Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Wellness “Script”

Just what exactly do we mean by a “script?”  Sociologists study experiences and behaviors, resulting in the knowledge that there are shared rules that govern (or should govern) how we act, and why we act the way we do. These are mostly unwritten scripts but they greatly influence our day-in / day-out behaviors and interactions.

In short, scripts are the reason we intuitively know what to do in a given situation, such as when we find ourselves standing in a long line for any number of reasons. Remember the post office line at Christmas? We roll our eyes, shift from foot to foot, shake our heads, and comment to those in front of and behind us to vent about the inefficient process and lack of personnel. In fact, we know pretty much what that experience will be before we ever arrive. Shifting from negative to positive, we also know the script for a holiday party. We expect to see friends, share smiles, and enjoy ourselves, no matter what kind of day we’ve had. 

So, OK, you know this is a Wellness Blog, so now, think about that wellness script. What does it say? Is it a script you follow, or one that might need a re-write? Here’s a clue—as a rule, it’s exactly those experiences that jump out at you that are most often the same experiences that change an existing script.

You had a really bad day at work—everything that could go wrong, did. You just wanted to go home, relax, eat some real comfort food.  Before you knew it, that box of macaroni and cheese was gone. So was the leftover Chinese in the take-out carton, and so was the last of the pizza from two days ago. Now you’re mad at yourself, and madder still at the situation that created that felt desire to eat the refrigerator.

Time to re-write a script.

Go back to the “bad day” scenario. Go back to what set it off and how you felt when you got home. Nothing in that day said, “go home and eat whatever makes you feel good.” What it really said was, “this has been a crummy day and didn’t go at all the way I hoped it would.” The script you re-write says you go home and make it better. You focus on what’s important and good about your life. You focus on how you can take the “crummy day” and give it a positive outcome by doing something positive—something you feel good about—something that’s in your true and long-term best interest.

Believe it or not, that something positive might be as simple as going for a long walk, playing outdoors with your kids, yoga, jumping rope, or cooking a healthy comfort food meal and then eating only the recommended serving size. Think about all the ways you can replace the “crummy day has to end badly” script with one that says, “This is your day to conquer. This is your day to be your best. This is your day to overcome and re-write those old scripts.”  Maybe now’s a good time for a re-write.

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