The Wellness Recovery Package

As a nation, we are in deep doo-doo.  Jobs are disappearing in droves.  People are losing their homes, their health care, their confidence in the “American Dream.”  It’s a tough time, no doubt.  At a time of crisis like this, the worst thing we could do is to ignore the fact that this is an extreme test of our stress resilience factor.  While clearly, some people are hurting more than others, the uncertainty we all face is stressful.

We will get through this, of course.  Despite all of our hand wringing, the universe will unfold and we will survive.  The question is, will we come out stronger and wiser, or will we be a collective frazzled mess.

I’m a fan of the stronger, wiser option.  One way to do that, is to use this opportunity to improve upon those things in our lives over which we have control.  We don’t have a lot to say about freeing up the credit market, but we can dump our own “toxic assets” by dropping a few pounds and getting closer to our ideal weight.  We may not be able to do much about our home’s dropping value, but we can focus instead on the value that those we love bring to our lives.  The obvious greed of Wall Street may make us mad as hell, but instead of letting it eat at our gastric lining, we can make use of that energy and hit a heavy bag with abandon.

As our President gives press conferences and leads town hall meetings delineating his Economic Recovery Plan designed to lead us out of this mess, I would like to propose my own “Wellness Recovery Plan.”

To use the same rhetorical tool as our President uses, I will describe my Plan as a combination of three things….a “three-legged stool,” if you will.  This is a very simple plan consisting of three things…three actions…to take each day, that together will work to improve your physical, mental and spiritual wellness.  I promise that if you do these three things consistently every day as we all work to get out of the economic hole we are in, you will emerge as our country will,  stronger and healthier.

The Plan is to take ONE step each day in each of three Initiatives:

1) The Movement Initiative
2) The Eat This, Not That Initiative
3) The Wealth Appreciation Initiative

The Movement Initiative

Every day until this crisis ends, make one choice in favor of movement.  This may be a choice to walk instead of drive.  It may be to stand and stretch during commercials instead of sitting numb as marketers feverishly peddle their junk food.  It may be a choice of stairs over the elevator.  The point is to, at least once a day, make a clear choice to do the healthier thing.

This doesn’t need to be a big deal.  It doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  I’m not asking you to train for a marathon.  These are small, easily accomplished tasks.  As you look for ways to make this choice each day, you will naturally become more conscious of how to be more active without even trying.  It will work….but only if you do it.

The Eat This, Not That Initiative

You can probably guess this one.  Again, it is a very small choice that I am asking you to make, every day.  We all know what the better choice is when we are faced with a nutritional quandary.  It is usually pretty obvious, but if you really are unsure, there are books out there to help (Eat This, Not That).  It may look like eating an apple instead of chips…or a drink of water instead of that Coke…or munching on a bowl of whole grain cereal at night instead of ice cream.  It could be as simple as drinking skim milk instead of whole milk.  If you make just one decision in the direction of better nutrition each day, by the end of this crisis you will be healthier, possibly lighter, and definitely more enlightened about how much control you really do have over your health.

The Wealth Appreciation Initiative

So your 401K doesn’t look so great right now.  It is depressing, but it is what it is.  You can focus on that and be bummed out and angry.  The result:  You will be bummed out, angry, and less wealthy than you were a year ago.

Option two:  You can focus on the wealth that exists in your life right now that cannot be taken away.  The result:   You will still be less financially wealthy than you were last year, but your emotional wealth will grow exponentially.

Take time every day to take an honest inventory of your true wealth.  This includes the important people in your life, the dogs who love you, the home you live in, the amount of material wealth that is in your life, especially when you think about the millions and millions of people around the world who have so much less.  We may think we have it bad…but compared to the rest of the world, we are still quite well off.  As you start focusing on what is good in your life, what isn’t so great takes on less importance.  It also simply feels a lot better.

That’s it!  It is a very simple plan.  It pales in complexity next to what the Senate and House must wrangle over this week.  But it will work.  And it is one way to take charge, right now, when life seems so out of control.

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