Wellness is a word that is highly used in our society today. What comes to your mind when you hear the word wellness? Chances are that you think of health and fitness which is just one of the seven aspects of wellness.
“The word ‘wellness‘ is generally defined as the process and end state of a quest for maximum human functioning that involves mind, body, and spirit. There are seven dimensions of wellness: social, vocational, intellectual, environmental, emotional, spiritual, and physical.”– The Wellness Council of America
The University of California, Davis had a great addition to the definition. They describe wellness as not just preventing or avoiding illness but making choices that promote change and growth in these seven areas of life.
Here are 14 ways to improve your overall wellness
Social wellness is the connection we have with others. It is our sense of belonging.
1- Communication. The better we are at communicating, the better our relationships will be. Communication isn’t just us telling others what we want or need, but also the way we listen and act when others are talking to us. It is not limited to the words we say but includes our body language, our tone of voice, etc.
Communication is key because it is the way that relationships are strengthened. It is the way to exchange our needs, our wants, our hopes, our dreams, our expectations, etc with one another. When we are better communicators there is less miscommunication and hurt feelings.
2- Find others who enjoy a mutual hobby. Are you an avid Catholic? Do you really like anime? Maybe you’re a triathlon fanatic? Finding others who you identify with and who share your passions is a great way to bond and forge amazing friendships. It can be a starting point for developing trust and feeling a deeper connection with those around you.
Google dictionary defines vocation as,
- ” a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.
- a person’s employment or main occupation, especially regarded as particularly worthy and requiring great dedication.”
Vocational wellness is not only feeling happy in the workplace but also feeling you belong in that particular field of work.
3- Do work you enjoy. You spend a significant amount of your life working so it is very important that you spend your time doing work that is personally rewarding to you.
If you are not currently in a job that you enjoy maybe think about going back to school and studying something you enjoy.
If you are doing work you enjoy but the company is stressful, maybe look at finding another company.
4- Create a vision for your future. We are programmed for growth as human beings and hate feeling stagnant. Part of vocational wellness is expansion and continual growth in our knowledge, skill sets, and involvement.
Create a vision for your future vocational goals and then make a plan of things you need to do to get there. A plan will help you know where you want to go and give you a rewarding feeling as you accomplish those goals.
Intellectual wellness refers to the exercise and nourishment of the mind. It is growth, learning, and enlightenment.
5- Read more often. Did you know that a study by Thomas Corley found that 85 percent of self-made millionaires read two or more books a month and spend 3o minutes or more a day reading?
Reading is a great way to unwind, to keep your mind sharp, improve your vocabulary, expose yourself to new ideas, expand your knowledge, increase your skillset, and always be growing.
6- Find ways to be creative. Creativity helps the brain be more innovative by improving thinking processes, problem-solving skills, and promoting self-expression.
Creativity allows your brain to make things up, to create what hasn’t ever been created, and to dream of a better future. Thinking outside of the box is something that cannot be taught in school, but can be learned through creativity.
Environmental wellness addresses nature and our relationship with it. It is being conscientious of the earth and doing our part to protect it.
7- Go green. The popular slogan refers to doing our part in recycling or reducing our human fingerprint on earth.
If your community has a recycling program start participating in it. If it does not, find a local recycling facility where you can take your recyclables.
Recycling can have a great effect on the amount of waste that is dumped and can help clean our oceans.
8- Grow your own greens. Having a personal garden can be very beneficial. It can help decrease the extra materials used for buying store-bought goods, car transportation costs, and reduces water runoff.
Having your own garden and plants in and around your home are also beneficial in cleaning the air of carbon monoxide as well as other pollutants. Natural plants can help reduce chemicals and pesticide consumption.
Emotional wellness is taking care of our mental and emotional states. It is making sure we are aware of and taking care of our inner worlds. This includes reducing stress, developing inner strength, and being aware of the positive and negative emotions that we experience on a day-to-day basis.
9- Embrace vulnerability. What?! Why in the world would this be a recommendation? No one likes being vulnerable.
Bear with me.
Dr. Brene Brown, the leading researcher on vulnerability and connection, describes vulnerability as, “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” She says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.”
With her definition not only is vulnerability something we all experience, but it is imperative in order to have what most of us crave emotionally, as uncomfortable as it may be.
10- Find a way to destress. Stress is one of the leading causes of emotional and physical illness. Finding a way to destress that you enjoy can significantly improve your emotional state of being. Different ways to destress are meditation, art or a creative outlet, deep breathing practices, yoga, journal writing, gratitude practices, taking a walk, being in nature, and many many more. There are endless possibilities, the trick is finding one that works for you.
11- Be a part of something greater than yourself. Most people think of spirituality as solely being religious. While this is a very common practice of spiritual wellness, it is not the only way.
To be connected to something greater than yourself could mean being a part of nature, meditating and being more connected with your inner self, or simply the act of looking for deeper meanings in the everyday events that surround you.
Don’t let the typical connotation of spirituality deter you from being curious and exploring your spirituality.
12- Have values that you live by. In Dr. Brene Browns book Dare to Lead she says,
“A value is a way of being or believing that you hold most important”.– Brene Brown
In her book, she suggests identifying two values that you live by. These values are what help you decide how to act through conflict and hard decisions. They do not change based on the circumstances. These values are what keep you grounded.
You can find a list of values from her book Dare to Lead on page 188. In this list, she gives over a hundred different values to identify from. Identifying and sticking to these values helps create a connection to something greater.
13- Exercise. Exercise tends to have a negative connotation, but exercise doesn’t have to be grueling and strenuous. Exercise can be simple. The purpose is to get your body moving. Different types of movement include walking, bike riding, dancing, yoga, stretching, and so much more.
Finding a movement that is enjoyable and that resonates with your body has major health benefits. Exercise releases a happy hormone called endorphins, it can increase your energy and focus, aid in bone density, and decrease risks of chronic disease.
14- Diet. Diet affects everything in our bodies from hormones, energy levels, mental processing, emotional states, gut health, and illness.
The easiest way to better the quality of food consumed is to focus on small, manageable changes that move you closer to a healthier lifestyle. This could be changing one of your snacks to a healthier alternative, changing one or two processed carbohydrates that you routinely eat to more complex carbohydrates i.e. whole grains, oats, lentils, beans, fruits, and vegetables, or substitute some of your caffeinated beverages/juices for water.
These are many simple ways to get a head start on your nutrition and taking care of your body from the inside out. You only have one body after all so take care of it.