Mind, Body and More: 9 Easy Tips for Total Wellness

Social, emotional, physical and diet tweaks that really add up.

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By Olivia DeLong

You hear the term “wellness” all the time—in the news, at the doctor’s office, at work and all over social media, but what does it really mean to be well?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health and wellness as “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

This sense of well-being can lead to fulfillment in your relationships, career and your overall life purpose.

It can be easy to trudge through our daily routines, not really thinking about our health and wellness until something goes awry. But wellness is constant—and it’s not just about getting regular check-ups.

Here’s what we think wellness means, plus how to live your best life and be well.

So, what is wellness, really?

2 / 10 So, what is wellness, really?

The term “wellness” means different things to different people and organizations—and that’s something you need to keep in mind when you read about it. Sure, “wellness” is appealing to most everyone—who doesn’t want to be well? But, there are some aspects that may not always be evidence or science-based.

Some experts believe that wellness should be based on certain criteria. For example, the University of California Davis defines wellness as having eight dimensions (emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual). Based on our experience, these dimensions certainly do play into our health and well-being.   

Check out some examples of how you can improve your well-being and overall wellness in these eight key areas of your life.

Take on a new project a work

3 / 10 Take on a new project a work

Your job is a source of income, but it’s also a way to fulfill personal goals you’ve set for yourself. For that reason, it plays a huge role in your health—not to mention, work is where you spend a majority of your day. Studies show that people who feel their jobs are meaningful, enjoyable and important are less likely to experience conditions like anxiety or depression.

Even if you don’t like your job, you can still find meaning in it. To get started, find an aspect of your job that you feel passionate about. If you’re a teacher, maybe it’s working directly with the students in a small group setting; if you’re a customer service representative, but love the web, it might be helping out with your company’s web design team.

Another idea? Spend some time collaborating with a colleague or asking for their opinion on something you’re working on. Try running a presentation by them or have them read over a proposal—doing so will help you feel rejuvenated about your work and improve your mental health at the same time.

Find a sweat session you enjoy

4 / 10 Find a sweat session you enjoy

Obviously, your physical health plays a major role in overall wellness. One of the best ways you can keep your body in shape is exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says regular physical activity can help you:

  • Control your weight
  • Lower your risk of heart disease
  • Reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Reduce your risk of certain cancers
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your mental health and mood
  • Prevent falls
  • Live longer 

Aim to get moving each day. Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activities (like swimming) each week.

If you’re not sure where to begin, try taking a dance class or picking up a set of weights for a quick workout during commercials. Tracking your steps can also help—studies show that using a step tracker, like Sharecare for iOS and Android, can help you move more throughout the day, too.

Try a new-to-you fruit

5 / 10 Try a new-to-you fruit

Another way to keep your body in tip-top physical shape is to eat a balanced diet. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends choosing foods low in saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. That means a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and good fats is best.

Healthy eating can lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, among other things. While everyone has slightly different nutritional needs, following these principles is a good way to get started.

You don’t have to make big changes all at once: Start by replacing one fatty food at the time, with healthier ones. For example, post-dinner chocolate ice cream could be replaced with a raw coconut chocolate bar. Simply mix together coconut oil, cocoa powder, maple syrup, coconut cream and a pinch of salt, then spoon in cupcake tins and freeze for an hour. Or the next time you’re in the grocery store, pick up a new-to-you fruit (like papaya or mango!) for your breakfasts.

Social: Surround yourself with positive people and let go of toxic relationships

6 / 10 Social: Surround yourself with positive people and let go of toxic relationships

Socializing is fun, and it may boost your longevity. Many studies show that adults who are more socially involved are more likely to live longer, healthier lives than those who are more isolated—even with a chronic health condition. Not to mention, socializing may help stave off feelings of depression, and may even help keep your memory strong.

Try to stay in touch with family and friends as best you can, and every-so-often plan a girls’ or guys’ night out. Joining clubs or volunteering at church are also great ways to be social. Workout classes at your local gym or YMCA, neighborhood and community groups all count as socialization, too.

On the flip side, toxic relationships can wreak havoc on your health. Studies show that relationships that cause you stress may also contribute to high blood pressure, a weaker immune system, increased anxiety and depression and an increased risk of heart disease. If you have friends that encourage bad habits, gossip all the time, are overly needy, abusive or constantly cancelling plans, it may be time to move on.

Spiritual: Find your spiritual center

7 / 10 Spiritual: Find your spiritual center

When you hear the word “spiritual,” you may think “What’s that?” or “That’s too hard.” But spirituality means different things to different people. In fact, there’s not one universal definition for spirituality, but many experts describe it as a connection with yourself and others, your personal values and your meaning in life. Studies suggest that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a successful way to ease symptoms of stress for both healthy and sick people. Plus, practicing spirituality can reduce depression symptoms, lower your blood pressure levels and help you live longer. Spirituality is also about:

  • Finding (and focusing) on the things that are most important in your life.
  • Gaining a sense of peace, even during challenging times.
  • Realizing that you aren’t responsible for everything (big or small) that happens in life; releasing control can relieve you of stress.
  • Meeting people and making connections in your places of worship.

So, how can you practice spirituality if you’re not sure where to begin? The answer is whatever resonates with you. You may need to test out a few different practices to find what helps you the most. Here are some ideas:

  • Practice yoga by starting out with just a few minutes and working your way up to a longer session.
  • Meditate for 5 minutes each morning. Not sure where to start? Here’s a guide.
  • Visit your local church, temple, mosque, or synagogue and ask how you can get involved.
Emotional: Write down one thing you’re grateful for each day

8 / 10 Emotional: Write down one thing you’re grateful for each day

Gratitude—you’ve probably been hearing about how much it can improve your health. But what is gratitude, exactly? In general, it’s appreciating what’s valuable and meaningful to you—which is also known as thankfulness. Research shows that grateful people are more likely to take care of their health. Being grateful can also help you build better relationships with friends and family, improve self-esteem and may even help you sleep better.

A study published in the journal, Spirituality in Clinical Practice observed 186 asymptomatic heart failure patients, and found that those who were more grateful and acknowledged the positive aspects of their lives had less inflammation and more regular heart rhythms.

You can show gratitude by thanking your waitress for her great service, calling an old mentor to let them know how much you appreciate them or by cleaning up after yourself at the coffee shop. But another major way you can practice thankfulness on the regular is to write in a gratitude journal. Each morning when you wake up, write down one thing you’re grateful for. You can read your entries at the end of each week or whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Environmental: Skip plastic utensils and paper plates

9 / 10 Environmental: Skip plastic utensils and paper plates

Around the world, 23 percent of deaths are related to preventable environmental issues. In fact, a Lancet report suggested that pollution was responsible for 9 million premature deaths worldwide in 2015, related to chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer and lung disease. Factors like exposure to hazardous substances in the air, soil or food, climate change and job hazards, among others, all contribute to the health of our country—and our planet as a whole. Poor air quality can contribute to asthma, heart problems, certain cancers and premature death, while water pollution can contribute to liver and kidney damage, cancer, hepatitis, typhoid and more.

In order to stay well, it’s important to take a look at these environmental factors and how they play into your everyday life and health. Doing your part to conserve energy and take care of the environment is crucial. In addition to skipping paperware and plasticware, here are some other simple ways to get started:

  • Invest in reusable water bottles and grocery bags.
  • When you can, eat and shop at local grocers and produce markets.
  • If you’re not using an appliance, unplug it or turn it off.
  • Walk or ride a bike when you can.
  • Recycle (you can get started here).
  • Volunteer with environmental organizations.
Intellectual: Learn one new word each day

10 / 10 Intellectual: Learn one new word each day

Challenging yourself intellectually means engaging in mentally-stimulating activities—doing so will expand your knowledge, and encourage you to share that knowledge with others. The more you challenge yourself, the more curious you are, and the more likely you are to try new things.

So, how can you work on your intellectual wellness? There are many ways—getting an education, volunteering in your community and trying your hand at new hobbies are just some examples. Here are some other ways to boost your intellectual wellness, too:

  • Learn one new word a day. There are many phone applications that can help you.
  • Learn a new language.
  • Be an active listener when talking with someone.

Have an open mind.

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