What does it mean to be well?

December 27, 2023 | Julie Luzarraga

Wellness in 2024

It’s that time of year when everyone starts thinking about “getting healthy.” Most of us consider “healthy” to be the absence of illness or injury. The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” While this definition, often used in integrative healthcare, broadens the scope, I remain unaware of anyone who has achieved complete physical, mental and social well-being.  Therefore, if you are looking to “get healthy” in 2024, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. 

Wellness on the other hand, is an opportunity for us to live well within our current circumstances. It incorporates multiple facets of our lives without expecting perfection while challenging us to look beyond the scale or the diagnosis. 

OIC has adapted author Debbie Stoewen’s 8 dimensions of wellness from her article “Dimensions of wellness: Change your habits, change your life.” From an integrative lens, you are the only person who can define what wellness means to you in each area. Nevertheless,it can help to partner up with an integrative provider to support you on your journey.

8 Dimensions of Wellness

  1. Physical: We are given one unique body. How we fuel and nurture this vessel is important and looks different for everyone.
  2. Intellectual: We never stop learning. Growing ideas and knowledge is motivating and supports overall health and wellness.
  3. Emotional: We cannot experience joy without suffering. How you manage the highs and lows and self-regulate greatly impacts how we experience life and your physical health.
  4. Social: Who do you spend time with? Are your relationships safe and enriching? What does community mean for you?
  5. Spirituality: What gives you meaning, purpose and guides your practices is an important part of wellness. This could be formal religion or a church or it can be meditation, walking in nature or prayer.
  6. Vocational: Work is not only a means to financial goals. Doing things with pride and intention builds resilience. Whether it is your daily job or chores at home, meaningful work can be a path to wellness.
  7. Financial: Managing finances is an important component of wellness. Financial literacy means understanding how money is spent and how to make decisions about your spending and saving.
  8. Environmental: What we eat, our air and everything around us affects our health. Learning the impacts of everyday items on our health and how we can mitigate damage can make a big impact.

Don’t let the 8 areas feel overwhelming. Often, we feel more steady in a few areas and less so in others. Even if all of them feel a bit off, address one area at a time and remember you are working towards something and that practice is what creates wellness. Stoewen writes “wellness necessitates good self-stewardship, for ourselves and for those we care about and who care about us.”

Where to start

  • Get an annual physical with a provider you trust and who provides treatment based on you while providing current health recommendations and guidelines. 
  • Learn. Try a new hobby. Ask someone younger than you to explain how they see something. Read.
  • Invest in a community that is meaningful to you. This could be volunteering, attending church or joining a hobby/sports group.
  • If you are feeling unsafe in a relationship, reach out to a trusted person or consult resources like the Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.
  • If you struggle with regulating your emotions, see a therapist or other mental health provider. Practice yoga or mindfulness to help regulate mood.
  • Don’t neglect the physical body. Stand and move throughout the day. Exercise. Work with a massage therapist
  • Work mindfully. Whether you are taking out the trash or performing intricate calculations, remember that you are part of something bigger and bring your whole self to your work. 

Need more support?

We have a wide range of integrative providers ready to help you find your definition of wellness. From therapists to body workers to primary care providers, we have someone who can meet your needs. Get matched with an OIC Provider today.

Happy New Year!

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