July 25, 2012

Wellness Wednesday: Part II- Dimensions of Wellness

What is the definition of wellness? More than ever before, we hear this word in the news, on billboards, in conversation and even at work. Interestingly, there is no universally-accepted definition of wellness. There is, however, a set of common characteristics seen in most thoughtful attempts at a definition of wellness. We generally see a reference to a “state of well-being,” which is vague, to say the least. Also frequently seen is a “state of acceptance or satisfaction with our present condition.” The truth is wellness is a tough word to define. That said, we’ll leave it to Charles B. Corbin of Arizona State University who gives this definition of wellness: “Wellness is a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.” Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.
·         Process means that improvement is always possible
·         Aware means that we are continuously seeking more information about how we can improve.
·         Choices means that we consider a variety of options and select those in our best interest.
·         Success is determined by each individual to be their collection of life accomplishments.

Dimensions of Wellness
If wellness is multidimensional, what are the dimensions of wellness? The most commonly described sub-dimensions are the following:

1. Social Wellness
2. Intellectual Wellness
3. Physical Wellness
4. Emotional
5. Spiritual
6. Vocational

Social wellness pertains to a person’s interactive skills with the people that surround him. Good interaction means communicating well, forming important and harmonious relationships, knowing how to respect others, gaining respect in return, and being able to turn to families and friends for companionship, help, and moral support.
And since social wellness means positive interaction, it also encompasses the person’s ability to recognize, appreciate, and consequently respect and preserve the presence of other things around him – nature and his community as a whole.
A person must know that he is part of a whole. Therefore, conscious and continuous efforts must be done to maintain a peaceful, healthy, and harmonious relationship or co-existence with something much larger than one’s self. Although conflicts are normal and bound to occur, the willingness and the sincerity in being able to resolve any conflict is a healthy sign of being able socially adept and well.
In a nutshell, social wellness is determined by everything that makes a person a worthy part of a whole. The term “social” means collective. Being socially adept also means being able to become an effective member of a group.
A person’s social life can affect his overall health:
Isolation can have adverse effects on a person’s health.
Death rate can occur 2 to 3 times higher than those who interact and socialize with others.
Stress is better handled in the presence of family and peers.
Laughter really is a good medicine.
A touch, an embrace, stroke, or caress can do wonders to a person’s health.
Social wellness can be summarily explained using two quotes: “No man is an island,” and “There is no “I” in the word “team”. One should know that he cannot go it alone. Interpersonal and social capabilities are needed in order to form beautiful relationships. Once beautiful relationships are formed, then a person is on his way to a better, healthier, and more meaningful life.

Intellectual wellness is engaging the individual in creative and stimulating mental activities to expand their knowledge and skills and help them discover the potential for sharing their gifts with others.
An intellectually well person:
·         Cherishes mental growth and stimulation
·         Is involved in intellectual and cultural activities
·         Is engaged in the exploration of new ideas and understandings  

Reaching Intellectual Wellness
Traveling a wellness path allows you to explore issues related to problem solving, creativity, and learning as well as spending more time pursuing personal interests, including reading books, magazines, and newspapers, while keeping abreast of current issues and ideas. As you develop your intellectual curiosity, you'll actively strive to expand and challenge your mind with creative endeavors.
Intellectually well people are also curious and interested in the communities as well as the world around them.

Tips for Maintaining a High Level of Intellectual Wellness
Intellectual Wellness is having a curiosity and strong desire to learn. It is valuing many experiences, staying stimulated with new ideas, and sharing. It is responding to challenges and opportunities to grow, making plans, developing strategies, and solving problems. It is the ability to engage in clear thinking and recall, and to think independently, creatively, and critically.
·         Take a course or workshop in something outside your major and minor — a PE or an art class, for example
·         Learn (or perfect) a foreign language.
·         Seek out intellectually inspiring professors — learn the art of add-drop
·         Subscribe to an interesting journal or newsletter — you'll get a regular dose of intellectual information
·         BUY A BOOK! — any book, or check some out from the library
·         Learn to appreciate art — attend exhibits, plays, musicals, and poetry readings
·         Explore different ways to use spare time — intellectually stimulating ways to pass time include crossword puzzles or board games like Scrabble and Chess
·         Learn basic nutrition and exercise regularly to maximize brain functioning — many nutrients are essential to good memory and concentration

Physical Wellness encourages cardiovascular flexibility and strength and also encourages regular, physical activity. Physical development encourages knowledge about food and nutrition and discourages the use of tobacco, drugs and excessive alcohol consumption. Physical Wellness encourages consumption and activities which contribute to high level wellness, including medical self-care and appropriate use of the medical system.
As you travel the physical wellness path, you'll strive to spend more time each week building endurance, flexibility and physical strength. Sometimes the path may become narrow and treacherous-you'll become more aware of the hazards around you and you'll begin to take safety precautions so you may travel your path successfully. The physical dimension of wellness entails taking responsibility and care for minor illnesses and also knowing when professional medical attention is needed.
By traveling the wellness path, physically, you'll be able to monitor your own vital signs and understand your body's warning signs. You'll understand and appreciate the relationship between sound nutrition and how your body performs. The physical dimension of wellness provides almost immediate beneficial results-both physical and psychological. The physical benefits of looking good and feeling terrific most often lead to the psychological benefits of enhanced self-esteem, self control determination and a sense of direction.
As you travel the wellness path, you'll begin to believe that - physically.
It's better to consume foods and beverages that enhance good health rather than those which impair it.
It's better to be physically fit than out of shape.

Steps for Improving Physical Wellness / Physical Fitness
Physical wellness is the ability to apply your knowledge, motivation, commitment, behavior, self management, attitude, and skills toward achieving your personal fitness and health goals. A wise person once said, "Those who think they have no time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness." Physical wellness can be maintained by applying the knowledge and skills of sound nutrition, exercise, and safety to everyday life.
·         Exercise three time a week, 20-30 minutes per session
·         Use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, and walk whenever possible
·         Get consistent and adequate sleep
·         Use seat belts and helmets, and encourage others to do so
·         Learn to recognize early signs of illness
·         Listen to your body
·         Practice safe sex
·         Eat breakfast - it's the most important meal of the day

Emotional wellness is our core.  It is the heart of the 7 Domensions of Wellness.  Emotional Wellness encompasses all of our feelings.  Those might be generalized anxiety, panic attacks, depression or mood swings if we are upset; contentment, ease, confidence and hopefulness if we are happy.  Whatever we feel has a direct impact on how we perceive challenges and stress in our lives.
When we explore our Emotional Wellness, we discover who we are, gain personal insight into why we feel and behave the way we do, and learn new ways to deal with the ups and downs of life.  Emotional Wellness involves learning how to handle stress and understanding when our emotions are off kilter.  It doesn’t mean that we will never have negative feelings.  Instead, Emotional Wellness means being connected to our emotions, being able to name and understand them, and knowing how to handle them, whatever they may be.
Everyone has coping mechanisms.  Some of them are healthy; some are ultimately destructive.  Emotional Wellness often means letting our negative emotions surface so that we can then learn to deal with them in a healthy, helpful way.  It also means learning new behaviors for challenging emotional situations.  Anger management, self-esteem issues, emotional IQ, and healthy personal expression are all a part of Emotional Wellness.  Learning not to take things so personally, known as internal boundary setting, is also an important part of an emotionally balanced life.

Tips to Increase Emotional Wellness
Emotional wellness is striving to meet emotional needs constructively. It is maintaining good mental health, a positive attitude, high self-esteem, and a strong self-image. It is the ability to respond resiliently to emotional states and the flow of life every day. It is dealing with a variety of situations realistically and learning more about yourself and how things you do affect your feelings. It is taking responsibility for your own behavior and responding to challenges as opportunities.
·         Practice optimism.
·         Spend time with friends and family discussing important personal concerns
·         Learn time management skills and other stress management techniques.
·         Smile at least 20 times each day.

 Spiritual Wellness
involves seeking meaning and purpose in human existence. It includes the development of a deep appreciation for the depth and expanse of life and natural forces that exist in the universe.
As you begin to develop the spiritual wellness dimension of your life, taking the Wellness path, spiritually, you'll start asking the question, who am I and what is meaningful in my life. You'll observe the scenery along the path, the world around you with appreciation and wonderment. You'll ask many questions about the scenery, the world, as well as your everyday experiences, and learn to value that which cannot be completely understood. Growing spiritually, you'll try to find peaceful harmony between internal personal feelings and emotions and the rough and rugged stretches of your path.
On this excursion, you'll continually think about and integrate your experiences and beliefs with the experiences and beliefs of those around you. With this valuable spiritual wellness information, you'll be able to engage in the formulation of your world view, and your system of values and goals.
As you travel the wellness path, you'll begin to believe that - spiritually.
It's better to ponder the meaning of life for ourselves and to be tolerant of the beliefs of others than to close our minds and become intolerant.
It's better to live each day in a way that is consistent with our values and beliefs than to do otherwise and feel untrue to ourselves.

Steps to Encourage Spiritual Wellness
Spiritual wellness is the process of getting in touch with your spiritual core. It is a dedication that is unique for each individual. This process can vary from attending church to practicing meditation, or both. It is the process of looking within to become more in touch with the spiritual dimensions of your life.
·         Explore your spiritual core — Ask yourself the big questions: Who am I? Why did I come here? Why do humans/the world exist? Why is there evil? What happens after death?
·         Be quiet — Spend time alone and meditate regularly. Meditation is the process of being fully here, with all concentration focused on the now. By living in the present and letting go of the past and not worrying about the future, we can achieve the inner peace that we strive for while practicing meditation. There are many forms of meditation; find out which one is right for you.
·         Be inquisitive and curious — An attitude of active searching increases your options and your potential for spiritual centering. Don't shut doors before you check out what's behind them.
·         Be receptive to grief and pain — Pain is a deepener. Allow yourself to feel the pain fully, then ask what it's trying to teach you.
·         Be and Do — Spirituality is about more than reading; it's about "doing" and being fully in the present moment in everything you do.
·         Witness the choices you make in each moment — Bring them into consciousness; ask yourself what the consequences of a choice are and if the choice will bring fulfillment and happiness. Listen with the heart and be guided by messages of comfort and discomfort. If there is comfort, go for it! If there is discomfort, pause and reevaluate.
·         Practice acceptance — See that life right now is as it "should be." Do not struggle against the universe by struggling against the moment. Take responsibility for your life without blaming anyone, including yourself. See what the situation can teach you and how you can share this teaching with others.
·         Practice detachment — Allow yourself and those around you the freedom to be who they are. Recognize uncertainty as an essential aspect of life. See that solutions come out of problems, confusion, and chaos, and that uncertainty is the path to freedom.
·         Be playful — Spirituality is in music, art, dance, laughter, singing, and all of life.
·         Look for deeper meanings — If you notice that certain themes keep coming up over and over in your life, rather than feeling like you have no control over the situation, ask for the deeper meaning of the pattern to come to you. See the gift in your greatest troubles/problems/challenges. The Chinese word for catastrophe is the same as their word for opportunity.

Vocational Wellness entails the ability to integrate skills, interest, and values which will heighten job satisfaction. It begins early in one's experience as an individual continually evaluates interests, goals, and attitudes. The result is an ability to identify a well work environment. A well work environment is one that is safe, supportive and encourages personal growth. A vocation is a calling, something that expresses who you are, which a job may not do, Vocation encompasses interests, hobbies, and volunteer work, as well as occupation, but more important is the tie between vocation and personal values.
In Vocational Wellness you look at your personal values and how they are expressed in what you do. Some things you do may fit your abilities, but may not fit your personal values. Wellness, and happiness, increases when vocation and personal values are congruent.
To identify your personal values think first of a moment in your life when you felt completely fulfilled. What was it about that time that was so important? Probably one or more personal values were being expressed. Try and identify them. Then think of something that someone does that really annoys you. Probably one or more of your personal value is not being honored. Can you identify them?

Steps to encourage vocational wellness:
·         Evaluate your passion. Lots of people settle for jobs that pay the bills but leave them feeling empty. If you want to break out of this trap and find another kind of life, you need to evaluate where you'd like to go.
·         Envision your future
·         Tune out negative feedback
·         Shore Up Your Support Network, because anyone making a change needs supportive friends, and lots of them
·         Asses your risk

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