Over the last couple weeks, I’ve shared my new year’s rituals here. Today, I want to talk about the third thing I do each new year: write a wellness prescription.
Put super simply, a wellness prescription is a self-care plan that outlines how your need to be cared for (by you) physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to be your best self. A wellness prescription is imperative to me because for the longest time, I thought that my health, my wellness, and my sense of wellbeing just happened to me. Except as it turns out, I happen to it. I happen to it by understanding that I can choose to infuse my life with a deliberate embrace of intentional health, of making my body as whole as it can be, of giving my body and mind and soul what it needs so it can move me through life in harmony with the way that I most want to be. I do this not by coincidence or happenstance or luck. I do this by listening to my body, observing what it loves and doesn’t, respecting what it can and cannot do, and then working deliberately to provide it with the good stuff and ridding it of the bad stuff. I do this by following a personal wellness plan/ prescription.
Now, you might be wondering why I write a new wellness prescription each day (and, truth be told, it is a living document that can get tweaked at any time during the year, too). Life changes (you find a partner, you move across the country or world, a baby or child comes into your life, you replace your bike with a car or your car with a bike, you lose a partner, a parent, your way). Your body changes (you have a short term illness, a long term illness, you break an arm, you take up a new sport). Your needs change (you require more sleep, less sleep, greater energy, less stress). The wellness plan I had in my mid-20s isn’t practical for me now in my early 40s. Sometimes, your wellness plan needs to even change by the seasons. Moreover, my wellness plan won’t work for my sister or my best friend, because it is not personalized for them, their experiences and needs, their bodies’ little quirks.
When we want intentional health we have to do the work of defining it and deciding to embrace it for ourselves (although, yes, there are some general touchstones that we all might want to factor into our plans).
And so at the beginning of each year, as part of my effort to be intentional, I revisit my wellness plan. Today, I want to encourage you to do the same.
Step #1 Name your core beliefs in terms of wellness.
For me, loving myself is about taking good care of my whole self- my body, mind, and soul- so that all of me might enjoy the work that I choose to do and that I am capable of doing it with less strain, stress, anxiety and more enjoyment, awareness, passion.
Caring for my body isn’t about punishing it. It is not about beating it into submission so that it might obtain a particular shape. It’s about listening to my body, giving it what it says it needs and maybe a little dash of what I know might be good for it even if it doesn’t particularly want it. With my wellness plan, I am not trying to achieve a certain weight or look. I’m trying to achieve a feeling of optimism and optimal wellness for who I am and where I am now.
Step # 2 Name what you need.
Think about what you need to be physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Make a list of everything you need.
Step # 3 Craft that into a wellness prescription.
If you could prescribe behaviors and actions to yourself based on what you most need, what would they be? Make that list.
Step #4 Work your wellness prescription into your life.
Start to work your wellness prescription into your daily life. While some steps on the wellness prescription only happen once a year (preventive health appointments like physicals or mammograms, for example), others are actions you might want to take daily. This year, I am trying a daily habit tracker to help me keep up with the daily habits that are important to me. I am using this one if you are interested in trying one for yourself.
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2017 for each of us!