What is Health and Wellness?
When someone talks about achieving health and wellness, they are often only referring to becoming physically healthier by getting more exercise and eating better. But physical wellness is only one dimension of being a healthy person. It is important, but to be truly healthy, you should also consider all the other elements of health and wellness. Having a healthy, satisfying life happens when all of these elements interact seamlessly.
To be healthy, you need to be:
- Emotionally Healthy
- Spiritually Stable
- Socially Comfortable
- Occupationally Satisfied
- Intellectually Curious
- Environmentally Aware
- Physically Healthy
To make these concepts a little clearer, it’s time for a better definition of each of them.*
You are Emotionally Healthy if you are able to cope with all of life’s challenges without falling apart. There are always challenges in life but you are healthy when you can face a challenge, deal with it effectively and move on. Part of life is never giving up and an emotionally healthy person knows how to do that.
Part of dealing with challenges is recognizing feelings when you are angry, fearful, stressed or sad as well as when you are happy, hopeful and full of love.
Becoming aware of your feelings and thoughts is the first step toward emotional well-being. Once you are aware of the problem, it is important to keep a positive attitude. This is always easier said than done. One way to do so is to look for outside support where you can express your feelings in a safe place. This might be with a good friend, a family member you trust or a professional therapist.
Once you have acknowledged your feelings, it is important to set priorities. To be sure your priorities are on track, there are several questions to ask yourself:
- Do I know how to set my priorities?
- Have I set up ways to help reduce the stress in my life?
- Am I maintaining a balance of family, friends, work and the other demands in my life?
- Am I learning from my mistakes?
- When I make decisions, am I overwhelmed with worry and stress?
- One of the goals of this website is to offer information and advice about how to achieve the goals you set for your emotional health.
One of the goals of this website is to offer information and advice about how to achieve the goals you set for your emotional health so you will be able to achieve health and wellness.
You are Spiritually Healthy when you are able to keep harmony and peace in your life. For some people, this might be through a religious affiliation while for others it might through knowing themselves through searching for purpose and meaning in their lives.
No matter what the bedrock of your spirituality is, if you are able to bring your actions and your values in line, there will be peace in your life.
In addition, you are spiritually healthy when you realize that everyone needs to work toward a goal and you learn to cooperate with those around you. Sometimes this is referred to as “everyone rowing in the same direction.” Just imagine how unsettled you feel when there is chaos all around you and your life feels out of sync. The opposite of that feeling is spiritual wellness.
In other words, you must decide what you value and believe in so you have a purpose in your life. Then it is important to always to try to keep your inner self calm while still working with others toward common goals.
To be spiritually healthy, you need to:
- Live every day with your beliefs and values in mind because if you don’t you will feel false to yourself.
- Decide for yourself what the meaning of your life will be while still being tolerant of people with different values and beliefs.
How to Become Spiritually Aware
There are several ways to become more spiritually aware. These include:
- Spiritual practices as part of your religion
The important point is that any of these methods will help you discover your purpose and your relationship with the universe.
They will help you increase your capacity to love and forgive, feel fulfillment and joy and support your altruistic impulses.
Some of the questions to ask yourself about your spirituality are:
- Have I made time in my life for prayer and/or meditation?
- Do I accept without criticism the opinions of others?
- Is there time for relaxation in my day?
- Am I aware enough of my values so that they guide me in making a decision and taking action?
Relaxation and Meditation
Sometimes it seems like we are always being told to just relax and that will reduce stress. But that is easier said than done. But there are several ways to help you relax that can go a long way toward improving your focus and reducing the stress in your life. Meditation is one of the best ways to enhance your health and fitness.
One great method is what is known as Mindful Meditation. There is a great post about how to do Mindful Meditation here.
A great resource for free Mindful Meditations is available from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations). With meditations available for download in both English and Spanish, this is a rich resource for helpful mindful meditations
You are socially comfortable when you are able to establish and maintain good relationships with other people around you. This includes your family, co-workers and friends.
There are two important reasons why it is good to be socially comfortable. These are:
- It is better for you and for those around you because it will be easier for you to contribute to the welfare of the community rather than only thinking of yourself.
- It is simply better to be in harmony with the environment and other people than to live in a state of constant conflict with our surroundings.
If you are living your life in social harmony, you will be rewarded with good, mutually rewarding relationships and you will be able to develop behaviors that will enrich your life. At the same time, you will be better in balance with nature and your surroundings and that will lead to health and wellness.
Ask yourself these questions to see if you are already living in social harmony:
- Do I like to be with other people?
- Are my relationships both rewarding and positive?
- Do I make sure I plan time for my friends and family?
- Do I make a point of connecting with people who have different beliefs and/or who come from other backgrounds or cultures?
Environmental Awareness is critical to the survival of our planet. Part of being a citizen of our world is being aware of our responsibility to take care of the water, air and land around us. And, of course, if we are in tune with our environment we will feel much better. Perhaps that’s the most important reason to be aware of our environment on a personal level.
Environmental wellness means you have a harmonious relationship with nature and the world around you and that will enhance everyone’s health and wellness. This includes being aware of environmental hazards and trying to have a minimal impact on your environment.
Some of the threats to the environment that exist in our world today are:
- Water pollution
- Second-hand smoke
- Air pollution
- Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight
How to Achieve Environmental Awareness
There are two parts to environmental awareness that are our responsibilities. These are:
- Awareness of the limits of the earth’s natural resources
- Being sure to live our lives in ways that preserve our environment both now and for the future.
As yourself the following questions to see if you are already environmentally aware:
- Do you try to fix any safety hazards that you come across?
- Do you recycle regularly?
- Do I volunteer my time to help make my world better?
- Are you aware of your surroundings?
Occupational Wellness comes from finding ways to maintain balance in our lives while getting fulfillment from our career. Hopefully, part of this fulfillment will be because we are positively impacting our workplace and the people with whom we work. This will have even more impact if we are able to make a positive impact on society.
Most important for us personally is that we find and maintain a healthy balance between our work and the rest of our lives.
Of course, not everyone will be able to spend their lives doing work that fits them perfectly. There are lots of reasons why you might have to work in a job that you don’t find particularly fulfilling. In that case, the most important action you can take is to work for that elusive work/life balance. But to have health and wellness in your life it is important to try.
It is also important to have a good attitude about your work situation. It is interesting that there are people who appear to “have it all” with regard to their work but they are still miserably unhappy while there are other people who work in difficult conditions but are happy.
Obviously, their happiness or dissatisfaction must not be entirely about their job. If you can get up in the morning and face the day with a positive attitude, you feel much better. Of course this isn’t easy but it is so much better for your health if you can do so.
Wondering where you are in the process of achieving occupational wellness? Answer the following questions:
- Do you like going to work most of the time?
- If there are problems at work, are you comfortable talking to your co-workers or managers about them?
- Is your workload manageable?
Intellectual Wellness is about our ability to open our minds and learn something new. If you are constantly looking for challenges and ways to improve your skills, you are on the way to intellectual wellness. Most importantly, if you pursue lifelong learning, you will feel much better about yourself and your relationship with the world around you. Also, there is more and more evidence that keeping your mind active and constantly challenging yourself helps delay or, possibly, prevent Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. Now that’s a great reason to work on your intellectual wellness!
You can strengthen your intellectual wellness by giving yourself activities that will stimulate you creatively and develop your skills and knowledge. This very important in fostering health and wellness in your life.
You are intellectually well if you:
- Value stimulation and mental growth
- Love to explore new ideas
- Involve yourself in cultural and intellectual activities
There are many ways to improve your intellectual wellness. These include:
- Learning better ways to solve problems
- Develop your creativity
- Giving yourself permission to read what interests you
- Being aware of current ideas and issues that are impacting the world around you
- Challenge yourself to learn even more with the goal of lifelong learning
Here are some questions to consider to see how you are doing in becoming intellectually aware:
- Am I actively seeking to improve myself by learning new skills?
- How open am I to new ideas?
- Am I looking for opportunities for lifelong learning and activities that will stimulate me mentally?
- Am I seeking ways to use my creativity?
Last but not least is the dimension of health and wellness this is known as Physical Wellness. This is the main reason that many people land on this site. I bring it up last because I want to emphasize that while it is important, it is not the only part of wellness that you need in your life.
Physical wellness is important because the way we look affects the way we think about ourselves. Also, being physically healthy allows us to go through the activities of our day without too much physical stress or fatigue.
We realize that what we do on a daily basis such as a balanced diet, routine checkups and exercise are very important in maintaining wellness. We also realize that we need to avoid habits that will destroy us. These include stopping smoking, limiting our alcohol intake and avoiding illicit drugs.
If you are able to make these behaviors into daily habits, they will significantly impact your ability to live a healthy life. In other words, you will feel better and you will have a better mental outlook.
Being physically well means you are in good physical condition and include exercise in your daily life. This includes building your endurance along with muscle strength, a healthy heart and flexibility.
It also means that you are careful to eat healthy foods that are cooked in healthy ways.
You also need to be personally responsible for your own health. That means knowing how to care for minor illnesses and recognizing when you need to see a doctor. It also means you know how to monitor your own health and are aware of warning signs that an illness might be developing.
Being physically well has its own rewards just like all the elements of wellness that I’ve talked about above. These include:
- Looking great
- Feeling terrific
- Improved self-esteem
- More determination
- A sense of direction
- Better self-control
Here are some questions to help you evaluate your physical wellness.
- Do you get annual physical exams?
- Do you get enough sleep every night?
- Do you know your important health stats such as cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and weight?
- Do you stay away from tobacco?
- Do you exercise regularly?
By this point, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by all it takes to create health and wellness in your life. But don’t despair. You don’t have to do everything perfectly. On your road to wellness you will probably fail and pick yourself up and start again several times.
That’s all right. Nobody’s perfect and expecting that of yourself is not going to help you be well. It will just discourage you.
The best way to approach your road to wellness is to choose your goals, outline the steps that you will need to take to reach them and then persevere as you work your way through them.
It is my hope that I will be able to help smooth the path for you with my articles and tips about achieving your optimal wellness.
*Thank you to NationalWellness.org for developing the theory of the Six Dimensions of Wellness on which this post is based.