Iterative wellness practice for spring renewal

May 2024

Spring is a natural time for renewal. We pull weeds and plant seeds in our garden, spring clean our homes, and enjoy the flowers blooming. In public education, we are preparing for the end of the year, for summer, and even for next school year. It’s often a time that individuals naturally start to explore new activities in their wellness plan.

It’s a good time to reflect on the iterative nature of wellness practices. There is no such thing as a “perfect” wellness routine, or a “there” that we can achieve. Wellness is less of a linear path to achievement and more of an iterative cycle – a cyclical practice of repeating patterns or activities and assessing what works for us at different times in our lives.

 

Less of this:

 

More of this:

 

 

Seasonal changes are great times for us to try something new, reflect on what wellness and balance looks like for us, refine, and reflect again. Here are some key principles that can help you engage in that process of refinement.

Make wellness decisions for your REAL life, NOW:

Too often, we are making decisions in our wellness plan for either a past version of our lives or an idealized version of our lives instead of what is realistic in our lives now.

A starting point for this is to take a realistic view of your commitments, your energy, your priorities and consider what is possible and realistic within that reality. Watch out for thought distortions that trip you up, such as all-or-nothing thinking that tells us if we can’t do IT ALL and do it PERFECTLY, we shouldn’t do it at all. The reality is that all-or-something thinking can get us further along in our wellness goals.

Make wellness changes that you WANT to make:

Ever do something, like sign up for a 5K, buy a cold plunge tank, or start a meditation practice because you thought you should do it? Or because someone you know swears by the power of the cold plunge (but you can’t stand the thought of cold water)?

I’m not suggesting you not be open to trying something new, but when it comes to making changes, all signs point to intrinsic motivation, or an internal motivation, desire, sense of reward as a strong predictor of the change being sustainable than external motivation, or an outside reward or motivator. In the simplest terms, doing something because you want to and enjoy it is a more likely predictor of making the change than because of some outside force motivating you.

Make micro- (not macro) changes:

This is especially important for those of us who are finding a new change daunting and unachievable. It relates to that idea of all-or-nothing thinking. Here are some examples of how a micro and a macro change can be different:

MACRO: “I’m going to sign up for the hot yoga studio with a one year’s unlimited pass and go every single day no matter what gets in my way!” (Meanwhile, you haven’t been on your yoga mat in years and find that walking the dog for 30 minutes a day is hard to achieve most days).

MICRO: “I know I love to do yoga and have been struggling to make time to go to classes. I am going to use that free yoga app and try to accumulate 30 minutes on my mat each week, in a minimum of 10-minute increments. I will re-assess how that feels in one month.”

Remember that consistency matters more than intensity. In other words, the things you do often, the habits you build daily, the small and frequent things impact our wellness more than the rare things we do intensely. A micro-change, something you’re able to slowly and frequently weave into your daily habits can make a very big difference over time. And if it’s something you enjoy and is realistic, you’re moving in the right direction!

If you could use some support creating a realistic and iterative plan, please reach out to the
BCPVPA EIP Program.  We are here for you!

With respect and admiration,

Darby Barnes
Rehabilitation Consultant
Humanworks Consulting Group Inc.

Darby is a registered clinical counsellor who describes her work calling as “caring for people who care for people” and has worked supporting leaders and workers in complex human serving systems (health care and education) for over a decade.  She specifically supports educators and education leaders and finds deep joy and honour in her work.

The Humanworks EIP column appears in BCPVPA’s eNews the first Friday of each month.

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