Everyone wants to be well, but what does that really mean? As National Wellness Month comes to an end, let’s look at the idea of wellness and how you can apply it to your life.
Since the term wellness has taken a greater position in the public lexicon, the definitions range from straightforward to hippy dippy. On the straightforward end, it’s a state of good health, especially as an actively-pursued goal. A more heady definition is an ongoing journey toward holistic health. Either way, wellness is a process that includes every aspect of our lives.
Optimizing “every aspect of our lives” sounds daunting. Thankfully, the National Wellness Institute developed a handy set of categories they call the Six Dimensions of Wellness. They are: physical, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and occupational. These parts of us are all tied together. The goal is to find balance.
This isn’t an easy endeavor, especially when you are living with health challenges or mobility issues. Breaking wellness into smaller blocks can make it more manageable. The Six Dimensions of Wellness will guide us as we offer tips on how to increase overall wellness.
Physical wellness is all about the body. It’s how we feel and move. It’s also how we treat our bodies, like choosing healthy food, getting enough sleep and exercising in some way. Wellness is all connected, even within the dimensions. Compare how you feel after eating a fast food burger with a big green salad. There’s definitely a difference. The greasy burger might make you feel sluggish. Some bright veggies, on the other hand, will boost your energy.
Physical wellness also includes exercise. Movement — on whatever scale is possible — will increase strength and boost endurance. It can come in any form like physical therapy, gentle exercise or a full-on workout.
If you rely on a mobility device like a power wheelchair or mobility scooter, there’s a good chance achieving physical wellness might seem more daunting than the others. But take heart. Every conscious effort to help yourself be stronger and more vibrant than you were before helps your body, but also pays dividends for the subsequent dimensions of wellness.
Find a rhythm or routine that works for you. A quick YouTube search reveals innumerable videos with exercise routines for people who use wheelchairs.
It’s a good idea to consult your doctor when undertaking a new physical activity. They can help you identify the safest and most effective routines. But don’t let the idea of exercising bog you down. Some simple morning stretches can be enough to bolster your physical wellness.
Connecting with other people has been severely challenged during the COVID-19 pandemic. While it’s not ideal, many interactions have been forced out of the physical world and into cyberspace. To achieve balance, we might have to adapt. Is visiting with family on Zoom as good as going to a restaurant together? No, it’s not. But, is being bummed out alone as good as visiting with family on Zoom? Now, Zoom doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Social interaction is important. Look for new ways to connect with family, friends and your community.
It takes work, and that’s the tricky part. You have to make an effort to get better at connecting with people. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, embarrass yourself and swoop back in for a comeback. You know what they say about Thomas Edison and light bulbs, right? (It took him many, many tries).
The core of emotional wellness is acknowledging our feelings and the feelings of others. It sounds awfully simplistic, but mentally noting that you’re mad can take some of the fire out of that anger. Emotional wellness is a journey, but there is a lot of help available.
Talking to a mental health professional is the gold standard for emotional wellness. Here are a few options to find one.
Online directory Websites like goodtherapy.com and findatherapist.com compile lists of local mental health professionals. The listings include counselors, psychologists and clinical social workers, as well as therapists focused on specific issues like marriage counseling or substance abuse.
Your insurance company If you have medical insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid, find your carrier’s list of in-network mental health providers. You can cross reference that list with reviews on a site like healthgrades.com to find the best fit.
Online counseling The online counseling industry has made huge strides with players like BetterHelp and Talkspace. These companies provide access to therapists through video conferencing and text messaging.
The National Wellness Institute calls spirituality, “the search for meaning in human existence.” While that feels a bit lofty, they contend that spirituality is the basis of each person’s worldview. When a person’s actions are consistent with their beliefs, they are spiritually well. In other words: it’s a moral compass.
This is a very personal dimension of wellness. Some people get this fulfillment through organized religion. Others build a worldview based on their experience. Either way, if you haven’t paid attention to spirituality in the past, it might be a good area to explore.
Intellectual wellness is all about flexing your mental muscles. It is the way we stoke creativity and accumulate knowledge. Pump up your intellectual wellness with a trip to the library or by inviting a friend to a game of chess.
When we challenge our brains, we feel mentally loosened up and satisfied. It provides ongoing benefits for our continued mental health and helps us feel better about ourselves. These mental health dimensions really all work together, don’t they?
The enrichment and self-satisfaction we get from work is the cornerstone of occupational wellness. It’s important to note that this dimension isn’t only for people who punch a clock. This can also come from any activity where you apply your unique talents. Volunteering is a great way to strengthen your occupational wellness.
You can also get it helping out with the grandkids, tending a garden or caring for a pet.
You’re on the path to occupational wellness if you spend time doing things that are rewarding and meaningful.
We wish you the best on your wellness journey!