There are many dimensions of wellness. The National Wellness Institute recognizes six: intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social, occupational, and physical.
The physical dimension, how active we are and how we look, often gets the most attention. For many of us, getting active is a good place to start as we focus on our overall health. Exercise is tied to many positive health outcomes and to our overall wellbeing.
There’s a chicken and egg scenario here. The more we are physically active, the greater the possibility that we will feel well in the other dimensions of our lives. However, sometimes if we don’t feel well emotionally or spiritually (for instance), it is hard to motivate ourselves to be physically active.
Recent research (March 2014) points to a little brain game we can play with ourselves to increase motivation on those days when we “just don’t feel like it.” Researchers from the University of New Hampshire found that college students were more likely to work out if they took some time to recount positive memories associated with working out. According to Sciencedaily.com, this is the first study to explore how positive memories influence future workouts. Further, the research shows how memory can be tied to future actions.
So here is your wellness activity for today.
1. Write down five positive memories associated with being active. Try to make the memories specific. Instead of “I felt good,” you might write, “I felt stronger and more vibrant the entire night after being on the elliptical for 30 minutes.”
2. Tape the list in a place where you will see it often throughout the day (the refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, your computer screen, etc.).
3. See if it helps your motivation!
Study reference: Mathew J. Biondolillo, David B. Pillemer. Using memories to motivate future behaviour: An experimental exercise intervention. Memory, 2014; 1 DOI:10.1080/09658211.2014.889709