Because wellness is such a comprehensive and expansive concept, we will break it down into four key realms: physical, mental/emotional, social, and spiritual.
First, let's take a look at physical wellness. We'll focus on three main elements and define three simple strategies to support your physical wellness.
Three key elements of physical wellness:
Fitness: Our movement behaviors and habits.
Fuel: Our nutrition behaviors and habits.
Frequency: Our rest and relaxation behaviors and habits.
Physical wellness requires a balance of the three elements above. If we put a lot of time and energy into our fitness, but neglect our nutrition, we will not experience optimal physical wellness. If both our fitness and our nutrition are on point, but we aren’t making time to sleep well and replenish, we will not reap the ideal benefits of our hard work.
How are you feeling in the realm of physical wellness?
Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves to check in and make small adjustments.
Am I satisfied with my fitness, nutrition, and sleep/rest behaviors and habits? If yes, what am I doing well? If no, what would I like to change?
What am I doing to prioritize moving my body, eating well, and getting good sleep?
What is one thing I can take action on today to improve my physical wellness?
Three simple strategies to support your physical wellness:
Discover how you like to move your body. Fitness is not about forcing yourself to do grueling exercise that you do not enjoy. Fitness is about finding ways your body likes to move and creating regular opportunities to do so.
Maybe you are more of a walker than a runner.
Maybe you are more of a yogi than a cross-fitter.
Maybe you enjoy spontaneous movement (read: dance party) rather than structured exercise.
Take some time to play around with all kinds of movement to discover how you like to move your body. In general, if your movement is lower intensity, you will need to perform it for longer periods (45-60 minutes) to glean maximum health and fitness benefits. If your movement is higher intensity, you can perform it for shorter periods (30 minutes) and glean similar and/or greater benefits than performing lower intensity exercise.
Eat as close to the whole food source as possible. I really appreciate Michael Pollan's simple nutrition philosophy in In Defense of Food: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." We tend to overcomplicate nutrition.
As you map out your daily nutrition, keep in mind the three major macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
In general, we want our distribution (in terms of percentage of calories) to be:
As you find the percentage ranges that are most appropriate for you, strive to eat as close to the whole food source as possible. For example: whole grains instead of refined grains; lean meats and plant-based protein rather than protein powders and bars; and healthy fats from oils and nuts rather than saturated fat from processed meat and cheese.
Prioritize seasons of rest into your days, weeks, months, and years. Rest and relaxation do not happen spontaneously - we need to be purposeful and prioritize them.
If you like to work hard and play hard, you also need to rest and relax hard to sustain your best.
When you reflect on your days/weeks/months/year, when are the best pockets of time to catch a little rest/relaxation?
Are you prioritizing 7-9 hours of sleep consistently?
Take some time to map out an action plan around daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rest seasons.
Daily: Maybe evenings from 8:30 pm - 9:30 pm is your time to relax daily.
Weekly: Perhaps you have dedicated family rest and relaxation time on Sunday mornings, afternoons, or evenings.
Monthly: You could dedicate one day per month to participating in one or more of your favorite rest or relaxation activities (i.e. taking a nap, reading a book, walking along the beach).
Yearly: How about planning a vacation dedicated to rest and relaxation? Could be 2-3 days, could be a week, depending on what YOU need that year.
Be well, my friend!