Orb weaver; photo credit: my zoology friend, Syd. Sorry arachnophobes. I thought the photo was amazing.
A return to beginnings here; if you’ve read my first memoir,The Wellness Diaries, you know that it all began with my jotting down thoughts here and there about mood, sleep, discoveries about food/nutrition and exercise preferences. Once I asserted these and integrated them into my life, I had more to give to others, the world around me and even back to myself. They paid for themselves many times over. New opportunities and possibilities began to open up for me. It is as though I was rewarded for taking care of myself. How about that?! This is just my submission to each individual. This is the beauty of a wellness diary.
To those of you who haven’t tried it, the effects of your own wellness diary are far reaching. Jotting in your own private wellness diary about your sleep patterns, moods, exercise routine and food choices teach you a lot of valuable information about yourself, your preferences, likes and dislikes. Wellness is about the individual-the many layers of spirit, mind and body. I like to say that wellness is health expanded. There are so many layers worth exploring. A lot is covered there, probably more than you realize. Chances are that you will discover as I did a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and that wonderfully refreshing feeling of self-honesty. Keeping a wellness diary helps you to “own it.” The level of relief and liberation in learning something new about your likes and dislikes, and practicing the assertiveness to just go with that new knowledge, and applying it in your life is difficult to describe. Suffice it to say that not only does it build character and makes you stronger, but it is a catalyst for your own helpful journey, and quite likely before you even realized you were on a journey! Then you will look back on how far you’ve come and it will be rewarding exciting and inspirational, not only for yourself but for others also. Others begin to see the changes that you have planned and integrated, a building of yourself.
It is just like exercise, meditation, stress reduction, setting yourself up for sound sleep, or any other health promoting habit. It pays off and there is the added benefit of putting your mind and body into it. This encourages self-efficacy. Growth. Strength. Confidence. Alignment. Inspiration. So many keywords are associated with the work you are already doing as you recreate yourself and your immediate surroundings, enjoying regular musings through jottings in your wellness diary. You can learn to get creative and have fun with it! What’s more, it can be as elaborate or as simple as you wish.
There are many benefits. Writing in your wellness diary is to practice mindfulness. It is also a form of brain exercise. The act of writing with your hand, the slower pace of it, helps you to retain, relive and remember meaningful information and detail. Writing it down is also a form of release, whether what you are writing about was positive or negative, writing it is to set it free. What’s even better, you are learning something about that topic which you write about, and how it affects you. Keeping your wellness diary will teach you a lot.
It is very simple to do. You don’t even necessarily have to write daily. You can write when you have a new idea, thought, or have learned something new about your well-being, either through your own observation, (key) or through some other source, tips that you decided to apply that worked for you, for example.
One aspect of health and wellness is of course is exercise. I don’t know many people who actually just love exercising; this includes me. I love the outcomes and the benefits that exercise gives me, but it’s not like I wake up on Monday mornings and say “yes! Triceps today yeeeeeeeeeEEE-hawwww!” Not exactly; if anything, I would describe that scene as a form of healthy drudgery, where I’m not particularly looking forward to it, but I see it as essential and I just do it. It’s just one of those ‘musts’ in my life. I’m glad after I have exercised. It is an essential part of life. The benefits are nearly endless. Gut health, cardiovascular health, strengthened immunity, stress reduction, improved sleep, increased feel-good hormones, elimination of toxins, improved productivity and creativity-these are just a few of the many benefits of regular exercise. This is why it is an essential. However, there is no doubt that it is hard work. It helps to keep your body thriving in so many ways. Everyone knows that exercise is beneficial, yet how many still do it regularly? Take any health habit positive or negative, and you can write in your wellness diary about it. “There’s a diary entry for that!” Everyone knows that smoking is detrimental to health, yet plenty of people still smoke. I’m not knocking people who smoke. There are many factors involved in the reasons for it being so difficult to quit. These are just examples.
You can also include a section about where you are on your path with your goals, or your pursuit of happiness if you will. You may find it helpful to first write something in a positive light, such as where you feel your life is rich and abundant, having what you want, have wanted. This extends into the area of gratitude. Then you can also contrast this to your jots about what you feel is missing from your life. Be honest and without self-criticism or blame; there is no right or wrong answer here. Self-honesty is one of the most important components. Once you have the two sides, take an honest look about what you can change toward your goals and happy pursuits, and the steps you will take to achieve them. Be honest, realistic, and allow yourself time. This part is very helpful to write down. It helps you to make distinctions and clarity.
The point is that you are more likely to engage in the healthful habit of regular exercise (or any health promoting habit within spirit, mind and body) if you are aware of the ones that you just don’t like, practice self-honesty and just eliminate and reduce you obligating and “shoulding” yourself to keep those in your workout plan. For example, I am not a runner. I’m not really designed to run fast or for very long. Could I train to become faster and to run for longer distance? Absolutely. But do I want to, and is that feasible/realistic for my goals? No. And am I worried about that? No. I am honest with myself; I learn clarity with likes and dislikes and I just “go with it”. This is so refreshing. I can’t really tell you; it’s something you must experience for yourself.
When you realize that this applies to every aspect of wellness, you see the huge potential here. But on my journey, learning something about which exercises were palatable was big for me, before I could really commit to exercising regularly. I believe this is a practical application for anyone. Making it easier for yourself is part of setting yourself up for success. Learning about the types of exercise that are less grueling makes it easier to exercise regularly.
Sleep, food choices, your social style, (are you an introvert or extrovert and to what extent)? Your dreams, aspirations, stress, triggers, moods, mental health tips and discoveries, all these matter. They are helpful to know throughout your life. This can be especially helpful at this time of year during the winter when it is harder to get out, or to get the motivation to exercise. It is also a great time to be learning these many aspects of wellness jotted in your wellness diary to be integrated into new plans, life changers, and goals for the upcoming year. All these can be part of your wellness diary collage and journey!
As mentioned before, too many options produces stress; eliminating some of the options is to De-clutter and is refreshing, a healthy habit.
I submit that a new world awaits. You have only to start writing it and doing it; it is an exercise by itself. You can get all into it, creatively and being organized by wellness topic, even with tabs, chapters, headings, and photos/illustrations if you choose. Or, you could simply jot it all down into one big hodge-podge of wellness practices and ideas.
One nice thing about a wellness diary is that when you tend to forget, you can look back at certain aspects to spark your memory as part of self-help, growth and building your spirit, mind, body, and your life. It all starts with your wellness diary.
After all, that is exactly where it began for me-the journey since then has continued to sprout, grow and branch. I submit that exploration, discovery and study for life-long learning is one of the joys of life. I highly recommend enhancing it with your own wellness diary, during this season as a new beginning for yourself.
Season’s joy, peace, cheer, and happy/healthy 2023 to all,