If you evaluated your wellness and gave yourself a letter grade, how would you do? Would you make honor roll or would you be teetering on the verge of failing? Be honest. It is really important to periodically check-in and assess what changes need to be made. The problem is that often people only think of one or two areas to make improvements. Wellness actually has several facets and it is useful to explore all of them.
This is what immediately comes to mind for most people when they think of wellness. Physical wellness relates to physical health. That includes, but is not limited to balanced nutrition, adequate rest, and consistent exercise. It also relates to regular doctor’s visits and compliance with recommendations. Realize that your health exists on a continuum. You do not have to be in perfect physical health to prioritize your wellness in this area.Some reflection questions:
- When was your last physical?
- How good do you feel physically?
- What are your exercise and eating habits like?
A second area of health that exists on a continuum is emotional health. Our mood shifts and fluctuates in reaction to various stressors in our environment. It is normal to feel down on occasion. However, if you feel chronically sad, unmotivated, or even fearful, then it might be a good idea to seek support through professional counseling. You do not have to wait until you no longer feel like yourself to get help. Counseling has its origin in prevention. Therefore, as soon as you realize your emotional health needs some attention go ahead and schedule with a counselor to help you on your journey.Some reflection questions:
- What is your baseline mood?
- What is your energy level on most days?
- How do you handle stress?
A lot of times people realize their emotional wellness is lacking because their social wellness is lacking. We all need a community of positive, supportive people in our lives to help us feel balanced. When people struggle in their relationships or only maintain superficial connections, they suffer. Healthy friendships and family ties help us navigate life and they inoculate against some of the challenges. If you find yourself feeling lonely and disconnected often, it might be time to focus on your social wellness.Some reflection questions:
- Who are your closest connections?
- What’s the quality of those connections?
- How often do you prioritize time with those connections?
Another area of wellness to explore is spiritual wellness. For some, this might be expressed through practicing a certain religion, reading religious texts, or attending a church or place of worship. For others, spirituality might be expressed through mindfulness, contemplation, and meditation. The basic definition, however, is connecting to something greater than oneself. Spirituality can serve to simultaneously elevate and ground you. If this is an area that is lacking, it might be helpful to identify what faith tradition or way of practicing faith gives you peace. Once you do, then, create the space for it every day. Some reflection questions:
- What rituals and practices bring you peace?
- How connected do you feel to God or your higher power?
- Do you make regular time to pray, journal, or meditate?
Another thing to create space for every day is learning something new. This wellness facet emerged from the idea that human beings are lifelong learners. When you stop learning, you plateau. But, if you continually grow and challenge yourself it can energize you and really add value to your life. When was the last time you picked up a new hobby, took a class, or read something new? If you want to develop your intellectual wellness, then now is the time.Some reflection questions:
- When is the last time you did or read something new?
- What is a new hobby or activity you have wanted to learn?
- Where and how can you learn this new hobby or activity?
Now is also the time to take an honest look at your occupational wellness. Most of us, at some point, have felt dissatisfied at a job or felt stuck in a toxic work environment. If you think the petty discord that exists between you and a coworker do not affect you, think again. If you find yourself continually passed over for opportunities or you are overworked and underpaid, it will most definitely affect your wellness in other areas. Before work has a chance to negatively affect wellness in other areas, see what improvements you can make.Some reflection questions:
- How do you feel about your current position?
- How do you feel before you go in, while at work, and when you leave work?
- Would time off improve things or do you need to leave your current position?
The last area of the 7-factors of wellness model to evaluate is environmental wellness. This was included based on the idea that people generally feel better when connected to nature. Getting outside in the sunshine and fresh air does wonders for overall sense of well-being. Do yourself a favor. Break up the monotony of the daily grind and go outside sometimes. Some reflection questions:
- How often do you enjoy fresh air?
- When was the last time you enjoyed a meal outside?
- Do you take advantage of pleasant weather days by going to the park?
As you can see, wellness has many facets. So, what about you? Grades are due. What letter grade would you give yourself: physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually, spiritually, occupationally, and environmentally? You can be awesome with physical health, but awful with emotional health. You can thrive in your occupational life but floundering in the social life. To truly be well, you must attend to all areas. If you’re holding down A’s, keep doing what you are doing. If you are working with C’s and D’s, those should be your focus areas. Evaluate your grades now and reassess every few months. Wellness does not just happen; it must be intentionally pursued. I think if we all apply ourselves we can make the honor roll going forward.