By: Camryn Murray, Winthrop University Nutrition Student
When we talk about “wellness,” our mind typically gravitates towards topics like diet, exercise, and self-care, but the truth is that wellness is much more complex. Wellness is the holistic process of pursuing good health and a successful existence. The goal of wellness can look different for everyone, whether it be to have improved mental health or to feel more fulfilled with your life in
Emotional wellness is increased when we gain self-awareness and learn how to regulate and validate our emotions. Some questions that you might ask yourself to assess your current emotional status might be:
Am I aware of any tension in my body right now?
How do I take care of myself on a daily basis?
Do I feel comfortable setting boundaries and asking for help?
Do I allow myself to feel my emotions as they come and go?
To improve our emotional wellness, we might:
● Practice gratitude daily
● Reduce our stress by learning how to say “no”
● Reach out to a mental health professional
● Seek to become more mindful and present in the moment
Many people who embark on their health journey begin with their physical wellness. When we think of this type of wellness, we tend to think of going to the gym and eating fruits and veggies, but there are many aspects of physical health, which may include:
● Sleep: we need about 8 hours of sleep per night to regulate our hormones, reduce stress, retain information, and more
● Illness prevention: getting regular check-ups from the doctor, taking prescribed medication, wearing sunscreen, etcetera
● Nutrition: eating a balanced diet, incorporating color and variety in our meals, staying hydrated, and eating mindfully
● Movement: try to get at least 2.5 hours of exercise per week or 30 minutes per day to maintain healthy bones and joints, reduce stress, prevent injury, strengthen muscles, and stay at a healthy weight
Spiritual wellness is when we have a sense of purpose, meaning, and a set of characteristics that we value. Some goals for increasing this type of wellness might include clarifying your morals, building integrity, exploring your thoughts on mortality, spending more time in reflection, and caring for the welfare of things outside of yourself. You might benefit from asking questions such as:
How do I cope with stress and trauma?
Where do I find comfort in hard times?
Do I have a set of values that guide me through life?
You may find the answer to these questions using organized religion, journaling, or through practices such as yoga or meditation. Spiritual wellness does not need to include religion, and you may find ways to be spiritual through examining your life and human spirit in terms of non-material things like philosophy.
Intellectual wellness is enhanced when someone is curious, pursuing their interests, creative, and open-minded. This can look like an exploration of academic topics like science, reading new books, or building your awareness of other races, culture, and beliefs. Some questions you can use to evaluate your intellectual wellness include:
Do I look for mentally stimulating activities?
What ways am I working on personal growth?
How am I currently using my creativity?
What was the last thing that I learned? How can I benefit from this knowledge?
Building intellectual wellness can be challenging and tedious. Building skills like time management and critical thinking can help you in your pursuit of this type of wellness.
Environmental wellness is how a person interacts with their surroundings and the kind of environments they choose to experience on a daily basis. For example, the cleanliness of someone’s home and the impact that it has on their emotional wellbeing. On a larger scale, how much an individual connects with nature and respects natural things and other species. Some ways to improve this type of wellness could include:
● Spending time exploring the outdoors
● Creating a clean and efficient home and workspace
● Recycling and choosing sustainable options
● Meditating outside
One last technique that is a little less popular is called grounding, or spending time connecting with the earth everyday, whether that be walking barefoot in the dirt or taking a moment to sit in the grass.
Financial wellness includes how happy you are with your occupation, your career goals, financial literacy level, and ability to handle financial stress in a healthy way. There are 4 aspects of financial wellness:
● Budgeting: creating a plan for daily spending and future endeavors
● Debt: gradually paying for things like student debt, mortgages, car loans, and more while also managing money and building your credit score
● Savings and investments: accumulating long-term savings for retirement and financial security or short-term savings for things like vacations and house repairs
● Protection and insurance: having “back-up” money or an emergency fund for things like emergent car issues, medical emergencies, or other crises
Social wellness includes how well you operate in your relationships, interact with others, and express yourself. We as humans are social creatures, so building a community to support and receive support from is crucial for building social wellness. It can be hard to prioritize social relationships, especially when life is so busy and there are so many people to keep in mind. Here are a few tips for learning to incorporate social wellness into your daily life:
● Set aside a certain time every week to give to a relationship or group of people
● Avoid blaming other people for your emotions or struggles, especially in romantic relationships (it might help to research “I-statements”)
● Show appreciation in verbal ways by sending a quick text to check up on someone or setting a reminder to wish someone good luck for an important event coming up
● Show appreciation in non-verbal ways like picking up a small gift for someone you love or getting an extra coffee to give to a coworker on the way to a meeting
While wellness is technically a goal, it is also an ongoing process that people go through for their entire lives. The key to most things is balance, which also holds true for wellness. We must remain diligent and equally focus on all 7 pillars, because placing too much importance on one pillar can cause us to neglect another.
Emotional wellness toolkit. National Institutes of Health. https://www.nih.gov/health-information/emotional-wellness-toolkit. Published August 8, 2022. Accessed October 21, 2022.
Physical wellness. Health & Wellness. https://www.unh.edu/health/physical-wellness. Published May 27, 2021. Accessed October 21, 2022.
Fox N. Spiritual wellness: What is your meaning and purpose? LHSFNA. https://www.lhsfna.org/spiritual-wellness-what-is-your-meaning-and-purpose/. Published September 27, 2021. Accessed October 21, 2022.
Intellectual wellness. Health & Wellness. https://www.unh.edu/health/intellectual-wellness. Published May 27, 2021. Accessed October 21, 2022.
Lucas B. Social Wellness in 8 easy steps. Cone Health. https://www.conehealth.com/services/behavioral-health/8-ways-to-better-social-wellness/. Published 2022. Accessed October 21, 2022.