Components of Wellness
Wellness has several different components. In fact, google “components of wellness” and you’ll see there are soo many differing philosophies and models of what “wellness” truly is. However, there is one thing that most agree on: wellness is not purely physical health. Your wellness also deals with financial, mental/emotional, spiritual, occupational, and intellectual dimensions.
My conclusion is this: our personal wellness comes down to all the factors that comprise our internal and external environment. To be truly well, we have to address both. Personally, I like the model Northwestern University subscribes to. It is composed of 8 unique dimensions: social, intellectual, emotional, vocational, environmental, spiritual, physical, and financial. Physical and environmental (literally, how does your environment affect you?) are self explanatory. However, the others may not be so obvious at first glance.
Financial wellness: certainly not a dinner table topic, but maybe it should be? Financial wellness is NOT about how much you have, but what you do with it and how you feel about it. What is your relationship with money? Are you constantly chasing more but never satisfied? Do you spend more than you earn? Are you ashamed to discuss your finances? Are you in control of your cash flows? Do you have an understanding of different investment strategies and goals? These are all questions to ask yourself to assess your financial health.
If you find that your financial wellness could use some work (whether it’s in terms of attaining a healthier mindset or healthier spending habits), take action. The number one thing you can do to improve is educate yourself and keep track of where your money is going. Use apps like Mint and EveryDollar to track where your money is going and what it’s doing.
In terms of mindset, remember that your finances do not define you, they work for you. Don’t be afraid to discuss finances, and educate yourself on how to reach your personal goals.
Social wellness deals with developing and maintaining close relationships of all kinds. How is your relationship with your family? Friends? Significant others? A healthy social life includes tending to these relationships and feeling a part of a community, whatever that may be.
Sometimes this can be a tricky area to improve. The resources that would be useful to you depend on the area you want to improve. A good place to start for finding your people/community is attending local meetups that deal with a hobby of yours, dating apps, or even practicing your religion (if you have one) and getting more involved. Of course, don’t forget to assess your current relationships and maintain them. Ask your loved ones; what can you do to further your connection?
Looking after your intellectual wellness is a bit like…looking after a high energy dog. You need to keep it occupied and stimulated, challenge it by teaching it new tricks and making them think, and making them expend energy not only on doing but on thinking. In this scenario your brain is that super high energy dog. If you’re not a dog person, just know that if you DON’T do this, the dog becomes unruly and destructive and gets into trouble.
Stimulate yourself by seeking out new experiences and knowledge, challenging existing skills, developing new ones, and learning about new subjects. Some ideas; look into taking a course through Udemy or Coursera (to name a few), or read a book!
Let me just preface this with the fact that this has nothing to do with religion. If you have one, great. If not, also great! Spiritual wellness is still for you. It deals with establishing and nourishing your sense of purpose, values, and your sense of self. This one is very individual. For some, meditation may work. For others, it may be volunteering. Find whatever it is that grounds you, and do it.
If you’re feeling a bit lost, try asking yourself; what are your needs from a relationship? From work? Friendships? Life in general? Quickly you’ll start to realize what keeps you ticking.
If you’ve ever had a job you deeply hated or loved, this needs no explanation. Gaining something other than a paycheck and a title from your work is crucial and leads to self-enrichment. Ideally, you’d want a job that fuels you and establishes-or aligns with-your sense of purpose.
My favorite tip is this: conduct the spiritual wellness assessment mentioned above, and then ask yourself how well your job aligns with your purpose, values, needs, and sense of self. You’ll either find a new appreciation for your job or find that you need to go on a job hunt.
The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. Truly this sounds like many of the other components to wellness we’ve discussed previously. I like to distinguish emotional wellness as a part of mental health.
How can you improve this? Try mindfulness, journaling, therapy (can we de-stigmatize this please?), pretty much any activity that grounds you. Just like looking after your spiritual wellness it all depends on what keeps YOU going. How do you know what grounds you? Think of something that is independent of any one person, that keeps you anchored, gives you structure, something that helps you cope. That’s your answer.
Wellness is about so much more than your physical health. So please, look after the whole person, not just your body.
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