How many times have you been going along with your wellness efforts, doing great, then suddenly WHAM! real life steps in – a family emergency, an unexpected business trip, etc.? We’ve probably all been there from time to time.
When this happens, it can really derail our Wellness efforts. Behavior change is hard. That can make us feel as if we need to structure our wellness plans rigidly so we leave no room for error. We may think that’s the only way we can be successful.
Here’s the problem with that, though….If we are too structured with our wellness plans, when we have those unexpected interruptions, we don’t have room to adjust. This could feed into the discouragement we talked about in Why Is It So Hard to Get Healthy and cause us to completely abandon our plans.
Something that can help us with that dilemma is to build a ‘cushion’ into our wellness plan. If we give ourselves a little wiggle room, when things go off-track a little, it’s easier for us re-calibrate and continue to move forward with our wellness efforts.
Making Room for “Real Life” in Our Wellness Plan
For healthy eating, some things that help us build that ‘cushion’ could be:
- Have some easy ‘go-to’ meals that are quick to prepare and cook.
- Cook in batches when you have the extra time and energy, then freeze some meals so you always have something heathy you can ‘heat and eat’ in the freezer.
- Have some ‘grab and go’ snacks that you can throw in your bag to help you with healthy eating on the road.
For exercise, here are some things that might help:
- Give yourself permission ahead of time to skip some exercise days if you need to. You’d be amazed what a difference this can make in helping you not get off-track with exercise. When you plan to skip a workout day, you don’t suffer the whole failure/guilt/discouragement continuum that makes you feel like you’ve messed up so you might as well give up.
- Have more than one option for exercise. Having several options can help if you aren’t feeling your best, you get hurt and have to avoid certain exercises, or you have to travel and don’t have access to the equipment you’d normally have. For example, you might not feel well enough to get out for a walk, but a few gentle Yoga poses might be exactly what’s needed.
In the area of Financial Wellness, it might help to:
- Have a “Miscellaneous” category in our budget for small, unexpected expenses.
- Start or build your emergency savings account.
For the Environmental Dimension of Wellness, a cushion could be:
- Make a habit of cleaning up messes as you go throughout the day, and don’t let things like mail pile up. If we have a daily ‘spiffing-up’ habit established, if we have to miss a couple of cleaning days, it won’t be such a big deal.
These are just some examples for a couple of the dimensions of Wellness. This idea could be applied to any dimension of our Wellness we’re working on. Our “cushion” or “wiggle room” could be the difference in whether or not we experience success.
So often, we feel as if we have to have a perfect plan and stick to it perfectly. As Winston Churchill famously said, though, “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” Having some space in our plans to make adjustments might mean we don’t execute them perfectly all the time. That’s okay, because it helps us make room for real life. Ultimately, that helps us continue to make consistent forward progress.
Do you make room in your Wellness plan for unexpected interruptions in your wellness efforts? Have you found it helpful? Please share!