Our daily life consists of full schedules, daily expectations, work demands, family commitments, and electronic distractions. Most days, we have very little “down time” at the end of our long “to-do” list and limited energy to engage in any activity that requires effort. The busyness that has become characteristic of our daily living has reduced the amount of available time for self- care, personal connections and other life-affirming activities. It is more essential than ever to find a place of balance or wellness.
From a mental health perspective, wellness is defined as “a way of life oriented toward optimal health and well-being in which body, mind, and spirit are integrated” (Myers, Sweeney, & Witmer, 2000). We also find wellness defined from a Christian perspective by the Apostle Paul, “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and sol and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again" (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
OK, so wellness involves a healthy ideal that joins our mind, body, and soul. Now what? Let's break this down so we can understand what wellness looks like and how to practically implement it into a lifestyle.
When wellness is implemented as a way of life, it is:
A pattern that can be observed
Characterized by behaviors that are habitual and consistent
Defined by activities that reduce stress, bring harmony to, or feed the mind, body, and soul
It is important to know that being “well” does not merely mean there is
an absence of disease or sickness, because we are more than just our
physical bodies. As we read in 3 John 1:2, he prays that his friends “may
enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is
getting along well”. Health of our mind, body and soul are significant.
The wellness approach focuses on balance within the individual, to include physical, intellectual, occupational, emotional, social, and spiritual components. Each of these dynamics of being human are interwoven, with each influencing the other. A deficit in one creates an overload in the other. A change in one, good or bad, creates change in the other. When each dimension is healthy and in a state of interrelated, holistic balance, one experiences a high level of life satisfaction. This brings an overall sense of well-being and enables one to reach his or her maximum potential.
If wellness is viewed as a continuum, you are either moving toward health, balance, and overall life satisfaction or toward illness, imbalance, and discontent. Daily choices can promote wellness or restrict it.
Do your eating habits provide nutrition to your body, or do they inhibit it?
Are you implementing coping tools to reduce stress?
Would you describe yourself as an optimist or pessimist?
Is your thought-life characterized by self-criticism and irrational thinking, or do you
practice self-compassion and factual thinking?
One of the tenants of life that we learn is that things are always in a state of change. There is not a stagnant state. As a child, I remember playing on the see-saw (or teeter-totter, depending on where you’re from). A friend and I would get on each end, lift our feet from the ground, and try to find our balance – both individually and as a unit
with us and the see-saw. It usually took some time to find a place where we were each the same distance from the ground, achieving our state of balance. Several factors influenced our goal: our weight, distance from the center, or if we were leaning one way or the other. We would each move and try different things in an attempt to find that sweet spot where we both had our feet dangling in the air and appeared level. But even when we found that ideal balance, it was momentary. Any shift or movement by either of us had an effect on the overall balance of the see-saw. We were never completely still.
In the same way, we search for that place of overall life balance, or wellness, by inviting activities that contribute to harmony and stability of our whole selves. Stress reduction, healthy living, emotional connection, spiritual practices, social interaction, occupational satisfaction, and intellectual engagement are the movements we make to bring the see-saw of living to a place of equilibrium.
Begin to explore wellness activities that feel authentic to you and begin to incorporate them into your life. Here are a few to get your ideas flowing:
Take a yoga class
Spend 10 minutes in prayer
Keep a gratitude journal
Get 8 hours of sleep
Practice mindfulness/being present
Cultivate an optimistic attitude
Connect with a small group at church
Join a book club
For a greater understanding of wellness and how to integrate it into your life, please check out this free resource: “Creating a Healthier Life: A Step-by-Step Guide to Wellness”.
Remember the see-saw. You may need to make adjustments until you find your “sweet spot” of balance. Each of us have different needs that contribute to our personal accord. Spend intentional time searching for your distinct version of wellness and your own ideal for life satisfaction.
If you find yourself “stuck” or feel out of balance, a Christian Counselor can come alongside you and help you to explore what wellness means to you. Your optimal well-being begins with one step. Call and set up an appointment today. 979-703-1808