If you were to ask 10 people their definition of wellness -- you’d get 10 different definitions. We spend a lot of time focusing on ways to push ourselves physically. It’s one part of our lives that makes us feel better, but according to a local health expert, it’s not the only part.
“So really, when we’re talking about the six dimensions of wellness, they’re all connected,” says Gail Peitzmeier. She’s the Wellness Manager for Employee & Family Resources and an expert in everything from fitness and nutrition to health promotion and wellness programs. She says there are six areas that have a huge impact on our overall well-being: Physical, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and environmental.
Let’s start with physical, since it’s what we highlight every week. Gail says this dimension is about more than just getting your body moving. “Maybe they need to make sure their health is in order. Things like knowing numbers like cholesterol, blood sugar, they should get preventative exams, etc…”
The next dimension is social. Relationships are an important part of wellness. “Being connected to people is so vital,” Peitzmeier explains, “making sure you’re involved in a group or with friends who are supportive of you. Everyone needs a positive social network.”
Being social can have an impact on enjoying life and staying optimistic – the emotional dimension. “For one thing, it’s learning to deal with challenges. And also feeling good about yourself and others”
And those aspects are tied to the spiritual dimension. “Finding purpose in life or meaning in life. Asking yourself, what are my core values and beliefs?”
From your heart -- to your head. The intellectual dimension affects everything. “So often we exercise muscles,” says Gail, “but do we exercise our brain? It’s important to do word jumbles, riddles, play games … things that are hard!”
Finally, there’s the environmental dimension -- and we’re not talking about recycling. “This is all about what’s surrounding you. Are you in a safe environment that is comfortable, or is it chaotic?”
You’re probably thinking there’s no way you can tackle all of these elements at once, and that’s OK. Gail says you shouldn’t. “It isn’t this thing where we say I’m starting this on January 1st and by the 30th I’m going to have these knocked out. All that does is create stress! Maybe take one at a time, because when you think about it, through your lifespan you are working on one of these at some point.”