Short-term brain, Wellness brain

“What do you do to preserve your sense of wellness?”

I was recently asked this question as the prompt to a breakout I was a part of, and I gave an answer that I found surprising:

“Ignore my short-term brain.”

Things my short-term brain regularly tells me:

  • I don’t want to walk the dog for 40 minutes each and every morning, no matter the weather;
  • 4 out of 5 days, I’m not ‘in the mood’ to work out, and I should skip it;
  • I have a bit more work to do, I probably don’t have time to sit down with my family for dinner tonight;
  • To really unwind, I need to watch a TV show after my kids go to bed;
  • I should eat dessert, or fried food, first.

And yet:

  • 9 out of 10 times I finish that morning walk feeling more grounded and clearer;
  • 4 out of 5 times the workout was a great idea;
  • Work will never end, and dinnertime is the fabric of family life;
  • I need a good nights’ sleep more than I need ‘down time,’ and for that I need to go to sleep earlier than feels right and to wind down slowly;
  • I should eat more colorful vegetables.

I don’t have a perfect definition of wellness, but I associate it with words like “groundedness,” “spaciousness,” “connection,” and “self-care,” and with time in nature, with family and friends, and asleep.

These last two years at home have given me more time, and my need to break up the endless expanse of the sameness of this time led me to impose structure on my days and weeks.

By ritualizing activities that refill my stores of wellness, my job, most days, is to keep to these structures. This, in turn, requires habitually ignoring what my short-term brain says it wants to do.

To be honest, this is harder than it sounds: it requires a certain amount of discipline, and a good degree of grooving of my habits.

Plus, occasionally I throw everything out the window to binge on a new TV show…even if I quickly regret that the next morning.

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