August Wellness: Change Your Habits, Change Your Life (Part 1)

August is National Wellness Month, a month focused on promoting healthy routines. Although people often think about wellness in terms of physical or emotional health only, it is so much more.

Many interconnected factors, or dimensions, influence your overall health. It can be helpful to think about wellness as the active process of developing your own personalized approach to fulfilling those dimensions. Over time, little changes in your routines within each dimension of wellness can have big health benefits.

The Challenge: Make one small change to three fundamental dimensions of wellness to improve your overall health. Here’s how:

Social Wellness

Social wellness involves building healthy, nurturing and supportive relationships, as well as fostering a genuine sense of belonging and connection. It is the ability to communicate, trust, set boundaries and manage conflict. People who maintain a positive social support network and feel a genuine sense of belonging experience improved health outcomes and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Choose one strategy that resonates with you and your needs this month:

Option 1: Strengthen Bonds

Nurture positive and supportive relationships in your life. Consider strengthening bonds with those who are most important to you by engaging in a shared hobby, offering praise or spending time together.

  • Plan a fun date
  • Give someone a gift
  • Hang out with a friend
  • Write someone a letter
  • Compliment a friend

Option 2: Make Connections

Build new connections this month by meeting a new person or joining a group. Consider engaging with a community or rekindling an old connection to boost your sense of belonging.

  • Volunteer/mentor
  • Meet your neighbors
  • Call/message an old friend
  • Try a group fitness or art class
  • Join a community group
  • Strike up a conversation

Spiritual Wellness

Spiritual wellness involves having a set of values, principles, morals or beliefs that guide your actions. It is a willingness to appreciate, enjoy and express gratitude for the things that make life meaningful.  When faced with adversity, people who find a sense of meaning in life experience improved health outcomes and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Choose one strategy for spiritual wellness:

Option 1: Look Inward

Spend some quiet time alone with your thoughts and feelings. Slow the pace of your day, remove your watch, turn your phone or pager off and focus on your immediate experience. Engage in one activity that makes you feel at peace. Try:

  • Practice yoga
  • Listen to waves
  • Pray or meditate
  • Sing, dance or draw
  • Appreciate art or music
  • Write, cook or garden
  • Watch the sun rise or set

Option 2: Reach Out

Express your spirituality through feelings of forgiveness, gratitude and compassion. Consider practicing kindness, volunteering or mentoring to foster a sense of community, strengthen bonds with others and boost mood. Try:

  • Volunteer
  • Pick up litter
  • Make a card
  • Make time for family
  • Advocate for a cause
  • Share art that inspires you

Intellectual Wellness

Intellectual wellness involves participating in academic, cultural, artistic or skill-based education. It is a dedication to lifelong learning through critical thinking, skill development and knowledge expansion. Lifelong learning reduces the risk of depression and dementia, as well as boosts self confidence, increases self esteem and improves outlook on life. Choose one strategy for intellectual wellness:

Option 1: Grow Solo

Stimulate your brain by trying a new or challenging activity. Keep your mind engaged and entertained by problem solving or processing new information. Try:

  • Refine a craft
  • Read an article
  • Do a crossword
  • Work on a puzzle
  • Start a new book
  • Learn a language
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Watch a documentary
  • Practice an instrument

Option 2: Venture Beyond

Enter the mindset of a lifelong learner— consider the world your classroom and each day a new lesson. Engage with others and explore outside resources to expand your knowledge and learn new concepts. Try:

  • Play a game
  • Develop a skill
  • Visit a museum
  • Watch a lecture
  • Explore a library
  • Visit someplace new
  • Register for a course
  • Attempt an escape room
  • Sample and learn about a new food

Research has shown that the single greatest opportunity to improve health and longevity lies in personal behavior. Maintaining healthy habits in each dimension of wellness is not only crucial for overall well-being, but can also reduce the risk of depression. One strategy for developing healthy habits within each dimension of wellness is to record your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a journal. Try journaling to track your progress. Write down your goals for each dimension of wellness. Track the strategies you try, monitor your progress and reflect on how new healthy habits make you feel.

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