become much easier! Consider some of the following ideas for exercise:
1. Walking your neighborhood or at a local mall
2. Running or biking on a scenic path near you or purchasing a treadmill or stationary bike and television for your basement
3. Gardening – maybe you weren’t a gardener previously, but there’s no reason you can’t become one to motivate yourself to get outside and chase away those pesky weeds!
4. Golf nine holes (without the golf cart)!
5. Kayaking – Upstate New York has many hidden gems between its state parks, finger lakes and numerous streams!
6. Dancing / Home Workouts – There are many online resources, some paid and many free, such as Fitness Blender on YouTube with varying degrees of intensity and targeted areas of focus.
What is Your Wellbeing Plan?
The times are certainly challenging but the one silver lining in all of this is that everyone is in the same boat; you are not alone! There is no better time than the current to decide what needless “noise” you can eliminate from your daily routine and what steps you can take to get your mind focused on your plan of attack for improving your personal wellbeing. Whether it’s having that conversation you have been putting off or beginning an exercise routine, an improved disposition and better health is right around the corner.