6 Dimensions to Achieve Optimal Health & Wellness
I used to think that after recovering from my eczema and eating disorder, I am considered to be healthy and have achieved health. However, after learning more about myself and what truly is health and wellness, I am sure that I was far from it at that point. Health is not like getting a degree or a diploma. Rather, it is a process, a way of life. There is no end goal, but the goal is to always improve on all areas of your life (mind, body and spirit) to interrelate harmoniously to be the healthiest version of yourself.
Ok, so what is health? Most people view health as the absence of disease. Yes, it is true that not feeling ill is an important aspect. However, apart from physical health, there are several other aspects such as intellectual, emotional, occupational, social, and spiritual wellness.
Health is defined not only by being unencumbered by disease and disability but also by living in harmony with yourself and your social, and physical environments. You take charge of your own health and well-being when you take responsibility for avoiding harmful and unhealthy behaviours such as smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and drink driving. Instead, you make a conscious decision to consume nutritious food, exercise regularly, look after your mental well-being, and support the community and environment, such as limiting pollution and reducing unnecessary use of plastic.
Learning to be responsible for the degree of health and vitality you want while you are young helps to ensure lifelong wellness and the capacity to cope with sickness when it does occur.
Attaining health is a lifelong dynamic process that takes into account all the decisions we make daily, such as the food we eat, the exercise we get, whether we smoke cigarettes, or over-consume on alcohol. Every choice we make has the ability to affect our health and wellness.
The wellness model of Health has 6 dimensions namely: physical, emotional, social, intellectual, occupational, and spiritual wellness.
Physical wellness is the most obvious of the 6 dimensions of health and wellness and the easiest to spot. A healthy body is a happy body. You want to treat your body right by eating well, exercising regularly, and avoiding harmful habits and activities. Seek medical care when needed. Someone with physical wellness will consume a well-balanced diet intuitively and exercise regularly.
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) has a healthy plate which promotes more fruits and vegetables, followed by unprocessed carbohydrates like brown rice and wholemeal bread, and a source of protein like meat or tofu.
The HPB also strongly promotes a minimum of 2+2 servings of fruits and vegetables as they boast a range of essential vitamins and minerals, while being naturally low in fat, calories, and sodium.
Engaging in regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, prolong life and enhance your quality of life.
There are 3 types of physical activity one can engage in which is namely: lifestyle, aerobic or strength activity. Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity a week. Below are ways you can start implementing to adopt a physically active life.
Apart from nutrition and physical activity, participate in safe and responsible sexual behaviour, make informed choices about medicinal use, and maintain a positive, health-promoting lifestyle.
However, it is not just the outside that matters. Emotional health is an important part of overall health. You want to be in control of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
Emotional wellness inspires self-care, relaxation, stress reduction and the development of inner strength. It is important to be attentive to both positive and negative feelings and be able to understand how to handle these emotions. Emotional wellness also includes the ability to learn and grow from experiences, or bounce back from setbacks. Emotional well-being encourages autonomy and proper decision making skills. It is an important part of overall wellness.
A person with emotional wellness is able to have a sense of humour, recognise feelings, appropriately express them, strive to meet emotional needs, and take responsibility for his/her behaviour.
To embark on the journey to emotional wellness, self-love and optimism is key. It gives you a confident attitude to learn from your mistakes. Once you have mastered emotional wellness, you will see life in a different light, and develop a deeper sense of awareness. Here is a more in-depth guide to achieve optimism and be happy.
Social Wellness refers to the ability to perform social roles effectively, comfortably and without harming others. Social wellness involves building healthy, nurturing and supportive relationships as well as fostering a genuine connection with those around you. Our relationships can offer support during difficult times. Social wellness also includes balancing your social life with your romantic relationship, as well as academic and professional life.
Human are social creatures. Having a positive social network increases your self-esteem An optimal level of social wellness and allows you to be comfortable during social situations. Social wellness also teaches you to implement boundaries for communication, trust, and conflict management. It is critical to building emotional resilience.
On your journey to social wellness, you will learn to be an active listener and a more empathetic person. You will realise that you have the power to enhance your personal relationships.
Below are ways you can start implementing to develop social wellness:
Reflect on yourself and your social needs. What aspects of your social life do you enjoy? What parts would you like to improve?
Make an effort to keep in touch with supportive friends and family.
Participate in group discussions and practice active listening.
Join a club or organization.
Intellectual Wellness encourages learning. It involves being open-minded to new ideas and concepts, and encourages us to do creative and mentally-stimulating activities. The phrase "think out of the box" fits well. Exploring new ideas and understandings open our world to make us more mindful and be a well-rounded individual.
Someone who is intellectually healthy seeks new experiences and challenges. He/she also tends to communicate effectively in speaking and in writing, see more than one side of the issue, keep informed of ongoing global issues, and exhibit good time-management skills.
Intellectual wellness can be developed through academics, cultural involvement, community involvement and personal hobbies. As intellectual wellness develops, you are able to develop personal resources that work together with the other realms of wellness in order to be achieve a more balanced life.
To embark on the journey of intellectual wellness, the first step is to be open-minded, be it new ideas, new cultures, new knowledge, new skills and new environments. With an open mind, the world is your oyster.
Below are ways you can start implementing to develop intellectual wellness:
Listen. When you participate in active listening you are able to fully comprehend the information that is being given to you.
Pick up a hobby. Hobbies are great ways to increase your skill set. They can also be fun!
Travel. The best way to gain knowledge as well as an appreciation for another culture is to experience it yourself.
Express your creative side by exploring different avenues of creativity and artistic expressions.
Occupational wellness is satisfaction while earning a living and contributing to society, whatever your job may be. In simplified terms, you want to love the job you do, such that it does not feel like a chore and yet provides a source of income for you. Your attitude about work is a crucial influence for occupational development.
Occupational wellness allows you to explore various career options and encourages you to pursue the opportunities you enjoy the most. You seek satisfaction, enrichment and meaning through work. A person with occupation wellness feels a sense of accomplishment in his/her work, has a healthy work-life balance, finds satisfaction in being innovative and creative, and seeks challenges at work.
You want to develop occupation wellness by communicating your values and principles through the involvement of occupational activities that are gratifying for you. To begin your journey to occupational wellness, you will discover the occupational opportunities out there and try/weigh out which suits you best. You want to develop personal skills and talents that are both personally and professionally rewarding.
Below are ways you can start implementing to develop occupational wellness:
Reflect on yourself and your occupational needs. What occupational tasks do you enjoy? What occupational tasks do you find burdensome?
Explore both paid and un-paid work and volunteer opportunities that interest you.
Practice open communication and proper conflict management with your colleagues.
Set realistic career goals for yourself and constantly work towards accomplishing these goals.
Many people view spiritual wellness as having a religion. That is far from the truth and there are other aspects to spiritual wellness apart from being in a religion. I myself, am certainly not a religious person. It is important to note that spiritual wellness does not mandate you to pick up a religious practise. You can be spiritual without being religious.
Spiritual wellness is the state of harmony with yourself and others. It is the ability to balance inner needs with the demands of the rest of the world. Spiritual wellness allows one to live a life consistent with his or her’s own belief and moral systems, while we establish our feeling of purpose and find meaning in life events, as well as appreciating natural forces in the universe.
Apart from seeking meaning and purpose in human existence, it also allows you to appreciate your life experiences for what they are. This grants you more balance as you develop a harmony with your inner self and the outside world.
Examples of healthy spiritual practises may include: volunteering, social contributions, sense of belonging in a group, fellowship, optimism, forgiveness and expressions of compassion.
Being more spiritually aware can lead to a healthier life. This is because being in touch with your spiritual feelings help you handle life's ups and downs by having understanding and compassion for yourself and others. You become open to love in the highest sense of its meaning, which is acceptance and tolerance, regardless of problems or strained relationships. You start seeing beauty and joy in more and more aspects of living and appreciate life for what it really is.
The journey to spiritual wellness is a self-mastery one. It is through your experience that you learn to build inner resources and inner thoughts to give meaning to experience.
Below are ways you can start implementing to develop spiritual wellness:
Meditation and mindful relaxation
Explore your inner self. Take time to think about who you are.
If you experience a life-changing event, take a few minutes to think about what series of events led to this.
Be curious. If something happens that makes you even the slightest bit curious, take a moment to explore the experience a little deeper.
Look for a religious faith that you agree with (if any).
Because wellness is interlinked and dynamic, no dimension of wellness is in isolation. A high level of optimal health and wellness requires all dimensions to fully integrate and function together. Your environment (family, school, work, community) and your physical, emotional, social, intellectual, occupational, and spiritual dimensions of wellness are in tune with one another to create harmony in your life (mind, body, and spirit).
Don’t take your health for granted. Just because you are young does not mean you should go partying, clubbing, smoking, and drinking excessively. Not saying that you can't let go and enjoy once in a while, but do realised that moderation is key to a healthier lifestyle. You are not immune to diseases. Likewise, if you are older, you should not give up on your health and indulge in unhealthy habits just so you can enjoy your “last few years”.
Start implementing the tips above to improve on the different areas of wellness in your life to reach your optimal health. For example, to improve on physical wellness, start by exercising more, and eating healthier. If you are a couch potato, start by getting your ass off the sofa and go for a walk. Gradually build up to a jog, and then a run. For dietary wise, eat intuitively when hungry, and do not eat more once full. Also, choose healthier alternatives such as grilled or steamed fish, instead of the deep-fried fish.
Maintaining a healthy body and mind will help you to recover from occasional sickness and injuries that are inevitable parts of life. It also carries over and improves on all aspects of your life.
Slow and steady wins the race. Start small and the small habits will lead to greater ones, and soon, eating healthier and having a well-balanced diet will be a normal part of your life. Consistency is key. Apply this to all the other aspects of your life. Stop procrastinating. The time is NOW.