Amy Eksteen

Wellness Series Part 8

This is it! Part eight of our Wellness series is finally here.

Over the past nine weeks, we have been exploring and discussing the topic of wellness from a self-care perspective. Each week, we have been learning about eight very important wellness dimensions and why we should be catering to all of our different needs through them.

Today, we get to end off our journey by learning about our eighth wellness dimension – our Intellectual Wellness.

Our Intellectual Wellness helps us to strive towards creative and mentally-stimulating activities in order to expand and share our knowledge, skills and talents so that we can reach our full potential. Activities that can help us to develop intellectually include our academics, cultural and community involvement as well as through the choice of our hobbies and interests. Developing our intellectual wellness enables us to discover and develop our personal resources and our other wellness dimensions in order to achieve the purpose of overall wellness, which includes elements of wholeness, happiness, balance and life satisfaction (Washington State University and UCDavis).

Prioritising our intellectual wellness is important because it encourages the act of curiosity and therefore learning – it encourages exploration of ideas and different understandings in order to achieve a higher level of awareness, of ourselves, others and the world around us. Through this, we become intrigued and interested by new things, which in turn creates motivation and growth (UCDavis).

It is said that the key to intellectual health is to remain open-minded – to new concepts, cultures, information, skills and ways of life. This way of thinking and living can ultimately lead us to becoming better problem solvers and critical thinkers (UCDavis).

Focusing on our intellectual well-being includes valuing different opportunities and experiences along with staying intellectually stimulated and sharing new information and ideas with those around us (HealthySteps).

One could say that our intellectual wellness relates directly to another important part of our wellness – our Cultural Wellness. Someone who is aware of their cultural wellness supports cultural diversity in their community. They value positive relationships and respect interactions with others who come from different backgrounds and lifestyles and who have different genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, abilities and ages (International Students and Wellness).

Factors that can help us to achieve intellectual health include: self-appreciation, affiliation, resilience, exercise, leisure, curiosity and negotiation. Self-appreciation can lead to us discovering our unique traits and strengths, which can boost our self-esteem and confidence. This can also help us to attain a higher level of self-worth and self-respect. Affiliation can help us to build healthy relationships and connections with others, which can also help us to reduce the stress and pressure we feel from various sources.Resilience is all about helping us deal with and recover from various challenges and adversity we encounter in life.Physical exercise and leisure can protect us from negative mental states such as depression and can help us to keep the brain from being inactive.Negotiation involves the act of compromising and accepting that we cannot have all the answers and that it is important to reach out and ask for help from others when we feel as if it is needed (Self-esteemAwareness, 2018).

Benefits of looking after our Intellectual Wellness:

  • Discovery and learning of new things
  • Critical thinking is improved
  • Brain is challenged and kept active
  • Clear thinking and better decision making
  • Self-awareness
  • A better understanding of the world around you
  • Happiness and meaning in life (Self-esteemAwareness, 2018).

Signs of Intellectual Wellness:

  • Good study skills and time management
  • Ability to challenge yourself to see all sides of a problem
  • Becoming a critical thinker
  • Development of own ideas, views and opinions
  • Exposing yourself to new ideas, people and belief systems that are different from your own
  • Becoming aware of who you are and your values (University of New Hampshire)

15 ways to prioritise Intellectual Wellness:

  1. Read for fun – read books that are outside of your study/work obligations
  2. Improve your skills regarding studying and learning – you could attend workshops that discuss learning styles and study skills
  3. Learn a foreign language
  4. Keep up to date with cultural festivals and events in your surrounding area
  5. Play board games and card games with family and friends
  6. Learn or play a musical instrument
  7. Write your thoughts down in your journal – you could search for personal growth questions and answer them privately
  8. Do crossword and/or Sudoku puzzles
  9. Debate/have intellectually stimulating conversations with friends – stay open-minded to others opinions and points of views
  10. Challenge the norm, don’t take an answer for what it is without questioning and agreeing upon it yourself
  11. Visit a museum
  12. Keep your brain constantly active – thinking and questioning
  13. Subscribe to an interesting journal/online newsletter
  14. Attend art exhibits, plays, musicals, movies and poetry readings
  15. Learn basic nutrition and exercise regularly to maximise your brain functioning – many nutrients are essential to good memory and concentration (Geary, 2014 and University of New Hampshire and HealthySteps)

Intellectual Wellness self-care goal setting: Think of one main, long-term goal you would like to focus on in your personal self-care plan. For example: “I would like to prioritise mentally stimulating activities that can increase my self-awareness, self-expression and personal growth”
For example: “I will take time out every week to do something creative like write, draw, paint or play music and I will stay updated with the news or prioritise reading a new book this month”

Intellectual Wellness challenge for the week:

  • Monday: Write out a list of 5 things you value in your journal
  • Tuesday: Spend time talking about intellectual wellness and this blog posts self-reflection questions with someone
  • Wednesday: Start reading a new book
  • Thursday: Watch a personal growth Ted talk on YouTube
  • Friday: Visit an art gallery, cultural evening or local food festival
  • Saturday: Do something creative by yourself, with a friend, with your children and/or with your partner
  • Sunday: Read a newspaper, newsletter or enlightening article

Self-reflection Questions:

  • What did I just read about?
  • Do I feel as if I am currently looking after my intellectual wellness?
  • Am I open to new ideas?
  • Do I value personal growth?
  • Did I learn anything from this blog post?
  • Am I interested in learning and improving my skills or talents?
  • How did this blog post make me feel?
  • Do I look for new opportunities?
  • Do I value mental stimulation?
  • Do I value creativity?
  • How can I begin to prioritise my intellectual wellness into my personal self-care plan?
  • What can I keep in mind for the future from this blog post? (Washington State University)

Thank you to all of my readers for joining me on this journey to wellness. I hope that through this series, our awareness regarding all of our different wellness dimensions that make up who we are as individuals has been able to grow and develop. I also hope that by openly discussing the need and importance of self-care, we can use our wellness dimensions to make sure we are living a life that feels happy, whole, balanced and satisfying. After all, our health and well-being are important – we are amazing, complicated and unique individuals who are all worthy of self-love and self-care.

Stay tuned for a surprise wellness blog post coming your way next week! Can you guess what it might be?

Have the best day xx

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