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When first starting your wellness journey, it can be overwhelming and difficult to know where to begin. It was overwhelming for me too. Just like starting this blog!
With this blog, I had some ideas on what to do but how to get started and keeping it going was, and still is, overwhelming at times. I’m sure you have some ideas on what you want your wellness journey to look like. Yet sometimes a little guidance helps. I want to help you.
What is a Wellness Journey?
My definition for wellness is one that would be termed a holistic definition. Holistic wellness is the idea that our overall health and well-being depend on different aspects of our lives working together in harmony. It includes not just our physical health, but also our emotional, social, and mental health.
This includes things like eating a nutritious, toxic-free diet, exercising or moving regularly, getting enough rest or sleep, managing stress, spending time with loved ones, and pursuing activities that bring us joy and fulfillment. Furthermore, it means doing all of these things as simply as we can. When all of these aspects of our lives are in balance, we feel healthy, happy, and able to cope with the challenges of everyday life.
With keeping all of what holistic wellness is in mind, a wellness journey is essentially all of the various tasks, materials, and effort you choose to help you achieve holistic wellness, and the process of achieving those goals.
Because everyone is born with a different genetic code, stress bucket, and is raised in different environments and have different experiences, the state of health or wellness we start with are incredibly different. So we all have a different starting point on our journey and, often, a different roadmap to follow on our journey.
While the journey may well look different from person to person, even sometimes in the same household or family, there are some basics that are the same.
Steps To Starting Your Wellness Journey
Identify the Primary Areas of Wellness
In order to start your wellness journey, you need to identify primary areas of wellness that are your weak areas and your strengths. This blog is divided into general areas of wellness and so we’re going to review those here as you take your self-inventory.
The area of nourishment includes the nourishing foods you give your body, and the things you give your body that are depleting your body of true nourishment. You may lean one way or the other or it may be you are in the middle, giving your body an equal amount of substances that are nourishing and depleting.
In this area you are evaluating whether you get enough movement in your average day. This is where stretching and other forms of exercise go. This is where we talk about the importance of taking breaks or movement when working at the computer or other sit-down type jobs.
In the area of rest, we discuss the importance of being well rested at night, getting enough sleep and feeling rested upon waking. Rest isn’t just about sleep either. It’s also about giving yourself periods of rest through your day and week; time to relax, breathe, pray and enjoy life too!
The mind is one area of wellness that often, sadly, gets overlooked! Your mindset affects your day to day life and can have a huge impact on physical ailments? This is the area that addresses stress and anxiety and developing optimism and gratitude. It’s also about appreciating imperfect progress and having the mindset to keep going. I find that mindset is just as important as all the other things! This is also the area to address cognitive health.
It’s important to keep things simple especially when starting your wellness journey. Developing a morning routine can be key in keeping you on track. This is an area we discuss decluttering your environment (home, other living or work space, daily schedules, other things in life that need decluttering such as unhealthy relationships , too many commitments, etc.). Keep it simple by making sure to only add things slowly, in baby steps, to make things more manageable.
Identify Your Starting Place
When starting your wellness journey, you have to know where you are at to identify where you want to go.
In order to figure out where you are now, as well as where you want to go, you need to ask yourself some general questions. Write your answers down somewhere that you can refer back to them later in this process and during your wellness journey.
- How do you FEEL physically? Generally on an every day basis?
- Do you experience chronic pain?
- Do you get a lot of headaches?
- Do you sleep 7-8 hours at night? Is it truly restful?
- Are you generally well hydrated on a daily basis? (do you generally drink half your body weight in ounces?)
- Do you have loose or difficult bowel movements?
- Do you have food sensitivities?
- Are you well nourished? (Do you eat a variety of foods covering all the colors of the rainbow, protein and fat from quality sources? Do you keep sugary foods in low quantity? Do you keep processed foods at a minimum?)
- Are you aware of and do you keep your body from toxin overload? (Do you avoid food sources high in pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals? Do you limit screen time – especially from cell phones- to the best of your ability? Do you do things on a weekly or even daily basis to assist your body in detoxing?)
- Is your blood sugar or blood pressure elevated?
- Do you move about your day or do you sit more than you move? Do you have any type of exercise routine? Are you winded just going up and down your stairs at home?
- What other physical ailments or issues do you have worth noting here?
Emotion, Mind and Spiritual
- How do you FEEL emotionally? Generally on an everyday basis?
- How is your cognitive health? Any memory or focus/concentration issues?
- How is your stress load? Are you chronically worried or overworking or do you take time to relax and enjoy life?
- How is your mindset? Are you generally a positive person full of gratitude or do you tend to be negative? Are you giving yourself A for effort on these questions or are you being hard on yourself for the answers here you are not proud of?
- Do you have anger issues or emotional outbursts?
- What do you feel confident about?
- What do you feel anxious about?
- Do you practice your faith? Do you have a meaningful relationship with God?
- What is your environment/surroundings like? What are things that you can control and make changes to make it a less stressful environment?
- What other emotional experiences are you having worth noting here?
In which of these areas are you strongest? In which of these areas are your weakest?
Set Your Intentions & Pick Three
Once you have established a baseline with the above two steps, you can begin thinking about what you want the outcome of your wellness journey to look like. As you are starting your wellness journey, set goals. Decide what your intentions are for the end of the journey. You can have as many goals or intentions as you would like, but in the end, pick the THREE you want to emphasize NOW.
First, think about the following questions as you list your intentions or goals:
How do you WANT to feel in the morning when you wake up?
What do you WANT your meals and snacks to be? Which foods do you always want to have in your diet on a daily basis and what do you want to be occasional treats?
What kind of things do you want to enjoy?
What kind of things do you want to put an end to?
Which areas of wellness do you want to make a priority and achieve the most progress with?
Next, write a list of all your goals regarding your wellness. Whether your journey takes a few weeks (very unlikely), a few months, or even a year, many years, or (most likely) a lifetime, what do you want out of the end of it? I’ve been on my wellness journey for about 15-16 years now and I’m definitely not finished!
Lastly, pick just three of these things to make or base three simple goals from. Just three. You can come back to this list, even add more to it, and pick three more simple things at another time. Additionally, you may find that other goals are reached in conjunction with the three smaller goals you pick. Things tend to affect one another this way, especially in the areas of holistic wellness. For now, just pick three.
Create Manageable Goals
Once you know your three goals you want to focus on, you can break those down into smaller more manageable goals. This decreases your overwhelm (give rest to your mind and how that affects your physical heath), and makes the goals more easily obtainable. It also helps maintain motivation!
Let’s give an example. Let’s say your goal is to increase exercise and general movement. That’s a little vague. It’s okay, but a better goal to state (so you can have a clear focus) might be: To obtain 11,000 steps a day and practice yoga twice a week.
So there’s a goal. But I need to break it down.
Maybe right now my average is only 6,000 (or less) steps a day and I sometimes think about Yoga.
I can’t expect a habit of 6,000 steps (or less) a day and no actual Yoga to change overnight. So my break down may look something like this:
Increase steps to 7,000 steps a day. Research some basic yoga positions or routines. Try a couple positions.
After success with this goal, I would increase the goal: Increase to 8,000 steps a day and develop a ten minute yoga routine at least once a week.
You get the picture. Have success with each step for at least 5-7 days before increasing to the next level. Make yourself experience and ENJOY your success before adding more to it.
Develop a Daily Routine & Habits
You have your goal, now form a routine. It’s really important to have routines in your day.. What you do consistently and on an everyday basis is going to be the biggest game changers for your holistic wellness.
If your goal is to walk 7,000 steps a day, put walking into your routine. Walking, for example, is part of my personal morning routine. I make sure I start each day with waking at least 20 minutes (or obtain about 3,000 steps) in the early morning so that I make a good start to obtaining that goal. Then I walk more in the evening if I’m not close enough to my goal without it.
Your habits can be small. Whether it’s drink 32 oz of herbal tea by noon (one I’m still working on), or walk 2,000 steps before 7:30 am, or eat one raw vegetable a day, they are all small habits that, over time, can lead to big changes.
Intertwine your habits to match your wellness goals. Make them simple. Make them consistent.
Everyone needs support. Support(ers) can come from many sources and people.
First of all, God.
Don’t forget to incorporate your spiritual life here with all of your goals. Read your scripture. Set aside prayer time. Undoubtedly these are important things that offer you strength to meet the habits and goals you want to obtain.
Second, family and friends.
Let your family and/or friends know about the habits you are wanting to form and the goals you have. At the same time, let them know if there is something you would appreciate them helping you with. Someone may be willing to walk with you. Maybe someone will make you the herbal tea. Maybe someone can just listen and offer encouragement. Everyone needs someone in their corner. If you are not sure who to reach out for, drop me a line. Let me encourage you.
Third, books and new friends.
There’s a ton of books out there on the subject of wellness. Read them. Listen to them on Audible. Sometimes reading or listening about a subject we want to improve upon gives us that daily reminder or encouragement (not to mention new ideas) to keep it up. Try it.
If your goal for starting your wellness journey is to go to the gym, you may make friends there that have the same goal. If your goal is to hike that river or rail trail, go. You might make friends there that have the same goal. If your goal is to learn about herbs, take a class. You might make friends there too- even if it’s an online course! The point is, if you attempt to engage with others that share similar interests and goals, they may be the encouragement you need to keep going!
Celebrate Your Progress
Lastly, I can’t say it enough: celebrate your progress. No matter how small. Celebrate your progress. Whether it’s with a night of dancing, a movie with friends (or watching FRIENDS), a special dinner, a new dress, pick something that makes YOU feel special and motivated!
PLEASE remember: Imperfect progress is still progress! Don’t make goals that are too big or too difficult for where you are on your journey right now. In the same way, don’t aim for perfection. Every step you take (literally and figuratively) on your journey is progress. If you have a goal of 7,000 steps but only get about 6,500 and it used to be 6,000 or less, you have still made progress! Celebrate that!
In summary, as you are starting your wellness journey, think about what holistic wellness means and what a wellness journey will entail. Identify the primary areas of wellness as they must all be considered on your wellness journey. Identify your starting place, evaluating your physical health in addition to your emotional health, mind and spiritual health. Set your intentions or bigger goals, and pick just three to start with. Then, create smaller, manageable goals based on these intentions. Develop a daily routine and habits to allow you to work on those goals. Find supporters. And lastly, but definitely not least important, CELEBRATE YOUR PROGRESS!