How do you know when you’re really well? This is the conclusion to my "Seven Dimensions of Wellness" miniseries. With Christmas only days away and the prospect of a New Year delightfully (or terrifyingly) close, it's time to reflect on how well you are in all areas of your life...
How do you feel when you are well?
What does being “well” mean to you? Last time, we talked about what wellness is and if you have it. Contrary to much of our Western biomedical mindset, wellness is not just about the abilities of our physical bodies. Wellness is what happens when our physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects are all thriving and interacting with each other properly. One way to conceptualise it is through the Dimensions of Wellness model.
Last time, I gave you a little quiz so you can see how you’re faring in the areas of social, emotional and occupational wellness. Today I’m covering the other four domains - physical, spiritual, intellectual and environmental.
Physical wellness occurs when we care for our physical bodies properly, so we can get through each day doing everything we need to, without too much fatigue or physical stress (e.g. breathlessness, heart racing/pounding).
When we are physically well, we do beneficial physical activity and have good nutrition and healthy eating habits, while avoiding destructive or unhealthy habits (e.g. substance dependence/abuse, high levels of processed sugar, too little fibre). Physical wellness also includes having reasonable muscle strength, endurance, cardiovascular strength, and flexibility. We take responsibility for our own healthcare, being aware of our own vital signs and warning signs, dealing with minor illnesses and seeking professional medical attention as appropriate (i.e. not too little, not too much!).
Does your health advisor/ doctor/ specialist know how your body is functioning at the moment?
Do you avoid high levels of cigarettes, alcohol, processed sugar?
Do you get enough sleep?
Do you get enough exercise?
If you answered "No" to any of these questions, it may indicate an area where you could improve your physical wellbeing.
Spiritual wellness is characterised by our ability to identify and live out our values, in such a way that gives our lives meaning, purpose and direction. It is that part of ourselves that remembers that we are tiny beings living on a small rock spinning through an enormous universe and asks the big questions, such as: What is my purpose? How should I interact with the world? Why am I suffering? Do things happen for a reason? How can humans connect with God? People have been asking and answering these sorts of questions for as long as there have been people. As such, it is a universal human experience and calling.
Do you have a regular spiritual practice? (e.g. prayer, meditation, altruistic service)
Do you know what your values are in life?
What qualities do you wish to embody in your daily activities?
Do your values guide your decisions and actions?
Do you respect the values of others?
If you answered "No" to any of these questions, it may indicate an area where you could improve your spiritual wellbeing.
Intellectual wellness happens when we are engaged in a variety of creative, mentally stimulating experiences. We are curious, looking at our lives and the world around us and always being willing to learn. We explore new ideas and concepts, so that we can expand our knowledge and skills, help solve problems, and contribute to our wider community.
Are you open to new ideas?
Do you seek personal growth by learning new skills?
Do you look for learning opportunities and mental stimulation?
Do you look for opportunities to be creative?
If you answered "No" to any of these questions, it may indicate an area where you could improve your intellectual wellbeing.
Environmental wellness happens when we recognise and deal with the impact of our behaviour on the world around us. We take responsibility for the air, water and land that sustain us and make an effort to maintain and improve their quality. It also includes safety, protecting ourselves from environmental hazards (of both the human and natural kind), and minimising the negative effects of our behaviour on the environment.
Do you recycle?
When you see a safety hazard, do you take steps to fix the problem?
Do you give your time up to nurture some element of your environment?
Are you generally aware of your surroundings and what you’re doing that helps/hurts them?
If you answered "No" to any of these questions, it may indicate an area where you could improve your environmental wellbeing.
So there you have it. How did you score yourself? If you noticed any “No” answers, grab a trusted friend and see if they’ve noticed the same thing in you - maybe they're even experiencing something similar themselves.
Do please remember that some health and wellness issues will require a qualified professional’s insight and assistance to manage them effectively. I am qualified to assist you in many of these areas. I would also be pleased to point you towards my contacts in these areas. Drop me a line through my website and I’ll give you a call to discuss your requirements.
In the meantime, I'd like to wish you all a safe, interesting and enlightening Christmas and New Years. Will you be working on your wellness in 2017? I know I will be!