Wellness is primarily being in good physical and mental health. Because mental health and physical health are so closely linked, problems in one area can impact the other. At the same time, improving your physical health can also benefit your mental health and other life domains, and vice versa. It is important to be aware that wellness is an intentional, ongoing and holistic approach to making healthy choices for in eight major areas of life functioning.
More than a year and a half ago, impacts to every aspect of student individual and relational wellness occurred in unprecedented ways due to the pandemic. The most evident is living life while taking precautions, masked and medically protected by the vaccine, but it has left no domain of wellness untouched. We invite you to reflect on what it may mean now to “Let Your Wellness Flow” with creativity, self-compassion, and collective understanding of each other. The intention is not to suggest that we now have additional things to do to feel better, but that we have options; new, optimistic ways to navigate what it means to be intentionally, holistically well while feeling the impact of so much change and challenge.
The pandemic has underscored the ways in which our physical bodies carry not just general stress, but traumatic stress. Increased fatigue, difficulty sleeping, or tension headaches and body aches are all common signs that we may be carrying traumatic adjustment stress or ongoing COVID-19 related stress. The diversity among us means that we may feel different things differently in our bodies than people we know.
Self-Care for Physical Wellness: Consider new types of physical activities that you have never tried before, or maybe something that you have always wanted to try but just have not had the time. If you are a runner, maybe consider interspersing it with walking. If you are a walker, maybe consider listening to a meditation as you walk. If you do neither, consider incorporating gentle stretches while studying. Having positive and curious conversations with family and friends about their physical wellness may prompt new ways to consider strategies for ourselves.
Learn More about Physical Wellness
Physical wellness promotes proper care of our bodies for optimal health and functioning. There are many elements of physical wellness that all must be cared for together. Overall physical wellness encourages the balance of physical activity, nutrition and mental well-being to keep your body in top condition. Obtaining an optimal level of physical wellness allows you to nurture personal responsibility for your own health. As you become conscious of your physical health, you are able to identify elements you are successful in as well as elements you would like to improve.
Why is it important?
Being physically active is crucial to keeping your body in its top condition. A few proven benefits of physical activity are strengthened bones and muscles, reduced risk of disease and stroke, and more energy. Learn more about physical activity. It is important to nurture your body by eating a well-balanced diet. Filling yourself with a variety of nutrients and vitamins will not only help prevent illness, but will also keep your body functioning at its best. Find healthy eating resources on campus. Having optimal levels of physical activity and maintaining proper nutrition is key to improving your overall emotional wellness. Not only will you sharpen your thinking and learning abilities, you will also enhance your sense of self-esteem and self-control.
Understanding the relationship between your body’s physical health and mental health is crucial in order to develop a balanced physical wellness. When you take the route to physical wellness you will learn to understand how your body preforms physically and be able to connect it to how you feel mentally. Physical wellness encourages principles of good health and knowledge, which affect behavior patterns that lead to a healthy lifestyle. Below are a few suggestions for you to practice to maintain an optimal level of physical wellness.
- Engage in physical activity everyday for 30 minutes. You may break up your daily 30 minutes into 10 minutes bouts.
- Use stairs instead of the elevator or escalator and walk whenever possible.
- Learn to recognize warning signs when your body begins feeling ill.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods and control your meal portions.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule and get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
- Practice safe sex.
A year ago, religious/spiritual practice pivoted dramatically as spiritual and religious communities began to offer services like preaching, prayer, and meditation—even hospital bedside visits—virtually. Worshippers have mourned the loss of holy space and communal practices, especially during holy seasons like Passover, Easter, and Ramadan, and on other occasions when the community assembles in solidarity.
Self-Care for Spiritual Wellness: Explore creative ways to access spiritual/religious communities; engage in informal spirituality/religious discussion groups via Zoom; consult with spiritual/religious elders for advice and support for navigating during this time; consider ways that we can find spiritual community that transcends being physically present with others.
Learn More about Spiritual Wellness
Spiritual wellness is more than being of a certain religion. It is a personal involvement with values and beliefs that provide a purpose and meaning to our lives. It may involve prayer, meditation, yoga, living by certain principles, morals and faith.
Why is it important?
Spiritual wellness not only allows you to seek meaning and purpose in human existence, but it also allows you to appreciate your life experiences for what they are. When you find meaning in your life experiences, you will be able to develop a harmony with your inner self and the outside world. In simpler terms, spiritual wellness grants you balance.
The route to spiritual wellness is something you must learn to master on your own. Spiritual wellness strongly emphasizes the importance of building inner resources and inner thoughts in order to give meaning to experience. It is also important to know that spiritual wellness does not mandate you to pick up a religious practice. However, religion may be one route you may take to boost your spiritual wellness. Below are some recommendations for you to practice in order to maintain an optimal level of spiritual wellness.
- Explore your inner self. Take time to think about who you are by exploring your spiritual wellness in counseling.
- If you experience a life-changing event, take a few minutes to think about what series of events led to this.
- Spend time meditating or practicing mindful relaxation.
- Practice acceptance.
- Be curious. If something happens that makes you even the slightest bit curious, take a moment to explore the experience a little deeper.
- Look for a religious faith that you agree with.
Spiritual Wellness Resources
The need for social distancing, for some of us, can feel confusing and disconnecting, especially if a large part of our self-care has been social engagement. Humans are biologically wired to seek connection, attunement, and validation in relationships. While we may cognitively know the importance of maintaining a safe distance and meeting virtually with others, our human attachment systems struggle with feeling less intimate, making more effort, and exacerbating of feelings of disconnection and isolation. Social whiplash from normal, to quarantine, to normal with masks, to quarantine, to who knows . . . can be overwhelming.
Self-Care for Social Wellness: Consider if talking about this with our safe supports or within safe relationships can be helpful. Having another person alongside when we feel confused and disconnected without comparison or judgement is the essence of social wellness. Maybe during such conversations, we pause if there is a strong emotional response, showing gratitude when we normally would just continue. At other times, saying hello to classmates; creating technology-free times during the day. Maybe even deciding “Do I need advice right now or do I just want someone to listen?”, and then identifying and connecting with an available social resource for this to happen.
Occupational Wellness is recognizing and accessing personal satisfaction and enrichment in one’s life through work. During the pandemic, this area of wellness has been significantly redefined and accelerated in areas related to our work environments. Without being in healthy, productive spaces, occupational wellness is compromised. Without the reassurance of collective socially responsible behavior, clear action, and communication, morale and trust erodes.
Self-Care for Occupational Wellness: Have clear boundaries around issues at work to prevent them spilling into other areas of life. Consider a different workspace that is closer to a sunny window. If a tech update is needed for the work that you do, explore if resources exist for this. Request clarification for workplace COVID-19 precautions and express your needs for safety. Most importantly, prioritize your health if you are able to take time off due to illness.
Learn More about Occupational Wellness
Occupational wellness is defined as the inspiration and recognition to prepare and feel prepared for work in which we will gain personal enrichment and satisfaction.
Why is it important?
Developing occupational wellness will allow you to communicate your values through involvement in occupational activities that are gratifying for you. It is also important to identify workplace stress in order to practice conflict management. Conflict management is key to achieving an optimal level of occupational wellness. Choosing what your career will be is a very important life choice. Working takes up a majority of your time during the week, so the way you feel about your work contributes to your overall well-being.
Are you occupationally well? Ask yourself…
- Am I doing what I need to do to enhance existing skills and acquire others?
- Am I taking advantage of the opportunities offered by my classes and school?
- Are my volunteer experiences fulfilling and beneficial in short and long term?
Occupational Assessment Online Links
Intellectual knowledge is engaging in creative and mentally stimulating activities, learning, and skills building around expanding and sharing knowledge with others. Not feeling intellectually stimulated can affect the production of chemicals in the brain that can cause us to feel happiness and excitement to engage in learning.
Self-Care for Intellectual Wellness: In your (minimal) spare time, research a topic of interest that you have never had time for before the pandemic. Study with someone who has a different major and help them “talk it out” with you and vice versa. Consider what you would do differently in your field of interest and future occupation. Consider whether academic support is needed during this phase of the pandemic.
Learn More about Intellectual Wellness
Intellectual wellness is the engagement in creative and mentally-stimulating activities.
These activities should consistently be expanding your knowledge and skills and increasing your ability to share this with others. Intellectual wellness encourages learning, inspires exploration, and stimulate curiosity.
- Routes to intellectual wellness
- Active listening
- Picking a hobby that increases your skill set
- Expression of oneself
Accessing enriching space around our immediate and outer environments has played a major role during the last year and a half. We have had to turn to safer outdoors for joint activities. When we need to social distance, we often spend indoors, limiting our contact with others. The space to gather and be with others positively and safely while we are engaged in an activity or task underscores the importance of that very space. The people, places, attitudes, and ideas that surround us in daily life also define our environmental wellness.
Self-Care for Environmental Wellness: Keep in touch with your community: family, friends, teachers, mentors. Be open to having conversations with people you are living around about how much time and space you need to be comfortable. Especially for the more introverted among us, it is important to stand up for your alone time to reconnect and re-energize throughout the day. What noise level is acceptable for you? Do you need to have conversations with your roommates/family about noise? Being outside helps get vitamin D and releases endorphins, all-important for maintaining mental and physical health.
Learn More about Environmental Wellness
Environmental Wellness is having the inspiration to live a lifestyle in harmony with the values we have about the earth, understanding the impact of our interaction with nature and our personal environment and taking action and being accountable for our daily habits and their affects on others. The environmental wellness domain involves being able to be safe and feel safe.
This can include:
• Accessing clean air, food, and water;
• Preserving the areas where we live, learn, and work;
• Occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support our well-being; and
• Promoting learning, contemplation, and relaxation in natural places and spaces.
The pandemic has forced us to take urgent stock of our cultural wellness as individuals and as a whole. Inequality fueled by structural oppression and racism continues to harm people around us, people we know and people we do not know. American Indian, African American, and Latino/x persons are three times more likely to be hospitalized and twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as Whites. Similarly, Black and Latino/x communities are receiving smaller shares of vaccines compared to cases and deaths. In a place of crossroads, where 2000+ diverse young adults from near and far come together for their education, are human beings that come from many, many places and experiences and contribute to the collective culture of the community.
Self-Care for Cultural Wellness: Seek various perspectives, facts, stories, experiences. Interact with peers that are different, and be curious about your own personal culture, family rituals, and traditions, all which the research shows, improves wellness. Maybe this would be a good time to consider attending culturally related conversations on campus. Taking time to reflect on our internal biases that we act on based on stereotypes of ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation is a simple but significant strategy in our pursuit of wellness in this area.
Learn More about Cultural Wellness
Cultural Wellness is the ability to develop a healthy cultural understanding of ourselves and others. Cultural wellness implies understanding, awareness and intrinsic respect for aspects of diversity. A culturally well person acknowledges and accepts the impact of these aspects of diversity on sexual orientation, religion, gender, racial and ethnic backgrounds and age groups. Some aspects of cultural wellness include: participating in the enrichment of one’s community, country, and world. Benefits of cultural wellness include inner and outer self-confidence, effective trust and respectful collaboration built with others who are different than ourselves.
Paradoxically, our stress is helping us cope, bond together from a physical distance as best we can, and slow the spread of the virus. While uncomfortable, it can be a source of resilience, especially if managed well. At the same time, it’s important to stay informed, but prevent inner or outer panic contagion and create periods when we can be screen-free and calm, engaging our attention in present-moment activities.
Self-Care for Emotional Wellness: The emotional challenge of the last year and a half means that we are human with inner experiences. Prioritizing our emotional wellness may now mean that we go back to basics. Getting enough rest. Eating throughout the day to sustain energy. Slowing down if we feel more tired than usual. And “stepping back” periodically to remember that everything felt internally is valid and expected after going through so much.
Learn More about Emotional Wellness
Emotional wellness is defined as an acceptance of our emotions and feelings as valuable, and realistically being able to evaluate out limitations, working through problems in our relationships with others and ourselves and setting goals for emotional growth and development. Examples of emotional wellness practice are engaging in supportive professional counseling, holistic self-care such as relaxation or meditation, managing stress and practicing effective emotional boundaries with ourselves and others.