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What is wellness?
Wellness can generally be thought of as a state of health. When most people think about wellness, they think only about physical health. While that is definitely important, there is so much more to people than just physical bodies.
I’m thinking specifically here of God’s commandment to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27). I kind of think of this verse as God’s definition of wellness. It’s kind of like His guidelines for us on how to live whole, complete, healthier lives. And the second commandment that directly follows this one goes right along with it.
Let’s look at the areas of wellness these verses address:
- Emotional wellness: If we’re honest, we have to admit that we want to be happy, and some of us would choose happiness over anything else — even at the expense of other people (which might explain why God added the second commandment so close on the heels on the first one). We can’t be truly happy unless we’re thinking of others as well as ourselves (and sometimes we have to think about others first).
- Spiritual wellness: Similarly, we can’t stay inside ourselves and hope to have any sort of real spiritual health at all. We have to look at something outside ourselves — something bigger. In the context of these verses, that “Something” would be God. We look to Him first. We spend time reading our Bible and praying, and we make sure we regularly meet with other believers (which is something else the Bible recommends very strongly). There’s a reason for that. It helps keep us spiritually grounded and healthy.
- Physical wellness: This is the area that gets the most attention in many of the wellness blogs and information out there today. Everyone wants to take care of their bodies (and there’s nothing wrong with this). In fact, it may be easiest to achieve this type of wellness. You certainly have the most control over this type of wellness. There are certain exercises you can do, certain foods you can eat, and certain daily vitamins you can take to help you achieve physical wellness. You can’t take a “magic” pill and fix these other areas of wellness, but you can take a daily multivitamin and start enhancing your physical wellness quite a bit.
- Mental wellness: On the face of it, mental wellness may seem to be the same thing as emotional wellness but it’s not. There are some subtle differences between the two. While emotional wellness has to do with learning to be happy even in the face of bad circumstances and achieving an overall positive outlook on life, mental wellness focuses on feelings of well-being and competence. When you feel mentally well, you feel able to cope with the stresses of life in a healthy way (and there will be many stresses you will have to deal with).
Are these wellness types mutually exclusive? No, of course not. They are four sides of the same square, if you will. When you’re feeling mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually well, you will feel perfectly balanced, like the square inside this frame.
When you feel “off” in one area (or in more than one), you might feel more like a rectangle — or even a trapezoid, if you’re feeling particularly off balance.
Achieving Total Wellness
The goal of total wellness should be equal health in all these areas. How do you achieve this sort of balance? We’ll cover this more in detail in some future posts, but keep this in mind: Don’t neglect any area of your life.
I know this may sound simple, but it’s really hard to do, when you think about it. We are all busy all the time, and sometimes we slack off in things we shouldn’t.
Let’s consider one example:
You’re late coming home from work, and you forgot to put the chicken in the CrockPot that morning before you left. Or maybe you didn’t forget. Maybe you just were in too much of a rush, so you left it undone.
So, it’s 7:30, and your kids are whining that they’re hungry. You’re too frazzled to want to listen to it, so you stop by the nearest McDonald’s and pick up some chicken nuggets and fries. Dinner problem solved, but you’ve neglected a very important component of wellness — the physical. And, let’s be honest, a little while after you eat that fast food, you’re going to feel really bad emotionally because fast food consumption almost always leads to a sugar crash.
How do I know this?
Unfortunately, I’ve learned from experience — a LOT of experience. Getting rushed can lead to poor health choices, which can lead to some other negative emotional and physical effects.
Total Wellness Is Just That — Total!
As you can see, one of these wellness aspects can affect all the others. Balancing wellness may take a little time and practice, but you can do it. Just take it one day at a time — and when I say take it one day at a time, I mean SCHEDULE one day at a time. Concentrate on one wellness component per day until you get in the habit of doing them all, and then you can more easily incorporate all of them into the same day.
Here’s a sample schedule:
MONDAY: Emotional wellness — Make a list of 20 things you are grateful for and meditate on those things for five minutes in the morning before you start your day.
TUESDAY: Spiritual wellness — Take the first 30 minutes of your day and read a few chapters of the Bible. Then pray about what you read and ask God to show you what it is you need to apply to your life from that passage. There’s always something, so be sure to wait a moment in silence and listen for His answer. If you seek Him, you will find Him.
WEDNESDAY: Physical wellness — Buy a multivitamin and incorporate it into your morning routine. This literally takes about ten seconds, so you have no excuse not to do it. You can even set reminders on your phone so you won’t forget.
THURSDAY: Mental wellness — Take about 10 to 15 minutes to write out some of your most important goals — for the day, week, and month. The critical thing here is to make the goals REALISTIC. You want these goals to be something you can achieve quickly. Instant (or near-instant) success leads to greater feelings of competence — and greater mental wellness.
FRIDAY, SATURDAY, and SUNDAY: Pick three of the things you did on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and do them all on these days. By now, you should start to see how easy it is to make healthier lifestyle choices.
In future blog posts, we’ll look in more detail at how we can achieve each of these types of wellness.
Tell me: What steps are YOU currently taking to achieve wellness?