“Health and Wellness.” The two seem to go hand-in-hand. Many people (myself included) often just lump them together into the same category.
One is rarely mentioned without the other.
It wasn’t until my college health class last year that I really got down to the true meaning of these terms.
I had previously considered myself “healthy.” I had to be, right? I ate well, I exercised, I drank plenty of water. But I never paid any mind to wellness or what it entailed.
Health is strictly physical. You are either ill or you’re not.
Wellness adds in the mental and spiritual aspects of health that most people overlook.
Gaining a deeper understanding of my overall health (wellness included) has helped me to lead a more wholesome and fulfilling life.
Every now and again I like to do a spot-check on whether I’m living my life in alignment with the 7 aspects of wellness.
Doing so helps me to feel confident about the areas in which I’m thriving as well as recognize which categories need more attention.
I would like to share my latest “inventory” with you- maybe it can provide some inspiration for yourself. So here it is, in all of it’s pure, raw honesty:
How are your realtionships and connections with other people?
For a while my social wellness had taken a nose dive. I am an introvert who is much more comfortable by myself than with others. Don’t get me wrong; I do enjoy spending time with other people.
But is is sometimes exhausting for me. Extroverts tend to gain energy from being around people while introverts gain energy from spending time alone.
A day spent on the go where I am constantly around others can leave me feeling drained.
However, I have been really trying to push myself in this area lately.
I now have a very good relationship with my family, which I am so grateful for. But I have recently been trying to expand this openness and honesty into my friend circles as well.
What is important is to maintain a balance.
Social wellness does not entail keeping a full social calendar. What it consists of for me is having a network of people that I let into all aspects of my life: the good, bad and ugly.
A few stable connections help to keep me sane and prevent me from feeling like I have to tackle everything alone.
Am I acknowledging and coping with the emotions and challenges that arise in my life?
I have been lucky enough to receive lots of therapy and counseling over the years.
Yes, I said lucky.
Something that I used to resent and dread (therapy is only for crazy people!) is now something that I can’t imagine my life without.
And why is that?
Because through therapy I have learned to pinpoint my emotions. I used to feel things and not know what they were or why I was feeling them.
Now when feelings arise, I can generally determine what caused them.
Something that has taken me a little longer to grasp is that it’s okay to get emotional.
I am somebody who never wants to appear sad (a sign of weakness). Or angry (a lack of control).
Or anything but bubbly and happy, really.
But the more that emotions and challenges do arise, the more I realize that they are just part of life.
It takes a lot of practice, but what I try to do is talk to someone about these speed bumps as soon as they come up. This helps to take the power away from the situation and maybe even find a silver lining.
There is no point wasting my time fretting over something. I can either take action to fix it, or let it go if it is out of my control.
Do you feel harmony with yourself and others? Is there a sense of purpose in your life?
I feel a great sense of harmony between myself and all other living beings- it is part of the reason why I am vegan. I can relate to beings on some level, whether it be external or internal. I believe we are all spiritually connected through some greater force, whatever that may be.Therefore I am able to appreciate and have compassion for others. We all breath the same air. We all feel the same emotions. We know each others’ hurt and joy.I am nowhere near perfect with this, but no one is. Establishing a feeling of connectedness with others is a practice that I am always improving.I could use some help in the “purpose” department. I am currently doing a lot with my time and devoting myself to several commitments. But I can tend to get down on myself.I should be doing more. I want to fast forward over the next few years of life and all the bullshit they entail so I can get to the good stuff (career, relationships, family, etc.)
It can be hard to trust that someone or something has a plan for me.
What helps me is to live in the moment and appreciate what I am doing now. There is purpose in everything I do. Even the small things are ultimately leading me toward a greater goal, whether I know what that goal is or not.Writing lists every night of the cool things you did that day (or even the mundane tasks that had to get done) can really help in this area- giving you a sense of accomplishment and gratitude.
What kind of impact do you have on the earth?
“Tread lightly, take only pictures, leave only footprints, kill only time.” -Author Unknown
This quote is something I try to live by.It is not referring to carbon footprints, my friend! Although at this rate, it’s looking like that’s the legacy this generation is leaving. We should simply leave footprints in the sand when we leave this earth. Not pollution or destruction or anything of that nature.
My aim is to change that destiny in any way I can. Yes, I know that I can’t change the world. But every bit counts…So I recycle, I don’t waste food or food scraps, I eat a plant-based diet.My one vice is driving. I drive a lot. Luckily my car is fuel-efficient and low-emission.
However, I could still find ways to do better- like carpooling more or planning my errands wisely to eliminate driving back and forth so much.One thing I can’t change is that I live far away from my school. I also can’t walk anywhere (worthwhile) from my house- all must be reached by car. But hopefully I will move out again soon and this problem can improve.
Are you recieving fulfillment and balance from your career?
I am still a college student so I have not yet established a career for myself. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to maintain a part-time job this semester, due to my busy schedule.But am I receiving fulfillment and balance from school? Yes and no.I love to learn. Especially in college because information is not forced upon you the same way that it is in high school. One thing that frustrates me is that I’m not yet learning about anything related to my majors. I still have some prerequisites to get out of the way.I’m trying to make the most of the “core” classes that I have to take and I understand why I must take them- but receiving “fulfillment” from these classes can often feel like a stretch.Balance is always hard to achieve for me because I usually have so many things to juggle. Once I get into a routine though, I am usually fine- which is what I’m hoping for in this upcoming school year.
In other news, I have recently become a certified yoga instructor through Asheville Yoga Center!
This has been an amazing experience and a step forward in my career.
Do you desire to learn new things? Are you open-minded?
I would like to consider myself open-minded. I am very willing to try new things because I am often pleasantly surprised.
Yes- I usually expect the worst… I guess that’s something to change. Although I don’t know if I want to because I would rather get more than be disappointed.Of all the areas of my life where learning happens, school is actually the one that needs the most work.As I said earlier, I do like learning. But what I love is learning about things I’m passionate about. Obviously.Which is why I’ll spend hours online researching about things like nutrition or yoga.Learning new things about new topics is another story. And this is something that is unavoidable in the early college years (and perhaps later on, too).A technique I’ve been testing lately is pretending that I am dying to learn about cars or anatomy or any other topic that I prejudge as uninteresting. And you know what? It’s been working!I’m able to trick myself into focusing and absorbing the information (which will probably come in handy one day).I may not always desire to learn new things beforehand, but at least I can maintain a positive attitude while learning them.
I’d like to think that is a step in the right direction.
Have you adopted healthy habits and abandoned destructive ones?
I’d say that for the most part my physical wellness is doing just fine.Yeah, yeah, I should drink more water and remember to take my vitamins.
But in the grand scheme of things I’m doing very well.I exercise regularly. I eat a whole foods, vegan diet. I don’t smoke or even drink caffeine for that matter.
This is one aspect where I can give myself a well-deserved pat on the back.So there it is. That’s my current inventory.
I feel much more grounded and at peace when I know that I am living fully well rather than just “healthy”.
Making sure I maintain these criteria is a non-selfish way to take care of myself!I encourage you to ask yourself these same questions relating to all 7 aspects.
Do so in a way that will best help you.Maybe you could rate yourself 1-10 on how well you are encompassing each aspect in your life. Or maybe you could write a negatives and positives list: stating ways in which you are working towards each aspect and areas to change (in which you are working against it). Just figure out what works for you and stick to it! It’s well worth it.I want you all to live the best life that you can.
A version of this article originally appeared on Shugurcan.
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Photo: Peaceful Dumpling; jillian via Flickr