Saturday, July 27, 2013

Why Not Take A Wellness Day?

I'd venture to guess that most people experience too many "Sickness Days". They deal with too much stress, bad food, not enough rest or exercise every day of their lives. And since one's life is created one day at a time, the sum of all of our "Sickness Days" is a sick life. So, Wellness Wednesday is what we call the first Wednesday of every month in our office. On those days we focus on adding in a new wellness habit and we often have our patients experience the new habit, such as tasting a new smoothie, trying out a new supplement etc. Our goal is to get people thinking monthly about what they can try that is new and different and that can move them toward a wellness lifestyle. It's a great idea I think, and our patients look forward to it each and every month to try something new. If everyone started a new wellness habit every month, our health as a nation would significantly improve over the long haul.

Recently in doing some wellness lifestyle coaching with one of my patients, I came up with a new idea. We were talking about making changes in her lifestyle to get her moving toward wellness, and I take the approach of making just a little change at a time. My purpose in doing this is to not overwhelm the patient with too much too quickly. This is important as we don't want to set a patient up for failure, and trying to do too much too quickly is sometimes too painful to be successful at, and they become discouraged and tend to quit.

Instead, we focus on baby steps. For instance, instead of trying to go out and jog for 30 minutes when they've been pretty much a couch potato, we encourage them to try walking "x" amount of time, depending on their fitness level, "x" times/week. After they get accustomed to that new habit, they are then encouraged to do a bit more, maybe increase the frequency, or the duration of their walks. That way it feels like they are only adding in a little bit more to their already established routine.

But, in doing this, I've found it takes a long time for enough new habits to build up to create significant changes. So to accelerate the process, I decided to give a new idea a shot. It's called a "Wellness Day". It consists of planning a certain day as a total wellness day. On that day, they must plan in advance what they are going to do. I encourage them to focus on all 4 of our Pillars of Wellness (eat well, move well, think well, rest well) and make sure they have plans for each area.

So in advance they plan out their meals and snacks for the day. They have to focus on whole foods (real food) with no additives. Remember my definition of real food: It either grows or had eyes at one point, otherwise it is an "edible food like substance". They need to focus on consuming plenty of water for the day, maybe some tea with lemon, or an herbal tea of their choice.

They have to plan to move more than they might normally. This may not be much more than a 30 minute walk if they are sedentary usually. If they're already active, then any sort of normal exercise program they do is acceptable, but maybe they push their duration by 10 minutes or so more. If they don't usually do any stretching, this would be a good day to start that habit too. There are many stretching sites on the net to learn from. Just always remember to be careful if you've not been active, and if you're over 40 or have a history of cardiovascular issues, get cleared by your doctor before you begin any vigorous plan of exercise.

I encourage them to spend some time de-stressing and relaxing on their Wellness Day. It's a great time to schedule a massage for relaxation purposes, or some time at a quiet spot for dinner with their spouse (eating healthy of course). Making sure they spend some time being grateful is extremely important, and connecting with their Maker on a spiritual level is vital for this special day. This can also be accomplished by whatever activities they really enjoy doing, grilling a good dinner, playing with the kids, the dog or both.

Finally, I encourage them to work on their sleep hygiene plan. I want them to get good rest that night, so nothing with caffeine after 4 in the afternoon. As bedtime draws near the need to start winding down is vital and they need a plan for doing just that; turning down the lights, quiet music, a good book, good conversation with their spouse etc.

By creating a Wellness Day, one can see what it would feel like to live that lifestyle. The first Wellness Day may be a bit tough, but it's only a day, so plan it ahead of time. If you wait til the last minute, there will be stress when you don't have all the foods that you need for a certain recipe, or when you suddenly realize that you forgot to plan out some aspect. Remember, I want you to be set up for success, not failure. And if you do fail in some aspect for that day, at least the day you had was more wellness oriented than it would have been otherwise. You can also choose to do this in community with others and discuss/plan your day together for accountability.

Once you have a Wellness Day going once/week, or even once per month if weekly is too tough, then add in "a little more", like an extra day/week or month. Soon those days will become comfortable for you and you will be able to continue adding in a day or two more. Soon the majority of your days will be Wellness Days, and you'll have much less "sickness" days.

Until next time...Be Well!

Dr. Bruce

No comments:

Post a Comment