UNLOCKING HEALTH AND LONGEVITY: THE EIGHT DIMENSIONS OF WELLNESS
What are the elements that help elevate our quality of life? How do we create a purposeful, prosperous way to live in the years ahead? Perhaps you’ve heard the term whole-person wellness in connection with the idea of aging well. What does this mean, exactly? The term refers to a dynamic process of choosing a more balanced lifestyle, first by becoming aware of what we all need as human beings, and then resolving to bring these dimensions into your life. Whole-person wellness means achieving balance in many dimensions. These are the eight dimensions of wellness Sierra Winds believes contribute to a holistic approach to well-being:
PHYSICAL to improve balance, mobility, endurance and strength.
INTELLECTUAL to challenge and expand the mind.
EMOTIONAL to find equilibrium, stability and happiness.
SOCIAL to interact, harmonize, and grow your circle of friends.
SPIRITUAL to continue to live with meaning and purpose.
VOCATIONAL to make use of your unique talents and abilities.
ENVIRONMENTAL to keep your living environment healthy and supportive.
RESTORATIVE based in accessibility to care and health services
Let’s look more closely at each of these eight dimensions of wellness.
Living inside a fit, flexible, healthy body.
Physical wellness is a primary concern for every living thing. The body needs physical activity, healthy foods and adequate sleep. It needs to be protected from illness and injury, and if chronic health conditions are present, they must be managed effectively. Recognizing these needs and taking steps to address areas of deficiency are important for all active seniors. Start by asking yourself these questions:
- Am I getting at least 30 minutes of flexibility, muscular strengthening and aerobic exercise each day?
- Do I balance the amount of food I eat with the amount of exercise I’m getting? Is my percentage of body fat in a healthy range for my age?
- Am I managing stress effectively? Do I perform daily breathing exercises or mindfulness techniques to relax my body and mind?
- Am I free from addictions such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and over-the-counter or prescription drugs?
- Do I take proactive steps to prevent injury, illness and disease?
Why does wellness matter? Healthy eating, sleeping well and engaging in regular movement to improve flexibility, strength, aerobic and cardiovascular health are important habits to cultivate at any age. But as we grow older, they become even more important. Just like regular medical care, the body needs regular physical attention to maintain wellness.
Using the mind to unlock understanding.
For as long as we live, the mind continues to learn — about ourselves, each other and the universe. Fostering intellectual wellness means participating in activities that cultivate mental growth such as reading, learning a new language or musical instrument, trying a new hobby, teaching and tutoring others, and debating issues with those who have opposing viewpoints — all of which help maintain or improve intellectual wellness. When we work to learn a new skill, we’re building intellectual health. We need to continue to develop thinking skills, listen to ideas different from our own, and constantly reexamine our judgments on social, cultural, ethical and political issues. People who pay attention to their intellectual wellness often find they have better concentration, improved memory, and better critical-thinking skills.
We are what we feel.
Emotional wellness is the process of creating and maintaining a positive, realistic self-regard and enthusiasm about life. It means being aware of your feelings and accepting them as valid indicators of what you are experiencing. It also means keeping a positive attitude and being sensitive to the feelings of others. An honest assessment of one’s emotional health starts with answers to these questions:
- Do I recognize that I create my own feelings and am responsible for them?
- Am I able to express a full range of feelings, including hurt, sadness, fear, anger and joy? Do I manage my behaviors related to these feelings in a healthy way?
- Do I avoid blaming people and situations for my feelings and behaviors?
- Can I realistically assess my limitations and cope effectively with stress?
Active seniors with healthy emotional wellness feel confident and in control of their feelings and behaviors and are equipped to handle life challenges. Working through life challenges can build resiliency as we learn that setbacks can be overcome. Emotional health can be maintained or improved by engaging in regular leisure and recreational activities, particularly those involving any of the five senses. Listening to music, eating a favorite food, playing with a pet, relaxing by lighting a scented candle, watching the sunset — all these help anchor and support one’s emotional wellness.
We’re hard-wired to be with people.
Wellness in the social dimension involves creating and maintaining a healthy support network by being open to connection and engagement — extending or accepting a lunch invitation, joining a club or organization, being genuine and authentic with others, and treating everyone with respect. Doing so means knowing how to communicate honestly and directly, setting healthy boundaries, and understanding the give and take of a cooperative relationship. Social wellness gives you a sense of connectedness and feelings of belonging. The ability to be comfortable interacting with diverse individuals and groups and the possibility of creating and maintaining close friendships are vital to genuine wellness in the social dimension.
Finding and following our moral compass.
Spiritual wellness is the process of experiencing life while seeking meaning and purpose in human existence. Spirituality means consistency between values and behaviors. It means recognizing there are many spiritual paths, and that every spiritual tradition acknowledges the basic precepts of self-aware, judicious human conduct. Spiritual wellness may be strengthened by such activities as volunteering, self-reflection, meditation, prayer, or spending time in nature. Signs of strong spiritual health include having clear values, a sense of self-confidence, and feelings of inner peace. To improve your spiritual health, it can help to create a quiet space for solitude and contemplation or a place of curiosity and playfulness. Maintaining a playful, curious attitude can lead to experiences that offer hope, purpose and meaning.
Work/life balance continues in retirement.
During our career years, vocational wellness meant finding work that aligns with our values, interests and skills. Being retired doesn’t diminish the need to engage in work that enriches us personally and provides an ongoing sense of accomplishment. The process of making and maintaining meaningful choices that contribute to personal growth never ends. And so active seniors are challenged to reexamine how their interests, skills and values relate to how they’re spending time today. Balancing work and leisure time, building relationships, and finding pursuits that continue to fit these priorities all help maintain vocational wellness as we age.
Shaping your environment.
This dimension of wellness connects one’s overall well-being to the health of the individual’s social and natural surroundings. The environment in which we live affects how we feel. It’s difficult to feel right if you’re surrounded by clutter and disorganization, for example, or if you feel unsafe where you live. Environmental wellness, therefore, is the art of redesigning one’s living environment to more effectively support and sustain well-being as defined by the person’s needs today.
Restoring wellness through care and health services.
Whether the need is for observation services following a physician’s orders for testing or evaluation, rehabilitation therapies to restore strength, mobility, speech or motor skills, or more comprehensive nursing care, maintaining wellness means having access to the health services you need.
Supporting eight vital dimensions of wellness at Sierra Winds.
At Sierra Winds Life Plan Community, eight dimensions of wellness come fully into play, and residents can choose to engage on every level to whatever degree they prefer. Our culture of wellness is a holistic integration of physical, mental and spiritual well-being, fueling the body, engaging the mind, and nurturing the spirit.
We invite you to sample this vibrant culture of wellness by joining us September 22 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. for Oktoberfest at Sierra Winds, our German-inspired street fair with fun, food, and live music. RSVP by calling 623-242-2952 or visit events. For more information about our community or the holistic approach to wellness programs contact us online.