I believe our body has an innate intelligence, an ‘inner’ ability to heal itself. This natural ability to heal is strongest when there is balance on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. Our approach should be to restore balance in our system and to heal the whole of us.
People often think about wellness in terms of physical health — nutrition, exercise, yoga, weight management etc., but it is so much more than what we think of it.
So here is my attempt to free the people from what is their definition of “Wellness” and bring a fresh new perspective to what “Wellness” actually is, how we can attain overall wellness.
What Is Wellness?
Wellness means various things to different people.
For many people, wellness means physical fitness, wholistic care, happiness, joy, relaxation, emotional balance, stress reduction, quality of life and spiritual health. However, many people agree that wellness is more than just being free from illness; it’s a pro-active way of living.
One of the leading resources on global health, the World Health Organization (WHO), defines wellness as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity. The concept of wellness isn’t something new. In fact, the idea of wellness stretches back to ancient Chinese, Greek and Roman cultures, which all emphasized wholistic approaches to achieving health, well-being, and harmony within one’s life.
Although it always includes striving for health, it’s more about living life fully and is our lifestyle and an approach to living life in a way that allows us to become the best kind of person that our potentials and circumstances will allow”.
Several key areas of your lifestyle are considered dimensions of overall Wellness. They include: social connectedness, exercise, nutrition, sleep and mindfulness. Each one has an impact on your physical and mental health.
Today, all dimensions of wellness are interrelated and crucial to a fulfilling life.
By making simple and healthy choices on a daily basis, you will be well on your way towards reducing stress, having positive social interactions and achieving optimal wellness.
Dimensions of Wellness
Wellness encompasses 9 mutually interdependent dimensions: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational, financial, cultural and environmental.
Attention must be given to all the dimensions, as neglect of any one over time will adversely affect the others, and ultimately one’s health, well-being, and quality of life.
They do not, however, have to be equally balanced. We should aim, instead, to strive for a “personal harmony” that feels most authentic to us. We naturally have our own priorities, approaches, and aspirations, including our own views of what it means to live life fully.
A. Physical Dimension
We can command over the physical dimension of Overall Wellness by simply following these 6 simple rules.
1. Avoid Putting Toxic Things Into Your Body
You can’t be healthy if you keep putting disease-promoting substances into your body. These include tobacco and alcohol, but also certain processed foods and ingredients.
The more common problem today is eating unhealthy, disease-promoting junk foods.
If you want to gain optimal health, you need to minimize your consumption of these foods.
Probably the single most effective change you can make to improve your diet is to cut back on processed, packaged foods.
This can be tough because many of these foods are designed to be extremely tasty and very hard to resist.
When it comes to specific ingredients, added sugars are among the worst. These include sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.
In addition, it’s a good idea to avoid all trans fats, which are found in some types of margarine and packaged baked foods.
2. Lift Things and Move Around
Using your muscles is extremely important for optimal health.
While lifting weights and exercising can certainly help you look better.
You also need to exercise to ensure your body, brain and hormones function optimally.
Lifting weights lowers your blood sugar and insulin levels, improves cholesterol and lowers triglycerides.
It also raises your levels of testosterone and growth hormones, both associated with improved well-being.
Additionally, exercise may help you lose fat, especially in combination with a healthy diet. It doesn’t just burn calories, but also improves your hormone levels and overall body function.
Fortunately, there are many ways to exercise. You don’t need to go to a gym or own expensive workout equipment.
It’s possible to exercise for free and in the comfort of your own home. Just do a search on Google or YouTube for “bodyweight workouts” or “calisthenics,” for example.
Going outside to hike or take a walk is another important thing you should do, especially if you can get some sun while you’re at it (for a natural source of vitamin D). Walking is a good choice and a highly underrated form of exercise.
The key is to choose something that you enjoy and can stick with in the long run.
3. Sleep Like a Baby
Getting quality sleep can improve your health in more ways than you can imagine. You’ll feel better both physically and mentally and lower your risk of various health problems down the line.
It’s highly recommended to make time for good, quality sleep.
If you can’t seem to sleep properly, there are several ways you can try to improve it:
- Don’t drink coffee late in the day.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at similar times each day.
- Sleep in complete darkness, with no artificial lighting.
- Dim the lights in your home a few hours before bedtime.
4. Avoid Excess Stress
A healthy lifestyle involves a wholesome diet, quality sleep and regular exercise.
But the way you feel and how you think is also very important. Being stressed all the time is a recipe for disaster.
Excess stress can raise cortisol levels and severely impair your metabolism. It can increase junk food cravings, fat in your stomach area and raise your risk of various diseases.
Studies also show that stress is a significant contributor to depression, which is a massive health problem today.
To reduce stress, try to simplify your life — exercise, take nature walks, practice deep-breathing techniques and maybe even meditation.
Not only will overcoming your stress make you healthier, but it will also improve your life in other ways. Going through life worried, anxious and never being able to relax and enjoy yourself is a big waste.
5. Nourish Your Body With Real Foods
Choosing whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds and whole grains is very important for your health.
The simplest and most effective way to eat healthy is to focus on real foods.
Choose unprocessed, whole foods that resemble what they looked like in nature.
It’s best to eat a combination of animals and plants — meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, as well as healthy fats, oils and high-fat dairy products.
If you’re healthy, lean and active, eating whole, unrefined carbs is absolutely fine. These include potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes and whole grains such as oats.
Whatever you do, make an effort to choose whole, unprocessed foods instead of foods that look like they were made in a factory.
6. Do Water Fasting or Intermittent Fasting periodically.
Many cultures/religions include some fasting. The main reason for fasting is the same in all of these beliefs: Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing; resetting.
Fasting is nature’s way of allowing your body to heal itself.
When you stop eating (start fasting) all the energy that has been used to gain energy from food is now being used for flushing toxins out of the system and boost the natural healing mechanism of the body.
Water cleanses, also known as water fasting, is a type of fasting in which for a set period of time, you only consume water. Unlike many other fasting methods, while water fasting, you take zero calories.
This water fasting is implemented for different periods of 3 days, 4 days, 5 days or 7 days.
Recent studies in this direction have shown that water fasting could have health benefits. For example, it may lower the risk of some chronic diseases and stimulate autophagy, a process that helps your body break down and recycle old parts of your cells.
Here are a few reasons why people try water fasting:
Benefits of water fasting
There is almost nothing that it won’t help.
The benefits of water fasting are
- Improves Body Composition and Fitness
- Promotes Greater Satiety
- Boosts Your Metabolism
- Supports Fat Loss and Ketosis
- Improves Cardiovascular Health
- Lowers Blood Pressure Decreases Blood Sugar
- Improves Blood Triglycerides
- Promotes Heart Health
- May Slow Aging and Enhance Longevity
- Decreases Inflammation
- Increases Resistance to Oxidative Stress
- Improves Cell Recycling
- Increases Growth Regulation
- Protects Your Brain
- Reduces Harmful Protein Production
- Promotes a Healthy Stress Response
- Supports Healthier Collagen in Skin
In this section, we will discuss in short how to prepare your body for a 7-day water fast and how to execute it.
There are no scientific guidelines on how to start water fasting.
The very first thing you must consider before 7-day water fast is “why”.
Unless you plan to change your current diet to a healthier one after the Fast you will be disappointed in the overall result.
You will lose the weight doing the Fast but if you go back to eating the same foods you ate before the Fast you will gain that weight back again.
Fasting is a great way to change an eating diet because it will clear out all the addictive elements of what you may be eating now. It’ll be like clearing out the old furniture from your house before you put in the new furniture. Fasting supports and lays down the foundation for a lifestyle change, not just a weight change.
Know your reason for Fasting, use the three major categories to help you in this question; Health (Body), Discipline (Mind) or Spiritual (Soul) Before a Fast it is best to know what kind of Fast you are going to take on. There are many variations on (Food) Fasting. A Fast can be applied to absolutely anything, Fasting from TV, Music, Reading or Sex. It doesn’t have to be about abstaining from food.
Once your “WHY” is clear, then it’s easy for you to do this 7-day water fast. You have to drink only water for 7-days when hunger arises.
B. Intellectual Dimension
The intellectual dimension encourages creative, stimulating mental activities. People who posses a high level of intellectual wellness have an active mind and continue to learn.
- Challenge self to use intellectual abilities.
- Encourage creative mental activity.
- Expand knowledge of self and world.
- Avoid idle thoughts and boredom.
C. Emotional Dimension
Most people know what IQ means, but EQ is equally, if not more important. EQ is emotional intelligence and research has shown that those with a good EQ, tend to be more balanced, and successful. Emotional well-being encourages autonomy and proper decision-making skills. People with high EQ are often less indecisive than those with a lower EQ.
EQ is about the relationship between having positive and negative feelings and being able to understand how to handle them. This is called emotional regulation ability. Regulating emotions can be difficult especially in times of high stress but by reflecting on how situations impact you, you can increase your ability to learn and grow from these experiences, thus increasing regulation abilities.
Emotional wellbeing is an important part of overall wellness. Self-esteem and optimism can be key aspects to being emotionally well.
Here are some tips to help achieve positive emotional wellbeing:
- Practice positive affirmations, they can increase your self-esteem
- Being grateful for what you have in your life can strengthen relationships with family and friends.
- Don’t view mistakes or failures as awful experiences. Mistakes are learning opportunities.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for or accept help from others.
- Try to stay positive, always. Changing your perspective to seek the positives rather than focusing on the negatives can be extremely beneficial
- Understanding and respecting your feelings, values, and attitudes
- Appreciating the feelings of others
- Managing your emotions in a constructive way
- Feeling positive and enthusiastic about your life
D. Social Dimension
Social wellness refers to our ability to interact successfully in our global community and to live up to the expectations and demands of our personal roles.
- Maintain meaningful relationships with others.
- Adapt to various social situations.
- Contribute to the welfare of the community.
E. Spiritual Dimension
Spirituality is often confused with religion. Probably a hang-up from the days when the only thing spiritual was going to mass! Spirituality CAN involve religion or religious elements but it is not the definitive answer.
Spirituality involves a set of core beliefs or values that shape you and how you live your life having this often creates harmony within your soul or inner being.
Spirituality in other words is being in tune with yourself and bringing things into your life that bring you joy and nourish your soul. That might sound very ‘hippie’ to some people, if it does to you, stop now and think about why and how you do the things you do. Are you following habits passed on to you by the people who reared you, or are you doing things that you really authentically enjoy and believe in? If you are not, then finding the things that give you this, is embracing your spirituality. Spirituality also means knowing which resources to use to cope with issues that come up in everyday life.
Spiritual growth is facilitated by the exercise of spiritual disciplines. Spiritual Disciplines are practices that lead to meaningful changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Every person who desires to enhance wellness in the spiritual dimension of their life can practice these disciplines on a daily basis to harmonize their inner core values with their everyday lifestyle.
Meditation – active and open attention to the present. This discipline leads you to be mindful of yourself and others with attention to all the valuable resources around and within you.
Prayer – Daily prayer has been shown to lower stress rates, which positively impacts many aspects of your physical health: from your blood pressure to your heart rate to your immune system.
Fellowship – social connection with others in warmth, cooperation and genuine engagement. This discipline places you in proximity to others and allows you to experience the warmth of inclusion in community. Let your presence in community focus on what you can contribute with your time, attention and genuine care for others, to help others experience authentic connection.
Service – to give your own time and talent to be helpful to others. This discipline results in the most valuable use of your time and talent to enhance the world around you by helping others who will experience greater wellness from you serving them.
Gratitude – to give thanks. This discipline alters your mood and changes your personality. Gratitude causes you to be mindful of the blessings present all around you. Gratitude orients your attention toward what is right in your life and the world around you. Some more advantages of Gratitude are below:
- Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.
- Gratitude improves psychological health.
- Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
- Grateful people sleep better.
- Gratitude improves self-esteem.
Sacrifice – to release something you treasure or to give up pursuit of something you covet. This discipline starves dysfunctional compulsions in your life. Fasting serves the purpose of exercising discipline through deprivation of self-centered desires. Abstinence from unhealthy substances or behaviors is an example of sacrifice through fasting. Another important aspect of the discipline of sacrifice is to release attachment to unhealthy connections in your life. Any void that is felt when you make sacrifices will be filled by the satisfaction of connection and dependence on the Source of your spirituality.
Forgiveness – to release resentment you hold against another. This discipline releases you from bitterness and the discontentment of resentment. Forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself that releases you from the bondage of self-centered resentment.
Love – is the meaning of life. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. Love is creative, restorative, healing and empowering. Love is a renewable energy source that gains strength when you transfer it to others through loving actions. Love’s potential is not achieved through feeling, but rather through action. If you feel love, then do something about it. Love is as love does. Express your love for others with loving words and actions.
F. Occupational / Vocational Dimension
Occupational wellness refers to our ability to feel fulfilled with our jobs and chosen career paths, without sacrificing work-life balance; it’s about being involved in work activities that allow you to show your talents and skill set.
Occupational health is also about providing a work environment that is conducive to good health, productivity, presenteeism, and preventing work-related diseases. Occupational health is a leading factor of good health, especially considering that people spend over 40 hours of their week in the workplace.
Occupational wellness is about maximizing workplace happiness. Here’s how to address occupation health in the workplace:
- Carry out regular health risk assessments and promote preventive health in the workplace (like vaccines, flu shots, allergies, etc.)
- Have a smoke free policy and encourage people to take regular walking breaks throughout the day
- Provide incentives or rewards for healthy behaviours
- Involve coworkers and staff in leadership decisions
- Since occupational health is about maintaining a healthy work-life balance, companies can offer on-site childcare, flexible hours, and family-friendly policies and activities
G. Financial Dimension
- Managing your resources to live within your means, making informed financial decisions and investments, setting realistic goals, and preparing for short-term and long-term needs or emergencies
- Being aware that everyone’s financial values, needs, and circumstances are unique
H. Environmental Dimension
- A healthy physical environment free of hazards; awareness of the role we play in bettering rather than denigrating the natural environment.
- Understanding how your social, natural, and built environments affect your health and well-being
- Demonstrating a commitment to a healthy planet
I. Cultural Wellness
Culturally well people are aware of their own cultural background, as well as the diversity and richness present in other cultural backgrounds. Cultural wellness implies understanding, awareness and intrinsic respect for aspects of diversity. A culturally well person acknowledges and accepts the impact of these aspects of diversity on sexual orientation, religion, gender, racial and ethnic backgrounds, age groups, and disabilities.
Checkpoints for Cultural Wellness:
- Do I feel comfortable working with people who come from backgrounds different than mine?
- Do I respect everyone’s individual characteristics that make them unique?
- Do I ensure everyone has the opportunity to participate and their perspectives are taken into account?
- Do I consistently respect everyone?
- Do I promote diversity and inclusion?
And that ladies and gentlemen is how you can achieve an overall wellness.
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below.