Wellness is a much more holistic concept than is commonly believed. While most people think of physical wellness, encompassing good choices regarding exercise and diet and maybe sleep, a full concept of wellness encompasses much more. The dimensions that we discussed in class this semester included occupational wellness, intellectual wellness, spiritual wellness, emotional wellness, physical wellness, financial wellness, social wellness, and environmental wellness. Considering all of these different dimensions of wellness will allow each of us to live more well-balanced and enjoyable lives.
At the beginning of the semester, we rated ourselves on each of the above dimensions of wellness. I believed I was pretty wellness-oriented before I took this course, and so rated pretty highly on the various dimensions. However, I learned some things that could improve my perspective on wellness, so my ratings have changed. My ratings at the beginning of the semester and now are:
My occupational wellness is not perfect but has not changed because there is nothing I can do about it right now. I am in school in order to be able to expand my career choices, and I hope to eventually have a career that will be not only financially lucrative, but also meaningful. However, I just have to be patient until I graduate. Until then, work is okay, but it is just what pays the bills.
My intellectual wellness has improved because I have been working to improve my creativity and critical thinking, by being more open to new ideas and come at problems from different directions, and discussing my studies to see them from all angles. I have been tackling my studies earlier to give me more time to think about and discuss what I have read. This has also lowered my stress level.
My emotional wellness has improved because, as noted above, I have been managing my time better and in that way lowering my stress level. Also, I have worked at becoming more assertive and more willing to say no when I really cannot afford the time to do something. However, I still need to open up more about my feelings, particularly with my friends.
My environmental wellness has improved because I have taken responsibility to make sure that my recyclables consistently get taken to the recycling bins. Also, I have replaced some cleaning solutions with organic unscented substitutes, and now my environment smells more natural. I find myself breathing more deeply and feel more energized as a result.
Therefore, I would say that the three most important things that I learned about wellness this semester include how to have higher levels of intellectual and emotional wellness, as well as environmental wellness. Prior to taking this class, I focused on the physical dimensions of wellness. My lifestyle has meant I am in pretty good shape. While I never thought of my financial and occupational situation as impacting my wellness, I am doing what I can to improve those situations, but most of it is going to have to wait until I graduate.
However, making improvements in my environmental wellness has been surprisingly effective. I had mild sniffles every time I cleaned, but had not thought much about it. Now I believe that was a mild allergic reaction and may have caused mild fatigue. Now I clean without scented products, and no sniffles. Also now, on awakening I take a few deep cleansing breaths, and it is an energizing way to start my day. I cannot really say that such breathing in the morning would not have helped me before, but it did not occur to me. I did not feel like the air indoors was particularly pleasant.
As far as my intellectual wellness, as noted above I have been trying to improve the way in which I study, not only to achieve better grades, but to learn better with less stress. Along with emotional wellness, more of a willingness to say no has opened up time where I can better get ahead of my studies. I had thought people would get mad at me or stop inviting me if I turned them down, but neither has proven to be the case. So I am more comfortable with managing my time in the way that best suits me reaching my goals. Having that extra time has given me more time to think about assignments, and as a result I have found myself thinking more about what I read, discussing it, and tackling problems in new ways, often more creative ways. I feel less fatigued and more challenged.
Emotionally, because of the above, I have been happier with my choices in life. I have set some boundaries and managed to do so without alienating anyone. I have a better sense of self efficacy and feel better about who I am becoming. I also feel more sure about my relationships.
Nevertheless, I would like to further improve my emotional wellness. As noted above, I need to open up to my friends more. Therefore, I am setting a goal of once per week, phone a friend about something emotional in my life – something that bothers me or something to celebrate. I am going to try to do so on Monday so that I do not forget, and usually things come up during the workweek, not so much on the weekend. Of course if there is nothing new, my self assignment may have to wait until a little later in the week, but it will be in the forefront of my mind until I find something to share.
I would also like to improve my financial wellness further. I already work and go to school, and do not want to make any more demands on my schedule. However, I have accumulated some hand-me-down furniture to the point that my rooms are overstuffed. I enjoy working with tools. So as time allows, I am going to select some things to get rid of, refinish the furniture and sell it on eBay. I have a small coffee table that I have selected as my first project over holiday break. I will sand off the old finish, re-stain the table, give it a glossy finish, and learn how to list items on eBay. When school resumes, I will break down these projects as much as I can and try to do one small part each weekend. However, if school interferes, I am going to let this project wait. This project can provide me with a bit of extra income here and there, with the flexibility I need given my higher priority commitments.
Consideration of the eight dimensions of wellness allows for a more full and well-rounded life. It is not enough to be physically well, but we should consider all the dimensions of wellness. Other dimensions are not only beneficial in themselves, but also add other dimensions to physical wellness, such as in the ways that they relieve stress or contribute to one feeling better about oneself. Study of wellness clarifies the interconnectedness of all the dimensions in our lifestyles and the importance of making good choices in order to achieve total wellness.