Point of View: Overcome adversity one step at a time

Well, now what?

For the last few years MAPP has been developing a community plan focusing on identifying, supporting and educating the community about Eight Dimensions of Wellness. And in matter of weeks those dimensions have been disrupted, all at the same time. Like a carpet pulled out from under you, feet up over your head, coffee mug spinning through the air — disruption. Social and educational and physical and economic. Spiritual and cultural and emotional and environmental. All of the dimensions of wellness splashed haphazardly on the kitchen floor like that spilled coffee.

How do you focus on one dimension when all eight are suffering?

Like you do with everything. One step at a time.

Which of the areas do you have control over, which area can you solve, resolve or improve? Who is your support network and how can they help you reclaim control over your emotional health or your environmental health? Likewise, who can you help to navigate the maze of new socially accepted distances?

Think about which of the dimensions is most important to you, your family, or your friends right now. Do your emotional needs outweigh your needs to plan for your education? If yes, your decision making process just got easier. Clarity gives you a path. When you can see what is in front of you, it’s much easier to take the first step.

Break down your needs into smaller, manageable components. If social wellness is your focus, what is the first thing you can do given this new set of rules? Then what comes next, then what comes after that? As mom used to say, “Cut up your food before you put it in your mouth … and keep your elbows off the table.” Those smaller bites are much easier to handle, much more likely to result in success. Every bite of success moves the process forward.

Which brings us to victories. Celebrate them. Enjoy them. Wear them like a badge of honor. If educational wellness is your focus, congratulate yourself for successfully navigating the new on-line instructor page and finding your student I.D. number. That paper on the Sistine Chapel comes later; right now celebrate the victory in front of you.

If you really want to get creative with the whole thing, connect your support units, whether it’s your beagle or your broom ball team, and challenge them to begin working on the dimension of wellness that is most important to them. Now, instead of one dimension of wellness, you are vicariously working on two or three. Or more. Your community’s successes just became your successes and your victories are now the victories shared by the community.

Remember there are organizations and groups across the Southern Kenai Peninsula devoted to particular dimensions of wellness. Sure, they may be providing their services a little differently now, but seek those services out — no need to re-invent the wheel. If you can get your cultural dimensions cup refilled by listening to the Putumayo World Music Hour on KBBI, then there’s one less dimension to focus on.

MAPP’s focus has always been the development of a healthier community. There are strengths in recognizing that health is not defined by a single metric. While our community, our state, and the world struggle with the response to the novel coronavirus, and our attention to wellness immediately turns to physical health, remember that is only one component of any one person’s overall health. A community’s overall health is no different.

A resilience coalition, a volunteer fire department, local farms, an active chamber of commerce, committed teachers, a hospital, churches, an opioid task force, First Fridays, and so much more. These are just a few things that increase a community’s health and build strength. In times of uncertainty, rely on those strengths, draw support from those strengths, make a difference where you can, don’t get flattened by the struggles and celebrate the victories at every possible opportunity.

MAPP would like to remind everyone of these basic ideas, of these eight basic dimensions of health and wellness and encourage you to find time in your routine to practice them.

And keep your elbows off the table.

Jay Bechtol is the CEO at South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services and a member of the MAPP Steering Committee.