A few years ago, had you asked any lay-man what “health” meant, you would have gotten an answer along the lines of ‘free from illness or injury’ or ‘lack of sickness and ailments’.
Now-a-days, more people are beginning to understand that health is more than just the absence of disease or infirmity – but involves a state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being.
Hitting the gym and making good, healthy food choices are great – but aren’t enough to maintain total personal health and wellness. There are many dimensions of wellness, but we’d consider six that are thought to be crucial to maintaining a balanced, HEALTHY lifestyle.
In order to be considered really and truly “well” and having the most successful existence possible, there should be no neglect in any one of the aspects of physical, emotional, spiritual, social, intellectual or environmental wellness.
Let’s delve into what each of these mean, how they contribute to total wellness and some ways in which we can all maximize our personal wellness.
This involves taking care of the body through physical exercise, healthy nutrition and adequate sleep. An ailment or injury in any area of the body can impact day-to-day routines. Therefore, it is imperative that a well-rounded exercise program, smart food choices and harmful habit avoidance are incorporated and maintained in everyday life.
How can you improve your physical wellness?
· Exercise! Engage in activities that range in intensity from walking to gardening to CrossFit; whichever is most achievable for you.
· Eat Well! Incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Choose whole, raw foods over processed ones. Small changes add up!
· Sleep! Try to get at least 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
· Avoid harmful habits like heavy, routine drinking and smoking.
This involves being in tune with your emotions, comfortable with your thoughts and being able to properly express your feelings. With healthy emotional wellness, you feel more confident and in control of your feelings and actions. You are generally better able to handle the challenges and curve balls that life throws at you.
How can you improve your emotional wellness?
· Try to maintain a positive attitude even when dealing with problems.
· Do activities that involve your senses – smell, taste, touch, sight and sound – and reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety.
· Find someone you trust wholeheartedly and to whom you can share your feelings with openly.
· Seek professional help if ever you believe you need it. Do not ignore persistent, negative feelings because you are ashamed to seek help.
This is related to your core beliefs and values that guide you in life. Your beliefs can help you determine the meaning and purpose of your life. It involves embracing things that are beyond the physical realm of existence and using that to live a peaceful, meaningful, purpose-filled life.
How can you improve your spiritual wellness?
· Find a quiet place for solitude, contemplation and decompression.
· Partake in volunteer-centered activities, self-reflection and meditation.
· Spend time in nature, appreciating the natural world around you.
· Avoid situations that may cause you to compromise your belief systems, reduce your self-confidence and destroy your inner peace.
This involves being able to effectively interact, relate and communicate with others. It develops a sense of belonging and connectedness and builds a healthy support network with family, friends, peers, coworkers, neighbors etc.
How can you improve your social wellness?
· Join a club or social group that has a theme on something that resonates with you.
· Form healthy relationships with people who you can trust and relate to.
· Learn to recognize signs of unhealthy and abusive relationships.
· Set boundaries while respecting others’, practice assertive communication skills and treat everyone you interact with respectfully.
This involves flexing the mind over the biceps. By seeking out ways to use and improve your knowledge, skills and talents, you nurture intellectual wellness. You’d recognize that by actively engaging in stimulating your intellectual self, your memory, concentration and critical thinking skills will also improve.
How can you improve your intellectual wellness?
· Debate important issues with persons who may have opposing viewpoints to you.
· Engage in activities that stimulate the mind such as puzzles, musical instruments or a new language.
· Keep abreast of current affairs – whether it is local, regional or international.
· Commit yourself to being a life-long learner. You’re never too old to learn something new!
This is directly related to the environment you occupy in conducting everyday activities. Your surroundings, both natural and social, can greatly impact your overall well-being. Environmental wellness involves respecting and improving the space around you and surrounding yourself with healthy working and living areas.
How can you improve your environmental wellness?
· Keep your work and living spaces decluttered and organized.
· Conserve energy and water. Turn off lights and taps when not in use.
· Being an active participant in neighborhood watches to help increase feelings of security.