Traditional wellness programs often focus on physical factors like body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and cholesterol levels to gauge overall wellbeing. But good overall wellbeing includes more than physical wellbeing alone.
Evidence indicates that engaging in mutually beneficial exchange with those in one’s social environment has significant positive benefits on mental health and wellbeing. This is particularly relevant to people living with physical disabilities who face limited opportunities for such exchange.
1. Physical Activity
Physical wellness is one of the cornerstones of overall wellbeing, and one way to promote it is through regular physical activity. People who engage in exercise have less of an increased chance of developing long-term illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer compared with their counterparts who do not participate regularly, plus experience greater energy for daily tasks more efficiently.
Physical inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for death worldwide and an increasingly pressing problem. Unfortunately, nearly 28% of adults do not meet global physical activity recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per week.
Although finding time for physical activity can be challenging, there are many other ways you can incorporate physical activity into your day-to-day schedule. Brisk walking, gardening and mowing the lawn are all forms of light exercise which can keep blood flowing to all parts of your body – even 15-minute exercises can make a difference!
2. Social Interaction
Studies have proven that being socially isolated is just as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes daily and decreases longevity more significantly than obesity. Researchers offer various explanations for this finding:
Social ties provide ongoing psychological support (a sense of belonging and caretaking), reduce unpleasant arousal, and instill personal control to reduce risky behaviors (Cohen 2004; Thoits 1995). Furthermore, they create norms which affect health behaviors like perceived social norms regarding alcohol consumption or weight control (Christakis and Fowler 2007; Crosnoe et al 2004).
Although physicians don’t often have time to address lifestyle factors beyond what’s presenting during medical visits, asking about social interaction could be a useful addition to standard care. A simple questionnaire could reveal that additional interactions with your check-out clerk at your grocery store, coworker or old friend could make all the difference in outcomes.
3. Mental Health
Mental health is essential to our emotions, thinking processes, communication needs, learning abilities and resilience. Additionally, mental wellness enhances relationships, self-esteem and is crucial for contributing to family or community life.
Mental illness has the power to disrupt every area of your life, making daily decisions more challenging and leaving an impactful mark on all areas of existence. Finding ways to protect and foster mental wellness – through psychotherapy sessions, social interactions, healthy diet choices, exercise regiments and rest – are crucial steps in maintaining mental wellness and should never be neglected.
Mentally healthy people are capable of dealing with and rebounding from life’s inevitable disappointments, challenges, stressors and trauma more effectively – this ability to thrive despite obstacles is known as resilience.
Mental illnesses may present physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches or fatigue that necessitate seeing a medical professional for evaluation and assessment. If these have become a part of your routine health care regiment recently and you experience them again it would be wise to visit one anyway – early diagnosis could prevent worsening of the condition as well as future recurrences.
4. Emotional Health
Emotional wellbeing is just as essential to overall wellness as physical fitness, involving our ability to fully process both positive and negative emotions in healthy ways while developing fulfilling relationships with others. Emotional well-being also refers to resilience against stress as it helps prevent other serious conditions like heart disease or cancer from emerging.
Emotional health can be determined by many different factors, including work-life balance and toxic relationships; yet even those who appear to have excellent emotional wellbeing could still suffer from mental illnesses or disorders.
Emotional health requires dedication and practice, just like physical health does, but there are multiple strategies for improvement. From exploring your thoughts and emotions, practicing mindfulness or seeking professional guidance from a therapist or coach; to creating regular social connections or practicing self-care such as adequate sleep and nutrition – there are various avenues available to you in order to increase emotional well-being.