Clearly, I talk about wellness quite a bit. That's because I feel so strongly that wellness is the prerequisite to true joy. Mastering the different aspects of wellness to find the proper balance for YOU is the key.
The classic wellness wheel consisted of five parts and included physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and intellectual. The components of wellness have expanded to where some incorporate as many as 12. I find that there are eight that are absolutely essential to your total wellness and life fulfillment.
Some of you will be stronger in certain areas than others, and that's ok and expected. What's important is finding the unique balance that fulfills you. While all eight areas do need attention, the amount of attention a specific area needs will vary. Don't worry. There is no need to be overwhelmed, feeling as if you must make immediate changes in all eight aspects at once.
Just simply accepting that there is more to wellness and opening your mind to the possibilities of how you can find balance in your life can open many doors to joy. Once you recognize that wellness is a lifelong process, it's easier to take it one step at a time and enjoy each step of the journey.
Now I want to tell you a little more about the elite eight wellness components and a small step you can take in each area to start making significant changes in your life:
I don't dare call physical wellness easy, but it is typically the simplest to understand how it affects your total health and wellness. Therefore, simpler for people to get on board and work towards change in their physical wellness.
The body and mind benefits that come from caring for your physical health are astounding. Eating a holistic diet with plenty of colorful and whole foods, and getting the recommended amount of exercise every week, will lead you to reach your physical health goals quickly. A balanced diet that limits processed foods not only prevents chronic diseases but also can boost your immune system and prevent acute conditions. Physical activity helps build lean muscle, improves cardiovascular health, improves balance, and increases mood and energy.
Step 1: Start Walking. Walking is gentle on the body, and it burns fat. Walking doesn't necessarily burn much energy or calories, but the majority of calories burned come from fat stores.
If there were a big three of the wellness components, emotional wellness would be one of them. Emotional wellness is actively working to enhance your overall emotional well-being and mental health. Even if you battle with mental health issues, you can still work to improve your emotional wellness. Creating habits that foster emotional and mental wellness will lead to a happier and healthier life.
By nurturing close relationships, creating healthy boundaries, not being afraid to ask for help, and learning to say "no," you can improve your emotional wellness.
Step 2: Practice Self-Care Regularly. If it makes you feel like yourself and refreshes and renews, then it is self-care. Schedule time with yourself if you need to. Put it in your calendar to make sure you set aside some "me" time.
Spiritual wellness is too often neglected because it can be a touchy subject for some or because it seems like it has to be all or nothing. Fortunately, that is not the case. The connection you feel with the universe around you and a higher power (whatever that may be for you) is directly related to your sense of spiritual wellness. Without spiritual wellness, hopelessness and negativity can creep in and even hurt your overall health and wellness.
Spiritual wellness is very personal and is practicing ways that help YOU feel closer to whatever YOU believe. That can be organized religion, but it can also be meditating, being in nature, journaling, or practicing gratitude.
Step 3: Be Grateful. Even when things are not going your way, I GUARANTEE you still have plenty of reason to be thankful. Take the time to think about everything you have to be grateful for and say, "thank you."
How can you be better if you don't know better? That is the fundamental principle behind intellectual wellness, as it involves how you use your brain. It takes time and effort to educate yourself and seek opportunities for intellectual growth.
Whatever stimulates your mind and increases confidence in problem-solving promotes intellectual wellness. A significant benefit of improving your intellectual wellness is reducing the risk for conditions such as dementia. Reading more books, doing crossword puzzles, or starting a new hobby such as learning to play an instrument are all ways to improve your intellect.
Step 4: Pick up a Book. Reading is an excellent way to improve intellectual wellness. Give a motivational or self-help book a try. It may be just what you need to hear to get you motivated for your wellness journey.
We are social creatures. Even coming from an introvert like myself, social wellness is imperative. How I nurture my social wellness will be different from an extrovert, but we both need those social connections to be healthy humans. Finding a balance between when to stay home and when to get out with others is essential.
Strong support from your social networks, from friends and family to neighbors and coworkers, will all promote social wellness. Having healthy boundaries with your social network and nurturing friendships will also improve this area of wellness. Attending regular social events and making community connections can be beneficial, but don't forget to skip the events that don't fulfill you.
Step 5. Phone a Friend. Nurturing your healthy friendships by reaching out not only when you need something but sometimes to just say "hi" or check on them is a great way to keep your social ties strong.
Environmental wellness is not just about recycling and global warming (although those are contributors). Environmental wellness is more about your immediate environment, what's surrounding you. Including anything from the amount of natural light your home gets or a living situation with someone who mistreats you.
We don't always have direct control over our environments, frequently leaving us feeling frustrated and helpless. There are always at least small things you can do to improve your immediate environment and wellness. Adding plants, an air filtration system, or a water filter can quickly boost your home or work environment. Choosing organic and toxic-free products will also enhance your environmental wellness.
Step 6: Open the Curtains. Adding natural light to your space by opening up those curtains and blinds brightens the room and your mood. Natural light can also lead you to be more productive and regulate your sleep.
The stress caused by money can impact every aspect of wellness. There is not a magical amount you have to achieve in order to have financial wellness. It's not like once you finally bring in $60,000 or $80,000 or $100,000 a year, you have automatically mastered financial wellness. Just living can be expensive; living a healthy and balanced life can be even more costly. When you have to worry about how you're going to put food on your table or pay your mortgage each month, you have some room for improvement in the financial wellness department.
Having manageable debt and funds set aside for college, retirement, and emergencies, so you are prepared to cope with any financial crisis is financial wellness. Spending less than you make, only borrowing what you can afford, and getting in the habit of saving will keep your finances going in the right direction.
Step 7: Start Saving. Many learned the hard way last year in 2020 how important it is to have saving funds available. It is hard to fully prepare for losing your job due to a pandemic but having an emergency saving fund would certainly help. No matter how small the amount you can afford right now, make a habit of setting aside money from every paycheck.
Occupational wellness helps tremendously with your financial wellness, but even alone, it is an essential component. Most people spend at least 40 hours a week at their job. If you dread going to work every day and are only there for the paycheck, your occupational wellness is not optimal.
Occupational wellness is how you feel about your career or job. Staying at an unfulfilling job or a job that is creating tension and a toxic work environment can immensely affect your health and well-being. Changing jobs or even careers may be necessary for you to feel fulfilled. At the same time, simply establishing healthy boundaries at work may be enough for you to start getting satisfaction. Think about the future. Does your current job have the potential to meet your needs in 5 years or ten years? Is there room for advancement? Training and education?
Step 8: Make a Career Development Plan. Making a career development plan will give you a better picture of if your current job can fulfill what you want out of your occupation. Share your career development plan with your manager or leadership, so they can be informed of your goals and help give you the opportunity to reach them.
If you complete these eight steps, you will be on your way to not just a health journey but a total wellness journey. A true wellness journey is a lifelong journey and can completely transform your life. There are multiple ways each area of wellness can be addressed. The steps provided can be completed by just about anyone. And you can even start today! The steps do not have to be completed in any particular order. Start with any step you would like and watch how it brings joy into your life.
Finding the optimal balance between the eight components is the ultimate goal. You can be on your way to achieving that goal by simply being aware that you need to give all areas some attention. When this awareness turns into action, positive change is unstoppable. Our wellness coaching will help propel you into action and provide some direction to help keep you on the path.