Big 4 for Wellness

The Big 4 for Wellness includes mental/emotional wellness, social connection, physical activity, and reflection. During the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to focus on our overall wellness and self-care. These Big 4 for Wellness ideas and activities are self-care  suggestions for you and your family during this extended time at home. The activities below are divided into 10 different sections and will help keep your self-care front and center in your life.


Activities and ideas for self-care


Mental/Emotional: What gives you hope?  

Identify at least three things that give you hope. Write them down and put them somewhere you will see them and be reminded that there is reason to hope. 


Physical: Pyramid Workout 

Pick two bodyweight exercises. The number of repetitions for the exercises will increase for two rounds, then decrease again.  

For example: push-ups and sit-ups. 

Round 1: 5 push-ups, 5 sit-ups

Round 2: 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups

Round 3: 15 push-ups, 15 sit-ups 

Round 4: 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups

Round 5: 5 push-ups, 5 sit-ups+++


Social Connection: Celebrate with our graduates! 

Watch the virtual graduation ceremonies and perhaps create a card for graduates.


Reflection: Time lapse
Where were you at the beginning of the school closure emotionally? 
How has that changed over the past three months? 
What have you lost or let go of?  
Are there any unexpected benefits for you during this time?   




Mental/Emotional:  Mood apps

Take time to precisely define how you are feeling with a mood app like The Mood Meter from Emotionally Intelligent Schools.

To find others, go to


Physical:  7-minute Workout

A 7-minute workout is a series of at-home body weight exercises.  Complete the following with 30 seconds on, followed by 10 seconds rest. There are also many online videos and apps that you can follow.


  1. Jumping Jacks
  2. Wall sit
  3. Push-ups
  4. Abdominal crunches
  5. Step-up on chair
  6. Squat
  7. Tricep dip on chair
  8. Plank
  9. High Knees (in place)
  10. Lunges
  11. Push-up w/ rotation
  12. Side Plank


Social Connection: Throw a virtual film festival.

Pick a movie for you and your friends to watch together at home. Some streaming companies like Netflix allow you to throw viewing parties. The chat feature allows you to share your thoughts with friends and family during the movie.


Reflection: How can I change the way I think of myself?

Make a list of ways you can think more positively about yourself.  We can be very hard on ourselves, especially during times of change and stress, like this pandemic. How can you be more kind to yourself?




Mental/Emotional: Audio Audit – What are you listening to? Does the news, music, conversation I am choosing to listen to boost your wellness? Can you make changes that might help?  Are there songs or artists that you enjoy listening to? 



Roll the dice workout. A dice workout is a fun way to mix up a series of exercises to keep your workout engaging. Each roll of the dice represents a different exercise or set of exercises. Here’s an example:


1- 8-10 Pushups

2- 1 minute of jump rope

3- 10 squats

4- 10 crunches

5- 30 second plank

6- 10 lunges


Set a timer and go! Once you get three of any number, you’re done with that exercise. You can add exercises and do a double set for a more advanced workout. Make sure you include some music to add to your workout! 


Social Connection: Show us your BIG4! At this point I’m sure we’re all finding some areas of the BIG4 we’re getting good at. Send us some videos or post your BIG4 on your social media platform(s) with the 


Reflection: Am I holding on to something I need to let go of?



Mental/Emotional: See the “Big Picture”

When you are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated by a situation try to take a moment. Visualize the problem from a birds-eye view- starting right over you. Then zoom out to the neighborhood. Then zoom out to the town. Continue adjusting your mental zoom until the problem is small. There are always challenges we need to face, but this technique can help us keep things in perspective.


Physical: Go walking or hiking

Explore your closest interurban trail segment.
Check out ParkScriptions for options near you.


Social Connection: Have you made someone smile today?


Reflection: Positive Self-Talk
The way we talk to ourselves matters! Write an encouraging note to yourself.
Use moments from this week to remind yourself of your character strengths.




Mental/Emotional:  Schedule work breaks with a Pomodoro Timer.

Look up a Pomodoro or “Tomato” timer online and use it while you are working.  With regular breaks you may find more productivity and a greater sense of mental peace. Our focus, reasoning ability, decision making all improve with regular breaks.


Physical: The Daily Mile

Getting outside and running, jogging or walking for just fifteen minutes a day can be so beneficial for our brains and bodies.

The Daily Mile is a great way to join with others and track your progress. Being active at the start of our days can help with attention, focus, positivity, and makes our bodies stronger!  Go to for more.


Social Connection: Make a list of the people in your life who genuinely support you, and whom you can genuinely trust. Then, make time to hang out with them, in a healthy, socially distanced way of course! Try Zoom or FaceTime if you’re far away.


Reflection: Name a compassionate way you’ve supported a friend recently. Then, write down how you can do the same for yourself.



1) Mental/emotional wellness activity

Breathing: the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique 


The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique, also known as “relaxing breath,” involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.  


Breath is an important part of calming the brain and body in response to stress, anxiety and fear. Different breathing techniques can help to reset the brain’s response to stress, lowering stress hormones like cortisol. This type of breathing can also be relaxing and help ease you into sleep.  


Click here for a demonstration of the 4-7-8 technique.

2)  Physical activity

Stay active with the Whatcom Family YMCA.

Our local Y has many online activities. Stay active with activities you can do anytime, anywhere.  

Check out this activity called 12 Bursts!    


Social connection

Virtual Trivia or Game Night

Gather your friends on a video conferencing app like Zoom, Google Hangouts or Houseparty and arrange a game night. Trivia, Charades or card games can be played together virtually with a little planning.

Or check out these online versions of some of our favorite games:

4) Reflection

Sleep Reflection

Sleep can be challenging for many right now. Try reflecting on the following to help guide your mind into a more restful night’s sleep. 

  • Pause to express gratitude. Taking a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for can have powerful lasting effects, especially before bedtime.
  • Recall your moments or even micro-moments of connection: Spending time thinking of our connections throughout the day can have some positive benefits, even if those moments were short lived, helping to put a stop to negative bedtime thoughts.
  • Acknowledge the bad things: It is important to not let those things that are negative control our thoughts. Still, bad things can sometimes happen. Moving your attention to the good things and away from the bad helps counter the natural tendency to ruminate and worry. If we don’t take the time to recognize the bad, we can risk going into denial and not being able to let them go. 
  • Visualize a snapshot of a time in the future, and imagine how positive that time could be.



1) Mental/emotional wellness activity

What is your superpower?


We all know superheroes have amazing abilities, but so do each of us! What are some things you are really good at? Maybe you have even learned new things you are good at while staying home these past weeks.


Share your superpower(s) with a friend, family member, neighbor or teacher. This way, when we need help, we will know the superhero who can help us.

2)  Physical activity

Try yoga.

The benefits of yoga are numerous. Regular practice increases flexibility and strength, as well as improving digestion, lowering blood pressure, and improving mental well-being.


Many quality online classes are free during this time. Try yoga for the first time, explore a new type of yoga, or continue your practice with intention.


“Yoga is not for the flexible. It is for the willing.” -Anonymous


3) Social connection

Exchange a recipe.

Share a favorite recipe with a friend. And then connect with your friend to review the recipe, either by video, written letter, or over the phone.

Check out this recipe video for Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls


4) Reflection

Make a mantra.

What words help you move forward and give you hope?

Develop a positive mantra — a short saying that you repeat to yourself. It may be something like: “I am calm” or “I am strong.”




1) Mental/emotional wellness activity

Be mindful.

Check out the Smiling Mind website for free guided mindfulness activities and resources for adults and kids. This is also available as a free app for your phone.

“Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and without judgment.”
— Smiling Mind

2)  Physical activity

Try Zumba!

Zumba is exercise that incorporates different kinds of dance and aerobics to create a fun workout to a variety of music like hip-hop, pop, samba and meringue. This is an uplifting way to get your body moving! You can find different Zumba workouts on YouTube and the internet.

Try this basic instruction: Guide to Basic Zumba® Fitness Steps 


3) Social connection

Post something positive

Use words/photos to create a positive post to encourage and support friends and family.
Share it on the social media platform of your choice.

4) Reflection

Draw your biggest emotion right now.

How did you choose to represent this emotion?
What were the elements you included in your drawing and why?
What colors did you use, if any?
How do you think this emotion will affect you in an hour, tomorrow or next week?




1) Mental/emotional wellness activity

Reframe any negative thinking.

Take some time to transform the negative thoughts and feelings you might have and turn them into positive statements.
As an example of this, take the pesky, persistent thought “the house is a mess” and turn that into a more grateful thought such as “we have a roof over our heads.”

Writing or saying your positive statement out loud is like tricking the brain to reduce stress.

Try this with your own thoughts.


2) Social connection

Write a letter to a friend or relative.

Maybe this note or letter is to someone you haven’t heard from in a long while.
Surprise them with something in their mailbox!


3) Physical activity

Try barre!

Barre is a type of strength-based exercise that utilizes movements from ballet and the ballet barre to strengthen and tone the body.Barre workouts increase core strength and balance.No equipment necessary!

Click here for a beginner instructional barre workout.


4) Reflection

Concentrate on your own achievements.

What are five things that you are proud of today? 

Try writing in a journal with these in mind or just spend time sitting and reflecting on some of your own personal achievements, big or small.





1) Mental/Emotional Wellness Activity (mindfulness)

A Mindful Minute: Try 60 seconds of quiet in the present moment. Don’t think of anything that has already happened or anything that will happen in the future. If your mind starts to wander, focus on your breathing.

Challenge yourself to take one minute of mindfulness every hour.

For more ideas: 1-minute Mindfulness Exercises

Guided Mindfulness: The following are free resources to check out with narrated mindfulness. Created to help you pause and ground yourself as you listen. These two sources can be used online for free or downloaded as an app onto a mobile device. You get to choose the length: from 3-20 minutes.


Smiling Mind

2) Social connection

Photo Share: Look through your photos. Find a picture that reminds you of a good memory of you and a friend of friends. Send the picture to your friend, share your memory of that day and ask them what they remember. Share at least four photos this week.

3) Physical activity

Try something new with a video instructor. If you like it, find more videos on their Youtube channels or social media posts.


Yoga Stretch:a  morning yoga stretch for beginners.

Tabata Workout: Tabata workouts consist of 20 seconds of high intensity activity, followed by 10 seconds of rest.

At-Home Training and Diet:  suggestions on how to create an at-home workout to build and maintain muscle.

4) Reflection

  • How did you feel before, during and after your mindful minute?
  • Was it difficult to be in the present moment?
  • Do you feel a Mindful Minute is something you could do regularly?
  • Why or why not?

Consider the “Circle of Self-Care” graphic below.

  • What are you currently using for self-care?
  • Is your plan working?
  • Are you open to trying some other methods of self-care?