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Holistic Health Habits


Many of us look to the New Year as an opportunity to define personal and professional goals. Some New Years resolutions that are set are met, while others remain on the well-intended list. At this time of high stress the world has seen in the last couple of years, and any personal stressors you also have; it couldn't be a better time to cultivate healthy habits. The dimensions of wellness are a good place to start.


"Wellness is a holistic integration of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being fueling the body, engaging the mind, and nurturing the spirit" (Stoewan, 2017). "Although it always includes striving for health, it's more about living life fully, and is 'a lifestyle and a personalized approach to living life in a way that...allows you to become the best kind of person that your potentials, circumstances, and fate will allow'."


The integration of wellness includes eight interdependent dimensions. Each of these dimensions will be introduced and described in this article with the hope of broadening and deepening interest in holistic health habits.


Swarbrick and Yudof (2015) describe the eight dimensions model of wellness as an interconnected model of wellness. Each dimension of wellness "directly relates to how long we live (longevity) and how well we live (quality of life)". Swarbrik and Yudof posit that "Wellness involves being aware of ourselves as whole people, including a sense of balance and contentment."


Wellness does not mean we are free from illness or stress, but does promote the following: (a) purpose in life; (b) active involvement in satisfying work and play; (c) joyful relationships; (d) healthy body and living environment; and (e) happiness. But it may take hard work that leads to "sustainable shifts to behaviors, mindsets, and practices" (National Wellness Institute, 2021).


"Wellness is a conscious, deliberate process that requires being aware of and making choices for a more satisfying lifestyle" (Swarbrick, 2012). This lifestyle of wellness includes "self-defined balance of health habits such as sleep and rest, eating well, productivity, participation in meaningful activity, and contact with supporters."


Swarbrick and Yudof describe the eight dimensions of wellness as: physical, spiritual, social, emotional, intellectual, occupational, environmental, and financial (2015). The specific dimensions and some healthy habits follow.


Physical Wellness: the maintenance of a healthy body, good physical health habits, good nutrition and exercise, and obtaining appropriate health care. Healthy habits in this dimension can include:

  • obtaining 20-30 minutes of vigorous, continuous physical activity at least 3 times a week

  • eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

  • avoiding tobacco, nicotine, substance use, and sugary drinks, and limiting caffeine

  • using a seatbelt when riding or driving in a car

  • sleeping of 7-9 hours/night

  • preventing illness by going to annual doctor and dental visits

  • maintaining a reasonable weight for your age and height

  • brushing teeth at least twice daily and flossing once

  • using stress management techniques to keep one's body and mind calm and relaxed


Intellectual Wellness: lifelong learning, application of knowledge learned, and sharing knowledge Healthy habits in this dimension can include:

  • making an effort to learn new things

  • keeping ones' self informed of local, national, and international affairs

  • listening to lectures, plays and musical performances in person or online

  • doing creative and stimulating mental activities/games

  • reading daily

  • practicing something each week to improve skills/talents

  • seeing more than one side of an issue, especially for controversial things

  • engaging in intellectual discussions

  • researching and asking questions


Environmental Wellness: being and feeling physically safe, in safe and clean surroundings, and being able to access clean air, food and water. Healthy habits in this dimension can include:

  • cleaning my living and work environments regularly

  • making use of natural light, fresh air, and live plants

  • discarding garbage regularly and cleaning spoiled foods out of the refrigerator

  • staying on top top of any pet or other odors

  • preventing clutter and staying organized, and not littering

  • conserving energy in my home, car and elsewhere

  • purchasing recycled items when possible

  • enjoying time in nature

  • setting aside time to reflect or practice mindfulness


Spiritual Wellness: having meaning and purpose, and also a sense of balance and peace. Healthy habits in this dimension can include:

  • naming own personal values and describe beliefs in life

  • making conscious choices about daily actions based on personal values

  • drawing on beliefs and values to give direction when frustrated or depressed

  • using meditation, and or prayer or quiet personal reflection regularly

  • feeling a purpose in life or finding life to be meaningful

  • learning about other's beliefs and values

  • having a strong sense of optimism and faith in the future

  • using thoughts and attitudes in life-affirming way

  • appreciating natural forces existing in the universe

  • feeling gratitude for good things in life


Social Wellness: having relationships with friends, family, and the community, and having an interest and concern for the needs of others and humankind. Healthy habits in this dimension can include:

  • having a network of friends and/or family

  • contributing time and/or money to social and community projects or causes

  • regularly spending time with people you like

  • balancing one's needs with the needs of others

  • helping others with compassion

  • having a sense of belonging in the community

  • feeling comfortable meeting new people

  • giving and receiving compliments graciously

  • communicating with and getting along with a wide variety of people

  • being interest in others, including with those whose backgrounds are different from my own


Emotional Wellness: involves the ability to express feelings, enjoy life, adjust to emotional challenges, and cope with stress and traumatic life experiences. Healthy habits in this dimension include:

  • accepting responsibility for one's actions and words

  • seeing challenges and change as opportunities for growth

  • believing and taking control over one's thoughts and actions

  • being able to laugh at life and myself

  • feeling good about one's self

  • coping appropriately with stress and tension

  • making time for leisure activities

  • recognize personal shortcomings and learn from mistakes

  • recognizing and expressing one's feelings

  • enjoying moments in each day


Financial Wellness: involves the ability to have financial resources to meet necessities, and a sense of control and knowledge about personal finances. Healthy habits in this dimension include:

  • having a good handle on financial status

  • having money on hand to meet current expenses

  • balancing saving and spending as well as balancing wants and needs

  • balancing accounts and verifying credit card statements

  • having funds or available credit to deal with moderate unexpected expenses

  • paying bills and filing taxes on time

  • checking credit reports once a year

  • saving money for life goals

  • having people to turn to for help with financial matters


Occupational Wellness: participating in activities that provide meaning and purpose, including, but not limited to employment. Healthy habits in this dimension include:

  • being happy with career choice

  • feeling productive on most days

  • having job responsibilities consistent with core values

  • having payoffs and advantages in career or volunteering in a field consistent with core values

  • feeling happy with work/life balance

  • experiencing satisfaction with autonomy or amount of control in work

  • feeling personal satisfaction and intellectual stimulation

  • experiencing happiness with professional and personal growth provided by job

  • feeling sure my current job or volunteering allows me to make good use of my strengths and/or talents


While stress, trauma, loss, and disappointment can impact our wellness, living a life with healthy holistic habits can bring balance back and contribute to resilience. Making healthy choices for health and well-being can be challenging, and lifestyles and habits can be difficult to change. But it is not impossible. With self-regulation and taking small realistic steps toward changing habits, you can create new routines. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you.






Teresa Jacobson is a Doctor of Behavioral Health and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Supervisor who is counseling Ohio adults of all ages and life experiences via secure Telehealth/Video visits. A strength-based, person-centered multi-cultural counselor, with an existential philosophy, Teresa can be reached through emailing teresa@jacobsoncounseling.org, calling (513) 206-3026, or visiting https://www.jacobsoncounseling.org.



References


The National Wellness Institute (2021). Retrieved from https://nationalwellness.org.


Stoewen, D.L. (2017). Dimensions of wellness: Change your habits, change your life. CVJ, 58(8):861-862.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), 2021. Welcome to wellness. Retrieved from https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma16-4955.pdf


Swarbrick, P., and Yudof, J. (2015). Wellness in eight dimensions. Collaborative Support Programs of NJ, Inc. retrieved from: https://www.center4healthandsdc.org/uploads/7/1/1/4/71142589/wellness_in_8_dimensions_booklet_with_daily_plan.pdf








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