We are constantly surrounded by media and images that push us to try to get “healthy”. But, it can be hard to tell if the ads or Instagram influencers we see are really about health. Often, it seems they are more about fitting societal stereotypes and norms. But, just like how there is variability in the types of movies, TV shows, clothing, hobbies, and friends we enjoy, there is also variability in what is “healthy” for each of us. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest health fad or trend.
Yet, being healthy is not really about following the latest craze. It’s about knowing yourself and figuring out what you uniquely require to feel healthy and happy. There are six dimensions of wellness that we will incorporate into this article: Emotional, Intellectual, Occupational, Physical, Spiritual, and Social. Read below for a self-reflection that might help you realize how to get truly healthy, in a way that works for you.
Being Emotionally Healthy
While trends tend to focus more on physical health, with fad workouts and diet crazes, we don’t hear as much about emotional health. To support being emotionally healthy, ask yourself the following questions. How frequently do you take time to pause and recognize your emotions? Are you often finding yourself pushing emotions to the side or stuffing them down? Sometimes we are so busy that we don’t take time to really savor – or sit with – our emotions. This is true for positive and negative emotions.
If you aren’t currently making time for your emotional health, try to carve out mini-check ins for yourself, at least a few times a week. Ask yourself how you’re feeling and focus on that emotion. If you’re feeling happy, savor it. If you’re feeling less positively, allow that emotion to surface. Now figure out what you need to do for yourself to ensure these feelings are dealt with appropriately. Maybe you need a good cry or to have a tough conversation with someone. That’s ok! Honoring your feelings promotes health.
Physical Health is Not About Calorie Counting!
Problematically, physical health trends often seem very extreme. They frequently aim to groom our bodies into more societally valued shapes and sizes. But, physical health isn’t about everyone else. Your body is uniquely yours! So, you should focus on what you specifically need to support feeling your healthiest.
For physical health, ask yourself when you last physically strong and healthy. What activities were you doing and what did you eat to fuel your body through them? Try not to focus on societal expectations, like weight or clothing size. Instead, think about when you completed a physical activity that made you feel your best and most confident. That might be an activity you put into your regular rotation! Whether it’s hiking, yoga, talking a walk, or doing a cycling class, being physically healthy isn’t about burning calories. It’s about feeling full of vitality. The same goes for nutrition. What helps you to fuel your body to do the things you love? These foods might be those you eat more frequently, compared to others that don’t give you as much energy to tackle the day.
Being Healthy in Your Occupational and Intellectual Spheres
It’s also important to pay attention to your work activities, and flexing your cognitive muscles, when you’re thinking about your wellness. We are all about workplace wellness, so this is an area we know extra well! But, specific for this reflection, ask yourself if the work you do is consistent with your values. When you are personally aligned with your workplace, you are more occupationally healthy.
Not feeling connected? Try to focus on the parts of your job that are fulfilling to you. Or, if possible, make a plan to find a job that is more meaningful to you personally. Work can also make you healthier when you feel you are learning and growing. Have you stalled out in your job? Or are you still developing new skills? If you’re not learning anymore, are there ways to enhance your learning? Can you ask for new opportunities or stretch projects? If not, it might be time to ask for a promotion or to look for your next opportunity.
With regard to being intellectually healthy, it’s all about continuing to challenge yourself in areas you care about. What issues or topics really fascinate you? What have you always wanted to learn more about? Pick one or two areas you want to improve in. These could be creative areas, like art or music, or knowledge areas, like history or economics. Try to buy some books or find some forums that will enhance your learning. Set aside a bit of time each week to improve your knowledge and skills. The most important thing is not to wait. It can be easy to push off intellectual health, but it’s really important for being well-rounded in your approach to wellness.
Promoting Spiritual and Social Health
Finally, being spiritually and socially healthy is also crucial for well-being. Spiritual health doesn’t mean being religious (although it might include religion for those who wish to incorporate this aspect). Instead, it means that you think about your broader purpose as a human being and stay grounded in it. Ask yourself these questions: What do you feel compelled to accomplish in life, looking at the big picture? How do you want people to describe you at the end of your life? Perhaps you really want to build strong relationships and be described as kind and giving. If that’s the case, then you should start prioritizing making time for friends and family. Think about ways that you can give back to those you love, or to the community. When we are disconnected from the broader purpose of our lives, we are less well.
Socially, we need to have at least a few strong relationships. We also generally require living in harmony with others to be healthy. First, ask yourself who is most important to you. Whoever those folks are, try to schedule some of your free time to ensure you’re giving them a call or seeing them face-to-face if possible. You might need to actually put that time on your calendar to make it happen. But, don’t keep putting it off! Next, ask yourself who you need to forgive and who you wish would forgive you. You may need to heal some conflicts with those you care about to feel whole. While we would never recommend engaging in toxic relationships, healthy relationships can go through rough patches. Taking steps to make amends can promote health at times.
It may not be your “influencer” list of wellness tips – but these really work! We hope you enjoyed this reflection and take steps to holistically improve your wellness soon.