The last few years of pandemic have been a clear reminder that we must prioritize our own health. Beyond the literal existential threat of COVID-19, all of the other adjustments we’ve made to our lives have been rough and may have a cumulative effect on our health and stress levels. It may sometimes feel like a struggle just getting through each day, so we encourage everyone to be gentle with themselves. Take stock of how you are doing today, let go of expectations for how anyone thinks you should be, and accept yourself as you are. Building this self-awareness is an important foundation for your overall wellness.
The tagline is meant to be an important reminder as we introduce these Wellness Wednesday posts. Wellness is about cultivating a sense of your best selves in dimensions like your physical, mental, and emotional health. What does it feel like when you’re on a several day streak of feeling physically at your best? And how does it feel when, say, your mental and emotional health are struggling while your physical health is thriving? Wellness should be approached holistically, and it exists on a spectrum between your least and most healthy selves, your highest & lowest performing selves. Wellness is about creating habits that facilitate consistency, and allow you to feel and be at your best more frequently.
Your wellness will reflect the overall quality of your life experiences. Besides your mental, physical, and emotional health, wellness includes your social, environmental, and spiritual health as well. With so many different moving parts, wellness will look different for everyone at different times! You are the best judge of where you are, so the first step is to accept where you are so that you can take realistic steps towards improving your well-being. This is how we break poor habits and replace them with better ones. This is also how we maintain motivation to keep up our good habits that may be less joyful, but we also encourage you to find joy within those habits, even if it’s just the simple joy of daydreaming about the results you hope to achieve. Wellness is about setting those intentions and maintaining the attitude that will help you feel and perform at your best.
The reality is that so much of our lives are not under our control. However, our attitudes and how we respond to life circumstances are something we have agency over, so we encourage you to pay attention to the way you feel about yourself and your environment. Put yourself in a holistic conversation with wellness and, from wherever you currently are, ask yourself “what choices can I make today to support my long term wellness?” On rougher days it might be binge watching a show, on easier ones it might be hitting your workout routine, so taking stock of how you feel can help you make the current best choice for yourself, whether that means pushing yourself harder or being more gentle. Wellness is about cultivating a healthy sense of self-love and putting that into conversation with your daily choices.
They say that when you know better, you do better, but it’s more complicated than that. It’s not just about what you know, but also how you feel and what is accessible to you from moment to moment. When you know what feels better, and are motivated by the desire to feel better more consistently, you’ll be more likely to apply what you know that is better. That’s when you do better, and wellness is about cultivating that sense of your best selves. Wellness is about maintaining the motivation to make the best choices available to you. It’s about intentionally taking consistent actions, making the better of multiple choices as often as possible, recognizing your strengths and limitations, and how you may operate most effectively within them. In many ways, wellness is about a perpetual knowledge of self and surroundings, and it doesn’t require any ambitions beyond doing your best, whatever that looks like for you right now.
In starting our Wellness Wednesday posts, we have a few simple goals. We hope that they serve as a reminder to check-in with yourself, and that those check-ins facilitate you being in conversation with your wellness. We also aim to make them informative, and hope that our simple suggestions provide a variety of options for you to consider when asking yourself “what choices can I make today to support my wellness?” The posts will offer some concrete things you can do, but will mainly serve as guidance for you to find the specific activities and strategies to help you cope with stress and build up your well-being.
In closing, we’d also just like to acknowledge that we view wellness in a holistic way. We recognize that the work that we and others do in community organizing and elsewhere is also tied into the wellness of our communities. We also recognize that this work can be stressful, and sometimes isolating or even demoralizing when things get tough. That’s one of the main reasons we’re starting this in fact, because we recognize that it is far too easy to burn out doing this type of work, and while we do ultimately believe in building community wellness, it is each of our responsibilities to take care of ourselves and attend to our own needs so that we can do this work long term. Your communities need you, and they will support you in many ways, yet ultimately we must each make the choices from moment to moment that will ensure our own wellness is taken care of. We hope that we all get better at listening to our multidimensional selves and attune to our needs so that we may be of better service to those around us.