Wellness can take on a different meaning to everyone. Wellness can mean the state of being in good health, an active process of becoming aware of and making choices towards a healthy and fulfilling life, healthy eating, exercise, taking care of one’s mental health, or simply feeling good. You may have a definition of what wellness is for you, but what is the difference between health and wellness?
Health refers simply to a physical body being free from diseases, but wellness is an overall balance of you physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, environmental, and occupational well-being. Wellness is a lifestyle and is not an end to be achieved. Wellness means that you strive for balance throughout your whole life.
How do you achieve balance throughout your whole life? I am going to let doc take the technical side, but in my opinion there are several ways to achieve wellness.
- Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people
- Weeding out things and relationships that do not support you
- Have what you want AND want what you want
- Practice gratitude and kindness
- Care for your body: eat well, sleep well, exercise (one that I personally struggle with)
- Know your values, and live them
- Find activities that give you a sense of purpose and connectedness
All of these allow yourself to find a balance in all forms of emotional, environmental, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual. That is truly how you can achieve wellness in your life, by finding that balance and holding onto it!
Above the bullet points Jess asked me to talk about balance throughout your whole life. There is an unfortunate aspect to balance that I feel is wrong to envision. The balance that I would like to discuss is a dynamic balance. This is not a static balance that I now define as setting two equal weights in a scale nor placing blocks on one another and they stand balanced and poised. This is not a realistic way to envision balance as it pertains to wellness. The dynamic balance looks stable from afar, but when you zoom in to the perceived balanced point there is a constant shifting to and fro that somehow stays poised. Much like looking closely at a top spinning and the toe of a ballet dancer. It is an interplay of balance and counterbalance sifting on a perceptible point that has no visible presence. It is never set but is constantly shifting, never perfect but poised.
We humans cannot have this balance when our day is flooded with constant choices and actions that take all of our attention away from ourselves. A majority of our strategies to succeed in our day to day are to constantly get things done until some point on the clock tells us to now stop and shift to the next set of tasks, never wasting a moment on doing nothing. I would venture to say that we need to do more of nothing, stopping at every precious moment and consider ourselves before we start the next task.
How can we stop at the “precious moments” when there is none to be had? There is no balance with constant action and decision making…think about that. It seems too clear in these words but it is not so clear when we ask ourselves that question quietly to ourselves. “It is simple but not realistic”. “It may work for others but in my case, it will not work”. “ I cannot do this now because I am buried”. These are only some of the realistic reactions that may start to flood your frontal cortex. So now what do you do about it? It is so tough to see elegant truth, and feel it, then to file it away because of life circumstances. What I am about to say does seem unrealistic. So please take a deep breath and let it out slow and ask yourself, is the “doing lifestyle” realistic? If you do not think it is entirely then you can ask yourself the following questions: How did you get here? Why do you need to do this? If you had a choice now, would you whole-heartedly jump in the ride again?
You, my dear friend, did not make any mistakes and you cannot judge and be harsh on yourself. You were born in a time and place that this lifestyle is a form of survival to the fear of failure: not starvation, daily survival, plague, invasion or daily imminent death, just your everyday earthly failure. If you want to use this door to enter the kingdom of wellness, let these questions live with you everyday as you do what needs to be done, knowing that you will have your answer and not some printed answer of a page. While you are in the throes of your multitude of tasks allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, do a little more and notice something more than duties. Pause, ask yourself if it needs to be done, and do you really want to do it. Do it if you must, but at least know how you feel about it. Things will start to happen, then my princes and princesses and non-pronouns you will enter the kingdom of wellness at this gate and the rest is but a dream.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot! Drink water, eat real food, sleep every night unless you are having too much fun, learn jokes, call your mother/father, limit the following till you hate it- Wheat, dairy, soy, corn, sugar-if you live in the US. When you feel great try it again and see how you feel. Do yoga, Chi Qong, Tai Chi, cross fit, run, jump, climb, etc.. you know move baby move!
Yours in health,
Dr. Michael McCall
*This is a collaboration between Dr. Michael McCall and Jessica Carn