Six stages of wellness, and how to win at them
When you hear the word self-care, what do you think of? Eating a diet full of nutritious, healthy food or time out from your day to meditate or exercise? Giving yourself permission to leave the housework until tomorrow so you can finish watching your favourite programme, or booking yourself a relaxing spa day?
The truth is, self-care is different for everyone. For some, it could be all of those things, for others, the complete opposite. Either way, working on wellbeing should play an integral part in all of our lives.
According to the National Wellness Institute (NWI), there are six dimensions of wellness. It defines wellness as a: “multidimensional, holistic and encompassing lifestyle” on the path to “mental and spiritual wellbeing.”
If the quest for wellness is the journey, then self-care is the vehicle. And don’t forget, vehicles need fuel to run, so to for us to feel balanced and whole on the path to wellness we must keep our engines topped up at all six of these journey stops.
With that in mind, let’s look at some self-care tips and techniques that you can employ for each of them.
Self-care comes in many forms and is an integral part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Occupational – take regular breaks
It’s a known fact that us Brits work harder and less productively than our European counterparts. For many workers, taking breaks is seen as a luxury, not a necessity, but it’s time to change the rhetoric and reclaim what’s ours.
Allow yourself the time to rest and recharge throughout your working day. You’ll return to the task calmer, refreshed and ready to begin again.
Physical – Swim and sauna
Like fish and chips or gin and tonic, the mighty swim and sauna is a match made in heaven and is the perfect way to destress and relax. The low impact nature of swimming coupled with the circulation-boosting heat of the sauna brings a world of healing benefits to tired and achey muscles.
The sauna opens up your pores to increase blood circulation, and is great for softening the skin and detoxifying your body. Be mindful, though – it’s not uncommon to lose a pint of sweat whilst in the sauna, so to avoid dehydration, limit your session to no longer than 15-20 minutes.
Social – Make more time for face to face connections
These days with social media and a multitude of messaging apps it’s easy to go months without physically sitting next to someone you care about. You might feel like you’ve stayed in touch, as you scroll through people’s lives in your news feeds and comment on their photos, but really, when was the last time you shared a cup of tea together, greeted each other with a hug, or took part in an exercise class side by side?
Nothing beats the connection of face to face interaction. Don’t let technology rob you of real human contact, and make that date to finally meet up.
Intellectual – Learn something new
When was the last time you learnt a new skill such as a new language, instrument or sport? The beauty of learning is that it’s completely mindful and requires your total focus. Find something that stimulates and inspires your creativity to expand your repertoire of skills and knowledge. It might seem a long time since you learnt something new, but keeping your brain sharp has been proven to boost brain power to slow cognitive ageing, so a win win all round then!
Spiritual - Find your state of flow
The ever-elusive state of ‘flow’ is something you might hear distance runners talking about. According to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who came up with the term, ‘flow’ is the state of ‘being completely involved in an activity for its own sake’. So whether that’s running, writing, colouring in, practicing Thai Chi, yoga, or whatever activity you can get lost in – find your flow, and stay there for a while. You deserve it.
More than just a warm room, there’s nothing quite like the experience of a sauna. The crackling stoIt’s an ancient experience too. A form of sauna was used by the Mayans of Central America as far back as 3,000 years ago. Finnish for ‘bath house’, the sauna - as we know it today - was invented a thousand years later.
Sometimes, it can feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. And not to work either - but simply just to be.
It’s no secret that regular exercise improves both physical and psychological wellbeing, reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and mental illness.