During this spring semester at our Farm and Forest Homeschool Enrichment Program we're diving into wellness and resilience. For more information about the program: click here.
What do you think of when you hear the term wellness? What does it mean to you? Generally, when asked these questions people instantly think of physical wellness. But this is just one of the many dimensions of wellness. In Adlerian Counseling and Psychotherapy: A Practitioner's Wellness Approach Thomas J. Sweeney, PhD concluded:
Wellness is a way of life oriented toward optimal health and well-being, in which body, mind, and spirit are integrated by the individual to live life more fully within the human and natural community. Ideally, it is the optimum state of health and well-being that each individual is capable of achieving. (ch.2)
Wellness is multifaceted, it’s engraved in our lives and impacted by our thoughts and decisions. There are many dimensions of wellness we could explore. For this blog post, we’ll focus on the following: emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellness.
1. Emotional Wellness
Emotional wellness is defined as “an awareness, understanding and acceptance of your emotions, and the ability to deal with challenges and change” according to The National Institute of Emotional Wellness. The ability to tune into our emotions is important in the pursuit of social connections and relationships. As humans, we rely on supportive relationships with others and social acceptance because they impact our self-esteem. When we feel confident, we’re more likely to challenge ourselves and feel free to be our authentic selves. And being comfortable with who we are is a huge aspect of each dimension of wellness.
Tips to try:
Include positive affirmations, like “I am capable and I deserve to be fulfilled in my life” in your daily routine.
Practice dumping emotions into a journal and then following it up with listing all the things you feel gratitude about.
Embrace your feelings, both positive and negative, by naming them and recognizing them for what they are.
Spend time with friends and family outdoors.
2. Mental Wellness
Mental wellness and emotional wellness may seem interchangeable, but when on the path to greater well-being it is important to differentiate between the two. Mental wellness encapsulates how we process emotions/experiences and emotional wellness refers to how we express emotions in response to processed information.
Emotions are like little messengers, all on a mission to tell us something. If someone is mentally unwell, they can get caught in their emotions and they direct their choices. If they have cultivated mental wellness, they experience the emotions as opportunities for growth. Our ability to decipher (process) these messages directly impacts our mental and emotional wellness. For example, as explained by Elizabeth Scott, PhD in her article: How Negative Emotions Affect Us, if we choose to avoid instead of recognizing our emotions, it can create “false positivity, where we shame ourselves for experiencing these natural states (difficult emotions) and try to deny them or force ourselves to pretend we feel more positive than we do." In the article you can also find a summary of Ceri Sims' TEARS of HOPE, a new approach to accepting and embracing difficult emotions.
Tips to try:
Practice mindfulness - refer to the picture below for the BREAK method
Find a hobby you enjoy to alleviate stress, like crafting, running, cooking, etc.
Implement a daily act of self-care that feels right to you. This could be listening to your favorite pump-up song, spending time in your favorite place, or reading a favorite book.
Surround yourself with supportive relationships, keep those who lift you up, close to your heart.
3. Physical Wellness
If we exercise and eat healthy foods we’ll be physically well, right? This is partially true, but physical wellness means so much more! Taking care of your body includes protecting yourself from injury, addressing illness, and truly listening to your body’s needs. This means when you feel something in your body, consider it to be a signal! Sometimes we feel aches, pains, tingles, or more that we often ignore. Really challenge yourself to take a moment and really listen when you have these sensations. Check out this article by yoga instructor Michael Taylor to learn more about what it means to authentically listen to your body. To strengthen physical wellness, it is also important to prioritize healthy habits and minimize harmful ones. Of course, we all have lazy days and want to snack sometimes, but engaging in these habits consistently could negatively impact our overall well-being.
Tips to try:
Establish a morning/evening routine
Get enough sleep - A study from NIH states anywhere from 7-9 hours is ideal for adults, as we sleep in 90-minute cycles it's best to complete them in 6 or 7.5 hours.
Exercise and stretch regularly
Fuel your body with nutrient-rich foods and limit snacking on processed foods
4. Spiritual Wellness
Spiritual wellness refers to your journey to find your values and beliefs. Do your actions reflect your values and beliefs? When your values guide your actions, you deepen your awareness of your inner self and grow your relationship with your heart and soul. Rooted in yourself, you are well positioned to strengthen your relationships with those around you and your environment. These connections in your body and beyond directly influence the way you think and act according to Amal Saymeh, a BetterUp life coach. Check out her article for more information about the benefits of spiritual wellness.
Tips to try:
Practice meditation, yoga, or both!
Set aside time each day to journal. Let your mind lead the journal and write what feels right.
Spend time in nature, go on a walk and slow down by using all of your senses to connect with your surroundings.
Daily Gratitude Practice - A study from NIH reveals the positive effects of gratitude on heart health, sleep, and emotional wellness.
As you can see, wellness is multidimensional and impossible to ignore. The dimensions mentioned are unique but share qualities with each other as they all overlap in the wheel of wellness. Because they overlap, our actions and ways of thinking can send us through upward or downward spirals in all dimensions. Look out for our next blog post as we explain a Wellness Game used to help educate children and students about the impact daily life events have on our overall sense of well-being.