Pillars of Health
Health is often believed to be the absence of disease or not being ill. Although this definition is true it misses the mark when considering an overall person. This means wellness depends on more factors than simply avoiding becoming ill (e.g. getting the flu).
Optimal health and wellness is sustained by pillars of health. These pillars will give you a sense of how to work toward your optimal wellness. The path to wellness is not one-size-fits-all. The journey is unique and different for each individual.
Biology, personality, and environment all play a role in how wellness is defined or what it means to you. It is for this reason that the approach to reach optimal wellness must be personalized and unique to each individual. The idea of incorporating new strategies in each aspect of your life might sound daunting when beginning the journey toward wellness. Through integrated wellness interventions for body & mind health we can assist you in developing actionable steps to make meaningful impactful changes in each of these areas of your life. These pillars include, but are not limited to:
Physical wellness includes much more than just exercise. Regular physical activity is certainly a component of this pillar, but there are several other aspects that make up holistic physical wellness, including healthy hygiene and sleep habits.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults ages 18 to 64 get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night and that adults over 65 get seven to eight hours per night. You can help yourself get a better night’s sleep by turning off your devices 30 minutes before bedtime and using blackout curtains and white-noise machines to block light and sound as you try to fall asleep.
Though nutrition also falls under physical wellness, it’s such an important component of overall health that it’s represented in its own pillar. Ensuring you’re eating a balanced diet is essential to building this pillar in your life. The CDC recommends adults emphasize a diet mixed with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products. It’s also recommended that adults steer away from foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.
Everyone’s dietary needs are a little different depending on their age, sex, activity level, and body chemistry. Check with your doctor to find a diet plan that works for you. This might include altering the types of foods you eat or adding in some supplements.
Eating and nutrition are closely linked with your mouth and the health of your teeth. There are certain foods that aren’t great for your teeth health and can even stain them. Foods that are acidic (like cranberry juice and tomato sauce), dark or bright-colored vegetables (like pomegranates and beets), drinks filled with tannins (like wine and coffee), and foods high in sugar all have the ability to stain your teeth. Regulating your intake of these foods and drinks will help to keep your mouth healthy as you begin to build this pillar.
Intellectual wellness is built by opening yourself up to experiences that inform and challenge your thinking. Developing a healthy thirst for knowledge long after formal education has ended is a great way to form new skills and interests throughout your life. This can be as simple as having deep, intellectual conversations with friends and family or setting aside time each day to play brain puzzles like crosswords or Sudoku.
The emotional wellness pillar covers your feelings, as well as how easily you can understand and navigate your emotions and also communicate them with others. We’re all likely to experience hardships and the emotions that come with them, but our ability to take a step back and evaluate how these emotions impact our behaviors is an important part of overall wellness.
Being in control of your emotions or at least aware of how they can impact your relationships is a crucial part of your overall holistic wellness. If you’re ever feeling out of control when it comes to regulating your emotions or communicating them with others, it might be a good idea to talk with your doctor about seeking professional help you build this pillar in your life.
Try: Journaling as part of your daily routine. Even for the times that everything is going right, journaling can help you reflect on the parts of your life that bring you happiness and parts that don’t. It can also be a way to work through feelings you might not feel comfortable talking about with others.
Social wellness encompasses our connections and relationships with others. Humans are social creatures by nature and through daily interactions, we’re able to see ourselves through the eyes of others and learn who we are and how we fit in the world. Beyond building positive relationships with others, this pillar of wellness also includes the ability to resolve any conflict that might arise in a healthy and respectful manner.
Healthy friendships and relationships create a strong support system to reach out to when stresses rise and hardships happen. Building and maintaining these relationships takes dedication but they will continue to serve you throughout your life.
The spiritual pillar of wellness is unique to each person and their spirituality. Spirituality is defined as the traditions and values by which people live. This helps to give people a sense of purpose and meaning to life, which, in turn, helps guide actions.
Many people develop this pillar through meditation, prayer, or other means of fostering a connection with a higher power. Similar to social wellness, spiritual wellness is an important component that helps us work through tough times and develop resiliency and grace when we face obstacles in life.
Try: Practicing meditation. You can do this by sitting or lying in a comfortable spot, closing your eyes, and letting yourself breathe naturally. Pay attention to your breath and notice the movement of your body as you breathe. If your mind wanders, return your attention back to your breath. Try this for two to three minutes and repeat daily, working yourself up to longer intervals.
Financial wellness is the pillar devoted to living within your means and planning for your future appropriately. It can be tough to start developing this pillar, but you’ll be glad you did. Being financially well trickles over into several other pillars, such as physical and emotional wellness, as money troubles can take a toll on a person’s mind and body.
Try: Setting aside a fixed amount of money each month for the things you value most in life, whether that’s money for your hobbies, dining out, or saving toward a vacation.
Environmental wellness deals with your immediate surroundings and the community where you live and work. This involves respecting the environment you live in by doing your best to support it however you can. This might include recycling or volunteering to clean up a city park that you frequent.