When it comes to wellness people often feel overwhelmed. So overwhelmed that they decide to completely avoid a journey toward wellness rather than embark on one that is too daunting. Or they take one ginormous, blind leap into the vast dark hole that is wellness and give up when they get swallowed up by all the well-intended materials out there. I hope to answer two basic questions to get one started on a simpler journey toward wellness. What does wellness even mean? What’s a good first step toward achieving wellness?
What is Wellness?
Most of us probably think of wellness as a thriving health of mind, body, and spirit. We think of it as a balance of our mental, spiritual, and physical well-being. I like the simplicity of wellness defined this way and really believe wellness does boil down to these three key areas but it’s also important to recognize what our mental, spiritual, and physical health is comprised of because each of these areas are interconnected and reliant upon the other.
According to the National Wellness Institute, “Wellness is a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential”.
If you were to google wellness and how to achieve it you would likely come across multiple sources stating that wellness lies within six to eight dimensions. The six core dimensions being occupational, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social, and physical health. Other sources will also add financial and environmental dimensions as necessary for complete wellness.
Wellness is one’s ability to bring an awareness to the needs of each of these vital components of health and to nurture each of these prized areas until we have reached optimal, balanced well-being.
It’s no wonder why we become overwhelmed when we venture out to feel more whole, healthier, and more in alignment with our physical and spiritual self. But don’t despair, the journey may be hard work but it’s a work that is well worth the effort.
What’s a Good First Step Toward Achieving Wellness?
Reading this article and others like it is a great first step! It means you care enough to do the research! Bravo! But, let’s not stop there. Let’s take it one step further. Wellness does not begin because you read an article or jumped on a fad diet. Wellness is a mind, body, spirit overhaul. It’s kind of like those home renovation shows where a couple purchases a fixer upper, guts it, and it comes out looking like a million bucks! Everyone wants to own it. Everyone oohs and aahs about the upgrades. Yeah, that’s wellness. You are a fixer upper and you care enough about yourself to invest and do the hard work and one day you’ll wake up and realize just how amazing you are! Wellness begins when we take a look deep inside and realize change needs to take place. We can’t fully grasp the scope of which direction we need to take until we get quiet. Really still.
I feel the most effective way to really understand ourselves and our needs is to meditate. Meditation looks different to different people but for the sake of this exercise I’m going to encourage you to do one type of meditation over the next 30 days as often as you can. This meditation is called a body scan. A body scan is a very alert and aware physical check-in. It allows us to hear the sometimes subtle cues related to overall well-being. Our bodies speak to us every minute of every day. We’re just too preoccupied, too busy, or haven’t learned the skills to take notice. Once we learn the art of hearing our body and the messages it’s relaying we start to hear the whispers before they’re screams. We become aware of the gentle shifts throughout our day. We recognize which of the 8 dimensions need the most attention and which practices are stealing from those areas and which are life-giving. Within our bodies lies the secret to wellness. Our bodies tell us all we need to know…we just need to listen.
Jon Kabat-Zinn has a fantastic body scan that can be found here. Be patient with yourself. You may fall asleep the first few times. Your mind will wander. You may feel frustrated. Every new idea takes practice. Try to appreciate this time as precious time with the beautiful you. With practice, you’ll soon start to feel a deeper connection within, a deeper understanding of your physical and emotional needs, and a deeper clarity of which dimension of wellness to fully engage next.