Wellness for the New Year
We counted backwards from 10, watched the “ball drop”, raised our glasses, threw the confetti and sang Auld Lang Syne—2019 is officially here! So, what’s next? If we follow tradition, now is the time to make our New Year’s resolutions.
Most of us are familiar with this annual tradition and we all have good intentions to follow through. But year after year, by mid-February, 85% of us decide that our resolutions were just too difficult to keep. Why do we make our resolutions so difficult?
Lynn Truninger, Fitness Director for Presbyterian Homes & Services, recommends a different approach. “Try this,” she says; “In 2019, I resolve to improve my wellness.” This is not a commitment to spend hours at the gym, to run a marathon or even to commit to an every day challenge (though you can if you want to). Lynn explains, “Wellness is more than physical. When we expand the definition of wellness, a commitment to improvement is a resolution that anyone at most any age can keep.”
The Six Dimensions of Wellness
A well-regarded definition of wellness was developed in 1977 by Dr. Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute. Dr. Hettler defined wellness as integrating six dimensions as a guideline for attaining a whole and complete life. He states that in order to lead a vital, fulfilling, well rounded and balanced life, certain lifestyle dimensions need to be met. These six dimensions of wellness are: physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, environmental and social. When one or more dimensions are missing or falls short, the imbalance can throw off equilibrium and poise in one’s life.
Maintain a sound body through regular exercise, proper nutrition, sleeping well and avoiding harmful habits. Maintaining a consistent well-rounded exercise program is crucial to physical wellness.
Be in touch with your emotional presence and being aware and comfortable with your own thoughts and feelings. Emotional wellness relies on being able to express one’s thoughts and sensations and to be able to absorb those of others.
Have a sense that life is meaningful and has a purpose and that we are guided in our journey. Spiritual wellness is about reaching and embracing what is beyond touch and sight and the physical realm of existence and experiences.
Be able to engage in lively interaction with the world around you. The intellect is about flexing the mind’s muscle and opening the mind. One’s intellectual being is about continued learning, problem solving, processing and creativity. Intellectual wellness involves connecting with others on a cerebral level.
Surround yourself with a healthy work and living environment free of hazards and focused on conservation of all natural resources. Environmental wellness is about gaining personal fulfillment from nature and your surroundings and taking an active role in caring for the world around us.
Social wellness is about relating, interacting and communicating well with others. Social wellness is also about being comfortable enough in your own skin to be able to make and foster healthy, mutual relationships. Including people in all aspects of our lives is tantamount to social wellness.
These six dimensions invite you to find ways to improve your wellness that you may have not considered. Think about making a resolution to search out positive things you can do for yourself and others around you. Consider one or more of these actions: share a smile more often; keep your actions and words positive; breathe and try to stress less; seek opportunities to spend more time with family and friends; allow yourself meditation and self reflection; listen more; attend church more; volunteer more; keep learning; take a class; attend a local activity or event; go for a long walk or even take just one more step today than you did yesterday.
“Everyone’s starting point is different and that’s why setting a resolution for improved wellness is obtainable for all of us,” says Lynn. She reminds older adults and all of us that each small step we take is a step in the right direction. "Improved wellness in any one or more of these dimensions can be a resolution that is not only easy to keep but helps us maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit all year long."