You might have noticed that May is Mental Health Month. Mental Health America chose this year’s theme, which is wellness. I feel like wellness is a word we frequently use, but don’t frequently think about. So, let’s stop and think about it. What is wellness? What does it mean to you? What do you feel that you need to be well? Really stop and think about that for a minute. (Feel free to comment with your answers if you feel comfortable!)
I recently learned that in 1946 the World Health Organization did something that is a pretty big deal when you think about it. In 1946 the World Health Organization changed their definition of wellness. They said that wellness is about more than just the absence of disease. They said that wellness isn’t just physical wellness; it is mental wellness and social wellness too. If you really stop to think about this, I think it is almost earth-shattering.
If you’re physically healthy is that good enough for you? I bet not. We all want more, right? We want to be happy, reduce stress, get enough sleep, feel like our bodies are fit, feel like we think clearly, be loved, have friends, give back to others, feel connected to the world, feel spiritually fulfilled, get satisfaction from our work… all kinds of things! These are all part of wellness. You might look at that list (and the things you’re adding on in your head about what you want) and say, “But I can never get there! When will I get to wellness?” Don’t worry. The goal isn’t to be done – the goal is to keep growing. That’s good news!
I really like the definition of wellness from the National Wellness Institute. They say wellness is “an active process of becoming aware of and making choices towards a more successful existence.” You know what I like best about this? It means we can all do it. It is a process, so we start where we are. The goal is to be more successful, not perfectly successful. We’re trying to be a little bit better for ourselves today than we were yesterday. That is something we can all do from where we are, with what we have, right now. How exciting!
Depending who you ask, there are 6 or more dimensions of wellness. This awesome wheel lists 7 dimensions: social, emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and environmental. These dimensions are each broader than one or two things. Sure, maybe you challenge yourself with intellectual wellness through your job, but would you like to better keep up with the news? Playing word or number games can be good to help keep us intellectually sharp. Maybe you feel good about what you eat and your exercise regime, but have you been to your doctor to be screened for breast, testicular, skin, or other cancers? Do you floss? Do you wear your seatbelt? There’s lots of ways you can physically take care of yourself. And maybe you’re getting what you need from your friends, but are you missing out on doing for others? Maybe you could fit in some volunteering? Do you have enough laughter in your life? Enough relaxation?
You can take a free wellness assessment online to help you think about areas where you can keep growing and learning in your journey of wellness. I encourage you to consider picking out one or two things that you’d most like to work on. When we try to change a lot of things at once…. well, I think we all know how that goes – it doesn’t. So, pick the most important to you, then make a commitment to yourself about what you’re going to change. Give yourself a deadline. When you’ve done it, congratulate yourself and pick the next step forward in wellness. If you falter, go easy on yourself. Pick yourself back up and try again. That’s what counts – remember, this is a process of moving towards a more successful existence.
As always, if you’d like a companion in your wellness journey, give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando at 407-355-7378. Our experienced counselors, psychologists, and life coaches are here to guide you and give you the support you need.
With wellness wishes (say that three times fast!) ~Krista