What is health? Is it strictly the physiological condition in the body? Is the mind & the soul part of that physiology? These are the questions that brings the scope of health to include wellness. Wellness is realizing that, as humans, we are much more than a biological machine. We have thoughts, emotions, patterns, beliefs, opinions that make each and every one of us unique.
Is diet and nutrition important? Of course it is and we will get into concepts about food later, However, there are things that have a greater impact on health than the food on your plate. Things such as healthy relationships, getting active, fulfilling work, and a spiritual practice. Joshua Rosenthal says, “We hunger for play, fun, touch, romance, intimacy, love, achievement, success, art, music, self-expression, leadership, excitement, adventure, and spirituality. All these elements are essential forms of nourishment.”
Where can you make small changes to improve your happiness quotient? In what areas could you take better care of yourself? Most of us are very aware of the places where stress interjects itself into our lives. We feel the need to try to be perfect at everything. Keep in mind that progress is much more realistic that perfection.
Take a closer look at these areas of your life:
When we feel joy or happiness, our brains release a flood of serotonin and dopamine that effect your circulatory system, respiratory system and autonomic nervous system include salivation, sweating, body temperature, and even metabolism. If your mood is low, simple activities like going for a walk in nature, petting a dog or cat, kissing a loved one, and yes, even forcing yourself to smile, can help those neurotransmitters do their job and raise your mood.
Benefits of feeling more joy
- promotes a healthier lifestyle
- boosts immune system
- fights stress and pain
- supports longevity
“Social wellness refers to the relationships we have and how we interact with others. Our relationships can offer support during difficult times. Social wellness involves building healthy, nurturing and supportive relationships as well as fostering a genuine connection with those around you,” according to the University of California, Davis.
Social wellness is important, because the positive effects of developing and maintaining healthy relationships are endless. People who are socially well enjoy huge health benefits and might even live longer. According to mhnews.org, Social isolation or having few social contacts has significant health implications on one’s overall health.
Research has shown that:
- The health risks of isolation are comparable with smoking, high blood pressure and obesity.
- The heart and blood pressure of people who have positive relationships respond better to stress.
- A strong social network is associated with a healthier endocrine system and healthier cardiovascular functioning.
- A healthy social life can enhance the immune system’s ability to fight off infectious diseases.
Whereas a social life pertains to all the different community relations we have, our personal relationships, those we allow within our inner circle, have the greatest impact on our lives. They can be your spouse, children, parents, siblings, extended family and close friends. These are the people who see you without that mask that we create for society. These are the people who you can and should be able to be authentically yourself with. When we are unable to be ourselves, our subconscious gets the message that there is something wrong with our authentic self and all the limiting beliefs start to filter in. If you have ever been in an abusive relationship, intimate or otherwise, you understand exactly what I am speaking to. This internal dialogue from engaging in unhealthy or toxic relationships is a great detriment to our health. In this challenge we will be taking more in depth about relationships, boundaries and how to manage them as they relate to wellness.
Our home environment is where we spend the majority of our downtime, so a healthy environment is critical. Home environment can influence your mood, your behavior or motivation to act, encourage or discourage interaction, and even create or reduce stress. Have you ever noticed how your mood improves simply by opening the blinds and letting natural sunlight in? Or how constricted you feel when your house or room is messy & dirty? Maybe your family doesn’t interact as much because of something as simple as furniture placement. This topic dovetails with relationships in the sense that a tense relationship can definitely cause a tense home environment that creates stress instead of peace.
Let’s face it… we all know that the ingredients in most take out, eat out or ultra processed foods are not optimal for our bodies. That said, cooking whole food meals at home from scratch is one of the best things you can do for your health. In addition to knowing exactly what is in your food, it gives us the opportunity to spend quality time with the people we love the most. Live alone? Have a friend or neighbor open to dinner to create a health meal & a sense of community.
The minute you start talking about exercising most people tune out because, let’s face it, we all know we SHOULD exercise and we have heard our doctors, partners, and friends expound on the idea ad nauseam. Movement is important. That doesn’t mean you have to run miles, kill yourself doing HIIT workouts or strain yourself lifting weights. Movement is exactly that. I have found that if I enjoy something I am more likely to do it. This could be working in the garden, playing hide and seek with your kids, or playing fetch with the dog. My favorite is turning up the music and dancing through the house. In addition to improving both mood & metabolism, it decreases pain and inflammation.
This refers to your actual physiological & mental wellbeing. Do you have high blood pressure, diabetes, auto-immunity, mental illness? Anyone who has health issues understands the direct effect these dis-eases have on our life.
The more you know, the better you will feel. This refers to your level of education. I am not just talking about schooling. This aspect of your life refers to learning of any sort. Developing new hobbies, learning new skills, new ways of moving and being, Albert Einstein said that “When you stop learning, you start dying.”
Once again, career has a huge impact on overall health. A fulfilling career that aligns with our soul purpose is a source of great joy and accomplishment. However, all of us have had jobs that literally feel like it is sucking our soul dry. What are the things you get excited about? What do find yourself drawn to? We will discuss this in much more detail and how to use a change in perspective when we are stuck in a job we don’t really like.
With everything going on lately, this is a big one for many people. When our finances are the cause of our stress, it effects every aspect of your life. The stress hormones alone can cause a variety of health issues. What do you need to do to be financially secure? What things in your finances are a source of stress? A source of security?
People tend to consider creativity something that you either have or don’t. Statements like “Wow, you’re so lucky to be creative. I wish I was like that!” perpetuate the idea that being creative is something inborn, inherent, and immovable. But behavioral science on creativity, spearheaded by researchers like Robert Epstein, has actually proven otherwise. Creativity isn’t an innate quality that someone is born with or without, it’s a skill that people can develop with practice–and they enjoy plenty of health benefits for doing so.
Once again, spirituality is one of those big, huge, super important categories to health. There is a growing body of evidence indicating that spiritual practices are associated with better health and wellbeing for many reasons, including:
- A contemplative practice such as meditation, prayer, yoga or journaling is good for you.
- A spiritual community offers support and social connection.
- Spiritual strength can improve resilience to life’s hardships.
- Spiritual people make healthier choices.
- Spirituality may help you live longer.
- Forgiveness is great medicine.
Nobody, and I do mean nobody, is perfect at this thing called life. No blaming; No shaming; Just taking time to honestly evaluate where you are at in your life journey and where you could direct more of your energy. Where can you create more balance? Try journaling on the topic. Create a list of ideas where small changes can bring great value. I look forward to this year long journey to greater health and wellness with all of you!
May your week ahead be filled with joy!