The question ‘what is wellness’ has been asked a great deal. Generally, fitness, nutrition, exercise and weight management are often associated with wellness but it is so much more than these things. Wellness is a state of complete physical, mental and spiritual health. It is a nourished body, mind and spirit. Wellness is defined as “a lifestyle and a personalized approach to living life in a way that allows you to become the best kind of person that your potential and circumstances will allow.”
Wellness is a proactive process of becoming aware of and making healthy choices. That is to say, it is a dynamic process of change and growth. A state of health, happiness, and prosperity; a state of satisfaction. Several studies show that depression is the world’s most common health issue. Depression can cause insomnia, stress, poor nutrition, inactivity, obesity and heart disease. By contrast, quality of life is based on wellness; it ultimately determines how we look, feel, interact and succeed in life and work.
Wellness is the conscious growth of the whole person. Finding the right tools for your personal growth and development is the first step on your wellness journey. Many ways exist to cultivate a dynamic path of wellness, just as there is variety in all aspects of life.
All wellness concepts should include some of the following ideas:
For wellness, we need to understand that we are complete people. Each area of our life is interconnected. The goal is to be aware of who you are as a whole person and understand what you need in order to thrive.
Life isn’t always simple and straight forward . There are times and seasons of life as Ecclesiastes reminds us. We need to recognise that and at the same time, take the opportunity to invest in each area of our lives. This also means not neglecting one part of our lives because it is difficult. Equally, only focusing on one area can lead to poor personal development.
Healthy people accept responsibility for their own health and happiness and do not let others control decisions they must make for themselves. Therefore, for self-responsibility we need to have self-awareness. This includes understanding the causes and consequences of our actions.
Positive and Proactive
A healthy life requires positive perspectives and values. Purpose and deliberate, conscious action are also needed. These are our starting points and they work. But they only provide a framework. You decide what goes inside that framework.
There are multiple components of wellness. Here are some for you to think about.
The pandemic has highlighted how our bodies carry traumatic and general stress. Symptoms of traumatic adjustment stress or ongoing COVID-19 stress include fatigue, difficulty sleeping, tension headaches and body aches. In addition, because we are all unique, we may have different bodily sensations than others.
Here are some ideas for physical wellness:
- Consider trying new physical activities; perhaps you could start doing something you’ve wanted to do but haven’t had time. For example, if you run, consider alternating with walking. If you walk, consider listening to a podcast. If you don’t do either, try gentle stretches while studying.
- Talking about physical wellness with family and friends can help us think of new ideas for ourselves.
Intellectual knowledge is acquired through creative and mentally stimulating activities, learning and skill development. Conversely, not being intellectually stimulated can affect the brain’s production of chemicals that make us happy and eager to learn.
Here are some ideas for intellectual wellness:
- Conduct research on a topic of interest that you didn’t have time for before the pandemic.
- Talk to an expert in a field unrelated to anything you’ve studied before.
- Read a book or watch a documentary on a new area for you.
What is emotional wellness?
Emotional wellness is a person’s ability to handle their emotions and the experiences they encounter. The National Center For Emotional Wellness defines emotional wellness as “an awareness, understanding and acceptance of our feelings, and our ability to manage effectively through challenges and change.”
Here are some ideas for emotional wellness:
- Check your sleep patterns and see if your sleep could improve.
- Look at your diet and see how that may be affecting your emotional health.
- Regularly do an activity that brings you joy.
Social engagement is an essential part of self-care for some of us and the need for social distancing was challenging. Humans seek connection, attunement, and validation in relationships. However, our human attachment systems struggle with feeling less intimate, exerting more effort and exacerbating feelings of disconnection and isolation.
Here are some ideas for social wellness:
- Arrange a meet up with a good friend.
- Message or leave a voice note for someone you love.
- Smile and say hello to someone you meet out on your daily walk.
During the pandemic, many spiritual and religious communities began providing virtual services such as preaching, prayer, meditation and hospital bedside visits. However, worshippers lamented the loss of sacred space, communal practices and church gatherings.
Here are some ideas for spiritual wellness:
- Prioritize meeting up with your spiritual community in person.
- Find a quiet place where you can connect with your own spirituality and pray.
- Take time to meditate on the Bible.
Vocational wellness is seeking personal fulfilment and enrichment through one’s work. During the pandemic, this area of wellness was significantly redefined and accelerated. Unfortunately, vocational wellness is jeopardized by unhealthy work environments. Morale and trust suffer without collective social responsibility, clear action and communication.
Here are some ideas for vocational wellness:
- Set clear boundaries around work issues to prevent them from affecting your personal life.
- Consider moving your desk closer to a window if you work from home.
- If your work is ruining your soul, then seriously consider leaving the company.
Accessing enriching space around our immediate and outer environments has a significant impact on our wellness. Trees, green spaces and water have all improved our sense of wellbeing. Even looking at pictures of green spaces is beneficial. Being outside increases vitamin D absorption and endorphin release, which are necessary for good mental and physical health.
Here are some other ideas for environmental wellness:
- Prioritise leaving the house at least once a day, ideally for a walk in a green space.
- Have green plants in your house (even fake ones help).
- Do a sort through of the clutter in your home.