Motivation alone, without a clear plan does not propel us into action – especially in the face of challenges. This year, we’re exploring the connection between happiness and good health. Wellness is being in good health or one’s best possible health – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, and positive well-being can influence happiness. A wellness vision can help lead to your best, healthy and happy self. Earlier this year, our Population Health Team presented on “Creating a Wellness Vision + Taking Charge of Your Thoughts.” We decided to share some key information from this presentation to help you create your wellness vision.
What is wellness?
Wellness is not the absence of disease or the opposite of illness. Wellness is the presence of well-being and the culmination of life and health-giving practices. Living well opens the door for happiness.
What is a wellness vision?
A wellness vision is clarifying a vision of what we want to gain versus what we want to lose. For example, saying “I want to walk pain free” versus “I don’t want to be in pain when I walk.” An effective wellness vision should encompass the visualized outcomes of dietary, physical activity, stress management, and overall health and wellness improvements.
How do I develop a wellness vision?
When developing a wellness vision, first focus on the following pillars for a foundation:
- Past and current successes
- Best experiences
- Values (Who do I want to be?)
- Behaviors (What activities do I want to do consistently?)
- Support (What support team and structures will I put in place?)
- Outcomes (What results do I want to achieve?)
Second, paint a picture of your vision and get detailed with your imagination. Have you ever watched a television series with a full story line? Imagine you are watching a show like this of your best, healthiest self. What does it look it? Ask yourself:
- What daily activities do you see?
- Where do you see yourself?
- Who do you envision sharing your wellness with?
- What foods do you see yourself eating?
- What does your mood feel like?
Third, focus on the key elements of your vision. Ask yourself:
- What are the most important elements in your vision? Examples may include nature, hobbies, physical activities, family and friends.
- What kind of person do you want to be when it comes to your health, fitness, or wellness? An independent person, a healthy eater, stress free and/or active with sports and activities
Fourth, build upon what works. Think about your best experiences. When have you felt like you were your healthiest self? Reflect on all of the components that went into the development of this experience. Ask yourself:
- What was your environment like at that time?
- What activities were you doing?
- What accountability strategies did you use?
- What support systems were in place?
- What was your physical activity routine?
- What were your dietary habits?
- What motivated you in the past?
Fifth, reflect your values. Focusing on values develops intrinsic motivation. Ask yourself:
- Without being modest, what do you value most about your life?
- What do you value in those you hold close to you?
- What values does your wellness vision support?
Sixth, identify your motivators. The motivating factors may come from the positive outcomes you envision from optimizing your health. Go deeper than just being healthy and look at why being health is important to you and what positive changes could come from optimizing your health. Ask yourself:
- What makes this vision really important to you?
- Why do you really want to reach this vision?
- What or who do you envision as a driver behind reaching this vision?
- What good – for you and your loved ones – will come from you reaching your vision?
Seventh, think about the challenges that you may face. Envision ways you can overcome these challenges or ways you can prevent these challenges from happening through preparation. Ask yourself:
- What strengths can you draw on to help you realize your vision and meet your challenges?
- How can the lessons from your successes in life carry over to your current challenges?
Eighth, put together a support system. Think about what people, resources, systems, and environments
you can draw on to help you realize your vision and meet your challenges. Ask yourself:
- Who can you count on to support your healthy habit changes?
- What accountability tools do you need to support your goals?
Put each of these components together to create your wellness vision which serves as your road map or North Star guide to wellness. Your wellness vision is there for you when you are feeling down or unmotivated. Use this wellness vision as a tool to help you take charge of your thoughts.
How do I take charge of my thoughts?
Harmful thoughts get in the way of your eating, fitness, and wellness goals. For example, saying “It’s too cold outside to go for a walk.” Helpful thoughts help you reach your eating, fitness, and wellness goals. For example, saying “I will dress warm for the weather and go for a walk outside.” The best way to take charge of your thoughts is to replace harmful thoughts with helpful thoughts.
Examples of harmful thoughts vs. helpful thoughts
|Harmful thoughts||Helpful thoughts|
|Exercise is boring.||I will keep trying new activities until I find one that I like.|
|I haven't stuck to my diet at all this week.||I will plan out my meals to stay on track next week.|
|I can't meet my eating goals because my spouse keeps making cookies.||I will ask my spouse to make something healthy instead of cookies.|
|I just know I'm going to get type 2 diabetes, since both my parents had it.||I will make the lifestyle modifications with my diet and exercise to prevent type 2 diabetes.|
Remember that wellness and happiness is a journey. If you practice the tips discussed in this article, your roadmap should be clearer. Don’t forget Aspire Health Plan members have no-cost access to an enhanced care team including health coaches who offer one-on-one telephone support to help you meet your health goals. Learn more.
We will continue to share activities and content showing how happiness can lead to better overall health. Follow along on our blog and social media pages (Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn) and share your journey with us using the hashtag #AspireChooseHappy.