Fresh starts are seductive.
BY: MARIAH SECREST, FITNESS INSTRUCTOR & WELLNESS GUIDE
The number of reality TV shows alone that trace a journey of before-and-after transformation demonstrates our culture’s obsession with becoming. Deep inside us is a desire to master our own destiny—to know that with the right choices and changes we can attract the life we want. But with society’s obsession over extreme makeovers can come the pressure to get in over our heads when creating positive change. One area that can particularly set a trap for unrealistic expectations of ourselves? Our own personal wellness. Stepping into a wellness lifestyle can be exhilarating, empowering, and transformational. But for those of us who are ambitious, driven, and goal-oriented, getting healthy can easily turn into one more area in which we feel we have to measure up.
Here are some strategies for setting yourself up for success in your wellness journey—sans frustration.
Craft Your Own Definition of Wellness
While it’s true that tastes and tendencies can and do change, that doesn’t mean you should force choices that make you miserable.
Be honest. If green juice makes you gag, skip it. If you’re making yourself unhappy in the name of wellness, is that really wellness? Chances are, there are plenty of healthy choices you can start with that do bring you pleasure. There’s no one-size-fits-all paper doll template for self-care. Instead of setting goals around the obvious things we tend to think of that are traditionally linked with being “healthy,” consider what small rituals or practices bring you joy and make you feel centered. Is it meditating with your morning cup of coffee? Turning the phone off at dinner?
Maybe for you, wellness means planning more shared experiences with people who are important to you, or experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, or learning about crystal energy healing. Whatever wellness means to you, embrace your own version of it.
If you notice your healthy practices making you happier, you know you’re on the right track!
Overhaul Your Mindset by Swapping ‘Should’ with ‘Want’
This small shift in your self-talk can make a tremendous difference in reducing guilt and helping you own your power when creating positive lifestyle changes. For example, what would happen if instead of saying “I should go for a run after work,” you tell yourself “I want to go for a run after work”? The whole flavor of the intention changes, doesn’t it? You already have enough items lurking around in your mental list of should’s. Who needs more in the form of health shaming?
The next time you catch yourself using the word ‘should,” try reframing the sentence with this simple verb switch—heck, even say it out loud–and feel the guilt dissipate. The reason this small change is so powerful is that it makes the behavior morally neutral, reframing the decision as something that will make you happy.
Guilt is a poor long-term motivator.
Pleasure—even in the form of delayed gratification– is much more potent than guilt. (Plus, it’s more fun!) Better results with less guilt? Yes, please!
Set a Goal Around Doing LESS, not More
The most powerful thing you can do for your health just may involve doing a little more of…nothing. As ironic as that sounds, hear us out.
In this media-drenched, stressed-to-the-max state of being that we’ve come to consider normal, tons of research is now showing that getting into a relaxed state is one of the single most beneficial ways to improve your health. Taking time to chill cues your body to naturally heal itself—from keeping your digestive system humming to reducing inflammation to improving cognitive function.
Believing that doing less can get us more of anything in life is a paradigm shift for sure, but it’s also great news for the would-be wellness junkie who’s pressed for time. After all, the reason that many of us put off getting healthier in the first place is that feel we’re already at our energetic limits. Taking the time to exercise or plan healthy meals may seem like too much of a drain on our already depleted resources, even if it could lead to improved energy later on.
So setting a wellness intention around doing less not only get our bodies and brains humming at a higher vibration, but as you free up more time and energy by reducing commitments and investing in things that make you happy, you may also find you have more mojo to start up-leveling other areas of your health.
With a measure of grace and humor, and keeping your individuality in mind, you can create your own personal wellness habits that keep you falling deeper in love with life.
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