By Vanessa I. Farrell, MPH, MCHES, Certified Health Coach
Many of us are under the impression that wellness and balance in our lives are elusive! As soon as we gain some level of control in one area, another seems to protest.
Most of us are on a perpetual mission to achieve some level of wellness and balance in our busy lives, me included. Being physically active, eating the right foods and having a life outside of the work day are all important, but there’s more to it than just those three categories.
There are basically eight dimensions of wellness that must be in play in order to achieve balance in one’s life. These dimensions as noted in the Holistic Business Association graphic below: Physical, Intellectual, Social, Spiritual, Occupational, Financial, Emotional, and Environmental dimensions.
These eight dimensions are inextricably linked, so it’s important to note that if one area is out of balance or totally ignored, it invariably affects other areas. However, achieving optimal wellness in all of eight areas at once is not realistic.
Because life happens, and our attention and energies are pulled in various directions on an ongoing basis, you may find yourself investing more time in one dimension at a greater level than another. For instance, during the summer months you may find yourself investing more time in the physical; since the weather is nicer and more conducive to being active; the social as it’s a time where most people take family vacations and the environmental dimension as this is a time that most people spend time in nature. Whereas, during the holidays, folks may find themselves with more energy focused on the emotional, financial and spiritual dimensions. The key is not to be fully depleted in anyone area or overextend in other - but trying to keep a balance in these areas.
In my personal life, I have struggled at times to find that right balance within these dimensions. This is even more compounded because I work remotely from my home office on a full time basis. With remote employment, it’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of work – where the edges of my occupational, social, and emotional wellness gets blurred and before you know it, going to the gym and meeting up with friends are on hiatus.
For this not to become a way of life for me, I must be intentional and my efforts to achieve wellness and balance in my life. I do this by getting to the gym before my work day begins or making lunch and/or dinner dates with friends at least once a week as well as dedicating one weekend to connect with family. Additionally, I’ve swapped out a few of my sitting meetings to be walking meetings – that way I get a break from being in front of the computer while getting my steps in. I have also found that if I plan my meals ahead of time by carving out a few hours on the weekend to meal prep, I am guaranteed a smooth week of healthy eating, which in turn serves is a boon to other dimensions of my wellness such physical, emotional, financial and otherwise. Maintaining these activities as a way of life takes a high level of discipline and intentionality, which is not always easy to accomplish.
Overall, I believe that these dimensions serve as good guidepost to achieving wellness and balance, but because there’s no recipe that dictates the exact proportions needed in each area; we need to find what works best for us and honor that. We also should refrain from comparing our wellness reality to the imaginary ones of others; we should just be intentional about striving to achieve our own balance knowing that the act of striving in of itself is getting you one step closer to living a balanced life.