Health and wellness, two critical aspects of one’s life, go hand-in-hand. However, “health” has often been used as a blanket term cloaking our understanding of “wellness.”
Discussions around wellness often only include the physical, emotional or spiritual aspects. A better approach would be to see it as the hub of a wheel that balances and controls eight spokes: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational and financial wellness.
Happiest Health spoke with experts who break down these eight dimensions – with tips on how you can balance your life.
Physical wellness goes beyond regular exercise and is all about paying attention to your body in a holistic manner. It involves taking adequate rest, having a balanced diet, and engaging in daily physical activities to maintain your overall health. The importance of this dimension is backed by research as well. The National Institutes of Health says that positive physical health habits can help you reduce stress, lower your risk of disease, and boost your energy. Their self-help toolkit lists out effective strategies that include getting active, maintaining muscles, finding a healthy weight, minding one’s metabolism, consuming a healthy diet, and building healthy habits.
There are five key aspects to physical wellness — good sleep, a balanced diet, physical activity, personal hygiene and learning to relax ; maintaining these will enable you to cope with work-life stress and help boost your mental health.
Apart from good physical health, the other dimension that plays a critical role in our overall wellbeing is intellectual health. It includes one’s quest for critical thinking, ideating, and developing skills and boosting our knowledge. In addition, sharing those skills with others is also key. According to Northwestern University, Illinois, being open to new experiences and ideas in all aspects of one’s life, and expanding the ability to create, develop, analyse, critique, concentrate, understand, evaluate, problem-solve, predict, and comprehend will help individuals take their intellectual wellness up a notch.
Another critical dimension of wellness is one’s emotional wellbeing. According to Bengaluru-based psychologist Dr Jini K Gopinath, it is a person’s ability to cope with external stressors without losing one’s emotional equilibrium. A robust emotional agility allows individuals to acknowledge their feelings and adjust to unanticipated changes. This dimension impacts everyone from all walks of life: be it in school, college, work or relationships.
A person’s ability to connect with others and maintain strong relationships is referred to as social wellness. It can be accomplished by surrounding oneself with positive public interactions. Highlighting the importance of it, Bengaluru-based counselling psychologist, Arouba Kabir says, “Social wellness allows an individual to understand how to interact with others, express themselves, conduct everyday health habits, and be a part of different communities. It heightens your sense of social belonging.”
Many think that spiritual wellness is all about following a certain religion or belief. But it is much more than that. It is about pursuing or believing in something that gives individuals inner peace and adds value to their existence. It is also about exploring one’s inner self and thoughts and finding peace through mindfulness. It can become a person’s way of life.
Spiritual wellness can be obtained by following one’s beliefs, values, or religion; meditating or doing what is comfortable and giving one a purpose in life.
According to Kabir, spiritual wellness opens doors to self-reflection and growth. She also adds that it can help reduce stress levels, control blood pressure, improve the immune system, get better sleep, and provide a positive attitude towards life.
This is all about giving importance to what individuals are passionate about and what they choose to do with it. It can be pursuing their passion as a full-time career or even indulging in it along with a regular 9 to 5.
“Having a satisfying work-life balance positively impacts physical, mental, and emotional wellness. Working towards professional growth while simultaneously working on yourself is the ideal goal for every individual,” says Kabir.
Ideally, individuals who choose an occupation that uses their gifts, assets, and abilities along with their values are more content. They endeavour to adjust work and non-work commitments, including figuring out how to say “no” to maintain that equilibrium.
Neha Kalita, a 25-year-old web developer based in Bengaluru, says she had a difficult time managing her expenses a few years ago. “Whether it was pocket money or my salary, I used to be broke. I had no proper plan and wasted money on whatever attracted my eye.” However, over the years, she decided planning and budgeting were the way to go. “It was a gradual process, but I have finally saved up enough to shift from being a careless spendthrift to spending mindfully,” she says. This is where financial planning and wellbeing comes into the picture.
“Financial planning is important because it provides direction and meaning to your financial decisions and gives you clarity in life,” says Neha Nagar, a finance content creator. Financial wellness is crucial for one’s overall wellbeing. This monetary health gives one a sense of security and freedom. Every individual’s financial journey is different, and one should plan it accordingly.
Neha Nagar’s tips for financial wellness:
- Save more money
- Enjoy a better standard of living
- Be prepared for emergencies
- Attain peace of mind
When we talk about environmental wellbeing, the most common thing one might consider is the commitment to a healthy planet. “A lot of people are aware of the environment and what is happening to it. What they don’t understand is that environmental health is directly related to human health, and it is their responsibility to take care of it,” says environmentalist Dr Shanthi Tummala. Environmental wellness is not just about taking necessary measures for the environment globally but about finding little ways to make your surroundings more secure, right down to how you keep your home. This includes restricting your exposure to unhygienic spaces, air pollution, and toxic chemicals.