Last month’s column focused on one of my presidential spotlights — mentoring — and featured an interview with Ashlei Petion who recently transitioned from student to new professional. Ashlei discussed what made her transition easier, how to get involved with the American Counseling Association and how she maximized her time in her graduate program. I also challenged students and new professionals to check in with their current mentor or start the steps to begin looking for a mentor to help them with the journey.
By now, many of you are interviewing potential mentors or checking in with your mentors to help you gain professional development skills to pursue your life’s purpose. Some of you may be returning from the annual ACA Conference & Expo in Toronto where you were able to connect with your friends, colleagues and mentors to refocus and continue the work of social advocacy for your clients, students and communities.
But to be able to go out and do social advocacy work and continue pursuing your life’s purpose, you must make time to practice wellness and self-care. Wellness is an active process of becoming aware and making choices that will aid in having work-life balance. Practicing wellness should lead to change and growth.
Why is your wellness important? It is important for two reasons:
- You cannot be a good leader, advocate, clinician and mentor without being aware of your personal wellness and self-care.
- You cannot be a social justice advocate without making time for wellness and self-care.
What does wellness look like in everyday life? Many people believe in wellness, but they don’t know what wellness looks like or how to apply wellness to their everyday lives. Incorporating wellness into your daily routine involves:
- Participating in and initiating activities that are not connected to your job or advocacy — and doing this solely for wellness.
- Enjoying simple things that foster wellness (such as unplugging), including wellness activities in your daily schedule, taking time to rest or making time to be active in sports or exercise activities.
- Creating a formal wellness plan focused on specific domains that you would like to do more with or learn more about.
How do you advocate for wellness? To be a better advocate for wellness, you need to:
- Make wellness a nonnegotiable part of your life.
- Set personal boundaries to ensure that you have time to practice wellness.
- Hold yourself accountable to set personal wellness goals and boundaries.
How can a wellness circle help? A wellness circle is a group of people you can talk to about your experiences. This group includes people who are modeling best practices and solutions and who will encourage you to pay attention to your wellness to avoid burnout. Your wellness circle should also serve as a mirror and ensure that you are holding yourself accountable for making wellness a priority. Your wellness circle should — without fail — ask about your progress and tell you the truth about how you are doing.
This month, I challenge you to take at least 15 minutes out of your week to practice wellness. I also challenge you to advocate more for your wellness using your wellness circle. Happy wellness!