Friday, June 26, 2015

Sh'mirat HaChayim

I've been talking to quite a few people about the positive changes that I've been aiming to make in my life recently--positive steps to become a happier and healthier me. As many of you are aware, the past academic year has been an extremely challenging one, both personally and professionally. I am very lucky to have gotten back on my feet, but spent a ton of time feeling lost and down and trying to figure out what exactly to do to get out of my rut.

My first step was to ask for help. I went to Genuine Fitness and set up a meeting with a personal trainer (shout out to Tara!). The next morning (read: 7:30 a.m.) I was back in the gym for my first session with a second one scheduled for that Thursday (two days later). I had started to make changes, but still felt like this wasn't enough. I had started to make changes before...the problem was often follow-through, a difficult concept when you're lacking direction.

So on Friday, June 19th, I decided to give myself some direction. Remembering a staff learning session about areas of wellness, I googled the phrase and stumbled upon a great website: UCR's Seven Dimensions of Wellness.

I clicked on each section and looked at their questions for what they considered "healthy" or constituted "wellness" in each area. Unsurprisingly (in my rut), I found plenty of things that I felt were missing/lacking in these areas and took a page out of my Passion Planner to begin writing a plan. The image below describes what MY personal plans for self-improvement are:

I know the image may be small, so to reiterate in print:

  • Dedicate ONE HOUR PER DAY to interact with friends (in person or by phone)
  • Say "YES!" to more invitations (I often say no due to pure exhaustion)
  • Initiate more invitations (see above)

  • Dedicate ONE HOUR PER WEEK for therapy (ensure that this remains a priority)
  • Work on POSITIVE outlets for stress and utilize strengths to bolster weaknesses
  • Set weekly & daily priorities and try to live by them

  • Say "Modeh Ani" every morning
  • Dedicate 30 MINUTES PER DAY for meditation
  • Be more involved inside of services (rather than sitting outside of them)

  • Plan ONE DAY PER WEEK for house cleaning
  • Plan ONE DAY PER WEEK to take out trash & recycling
  • Vacuum 2-3 TIMES PER WEEK 
  • Do laundry ONE DAY PER WEEK  

  • Dedicate TWO HOURS PER DAY for reading & learning
  • Take advantage of all new learning opportunities
  • Pass on one piece of learning to others EVERY DAY  

  • Dedicate ONE HOUR PER DAY to physical activity (yoga, personal training, Couch to 5K)
  • Be honest and truthful when tracking nutrition
  • Go grocery shopping TWO TIMES PER MONTH
  • Get a massage ONCE A MONTH
  • Get a manicure & pedicure ONCE A MONTH


Why am I sharing this? For a few reasons. First, because others have asked about how and why I came about my new positive changes. Second, because by publishing, it holds me accountable and explains why I'll be posting certain things on social media (another way of keeping myself accountable and entering into a positive feedback loop). Third, because I'm excited about it.

While speaking with a friend about this tonight (hi Ari!) we were talking about sh'mirat hanefesh (guarding the soul) and sh'mirat haguf (guarding the body). Both of these are included in the action steps outlined above. But more importantly, I'm concerned about sh'mirat hachayim, guarding my life and making it worth guarding in the first place. One step, bite, smile, sore muscle, and phone call at a time.

Comments are always appreciated, but I ask that they be respectful--change is never easy.

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