When we talk about complete wellness or health, most of us immediately imagine a young, triathlon-racing, never-sick individual who lives to build muscle and goes to sleep at 10:00pm every day. But there’s so much more to better health than physical health. So the question arises, what does complete wellness look like?
According to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois, health and wellness “is a state of optimal well-being that is oriented towards granting the greatest range to an individual’s potential. This is a life-long process of moving towards enhancing your physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental well-being.”
This article will provide an overview of the integral aspects of overall health and how you can use this knowledge to optimize your life.
What Does It Mean to Be Physically Healthy?
Your physical health refers to the state of your body and its ability to function the way it should. It is the overall condition of your body. This doesn’t just mean the absence of illness but also includes your body’s ability to perform the activities it was designed to do, from walking and standing to sleeping and digesting your food properly.
Taking care of your physical health is relatively straightforward, even though it is a challenge given today’s busy schedules. If you follow a healthy diet, keep your weight in check, exercise regularly and don’t smoke, you’re already ahead of 80 percent of the population.
Eating healthy is something that often trips people up — they participate in multiple weight loss programs and follow a colorful variety of fad diets. Healthy food intake is about going back to basics: lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, all in moderate portion.
Exercise is another element that is overcomplicated and underestimated. Many common health issues, such as musculoskeletal joint pain, back pain and neck pain can be solved through exercise. Exercise is a common prescription given by health professionals for nearly every ailment.
Many think that exercise is only for young people, but there’s an accessible version of exercise for everyone. It’s really as simple as getting your heart rate up most days a week. The best way to do this is to find an exercise you enjoy and partake in it. It could be one or many enjoyable outdoor activities, lifting weights or something crazy like amateur ice capades.
If you are looking to get your health to the highest quality, you might incorporate extra wellness practices into your life, depending on which ones are a good fit. You can try incorporating medical massage therapy, intermittent fasting and chiropractic care to optimize your health.
There are many treatment options and physical therapies available depending on your goals, like pain relief or boosting your immune system. In large cities throughout the United States, you might even find “complete wellness centers” which offer multiple treatment options all in one place. These wellness care facilities not only have medical options like different chiropractors and medical pain relief, but often offer things like exercise and yoga classes, all in one accessible site.
But physical health doesn’t stop at your body. Caring for yourself also includes wellness in your emotional and mental states. Someone could exercise every day, eat a clean diet and have an impressive weight loss story. But if they don’t have their emotions in check or manage stress well, they are likely not in optimal health.
The Crucial Importance of Mental and Emotional Health
You can’t have a conversation about mental health without discussing emotional health, as the two are linked. The term mental health is often used to suggest the absence of mental illness. If you are not suffering from mental illness, you are mentally well.
Your emotional health overlaps with your mental health. You could even argue that the terms could be used interchangeably. When you exhibit control over your thoughts and feelings, you are exhibiting mental and emotional health. When you don’t let negative emotions overrun you and have a healthy, yet realistic outlook on life, this could also be a display of both mental and emotional health.
According to World Health Organization, mental health includes “subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one’s intellectual and emotional potential, among others.” All of this can come down to one central theme — how you respond to what life throws at you. In other words, resilience.
Your COMPLETE WELLNESS and the Power of Resilience
You may have caught Dan Gilbert’s TED Talk on Synthetic Happiness. If you haven’t, take the time to watch it. Gilbert defines natural happiness as “when we get what we wanted.” That’s easy. When you’re getting what you want in life, you can’t help but be happy, or at the very least, content.
Synthetic happiness, on the other hand, is “what we make when we don’t get what we wanted.” That’s the key. How do we respond when we don’t get what we want? Do we wallow in our sadness and think everyone is out to get us? Or, do we do some emotional pain management and adjust to those circumstances?
Research from Gilbert’s laboratory found that “a year after losing the use of their legs, and a year after winning the lotto, lottery winners and paraplegics are equally happy with their lives.” Imagine losing the use of your legs skiing and feeling content by next Christmas. This incredible result all goes back to the idea of resilience.
It takes practice, and there’s no guarantee it will be painless. It’s up to you to tap into your innate resilience and train your mind to find the good in any situation, or, at the very least, be content with what has taken place. The better you learn to manage life’s everyday stresses and the larger, more trying events, the more it will reflect on your quality of life.
If you’re looking for help in managing stress, Spire is something you might consider. It’s a device that measures your breathing and sends helpful signals to help you calm down when you need to.
Activity and eating well are key to your long-term health and staving off health issues. By all means, join a fitness center and follow a diet. But it’s important for us not to forget all the other elements that go into complete wellness and well-being, namely emotional and mental health.