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August is National Wellness Month. What a wonderful opportunity to explore what wellness means. Plus, we can discover ways to create a lifestyle that supports wellness in our lives.
The whole theme for this month long celebration is choosing wellness.
I’ll post several times in August, with information, suggestions and fun activities, all centered around Wellness Month.
What is Wellness?
Wellness is the active process of raising awareness and making choices that support a healthy and fulfilling life. It encompasses more than preventing illness or eating a healthy diet. It’s a process that includes change, growth and a commitment to living the best life possible. Wellness is something to actively pursue, through awareness, goals and daily habits.
Last year, I explored National Wellness Month for the first time, setting five goals for myself, to pursue during August. Read that post HERE.
This year, I’m even more aware of how crucial wellness is to my overall health and wellbeing.
Consider these eight dimensions of wellness.
Understanding feelings and accepting them, without latching onto them, forms the core of emotional wellness.
Other important emotional health aspects include managing stress, remaining in the present moment without dwelling on the past or worrying about the future and adapting to and dealing with challenges and changes in constructive ways.
Tips for maintaining emotional wellness include:
- self love, self acceptance, self care
- relaxation techniques
- shifting negative thoughts to positive ones
- connecting with others
- establishing a solid sleep routine
- creating boundaries
- recognizing that challenges bring growth
Environmental wellness is two fold: caring for and living in harmony with the planet and creating personal environments that support who we are.
Creating an environment in your room, home, yard or workspace that supports who you are and your needs and desires contributes to overall wellness.
And equally important is caring for the earth. It is, after all, home to us and many, many other species. I found that my awareness of my own environment and caring for the planet increased as my own health improved.
Tips for improving environmental wellness include:
- decluttering spaces
- creating beautiful, peaceful places to relax and play
- keeping objects nearby that bring joy and encouragement
- protecting the earth and all her inhabitants
- living sustainably
- interacting with nature
- raising awareness about practices that are damaging the earth
Intellectual wellness combines nutrition and mental exercises that strengthen the brain with participation in scholastic, cultural and community activities. Additionally, intellectual wellness expands knowledge and skills and boosts creativity and learning, helping us to live a more fulfilling life.
Tips for expanding intellectual wellness include:
- following curiosity
- reading, for fun and for information
- learning a foreign language or a new skill
- adopting a fresh perspective
- playing games or working crossword or sudoku puzzles
- learning to play a musical instrument
- journaling about creative ideas
- trying new experiences
- eating foods that boost brain health
Learning to manage money well is a key aspect of financial wellness. Think of creating a budget as putting your finances on a healthy diet. When you take control of your money, it doesn’t control you.
Financial wellness encompasses budgeting, building a savings account, planning for the future…including emergencies, spending within means and healthy borrowing. It’s an important component of wellbeing. Money issues are a leading cause of stress, personally and in relationships, and chronic stress creates disease.
Tips for increasing financial wellness include:
- creating a workable, doable budget and sticking to it
- saving for future expenses, including emergencies
- growing funds through investments
- spending less than you earn
- reducing expenses when necessary
- borrowing responsibly
- getting out of debt
You’ve no doubt heard of the expression, “Do what you love, love what you do.” This quote perfectly captures the foundation of occupational wellness.
Doing work that’s fulfilling, interesting and motivational contributes to overall wellness. Feeling inspired and challenged is important too. Life is enriched through the work we do or it can feel stressed when we don’t enjoy our jobs.
Tips for creating occupational wellness include:
- finding benefits and positives in current occupation
- creating connections with co-workers
- writing out goals and creating action steps to get there
- working towards the career path you most want
- increasing skills and knowledge
- writing out dream job in great detail
The most commonly known of the dimensions, physical wellness is about taking care of the body and fueling it with highly nutritious foods. Maintaining a healthy body gives us the energy to do what we want to do and helps manage stress. A body already under attack from disease or illnesses can’t easily handle additional challenges.
Physical wellness involves making excellent choices about nutrition, exercise and body movement, sleep, disease prevention and food or alcohol addictions.
Tips for improving physical wellness include:
- eating a nutritious diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- exercising and moving the body
- strengthening muscles
- paying attention to signals from the body
- eliminating foods that create allergic reactions in the body
- maintaining a healthy weight
- staying hydrated
- creating healthy habits
We need positive connections with others. However, it’s also important to balance social and personal time. Being absolutely who you are, and not who others want or expect you to be, builds healthy social interactions as well.
Destructive relationships are never healthy. Counseling may help with family or spouse relationships. Don’t fear walking away from other relationships that are negative, demeaning or energetically draining.
Tips for maintaining social wellness:
- engaging with people in your neighborhood, community and city
- valuing diversity and treating others with respect
- creating boundaries in relationships
- having fun
- developing good communication skills
- finding your tribe, a supportive group of people who “get” who you are
Building spiritual wellness involves values, beliefs, meaning and purpose. Spirituality grounds us, connects us to God, strengthens trust and helps us find purpose and meaning in life. Following a spiritual path brings bigger perspectives on life situations and comforts during challenging times.
Tips for creating spiritual wellness include:
- praying or meditating
- practicing yoga
- spending quiet time alone
- journaling thoughts and beliefs
- gathering with like hearted people
- serving others
- spending time in nature
It can feel overwhelming to make changes in all eight areas of wellness. Instead, gauge your wellness level first, in each area.
Draw a circle and divide it into eight segments. Label each section of the circle with one of the wellness dimensions: emotional, environmental, intellectual, financial, occupational, physical, social and spiritual. Write a number in each segment, with 1 being a low wellness score and 10 a high level of wellness.
Work on improving the areas with a 7 or less.
Pick one area and start there. Make small, positive changes by setting doable goals. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to do too much at once. Practice self care during the process and focus on gratitude and growth.
Check in with yourself frequently, to see where your wellness level is. The wellness dimensions are all connected. Improvement in one area often leads to improvement in another. Enjoy the process. Play. It’s your life…not an assignment.
And come back next week, for a month of fun activities to help raise wellness in all areas!
Wellness Finds from Amazon
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