Do you define health as the absence of problematic symptoms or specific conditions? Is wellness about having goals and actively working towards them? Or are both terms synonymous with feeling energetic and full of life? It’s good to think about these things from time to time.
In our current on-the-go, have-to-get-things-done culture, we sometimes neglect to attend to what is most important – ourselves. Largely, this has to with our schedules; we’re so incredibly busy that we can become hyper focused on the things we have to do for work, home, or the family – we often neglect what we need to do for our health and wellness. It’s unfortunate that most of us legitimately believe that there’s just not enough time in our lives to go to the gym, take a class, socialize, go for a walk, or engage in other beneficial activities.
Though on the flip side, many of us tend to become focused on our health and wellness when something actually goes wrong. As soon as alarming symptoms develop, we’ll stop what we’re doing and go to the doctor; we’ll make it a point to take vitamins or supplements; we’ll remember to drink more water and eat healthy foods. Similarly, we’ll make a conscious decision to engage in stress management when we hit our breaking point, or make the extra effort in our relationships when we realize there’s a problem. But when there are no immediate problems for us to solve, we do none of these things – and we should.
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. He got it right. Fortunately, our society is currently in the throws of a wellness movement. That’s why more and more of us are getting on board with the idea that health and wellness don’t just happen to us – we have to make them happen. It’s no surprise then, that the importance of preventative action is more stressed today than it has ever been before.
As a Talkspace therapist, I am constantly inquiring about how my clients maintain their overall health and wellness. Many automatically reference their diet and exercise regiments, which naturally have a direct impact their bodies and how they function. You probably already know this, but a nutrient rich and balanced diet consists of consuming lean protein, healthy fats, and lots of fruit and veggies. And, of course, you have to engage in exercise. But there are other dimensions to wellness, such as spiritual, occupational, and relational wellness.
How do we actively, or PROactively, attend to these?
First, we have to ask ourselves about our level of satisfaction in regards to all aspects of our lives.
- Relationship related: How are our relationships going? Do we have relationships that can be improved? Are there any that are not beneficial to us, and how can they be changed?
- Occupation related: Do we like our jobs and enjoy doing them? Are we getting the opportunity to live up to our full potential? Are we comfortable going to work on a daily basis?
- Spirituality related: Do we know what our values are? Do we feel connected to the world around us? Do our beliefs and convictions help us live better?
Taking some time to assess these areas can help us figure out what changes we need to make in order to bring balance and contentment into our lives. From there, it’s about determining the specific health and wellness-related activities that will work for us. Furthermore, if we combine these lifestyle changes with what we can learn in therapy, we will be able to maintain physical, emotional, and mental wellness from that point forward.
For me, it’s about making time for my cats when I get home from work. I consider playing with them for at least 15 minutes on a daily basis to be an imperative activity for the maintenance of my emotional health and overall wellness. I also figured out specific eating patterns and exercise regiments that work best for me. But everyone is different, and what will work for one person, may not work for another. You may have to go through trial and error to figure out what you’re comfortable with. And yes, you must stick to the plan!