Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life and a state of equilibrium. Body, mind and ‘spirit’ are in balance. The World Health Organization definition “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” confirms that it is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth.
But what is often misunderstood is how it is so much more than a healthy diet, and exercise. How well are you?
Wellness: An Active Dynamic Process
A Yummy Mummy in the UK, a School Teacher in Nairobi, and an Engineer in Punjab may have the same wellness goals – or entirely different ones based on individual needs, life experiences and health issues.
To get to a state of wellness you actively choose what is your goal, look at your options, make your decision, and start a process. There is no diet, fitness regime or mindfulness exercise that works for all. Tip: Tailored Wellness Coaching
The individual – YOU – have the dance card and fill it in according to what your body, mind, and soul tells you. The path is “a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential”, according to The National Wellness Institute.
You are the Director of your own life. As such you need to understand enough about what triggers you have, what makes to tick, and what you enjoy (and not) to decide your next move. Perhaps you first need a bit more information about the stages of wellness?
Wellness has been defined as having Six (or Seven) dimensions – which tell us that each individual will need more or less depending on life experiences, health and fitness, culture and the current state of mind.
- Occupational: Do you enjoy your work, and get appreciated for the contributions you do? The stage of wellness is about job satisfaction on a personal level, and how your life gets enriched by your work.
- Emotional: How well do you know yourself, and do you cope with stress? Learning and growing from your experiences develops inner resources to allow you to deal with what life throws at you. Wellness techniques in this dimension include self-care, relaxation, and stress reduction resources.
- Spiritual: This dimension refers to the development of a set of values that allows you to find meaning and purpose. Religion or meditation are ways to find a path through a given situation. Essentially – being spiritually well means knowing which resources to use to cope with issues that come up in everyday life.
- Environmental: Do you recycle? 🙂 This dimension is about respecting the scarce resources of our world. The delicate balance between the environment and yourself means learning to respect other living things in our environment – as well as the physical environment itself.
- Physical: The most well-known dimension of wellness is the physical one. Often you will see that this is the only dimension magazines, and blogs, bring up when talking about lifestyle changes and wellness. Physical wellness relates to maintaining a healthy body and seeking care when needed. To maintain physical health you need to exercise, eat nutritious foods, get enough sleep, stay hydrated. You also need to pay attention to signs of illness and seek professional help when needed.
- Social: Wellness in this dimension helps you perform social roles effectively and comfortably, and create a support network. It is about developing encouraging relationships with peers, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. It is essentially also how you interrelate within your own family – attach and detach as needed – as well as how you form lasting intimate relationships with partners.
- Intellectual: Intellectual wellness involves having an open mind when you encounter new ideas, cultures and the continuous expansion of your knowledge. It encourages active participation in scholastic, cultural, community and humanitarian activities. This dimension speaks to a curiosity and natural sense of ‘all are equal’ – as well as sharing your gifts with others.
Wellness: How Well Are You?
The National Wellness Institute defines Wellness as an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence. Now – how well are you?
In our topsy-turvy lives, we rarely stop and think about what ‘well’ means. To most of us, we simply say: -“fine” when asked: ‘How are you?’ – In fact, do we even expect to hear anything but: -“fine”, before we jump into the next line of a conversation?
Yet, if you look at the dimensions above you can probably find one, two or several parts that speak to you louder than others. Change comes to mind, and you will be able to see that you have a choice to make.
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. – Lao Tzu
Change: A Step-By-Step Process
To then realize what may be the reason behind this current state of affairs is another. Understanding how to tackle the issue can become overwhelming, and often makes many stops right there. If you break this cycle and look at it as a process you can deal with it step-by-step.
Change does not happen by itself but requires active decision-making based on options that lead to a defined goal. Small steps bring you closer to your goal, and you will evaluate as you go along – which may add dimensions to your final goal.
For the Yummy Mummy in the UK, the starting goal is perhaps to find more time for herself, whereas the School Teacher in Nairobi may wish to lose a few kilo – and the Engineer in Punjab wants greater job satisfaction, or even choose a new career altogether?
Wellness: Why Wellness Matters
In our western world, we have the luxury of choice. We can choose to eat healthier foods, to find a gym, order a mindfulness book – and seek cultural experiences. Many don’t have this choice.
Since we do have the luxury of choice – we owe it to ourselves and those around us, as well as future generations, to maintain an optimal level of wellness. It allows for a higher quality of life. A more rewarding life full of energy, interaction and sense of fulfillment.
Wellness matters because everything we do, and every emotion we feel, relate to our well-being. In turn, our well-being directly affects our actions and emotions. It’s an ongoing circle. Therefore, it is important for everyone to achieve optimal wellness in order to subdue stress, reduce the risk of illness and ensure positive interactions.
Wellness: Recipe for Success?
The recipe cannot be found in one defining book or DVD. Individual needs are too diverse for that. What is certain is that wellness leads to a more fulfilling life, on so many levels. Let this inspire you to look for your goals based on your individual needs.
To illustrate how diverse wellness goals and needs can be, I recommend two inspirational books:
- Mindsight: The new science of personal transformation By Daniel J. Siegel which captures how the mindsight technique can work towards unlocking personal and psychological needs in a very real way.
- The Plan: Eliminate the Surprising ‘Healthy’ Foods that are Making You Fat – and Lose Weight Fast by Lyn-Genet Recitas that gives you a totally new way of looking at nutrition, based on your body’s acceptance of certain healthy foods.
Can you take a test to decide how well you are? Sure – you can tick a few boxes in a magazine to decide if you tend to fall into a generic group A, B or C part of a population. Try this one from Fitness Magazine: Are you a Body, Mind or Spirit Girl?
Well? I am sure you realize how limiting the test is, as much as it makes you think a bit.
The big question remains: How well are you? The answer lies in every person’s individual makeup, and what has brought them to this point in their lives. The fact that something is not feeling quite right can depend on a number of causes, and these cannot be assessed by a random test. A deeper insight into what you need can be done with the help of a wellness coach and other certified professionals.
Wellness: Defining Your Needs
Look at the dimensions above and see which areas makes you think the most. From there you can formulate goals, set a direction – and make a choice: To grow and change; to get well for a dynamic wellness filled life full of energy and driven by your inner knowledge of what is important to you.
Check out Part 2 how to find your wellness goals, and Part 3 to take theory into action. Decide if ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ is best for your given situation. If you work in remote areas, humanitarian work or work unusual hours this will speak to you!
Follow The GOODista for more on lifestyle changes you can do. Wellness and a healthier lifestyle start with small steps. One step at a time.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Recommended and Related:
- The Six Dimensions of Wellness – National Wellness Institute
- What Is Wellness? – University of California
- 5 Stages of Change Model: Which Stage Are You In? – BuiltLean.com
- Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model – Change Management Skills from MindTool.com
- How To Develop A Workplace Wellness Program – Centre for Occupational Health, Canada
- Women’s Health Magazine
- Men’s Health Magazine
- Luxury of Choice – The GOODista
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