Whether we have been conditioned to consider treating illness rather than wellness, there has only been a fairly recent shift in our consideration of preventative measures towards our mental health. When we take a look at our healthcare system and consider the amount of money and resources put into treating physical and mental illness, it makes one consider the other side to that. What would it be like if systems were put in place to treat Wellness, or sustainable preventive practices that help one maintain wellbeing? We may not have the time or patience to wait for our healthcare system to evolve and adjust to more sustainable practices, it might be up to us to shift our thinking about our health and wellbeing. In a world where so much is out of our control, this is certainly an area where we can take our health and wellbeing into our own hands and start making behavioral shifts towards sustained wellness, all with the hope of preventing illness.
When we are already in the depths of an illness, whether this is a physical disease or or in the deaths of depression, the treatment is rarely easy and might take a considerable amount of resources to fix. When the money, emotional endurance, and other resources are depleted, perhaps we can consider small steps to create mental wellness for ourselves?
Consider creating a routine, perhaps a morning routine—what could this look like? Using a pleasant tone for our morning alarm to start the day, implementing some sort of exercise regime— perhaps a walk, incorporating a mindfulness meditation, or having a healthy breakfast routine. These are only a few options, and what might work for one person may not work for another, this is where you decide what works for you!
Food can absolutely be treated as an essential part of a wellness practice as well as sustained health. Research has linked certain foods, largely processed foods, to increased inflammation, obesity, and a number of other chronic conditions, including depression and cognitive impairment. When we can view food as medicine, we can begin to employ health conscious and sustainable practices daily. Incorporating lean proteins, fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats into each meal is a one step towards wellness. Food is only one part of the dimension of physical wellness. Prioritizing physical activity, as well as sleep, helps maintain balance in this area.
Relationships are a critical part of a wellness practice. Consider how you feel after spending time with a friend. Do you feel drained, sad, or even empty? On the other side of this, are you left feeling emotionally fulfilled, supported, loved? It is absolutely critical to consider our social and emotional wellbeing as a vital aspect to our wellness. Who we surround ourselves with and our ability to implement boundaries when necessary is a way to achieve and maintain healthy self-esteem and self love.
And lastly, we can look at our occupational choices as an area of wellness, as this is an area where we spend a significant amount of our time. Do you find that you derive a sense of satisfaction or fulfillment from your work? It is vital to consider the amount of stress that we might be experiencing from work, and if there isn’t the freedom or luxury to change jobs or careers, how can you compensate for that stress in other areas? Perhaps you can look for ways to discharge this stress in healthy ways, focusing on hobbies, relationships, being mindful of who you surround yourself with and what you are doing with your time. The goal in creating a plan of wellness is to create sustainability and balance. When we make small daily choices and changes towards wellness, these add up to create lasting change, and most importantly helps develop a protective factor against mental and physical illness.