Empowering the Self: Integrating Wellness into Your Life
Updated: Feb 18
First of all, what is wellness? Myers, Sweeney, and Witmer defined it as “a way of life oriented toward optimal health, in which body, mind, and spirit [work together] . . . in order to live life more fully.”
There are a number of wheels of wellness, but the one that we will be using focuses on the main points. We will talk about the following dimensions: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, and occupational. You will find that some of these may have a tendency to overlap with one another.
Physical wellness is the ability to maintain a healthy quality of life, which allows us to make it through our daily activities without feeling stressed or fatigued. Some examples of this include eating healthful foods, being sure to hydrate, being more active, and making sure that we get enough sleep at night. These can be difficult, particularly when we have busy schedules.
Emotional wellness is the ability to understand ourselves and to cope with the challenges that life can give us. We must feel comfortable expressing all emotions, such as anger, fear, sadness, stress, hope, love, joy, and so forth, but we must do so in productive and constructive manners. Examples of demonstrating emotional wellness include utilizing coping strategies to deal with stress (such as journaling, deep breathing exercises, or taking a walk), incorporating hobbies into one’s daily life (such as photography, baking, dancing, gardening), attending therapy, and making use of one’s support systems.
Social wellness is the ability to relate to and connect with other people. Our ability to establish and maintain positive relationships with our family, friends, work buddies, and significant others is paramount. Examples of social wellness include contacting family members, making plans with friends, connecting with our partners, and communicating with our work colleagues. Admittedly, all of these can be difficult to do during a pandemic, but FaceTime and Zoom calls make things a little bit easier when it comes to connecting with others. Has anyone been able to nurture their social wellness?
Spiritual wellness can be defined as the ability to establish peace and harmony in our lives. It is important to develop congruency between our values and actions, as well as to realize a common purpose that binds us together. This can be different for everyone. Examples of spiritual wellness consist of attending religious services (be they in person or online), reading religious or spiritual texts of some kind, use of prayer and/or meditation techniques, and incorporating religious or spiritual practices in your daily lives.
Intellectual wellness is described as the ability to open our minds to new ideas and experiences that can be applied to personal decisions, group interactions, and community betterment. It is necessary for us to focus on learning new things, improve skills, and challenge concepts. Some examples of this include furthering our education by applying to higher education programs or taking other online courses through Coursera and the like, reading books of interest to us, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries or even informative YouTube videos, and following the news from time to time. Does anyone have anything to add to this?
Environmental wellness is the ability to recognize our own responsibility for the quality of the air, water, and life that surrounds us and to make a positive impact on our environment. Some ways of doing this are by reducing our carbon footprint by recycling, reusing items, and otherwise reducing waste. What are some ways that you do this?
Occupational wellness is defined as the ability to get personal fulfillment from our jobs or our chosen career fields while still maintaining balance in our lives. Some ways of accomplishing this consist of finding positive aspects of our jobs, or seeking fulfilling employment if we find ourselves in unfulfilling situations, researching educational programs if need be, and making use of networking opportunities. Do any of you have any other examples of this?
Admittedly, this is difficult to accomplish. It is a lot to take in. One way of doing this is by writing or typing out a self-care plan, making sure to identify at least one thing in each of the dimensions, in order to ensure that total wellness is being met. It may be easier to incorporate these goals or other activities into a calendar, such as Google Calendar (which works wonders for me), in order to budget your time accordingly. Some also find it helpful to reach out to members of their support systems for accountability purposes. Most importantly, take things one step at a time. What I mean by this is that you do not need to completely change your lifestyle in one go, as that would be overwhelmingly. Instead, make small, manageable changes to step out of your comfort zone and then slowly incorporate other changes. As previously noted, some of these dimensions make work in conjunction with one another, such as utilizing support systems—as these would meet both emotional and social needs, perhaps even other needs, such as physical or spiritual.
The world can be an overwhelming and unsettling place, particularly now during a pandemic. We are all bogged down by the hustle and bustle of things. It makes sense that it can be difficult to try to make time for everything. It is important to be in control of our intent for wellness. What drives us? We must consider what brings purpose and value into our lives. Also, as mentioned before, please be sure to take things one step at a time. Gradually incorporate things into your daily lives. Wellness is a habit, much like anything else. So it takes time. There’s nothing wrong with baby steps. Progress is progress. What kinds of goals do you all have?
Here is an example of a self-care plan, which makes use of each of the dimensions of wellness mentioned during this presentation. What other examples would you use for yourself?
These are some resources that I have learned about over time.
Habitica is useful for addressing different odd-and-end tasks throughout the day. You get to create a cute little 8-bit character and level up over time after completing each task. There is also another app called Epic Win that does the same thing, but that one costs money. You are of course welcome to download that if you would like.
Then there are apps like Clear Fear and Calm Harm: Clear Fear focuses on a multitude of types of anxiety and includes ways to meditate, such as by looking at videos of bubbles or of people walking along the ocean, and focusing on these images versus simply clearing your mind. Calm Harm focuses on other negative thoughts, such as depression and self-harming behaviors, and provides alternatives for these.
MyLife (formerly known as Stop, Breathe, & Think) has a number of guided meditation exercises.
Meetup and Bumble BFF are apps that can help you connect with other people in the community.
And, of course, there is Google Calendar to keep you organized.
Do you have any other apps or resources that you would like to share?