How Can We Stay Well at a Time Like This? Addressing the 8 Dimensions of Wellness - Week 3



The 8 Dimensions of Wellness


Two weeks ago, we started our series on the 8 dimensions of wellness. As a quick review, the 8 dimensions of wellness are (in no order) social, emotional, financial, occupational, spiritual, intellectual, physical, and environmental dimensions (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2016). Some of the aspects of the 8 dimensions include:

  • Social: community, friendships, socialization

  • Emotional: feelings/emotions, exercising self-care, reducing stress

  • Financial: work, financial health (checking/savings accounts; retirement), debt

  • Occupational: work-life balance, work relationships, vocational accomplishments

  • Spiritual: beliefs, practices (meditation, prayer)

  • Intellectual: education, personal interests, intellectual conversation

  • Physical: a healthy body (nutrition, physical activity, sleep, routine health maintenance)

  • Environmental: home/work environment, changing scenery, caring for our earth

We went over the occupational and financial dimensions last week. This week, we’re looking at the spiritual and intellectual dimensions.


Spiritual domain


Spiritual wellness represents our personal beliefs and values. Spiritual wellness involved finding:

  • Balance

  • Meaning

  • Peace

  • Purpose


Part of the journey to spiritual wellness involves developing an appreciate for life and the forces of nature and developing a sense of meaning and purpose in our existence. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2016)

Addressing our spiritual well-being is often a life-long process. Achieving spiritual wellness involves evaluating the principles, beliefs, and values that are of importance to us and using those to bring meaning to our lives. As we age, our values and beliefs often change. These changes in our values provide us opportunities to grow and change spiritually, as well.

Part of our spiritual growth may include learning about other religions, cultures, and belief systems. Gaining a better understanding of another’s spiritual practices opens up our own minds and helps strengthen our relationships with others.


The spiritual domain also incorporates our spiritual practices. There are many ways we can practice spiritual wellness. Some of the obvious examples include prayer, meditation, or fasting. However, we can also look at acts or service as spiritual practices. For example, volunteering for an organization that aligns with your values can also be a spiritual practice. Many people will share the spiritual rewards they’ve received volunteering in a food pantry or serving on a lunch line in a homeless shelter. Helping those less fortunate than us can have a significant impact on our mental health. Research shows that volunteering leads to benefits in many areas of our lives, especially for those more advanced in age, including (Thoreson, 2021):

  • Better physical health

  • Lower rates of depression and anxiety

  • Reducing stress

  • A sense of purpose

  • Increased self-esteem

  • Increased social interaction

  • Development of a support system

  • Providing opportunities to practice social skills


Intellectual domain


Wellness in the intellectual domain means we work to keep our minds active and expand our intellect. This includes activities like:

  • Playing crossword puzzles or work games

  • Taking a computer class at your local library

  • Keeping up on current events

  • Engaging in stimulating conversation with a friend

  • Learning a new language or skill

  • Reading about or visiting a new place

  • Taking or teaching a class or workshop

  • Learning to play an instrument

Achieving intellectual wellness means, in part, that we engage in activities that offer different perspectives on issues and take the impact of those perspectives on our lives into consideration. Intellectual wellness takes a concerted effort on our part. Engaging in a stimulating conversation with someone to grow our intellectual well-being means we are willing to expand our mind to hear contrasting points of view. Learning and practicing a new language or visiting a new place offers the opportunity to step into the shoes of someone with whom we have a different cultural perspective. Keeping up on current events permits us to learn about different parts of the world and understand the struggles and victories others in these areas face daily. This development of critical thinking skills is a valuable component of overall intellectual wellness.

Intellectual well-being also includes artistic endeavors. Skills like learning to play an instrument or taking a workshop on painting are great ways to grow your intellectual wellness. Learning how to create new sounds through music is a great way to explore and express our own emotions in a new and exciting way. Creating a painting helps create a visual display of our thoughts or feelings. In addition to our intellectual well-being, creating art enhances our overall mental health. Art helps reduce stress, enhance overall sense of well-being, and improve cognitive abilities (Stuckey & Jeremy Nobel, 2010).


As with all the areas we’ve discussed so far, there is no one way to enhance either our spiritual or intellectual domains. For this week, take steps toward opening your mind to something new, either intellectually or spiritually. Try picking up a new hobby, reading a book about a different culture, or taking a class at the local library. Please join me next week to close out our series on the 8 domains of wellness. We will close out the series by addressing the physical and environmental domains of wellness.


As a final thought, if you are struggling to cope and need professional help, please seek it out. If you’re not sure where to go and you’re in the United States, SAMHSA has a hotline you can call to find services in your area:

SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

TTY: 1-800-487-4889

This is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service providing resources and helping connect you to mental health and substance use disorder services (available in English and Spanish). You can also visit the SAMHSA service locator online:

https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/


As always, if you’re in crisis, call 911 or visit your local emergency room for a mental health screening. Other resources for mental health support are available, as well:

~ 24/7 Crisis Hotline: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network - call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) (Veterans, press 1) or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

~ Crisis Text Line - Text TALK to 741-741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7

~ Veterans Crisis Line - Send a text to 838255

~ The Trevor Project (LGBTQ youth focused) - 1-866-488-7386

~ SAGE National LGBTQ+ Elder Hotline - 877-360-LGBTQ+ (5428)

~ RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

~ National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline - 1-866-331-9474


Be well and take care of your mental health because mental health matters!


References:
Stuckey, H. L., & Jeremy Nobel. (2010, February). The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 254-263. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.156497
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Creating a Healthier Life: A Step-by-Step Guide to Wellness. Retrieved from SAMHSA.gov: https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma16-4958.pdf
Thoreson, A. (2021, September 16). Helping people, changing lives: 3 health benefits of volunteering. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic Health System: https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/3-health-benefits-of-volunteering#:~:text=Research%20has%20found%20that%20volunteering,for%20people%2065%20and%20older.
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