Last week I gave a short presentation at the Ladies Library Association here in Kalamazoo. It was a hosted by Stacy Caudill who is a Senior Investment Management Specialist. It was a ladies-only event and the topic was Financial and Physical Fitness. My role was the physical portion of the program. When consulting with Stacy about what topics she would like to see covered, she said really anything covering fitness/wellness would do. I opted for the Six Dimensions of Wellness Model I use. As I wind up my fitness career, these are the dimensions I have found to be true concerning the area of wellness.
Wellness is a trillion dollar industry which did not even exist when I began working in fitness. It has outgrown both the fitness and weight loss industries. But what does this term wellness really mean? It is a rather broad and abstract term. And just as we are not one-dimensional, neither is our wellness. So it is indeed more than just the physical. It has to do with our quality of life.
Unless we live in a cave with no communication to the outside world, we have been made well aware of the importance of physical wellness. And ladies, we have had it drilled into our heads from all those magazine articles which repeat the same things OVER and OVER! But let me just cover the physical one more time just in case you have not yet received this message. The other dimensions follow.
- The physical aspect of wellness:
- Taking charge of one’s physical health through regular exercise, daily activity, proper nutrition, and stress control
- Maintaining a healthy (I didn’t say perfect!) weight
- Getting age appropriate medical screenings
- Becoming proactive, rather than reactive, to any medical conditions we may have to prevent them from becoming worse, and perhaps improve them
- Replacing any bad health habits we have acquired with new, healthy habits
- the emotional aspect of wellness:
- an awareness and acceptance of feelings and stressors
- an understanding of human emotions and HEALTHY ways of expressing, rather than repressing your emotions. If you choose to repress your honest emotions, they will either make you physically ill or appear at a perhaps inappropriate time
- The adaptability to deal with change (this one is HUGELY important!!!)
- Social wellness:
- Participating in POSITIVE social relationships including friends, family, and community.
- eliminating or limiting your exposure to toxic people
- being the type of friend or spouse you would like to have
- Spiritual wellness:
- exploring the meaning or purpose in your life, and participating in activities that support and enhance this exploration
- this may include such things as organized worship, prayer, but for many, such as myself, it includes meditation and being in nature.
- taking the quiet time (we are so distracted from ourselves!!) to discover the morals, ethics, and values that drive your moral compass
- spiritual wellness can bring an inner peace with yourself and your current situation no matter how good or bad it may be
- Intellectual wellness:
- current research indicates how important life-long learning is to brain health.
- Just as with the physical, if you do not stimulate the systems, you will probably get the Tin Man Syndrome. When you rest, you rust.
- Finding stimulating mental activities to expand your knowledge and skills. This does not necessarily mean formal education, although it could. I am currently learning things like gross vehicle weights, sway bars, and holding tanks to prepare for my upcoming adventure. And other cool stuff like learning the technicalities of blogging!
- learning new things creates new neuro-pathways in our brains and may help ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Learning keeps our brain happy and consequently, life becomes more fulfilling and rewarding.
- Financial wellness – this has nothing to do with wealth, but rather:
- your attitude toward money and developing good money habits
- your commitment for setting goals for future needs
- learning how to manage your money sensibly
- money stress could very possibly lead to a breakdown of all of the other aspects of wellness
Now that we have the model, it may lead us to think it must be divided up into perfect proportions, devoting equal time to each dimension. This is not true. The model is not static, but very dynamic, changing proportions in relation to where we find ourselves in this process we call life. If you were to think of the lives of a college student, vs a busy working mom, vs a newly retired person, you would find the proportions are different to each individual situation.
The key factor is not a perfectly divided pie chart, but rather that all dimensions are present to some degree in our lives. One commonality all the dimensions share is they require effort on your part. And it all comes down to choice.
- If you choose to ignore a physical condition such as arthritis, and not take a proactive stance, it will get worse
- If you choose to repress your emotions (we all have them) you may find yourself yelling at your server in a restaurant, thereby transferring your anger to an innocent target.
- If you are lonely, you must go out into the world and participate. The world is not coming to you.
- If you never stop to pause and reflect on your own spirituality, you may not find peace when you need it most.
- If you choose not to expand your intellect, you may be choosing to become bored and boring.
- If you choose to not make a budget, knowing your own cash flow, you may be choosing to work for the rest of your life.
These are a few examples of what can happen if we ignore our wellness. We can live in denial, or step up and create the lives we desire. One thing is for sure; old ways won’t open new doors.