Of late I have given a number of talks on Wellness. “What is wellness?” you may ask. Any decent psychology textbook will tell you it is not the absence of disease (as the name implies). No, Wellness is a conscious process of living life to your full potential, even if you may be coping with illness, loss and struggle. It is what we like to refer to as ‘holistic’ because Wellness is not purely about physical (physiological) health, but mental, spiritual and environmental health as well.
We talk about the six dimensions of Wellness. These are:
To this we can also add Environmental Wellness (hence 7 dimensions of Wellness).
To explain further…
1. Occupational (which includes financial health) Wellness – Not only is this about what my job offers me but also what I can offer my workplace and those that I work with. Do I need to be thinking about a career change? It’s also about taking finances in hand and taking more control of my financial future.
2. Emotional (including mental health) Wellness – Are there past hurts that are preventing me from moving forward? Do I acknowledge all aspects of myself, all feelings even if it feels uncomfortable? Do I contribute to the emotional wellbeing of those around me? Do I need to speak to someone, be it a pastor, a psychologist, a close friend in order to put myself in a better emotional space?
3. Physical Wellness – Am I getting enough exercise? Enough sleep? Do I rest in between the busy times? What is my relationship with food? Do I nourish my body? You should be getting between 8 and 10 hours of sleep at night. Lack of sleep increases appetite, slows down metabolism, raises stress levels, makes us generally less able to cope, can cause depression, can make us physically ill, and can weaken our immune system. Not sleeping? Why? See your doctor, see a counsellor, talk to a friend. Beware of relying on medication. It may be necessary but try to get to the root cause of your sleep problem and start from there. Take naps, slow down, breathe, hug a tree.
4. Social Wellness - We are social creatures. We exist in families, friendship circles, neighbourhoods, housing estates, social clubs, religious groups. Being isolated puts us at risk of depression and anxiety, and loneliness. Do you need friends? Are you spending too much time on your own? Do you have healthy, generally happy relationships with those around you? Are you able to communicate your needs, do others feel they can be honest and communicate with you?
5. Intellectual Wellness – Do you read? Do you feed your mind, your brain with knowledge, with challenges? Do you contribute to or participate in community or cultural activities? Do you foster creativity and intellectual pursuits in others?
6. Spiritual Wellness - If you feel you don’t have a reason to get up in the morning, create one. Get a pet, get a plant, set a goal, set 10 goals. Take care of your spiritual life whether it be church, prayer, God, meditation. “If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose” (Bishop TD Jakes)
7. Environmental Wellness – Are you living a life that is respectful to the environment that surrounds you? Do you contribute to environmental health, do you make choices that are protective of the world we live in?
As laid out here, these are very simplistic ways of looking at these seven dimensions. You can unpack each one and spend days getting to the heart of it. Ultimately, Wellness is not purely, “What am I getting out of this?” but also, “What am I contributing?”
When I give my Wellness talks, they can be momentarily energising to those present in the room. I might even hazard an ‘inspiring’ but once out of the room, and back in the throes of life, it is difficult to stay focused. Wellness is something that needs to be regularly revisited, redone, re-internalised.
I recently picked up a beautiful book of soul-defining stories by author Rachel Naomi Remen called Kitchen Table Wisdom. In her book physician and counsellor Remen recounts anecdotes from her own life as well as stories told by her patients that speak of healing. As I have been reading this wonderful book, I cannot help but think these wisdoms cut to the heart of Wellness. Wellness is not a recipe to live by, it is something that is in the heart of all of us and it just needs a voice. That voice is unique to each of us, a fingerprint if you will. Time to make your mark.
I found this post on Facebook this morning and I thought how much it reflects the pressure so many parents feel, of having their children perform academically. Hours of evening homework to be ready for the following day's assessments and then the pressure is really on, to perform in those assessments. I think a lot of parents feel they are writing those assessments themselves. Take a step back parents, breathe a little. No one is going to remember your child's results in Grade 1, Grade 4 or Grade 7 for that matter. Have fun with them, teach them life skills, those valuable ones you learnt through playing outside when you were young, through the childhood games and fights, the wins and the losses, the punishment and the praise. Have a little fun. Take the emphasis off academic achievement and put it on life learning.
Anxiety is becoming increasingly more prevalent in societies across the world. In the United States alone, it is estimated to affect 18.1 percent of adults (roughly 40 million adults between the ages of 18 to 54) (National Institute of Mental Health). Anxious parents can often, unintentionally, create anxiety in their children and it can present in a variety of ways. These may be children who tend to struggle to detach from their parents in new social environments, they may be children who struggle to sleep on their own, who avoid academics for fear of failure or who struggle to perform academically because of the interfering anxiety. These children may also be unwilling to try new things and may even socially isolate to avoid the anxiety.
Parents, to assist their children, will often be overprotective and try to shield them from anxiety-provoking situations. However, this can be counterproductive and perpetuate the anxiety cycle. Children need to know they can do it on their own and they look to adults to support them in their exploration. As a parent there are empowering messages that you can give your child that communicate to them that they are indeed capable and able individuals.
As the parent of an anxious child, begin by exploring your own anxiety. Psychcentral (http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/anxiety.htm) offers an anxiety screening quiz. Please note that this is NOT sufficient for a diagnosis but may give you some indication of which anxiety symptoms you may have. You can always explore this further with a professional. Understanding any anxiety you may have is likely to help you understand if you are possibly creating any anxiety in your child and also when this might be occurring. Once you understand this, there are many things that you can do improve your child’s situation and help them to develop into a more confident child, adolescent and adult.
Email me if you would like a list of suggestions for alleviating anxiety in your child. Also check out my Pinterest site (my Parenting board) for more information.