By Mara Benner
It’s that time of year. As we cheer in the new year, and in this case, a new decade, each person usually considers the obligatory resolution, intention or commitment to some sort of personal change.
One of the most popular resolutions always focuses on our health. It might be to stop smoking, go on a diet, exercise more, incorporate daily meditation or all of the above. This year, however, you might wish to consider a more holistic approach to your health and wellness.
Research by Dr. Margaret Swarbrick has been adopted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and encourages us to consider our wellbeing through eight dimensions of wellness.
Take a moment to consider each dimension and what, if any, improvements you might wish to incorporate with the new year.
Physical wellness involves the maintenance of a healthy body, good physical health habits, good nutrition and exercise and obtaining appropriate health care. Areas to consider here include: physical exercise, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, having annual medical checkups, having adequate sleep each night and incorporating stress management techniques.
Having a healthy mind involves lifelong learning, application of knowledge learned and sharing knowledge. Among the considerations in this dimension are learning new things, keeping up with current affairs, using your creativity, trying to see more than one side of an issue and asking questions to learn from others.
Environmental wellness involves being and feeling physically safe, in safe and clean surroundings, and being able to access clean air, food and water. This includes both our micro-environment, where we live and work, and our macro-environment, our country and our world. Important considerations in this dimension include: ensuring you have a clean living and working environment with natural light and fresh air and conserving energy and time to enjoy nature.
Spiritually health involves having meaning and purpose and a sense of balance and peace. This dimension encourages us to name our personal values, describe our beliefs about life, make conscious choices to support our personal values, learn about other’s beliefs and values and have an optimistic view on life as well as gratitude.
A healthy social life involves having relationships with friends, family and the community, and having an interest in and concern for the needs of others. For social wellness, the reflecting points include: having a network of family and friends, contributing time and/or money to social and community projects, balancing personal needs with the needs of others and having an interest in other people.
Emotional wellness involves the ability to express feelings, enjoy life, adjust to emotional challenges and cope with stress and traumatic life experiences. This dimension encourages us to consider if we accept responsibility for our actions, see challenges and change as opportunities for growth, recognize and express feelings and appropriately cope with stress and tension.
Health in our finances involves having the resources to meet practical needs and a sense of control and knowledge about personal finances. For financial wellness, considerations include: having a good handle on financial status, having money on hand to meet current expenses, having savings and being on track to meet life goals. It’s important to understand how to balance the wants and needs and saving and spending.
Occupational wellness involves participating in activities that provide meaning and purpose, including employment. For this final dimension, your considerations include: actively pursuing work and/or training, using online resources to update skills and learn, continuing to build your professional network, being happy with how time is spent, doing things with people rather than being isolated and using time in a way that gives meaning and purpose to life.
Living life to its fullest requires us to see everything from a larger perspective and incorporating the whole of who we are. Remember that any modifications made to our life requires approximately three months to fully incorporate, ultimately changing the previous habit or pattern. Be kind to yourself and focus on living your fullest life, rather than focusing on your perceived flaws.
Mara Benner is the founder of Four Directions Wellness, intuitively connecting body, mind, emotions and spirit. The organization is affiliated with the GW Center for Integrative Medicine and offers individual sessions, classes and consulting. Learn more at www.fourdirectionswellness.com.