8 Dimensions of Wellness for everyday life
Recently I began to feel an increase in my anxiety. I felt it physically and mentally with various symptoms including a racing mind and a restless body unable to stay still. I had experienced some changes in my life recently- mostly good, some bad- and with certain shifts in specific areas of my life, the anxiety slowly creeped back in. Sure, I am happy with my progress and ability to recognize these feelings, but remembering how to control them and applying my coping mechanisms is a whole other challenge.
While I patiently waited for my upcoming appointment with my therapist, I began to think about my overall wellness and what could potentially be impacting my mental health- both positively and negatively. I also tried to differentiate the issues that were contributing to my anxiety and realized that many of them were completely out of my control. Some triggers in my mental health are much bigger than me and I simply can’t change them.
It’s no surprise that our mental health and our overall wellness are related. The body and brain are both complicated, communicating with each other with cues both quiet and loud. I had heard of the relationship between body, mind, and spirit before, but I recently was introduced to the 8 Dimensions of Wellness. I realized I had more control over certain areas of my own wellness journey and looked closer at a few areas that maybe needed a little tweak. According to SAMHSA.org (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) the 8 Dimensions of Wellness are:
2. Emotional- Are you able to control your emotions, de-escalate situations, or NOT react in that moment?
3. Spiritual- This can be found in many different forms. Perhaps it is in nature, or an animal, or something bigger than you in this world- find what this means for you.
4. Intellectual- How do you manage your thoughts? Or handle a difference in opinion? Do you learn new skills as an adult or open your mind to new topics?
5. Physical- What are you putting into your body each day? Do you create movement and get outside daily? What’s your sleep patterns like?
6. Environmental- How is your home environment and management of your personal space?
7. Financial- Not necessarily the amount of money you have, but also access to life resources. Do you need assistance?
8. Occupational- How do you spend your time each day? Work, hobbies, productivity….
One way we can prioritize our wellness and mental health is with balance. This will look differently for everyone, and there is no one right or wrong way to achieve. Some people are more social, physical, or spiritual than others, and those areas may take a bigger chunk of your wellness wheel. Maybe your career is top priority, but you are less productive because of diet choices, lack of physical activities and poor sleep routines. Creating a health balance in contrasting areas of wellness is a great place to start when making small adjustments for a healthier future.
One of the ways I like to stimulate my intellectual wellness is through audiobooks and podcasts. Sure, some of what I’m listening to is merely to distract me and take me to another place temporarily, but I prioritize sprinkling in some educational or new (to me) content. I am intrigued by the topic of friendships in my adult life, possibly because I recently moved to a new neighborhood or because some of my closest friends have moved on from Summit County.
Some of my favorite podcasts, such as On Purpose with Jay Shetty, We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle, and Call Her Daddy with Alex Cooper cover this topic. While a lot of things in this life can be measured by quantity, quality friendships should not. Are the people you spend time with benefiting you in a positive way? Or bringing you down? What types of activities do you participate in with these people? It can be hard to let go of unbeneficial or one-sided friendships, especially as an adult, but connecting deeper with a smaller circle has many great benefits.
Another reoccurring topic in these podcasts and other platforms is the importance of routine. Creating healthy routines and habits can help maintain the balance in your own personal wellness wheel. Health and Wellness Coach Michael Brand out of Leadville (mcbhwc.com) believes in the importance of morning and evening routines. Once again this will look differently for everyone. Maybe you are having trouble sleeping, and eliminating screen time from your nightly routine can help quiet your racing mind. Perhaps for you the morning commitments and lingering workload stir up the most anxiety. Refraining from checking your work email until your clock-in time or spending ten minutes meditating before work can help prepare you for the day. Eliminating certain foods and focusing on whole foods, including fruits and vegetables, each day could help with your physical activities and sleep routines.
I’m reminded from all these resources that everyone’s wellness wheel and routines are specific to you, and what works for me may not work for you. It can also feel overwhelming to consider where to start or how to make all the necessary changes. Podcaster Jay Shetty recommends choosing one thing at a time. Try it for a week. If it feels good and benefits you, add it to the routine. If it doesn’t or feels like it negatively impacts the balance in your wellness, stop and eliminate it.
Coping mechanisms are another important tool in your daily wellness journey. The ability to identify certain feelings like anxiety or depression and applying real life coping mechanisms are important. Coach Brand is passionate about breathwork and meditation for quieting his sometimes-overactive thoughts. Deep breaths and spending time throughout his day in silent meditation is vital to his daily routine.
In the past I have dabbled in breathwork and meditation, but I was reminded of it often over the last few weeks from various sources. After the recent visit from my reoccurring anxiety, I decided to prioritize it, and really give it a try. Each day I have included one to three meditation breaks depending on my current levels of anxiety, and how loud my thoughts are. Varying in time and location, focusing on grounding myself and introducing some silence into my overactive mind seems to be working for me. I have also eliminated screens from my morning and night routine, being mindful of allowing my brain ample time to wake up and shut down without additional stimuli. Am I perfect at this? Definitely not, but I will give it a try, at least for a week, then determine the benefits of including it in my own personal routine.
Your wellness is a worthy goal. To apply some or all of these steps can help turn that goal into reality.