I have had several peers reach out to me since I started this blog. They all said they found the information helpful (which I greatly appreciate hearing by the way), but they were still struggling. I had written about several techniques, theories, and ideas that have helped me through my journey, but I left one extremely important point out: Where did I start?
When I realized this, I did a literal *facepalm* for leaving this out. How can an individual fix something when they cannot even identify the problem even at the surface level? I think the hardest part for me was identifying the areas that needed the most work until I taught myself a little bit about the concept of “wellness.” For anyone who has ever looked up “wellness” and related terms (i.e. well-being, personality), there are infinite definitions, theories, and ideas surrounding it. This is for good reason. An individual’s wellness is complex. There are many moving parts to the well-oiled machine we call your health and wellness.
Therefore, when I did my own research on it, I used the theory that best aligned with my personal beliefs surrounding health and wellness. I encourage you to do the same. Personally, I wanted a theory that was simple, but captured the complexity of one’s well-being. The one I found comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2016) that describes eight dimensions listed below:
- Emotional—Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
- Environmental—Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being
- Financial—Satisfaction with current and future financial situations
- Intellectual—Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
- Occupational—Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work
- Physical—Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep
- Social—Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
- Spiritual—Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life
After you find one that works for you, next it is time to evaluate. I will provide you two ways you can do this. If you are a visual person, you can draw a scale for each area from 1 to 10 for example. Mark off a number in each area where that aspect of your wellness is now. Then, mark off a second number where you want it to be. You can draw it in a circle divided up into the eight areas. You could draw a number line for each area. It is totally up to you. The other way is to simply mentally evaluate and examine each area.
I DO NOT want you to forget this word while conducting your evaluation though. It is also a word that I DO NOT want you to ever forget through your own self-care journey.
After your evaluation, look at the areas that need improvement and which areas you feel comfortable in. For the areas that need improvement, usually you are doing too much or not enough in a given area. Think about what steps you are going to take to balance it out. Ensure not to neglect the areas you are okay with though, as they ensure the overall balance and provide you with a safety blanket to fall back on if you ever feel like you are not doing enough for your self-care. Of course you want to improve your weaknesses, but your strengths got you this far. They carry significant value as well.
There is your starting point, so get to it.
-The Caring Counselor
V. (2016, July 01). Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from https://www.samhsa.gov/wellness-initiative/eight-dimensions-wellness