Wellness is a multidimensional facet of life. It is comprised of ones physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, environmental, intellectual, and social health. It is important to take care of all aspects of our health as each of these areas are intricately connected and have an impact on our overall wellness. At Project EDUCATE our innovative services incorporates 6 of the 7 wellness areas described by Ashanique Nelson, M.S.W. (pictured right) listed below:
Emotional wellness is significantly tied to all of the areas of wellness. Emotional wellness is frequently neglected, as it is not typically visible upon the surface. Many people, especially Black people do not seek a mental health professional when their emotional well-being is compromised due to stigma, mistrust in helping professionals, and the lack of Black mental health care providers. Emotional wellness allows us to cope with and understand our feelings in addition to supporting healthy relationships with others. Emotional wellness supports us in managing our behaviors, problem solving, and stress management. Compromised emotional wellness can cause social conflict, communication barriers, lower self-efficacy, higher anxiety, and an increase in substance use and self-harming behaviors. Emotional wellness activities include attending therapy, journaling, engaging in breathing exercises, reading self- help books, or practicing self-care. My recommendation is to seek help if you feel that you need support in improving your emotional wellbeing. There are a growing number of Black mental health professionals and a growing awareness of how normal it is to seek therapy. You do not have to suffer in silence.
Social wellness addresses ones sense of connection with others. Our social wellness is connected to our feelings of belonging, our relationship with our family, friends, the presence of a significant other or the lack there of. Social wellness can support us in effectively utilizing our support systems, creating healthy boundaries, in creating positive socialization, and engaging in healthy communication. Poor social wellness can contribute to an overexertion of energy and negatively impact necessary time for self care. A lack of boundaries serves as a breeding ground for unhealthy relationships to exist and hinders necessary clarity. A lack of social wellness can also cause one to isolate when feelings of belonging do not exist or the current relationships you have do not align with what serves you. Monitoring your energy when engaging around others and when alone with oneself. You may find that your energy is filled or drained by certain people, you are discomforted by being alone, or you have difficulty bonding with others. It is similarly important to assess your energy in various settings to identify what social boundaries may be necessary for you, where you may need to step outside of your comfort zones and ultimately where you thrive. Our social wellness can be significantly impaired due to the presence of harmful relationships. Some signs of toxic relationships are physical violence, manipulative behavior, lack of support, pessimism, isolation, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and even disparaging remarks. Practicing social wellness can be participating in social events which you enjoy. Saying no to energy draining activities and minimizing interactions with people who do not serve your spirit. It is critical to assess one’s ability to connect with others and identify barriers to social wellness.
Intellectual wellness incorporates expanding one’s knowledge and actively seeking intellectual stimulation. Intellectual wellness differs from emotional wellness in that it addresses thoughts rather than feelings. Resistance and an unwillingness to tolerate opposing viewpoints can negatively affect intellectual wellness. A lack of intellectual wellness can hinder growth, personal development, and relational awareness. To prioritize intellectual wellness is to be curious and willing to explore the unknown. Expanding our intellectual awareness strengthens insight regarding our own thought patterns. Strong intellectual wellness allows us to think critically, solve problems, and be open to new ideas. Practicing wellness in this realm includes engaging in creative expressions, reading, listening to podcasts, traveling, and exposing oneself to new ideas.
Physical wellness is the one often given the most energy as it produces tangible results. Physical wellness is critical not for looking good but because our bodies are sacred and require our attention. Physical wellness provides us the opportunity to live with less physical ailments, less fatigue, and can increase the life span. Physical wellness may be practiced through nutritional eating, engaging in daily physical activity, being attentive to changes in our bodies, obtaining adequate sleep, and seeking medical care when necessary. Physical activity supports our ability to think clearly and serves as a natural stress reliever. Our physical wellness is strongly connected to our emotional wellness as the way we perceive our physical body’s effects our self-perception. Additionally, a lack of attention to our physical wellness can cause stress related to sickness and disease. I encourage you to resist the urge to compare your physical wellness to others. Comparisons are typically unhelpful and often do not account for what is under the surface.
Financial wellness is comfort with one’s financial situation. Financial wellness does not necessarily mean you have money in excess, but more so that you feel at ease with your circumstances. Financial wellness includes our confidence in the potential for us to access financial abundance. The presence of discomfort in this realm can strongly influence our emotional wellness for a number of reasons. One reason being that society has strongly influenced us to equate our personal value with financial gain. The stress associated with poor financial wellness can contribute to anxious and despairing thoughts. Additionally, there is a lot of shame associated with poor financial wellness as many of us live under the impression that we SHOULD have a certain standard of income.
It is important be aware that one’s emotional wellness can also strongly affect financial wellness. It is common for those coping with a gambling addiction for example to find themselves with poor financial health. Similarly, manic episodes and substance abuse can have a detrimental impact on ones finances due to impaired decision-making. I encourage you to be both kind to yourself and assertive in this realm. Practicing financial wellness can take the form of affirmations that speak financial abundance upon your life, financial self-help books, speaking to a financial advisor, and of course seeing a therapist to consider emotionally driven spending habits including buying food to eat your feelings and clothes to cover what is underneath the surface.
Spiritual wellness will look very different across individuals, communities, and cultures. Spirituality can guide our morals and form the principles through which we live. Additionally, spirituality can strongly influence our engagement with the health care system and affect our level of reliance on both medical and mental health professionals as many people use spiritual practices as a part of their healing. It is critical to examine the messages about spirituality we have received and explore those which have harmed us and supported us. I encourage taking comfort in the individuality of this process. There is a lot of pressure and shame individuals may carry from what they have learned regarding spirituality. A lack of alignment with one’s spiritual practice can hinder our ability to accept ourselves, be comfortable in our sexual practices, and breed unnecessary pressure in our relationships. Spiritual wellness can supports us in taking comfort in faith, hope, and resiliency. Practicing spiritual wellness may take the form of attending church, taking the time to be one with nature, prayer, meditation, yoga, reading spiritual texts, or learning more about the universe or cultural practices. Spiritual wellness can be one’s sense of purpose and understanding of the meaning of life. I recommendation is to take comfort in the individuality of this process. Spiritual wellness supports us in our understanding of faith, hope, and resiliency. Practicing spiritual wellness may take the form of attending church, prayer, meditation, reading spiritual texts, or learning more about the universe. Spiritual wellness often provides a sense of purpose and can guide us in understanding of the meaning of life.
Environmental wellness discusses our level of connection with the environment around us. I invite you to assess how often you spend time in nature, to analyze your sense of comfort in natural environments, and to critically think about your personal effects on the earth. Environmental wellness includes both our relationship with the global sphere and our personal community including how safe, connected, and aligned one feels. Increasing our environmental wellness supports our ability to live harmoniously with the earth and decreases our hazardous behavior on the earth. Increasing environmental awareness promoted awareness of the lives of other species and ultimately supports us in navigating spaces with intentionality. Wellness in this realm can be stunted by a lack of outdoor exploration and minimizing our individual impact on the environment. Walking in nature can improve our short term-memory, promotes creativity, reduce stress, increase focus, and increase energy. Spending time in nature has been proven to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression; particularly if water is present. Practicing environmental wellness includes being intentional about connecting with and respecting the earth. Acts such as going outside, camping, recycling, or visiting the beach to connect with the elements improves awareness, reduces our negative impact on the earth and improves our environmental, physical, and mental wellness. Occupational wellness includes satisfaction and fulfillment in the workplace. Occupational wellness differs from financial wellness in that it it more about your emotions regarding the work that you do. Occupational wellness assesses one’s feelings of enrichment, the opportunity to learn new skills, and feel aligned with one’s occupation. Strong occupational wellness can significantly contribute to our understanding of our purpose and meaning.