Power Symbols for Health & Wellness

Check out the Key Findings from (page 8) of The 2023 State of Mental Health in America published by Mental Health America - a non-profit agency focusing on mental health issues since 1909.

Good God! The statistics are alarming and sobering. At least 20% of us are suffering from mental health issues. I suspect the percentage is higher - perhaps much higher.

As a mental health therapist, I believe that sometimes it helps people to “think out of the mental health box” so to speak. With that in mind, I have been working with my clients with what I call “Power Symbols for Health & Wellness”. The beauty of it is that it can be used for mental health or physical health or simply health.

Body, mind, and spirit is the name of the humanity game! 

Here’s how it works. Choose a symbol that is meaningful to you or brings you joy (or both) and then choose a word for each letter that begins with that letter that represents what you are striving for in your life for your health and well-being. That’s called creating an acronym mnemonic. Or mnemonic acronym. I’m not entirely sure.

You may not want to choose super-cali-fragilistic-expi-ali-docious. Or discombobulated. Or for that matter, combobulated.

Some ideas for your power symbol:

  • Your favorite animal
  • Your favorite plant
  • Your favorite food - A childhood pet that brought you joy
  • Your favorite child or grandchild (If you do this, don’t share this one with your other children or grandchildren - trust me on that one.)
  • A movie that inspires you
  • Something in nature
  • A song that inspires you

This is only limited by your imagination.

Ways to use this:

  • Navigating grief and loss
  • Improving your overall health and well-being
  • Working through behavioral health issues
  • Improving your relationship with yourself and with other people
  • Decreasing negative self-talk
  • Experimenting with setting daily goals
  • Authentically navigating our complex and ever-changing world
  • Tapping into your intuition

Oh - you’re going to need a thesaurus for this. And a list of positive words!

Perhaps your power symbol is “CROW” because you think crows are beautiful and majestic birds. The next step is to apply the meaning you wish to embody in your life., or the energy you are striving for in your life.

C Caring

R Respect

O Optimism

W Wonder

This can Morph as you grow and change… 

C Caring, Compassioniate

R Respect, Relax, Rise

O Optimism, Objective

W Wonder, Well-adjusted

S Support

You could also use Crowing, Crowed, etc

Now What?

Example One: Ant

A Acceptance

N Nature

T Thankful

You’ve had the worst week ever and find yourself being more and more miserable binge-watching your favorite television series for the eighth time. Think of your power symbol. “Ah! I’m miserable, but I value nature! I’m going to get my butt off the couch and go for a little walk in the woods! And I’m going to accept the fact that some weeks are just bad. That’s the breaks of the game. It’s not permanent. And I’m thankful I am so intelligent to have had this realization! Look at me go! And by the way, ants work in teams, so I’m going to call upon my support system.”


Team of ants gathering wild strawberry, teamwork

Example 2: Disco

Perhaps your power symbol is DISCO because you are all about the 1970s.

D Damn I’m Good!

I Intelligence

S Sensitivity

C Compassion

O Optimism

You can’t even believe that your relative has such an idiotic political belief system - and that belief system just happens to be the exact opposite of yours (believe me, I’ve been here). You are seething with rage at their stupidity and are decidedly emotionally dysregulated. What to do? Go to your power symbol. Use your intelligence to check the facts, and to check your own potential media bias. If the facts do not support your point of view or their point of view, proceed with sensitivity. Perhaps it would be helpful to have a conversation, and perhaps it would not be helpful. Have some compassion - for yourself and the other person. Be optimistic that love transcends politics sooner or later. Damn your good for trying this! And don’t forget to dance.

Example 3: Rise

You are in early recovery or long-term recovery for a substance use disorder. Your power symbol is RISE because, look at you rise out of that particular madness and hell!

R Recovery

I Inspiration

S Social support

E Expand

You had a lapse or a relapse (or are about to have a lapse of a relapse). What do you do? Do you sit and beat yourself up about it for the rest of your life? No. You go to your power symbol. You know 4 how far you’ve already come because you are in recovery. You’ve inspired other people and they have inspired you. You understand the power of social support, so you reach out. You know that if your life doesn’t depend on reaching out right now, it will. You begin again and expand your knowledge of yourself and what it takes for your recovery. Onward and upward!

Example 4: Owl

A loved one who is very dear to you has died. Their favorite thing in the entire world was “owls”. Despite your deep grief and sadness and everything that comes with it, you latch on to the Power Symbol of Owl - even though when that person was alive you thought if you saw one more thing with an owl on it in their house you were going to lose your mind.

O Onward

W Warrior

L Life

You’re going to have some low days. Use your power symbol to get through them. As hard as it seems right now, life goes on and your life will go onward. You are a Grief warrior and you will get through this!

You get the idea, yes?

Here are some ideas to affirm and experiment with your power symbol:

  • Prayer
  • Affirmations
  • Meditation
  • Intentions
  • Goal setting
  • Acts of kindness
  • Journaling
  • Creative projects
  • All of the above
  • Something else that works for you

I Did Not Make This Up

If you are using the Power Symbol method, and it’s helpful, or not helpful, or somewhere in between, you need to know that this is not a concept I made up in my head. I am suggesting using the power symbol concept for a particular purpose – a tool for supporting health and wellness. More importantly, a tool for you to decide what health and wellness look like for you.

Look at the world around you. You will see power symbols used in:

  • Indigenous traditions
  • Government
  • Politics
  • Branding
  • Religious traditions
  • Fast food chains
  • Sports Teams
  • Corporate entities

Go bonkers! Have fun!

You can tell other people what your power symbol is, or you can keep it to yourself.

You can have a power symbol party once a year on your birthday if socializing is your thing.

You can have a power symbol New Year's Eve Party if socializing is your thing.

You can have a candlelight power symbol gathering of two or three if socializing is not your thing. Or a party for just you - or you and your favorite furry friend.

You do you!

This is about you, for you, and by you, so do this however you wish. Because, as the Good Witch Glinda said in The Wizard of Oz:

You always had the power my dear; you just had to learn it for yourself. 

That doesn’t mean that you white knuckle it and don’t reach out for support. It means that you have the power to decide why to reach out for support, whom to reach out to, and how to reach out.

And if you'd like to speak to someone and get some guidance and much-needed perspective, please reach out to Kathy Link.

Reach Out