Amy Eksteen

Wellness Series Part 1

Last week we began our Wellness journey together on the blog. In honour of mental health awareness month, I wanted to provide a platform for myself and my readers to learn more about the topic of wellness and self-care. In last week’s blog post, we were able to explore the concepts of wellness, our well-being, a wellness based lifestyle and the eight dimensions of wellness. One dimension will be discussed each week, therefore, the first dimension that we will focus on in our wellness series is our Physical Wellness.

Physical wellness, as a dimension, grants us the opportunity to recognise that our bodies are vital to our overall health and well-being, therefore helping us to recognise that we have a responsibility to take care of our physical health (Iowa State University: student wellness).

Choosing to focus on our physical wellness as much as we can enables us to maintain and continuously work towards a healthier quality of life, where we are functioning at an optimal level, that is positive, balanced, satisfying and fulfilling (Iowa State University: student wellness).

Physical wellness, as a whole, is about acknowledging the need for physical movement, a balanced diet, proper sleep and practicing protective and healthy behaviours (Iowa State University: student wellness). When we are looking after our physical wellness as best we can, we can begin to notice an overall absence of fatigue, exhaustion, burnout and any physical stress/strain (Iowa State University: student wellness).

Our physical wellness dimension is important because it allows us to look after our bodies and recognise daily habits and behaviours that are impacting our overall health, well-being and quality of life. When we prioritise our physical dimension, we are able to choose healthy habits in our every day living, while avoiding and/or decreasing our unhealthy habits and behaviours (Iowa State University: student wellness).

We should prioritise our physical wellness because it impacts our minds and mental well-being since our physical wellness has the ability to affect our emotional wellness. After all, the eight dimensions are all interlinked. We can see that our physical wellness begins to affect our mental state because when we begin to prioritise our physical health, it can result in things such as improved self-esteem and confidence levels, self-control as well as improved learning ability and academic/work performance. These results then overflow into the other dimensions that make up our lives (UCDavis: student health and counselling services).

We prioritise our physical wellness because it boosts the power of our minds, affecting our mental and emotional states, therefore affecting our overall state of functioning.When we prioritise our physical wellness, we can perform to the best of our abilities in all the other areas of our lives leading to more successful, happier, healthier, whole and more sustainable outcomes (Raupers, 2018).

Physical wellness encourages us to look after our physical health by prioritisng acts of self-care such as getting enough exercise and sleep, eating mindfully and choosing to prepare and cook healthy meals. It helps with reducing stress, practicing safer sex, practicing proper hygiene, limiting alcohol or substance abuse, committing to annual health check ups and appointments, washing our hands, looking after our ears, eyes, hair and skin, drinking enough water, wearing our seat belts and using helmets and other protective gear (to name a few) (Raupers, 2018).

Remember that simple changes to our every day habits and behaviours in order to prioritise each one of our dimensions has many benefits. For example, exercise not only strengthens our body, muscles and bones as well as prevents illness and disease, it also helps us to maintain a healthy weight and it reduces stress. Since the goal of wellness is to achieve balance, the ability to recognise the relationship between healthy habits, optimal physical health and a balanced lifestyle is what looking after our physical wellness is all about (Geneseo).

Here are 20 suggestions for you to prioritise your physical wellness in your self-care plan:

  1. Drink water every day and limit caffeine/sugar intake
  2. Choose to take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator
  3. Commit to regular health check ups, dentist appointments or optometrist appointments
  4. Prioritise breast/prostate self-examinations
  5. Set reminders or have creative ways to remember to take medication
  6. Do something active every day (for example, stretch, go for a walk, go for a run or short jog, head to the gym, do yoga or join an exercise group with friends or people you know)
  7. Create a healthy meal plan for your week
  8. Get at least 8 hours of sleep at night
  9. Write out a healthy grocery list that is linked to your weekly meal plans
  10. Prioritise fun ways to look after your hygiene, like using scented candles for a bubble bath and using organic hair care products
  11. Moisturise and set 5 minutes aside in your morning routine to do a skin care routine
  12. Spoil yourself with your favourite perfume/cologne
  13. Be mindful of the movement and how it feels to brush your hair or brush and floss your teeth
  14. Set time aside in your day or your week that will allow you to relax
  15. Practice safe-sex or spend some time brushing up on your sex education
  16. Limit alcohol or substance use
  17. Wear your seat belt in the car and use protective gear such as helmets
  18. Do some gardening
  19. Take study breaks
  20. Wash your hands

An alternative idea to the above list of 20 suggestions could be to think of one main goal you would like to focus on for your physical wellness in your self care plan. You can then start to incorporate simple ways to work towards your goal into your day-to-day living. For example: your one main goal may be to spend time before bed relaxing. This could include acts of self-care such as switching off all electronic devices, choosing to read a book, take mindful breaths or simply pray. Another main physical goal might be to do something active every day. You could then prioritise small acts of exercise each day such as walking and stretching.

Goal setting is helpful when we are trying to choose and maintain positive and healthy habits and behaviours because when we set time aside to think about our goals, it helps us to prioritise and recognise what is most important to us. We are then able to notice, more clearly, what we would like to work towards. Goals are ultimately motivating – they allow us to look at the bigger picture and create long-term goals. They then allow us to create smaller, short-term goals that can help us every day. Goals also hold us accountable to our needs and wants as well as they direct our efforts (Mindtools).

I suggest that when it comes to goal-setting, start off small. Think of one main, long-term physical goal that you would like to prioritise in your week and then think of one or two small acts of self-care/short-term goals that you can do to reach your main goal.

For example: your long-term goal for your physical wellness dimension could be to “feel fitter”. Your two short-term goals/acts of self-care that you can work towards each day could be to go for a walk with a friend 3 times a week and to stretch for at least 5 minutes before bed. For those of you who may become overwhelmed by lists, another way you could challenge yourself this week can be to try 1 physical wellness idea, each day, for 1 week. This could help you to figure out which self-care acts help you to prioritise your physical wellness the most. This challenge may also help you to notice what actually works for you and what can realistically fit into your every day life/day-to-day schedule.

For example, your challenge for the week could look like:

  • Monday: wash your hands as soon as you get home from work
  • Tuesday: write out a healthy grocery list
  • Wednesday: stretch for 10 min when you wake up or before going to bed
  • Thursday: take time to floss your teeth when you brush them
  • Friday: every time you get into/drive a vehicle, make sure you are wearing your seat belt
  • Saturday: prioritise eating a nutritious, colorful breakfast
  • Sunday: get 8 hours of sleep

I hope that my readers enjoyed learning about part 1 of our wellness series – our physical wellness dimension. Next week we will be learning about our Emotional Wellness. We will be discussing the concept of emotional wellness, why emotional wellness is important, how to prioritise our emotional health in our self-care plans as well as we will be setting ourselves a challenge for the upcoming week, while we think about what our emotional wellness goals would be.

In the mean time, here are a few self-reflection questions:

  • What did I just read about?
  • Am I currently prioritising my physical wellness?
  • Would I benefit from prioritising my physical wellness?
  • Did I learn anything from reading this blog post?
  • What would my long-term goal for my physical wellness be?
  • What would my short-term goal/s for my physical wellness be?
  • How did this blog post make me feel?
  • How can I incorporate my physical wellness dimension into my personal self-care plan?
  • What can I keep in mind for the future from this blog post?

Thank you for reading xx

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