We’re bombarded with wellbeing content (articles, apps, websites, campaigns etc) all the time. It is part of an information overload that most of us experience. Having a mental routine that you follow when consuming wellbeing content can help you extract more from what you engage with and build it into your life in effective ways. In this post, I explore the elements of such a routine.
The other day I was perusing Student Minds UK, the website of a UK student focused mental health charity.
I was looking for content that I could share here at Flinders (I ended up sharing The Wellbeing Thesis with the HDR Connect Group).
It got me thinking of the dynamics of sharing wellbeing content with other people.
It is common practice for someone in my field to find useful content (articles, blogs, apps, books, websites, social media, videos, podcasts etc) and then share that with others. For example, I recently started the Linkfest on this blog, where I aggregate selected links to wellbeing content I’ve found in my travels. In addition to sharing lots of content, I also have lots of content shared with me, because of the websites and organisations that I subscribe to (see my reading list).
Sharing is generally done with good intentions, but I find myself wondering what (if any) impact it actually has.
The underlying assumption if someone shares something with you is that they believe you’ll be able to extract some value from it. It might be a useful insight into a personally relevant topic (e.g. insights into why we procrastinate). It could be a nice explanation of why certain wellbeing activities produce the outcomes they do (e.g. why does sleep improve learning). It might be specific actions/skills you can learn and implement in your own life (e.g. cold exposure for motivation).
But the distance between someone sharing wellbeing content and the other person experiencing a genuine positive shift in their wellbeing is a big one to traverse.
Thus, it raises the question, what could you do to maximise the value you obtain from wellbeing content that is shared with you? Here are a few thoughts.
✅ Determine if you have necessary mental bandwidth: People share with me more content that I can possibly consume, so my first decision is always whether I have the mental space and time to engage with the content. If yes, I set aside the time to consume. If no, I add it to Pocket with the possibility of consuming later. Each of us is confronted by more information than we could possibly absorb, so we need to prioritise and protect our mental energy.
✅ Reflect on the article: After reading the wellbeing article, I take some time to reflect on the key concepts, ideas, and strategies presented. I consider whether the concepts resonate with me and how they may apply to my life and my current wellbeing challenges. I ask myself whether the article highlights things I might already be doing (e.g. strengths) or whether it points to areas for improvement. It is very useful at this stage to consider the quality of the article. Some things you can use to assess quality are:
- Credibility of the source: Consider the expertise, reputation, and credentials of the author or organization providing the information. Do you trust them to provide helpful advice?
- Accuracy and completeness of the information: Check the facts presented in the information and verify them through other sources if possible. Ask yourself whether the information covers different perspectives or whether there might be some biases involved.
- Currency of the information: Is the information up-to-date and relevant to your current context or situation.
- Objectivity of the information: Look for balanced and unbiased information that presents all sides of an issue or that is upfront in pushing a specific perspective.
- Clarity and readability: High-quality information is presented in a clear and easy-to-understand manner, with proper grammar and syntax.
- Consistency with other information: Is what you are reading consistent with other reputable sources of information on the same topic.
✅ Set specific goals: If the article contains actionable content, I might try setting some specific, realistic, and achievable goals related to the content and my life. For example, if an article recommends meditation, I might consider what a meditation goal would be for me, for example, “practice mindfulness for 10 minutes daily at lunchtime using my meditation app,”. The more specific you can be, the more likely it is you’ll give it a try. I don’t always intend on pursuing the goal, but I think about what actioning the advice in the article would look like. Influenced by writers like BJ Fogg (Tiny Habits), the early goals I set are often very small. I think about what the minimum change necessary to activate the insights in the article would be and consider building that into my life.
✅ Develop an action plan: For content that really resonates with me, I might create a concrete action plan with specific steps that I can take towards my wellbeing goals. I’ll be honest, this only happens occasionally, because most wellbeing content that I consume is for knowledge purposes only, rather than making changes in my life. But I go through stages in my life where I am open to new habits and practices and when that is the case, it is useful to take what you are learning from reading and translate it into specific plans.
✅ Take consistent action: Wellbeing is often improved on the basis of regular consistent actions (i.e. habits, routines). Thus, when I learn something from a wellbeing article, I consider what the advice would look like turned into a new habit or routine. I’m also mindful that when we introduce new wellbeing practices into our lives, it can take a while for the benefits to show, so I try to remind myself to commit for at least a couple of weeks/months in order to test whether the advice is helpful. As you read an article consider what the advice within would look like in terms of intentional and consistent action, embedded into your daily routine. Remember to stay committed and disciplined in your efforts, and be patient with yourself as behavior change takes time. Celebrate your progress and achievements along the way.
✅ Reflect and adjust: If you treat the advice you read in articles as hypotheses, rather than explicit truths, you can take a more experimental approach in embedding them into your life. Try them out and see what happens. Regularly reflect on the impacts of what you are doing and change as needed. Be mindful of any challenges or obstacles that may arise and adapt your strategies accordingly. If certain strategies from an article do not work for you (and you feel you’ve given it a good test) feel free to explore alternative approaches.
✅ Seek support if needed: I’m pretty bad with this one as I generally try to do most wellbeing activities on my own. But I am frequently reminded that engaging the support of others in pursuing wellbeing goals, typically accelerates one’s progress towards those goals. If you are finding it challenging to implement the strategies you’ve learned from your reading or make significant improvements to your wellbeing on your own, consider seeking support from a therapist, coach, or other qualified professional. They can provide guidance, accountability, and tailored strategies to support your unique needs and goals. Professionals aside, consider just engaging friends and family to help you along the way. It is often the case that others are seeking companionship in chasing their wellbeing goals and would be keen to team up.
These steps can be integrated into a mental routine we follow when consuming wellbeing content
If it helps, you can consider this article a form of wellbeing advice. Take the suggestions above and develop a mental routine for when you encounter new wellbeing content:
- Do I have the mental bandwidth to take this on?
- Is this a high-quality resource?
- Are there valuable insights in this article? What are they?
- What would those insights look like translated into habits and routines?
- Would those habits and routines help with my wellbeing goals?
- How would I go about embedding these habits and routines into my current life?
- How will I determine if it is helping?
- Are there additional resources or people I could draw on to get the most out of this?
I wouldn’t expect that you’d do this every time you consumed something wellbeing related, but having these questions in your mind, might help you extract more from content when you access it.
You’ll encounter a large amount of wellbeing information over your lifetime.
Some of it will have useful insights into how to improve the quality of your life.
When you do decide to allocate the mental bandwidth to consume some of this content, some guiding questions can help you extract more practical value from the content. These questions revolve around the quality of the content, the valuable insights available, how those insights translate into habits and routines, and what it would look like to embed these insights into your life and with your wellbeing goals in mind.
Developing a more strategic approach to the consumption of wellbeing content might help you extract more value from it and feel less overwhelmed by the constant flow of it.
Feel free to share how you try to extract the most value out of the health content you consume.