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2022 is wrapping up, which means people are starting to reflect on the past year and focus on ways to improve their lifestyle for the New Year ahead. Whether it’s reading more books, spending more intentional time with your loved ones, or checking some things off your bucket list — don’t forget to set goals for your overall health and wellbeing.  

Taking care of your health is one of the most essential components of living your best life. In fact, it may be the most important component. It’s what keeps you moving, what keeps you happy, what keeps you…living. People often think about their wellbeing only in terms of being physically healthy, but there are so many dimensions of your health — physical, mental/emotional, spiritual, social, intellectual, and more. It’s important to focus on all dimensions when wanting to improve your overall health because they all work collectively to create total balance.  

Think of it this way: you’re working long hours at work and are under a lot of stress. This stress creates an emotional imbalance which then affects your intellectual health — you can’t think straight or focus properly. The stress starts to chemically affect your brain, and then you notice it’s taking a toll on your physical body too. Maybe you’re starting to gain or lose weight and are lacking energy. You’re running on fumes because you’re not getting much sleep, which affects your immune system, and you start to feel ill. You’re fed up and you lash out at your loved ones or you’re being overly critical. Well, now your social and spiritual wellbeing are both affected.  

Whatever it is that causes you stress, the point is that all the different dimensions of your health depend on each other and are affected by one another. When one is out of sync, the other aspects start to be impacted — like a ripple effect. Focusing on each of these dimensions of your health is when you truly improve your overall wellbeing and quality of life. Though one aspect of your health may need more care at times than others, neglecting all others or even one dimension for any length of time will have a negative impact on your overall wellbeing.  

5 dimensions of health to unlock your healthiest self and do amazing things in 2023and beyond: 

Intellectual Health:

Just like your body needs exercise to be stronger, so does your mind. Intellectual health refers to improving on and learning new skills, being open to new ideas and experiences, and the desire to challenge yourself cognitively. Learning shouldn’t stop after academic education ends — it should be continued throughout the rest of your life. To stay intellectually healthy, it’s important to use the resources available to you to grow your understanding, stay up to date on current events, and participate in activities that encourage creativity and keep you inspired. These things could include reading, taking a new course, learning a foreign language or musical instrument, or painting. Staying intellectually healthy has a positive impact on your mental wellbeing and allows you to discover your potential by sharing your talents with others and grow in unimaginable ways. 

Mental/Emotional Health:

While your mental and emotional wellbeing are two different aspects of your health, they are very intertwined. Your mental health is how well your brain is functioning. If left untreated, it can lead to certain health issues caused by a chemical imbalance, whether genetic or circumstantial. These imbalances can lead to anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimers, dementia, and much more. Your emotional health, however, is about identifying how you feel and the ability to express and manage those emotions like happiness, anger, and sadness. Your emotional wellbeing is comprised of optimism, self-esteem, self-acceptance, empathy for others, and the ability to share feelings. The key difference between the two is that you can struggle with your emotional health while still maintaining a healthy mental state or vice versa. 

Spiritual Health:

Spiritual health is often associated with being religious but the two are not equal (though they are often connected for many). In fact, one can be religious but not be spiritually healthy, or vice versa. Being spiritually healthy refers to having meaning and purpose in life and having a set of beliefs and values that guide you. In other terms, it’s understanding and defining what’s important to you, what you believe to be right and wrong and living out those beliefs. It’s appreciating things that cannot be explained and seeking harmony between what you feel to be true and the things you have yet to or may never understand. It’s finding opportunities in the midst of obstacles and challenges. To be spiritually healthy, it’s essential to spend time self-reflecting on a regular basis. This could be through having alone time to meditate or journal, being fully present with your loved ones and less distracted, spending time in nature, or volunteering. One could say that your spiritual health may be the foundation to all other dimensions of your health. 

Social Health:

Social health refers to the ability to build and maintain important relationships with others. It refers to how you deal with social conflict and having a positive support system. Having a healthy social wellbeing helps support your mental and physical health, it also creates connectedness and a sense of belonging. However, the quality of those relationships can either be influential or detrimental. Quality relationships can be measured by their duration, the ability to set healthy boundaries and have them be respected, and the value they bring to your life. The more connected you are to others, the more you feel like you belong. And the more you belong, the more purpose is added to your life. Simply put, the healthier your relationships, the more you flourish. Unhealthy relationships, however, can often lead a person to feel isolated, insecure, and lacking purpose. Not only can this lead to poor social skills, it can also lead to severe depression and anxiety. Some ways to improve your social health can be practicing self-care, getting involved in your community, expressing gratitude, and surrounding yourself with kind people.  

Physical Health:

The biggest misconception about health is that your physical wellbeing encompasses your overall health. However, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Physical health refers to the condition of your physical body and how well it’s functioning. It often refers to the more typical awareness of health such as proper nutrition, sufficient exercise, preventing illness, and avoiding deadly habits like smoking and drug use. While practicing healthy habits (such as those) can add years to your life, it’s also vital to learn about identifying symptoms of disease, protecting yourself from injury, and getting regular medical checkups like an annual physical. In fact, one of the easiest steps to improving your physical wellbeing starts with a physical exam because you can use it as a baseline to improve your overall health. When you are physically healthy, you have more energy and drive to focus on other aspects of your health, like emotional and social. Some additional ways to improve your physical health can be getting adequate sleep, exercising for 30 minutes every day, eating proper portions, and practicing good hygiene.  

 

Now that you have gotten through all of that, first, give yourself a pat on the back, then remember this — perfection is unattainable. You will not be perfect in all dimensions of your health or even in one. In fact, you will have to continually put in effort in order to improve these aspects of your health because they will change as your life ebbs and flows. All that matters is your consistency in actively working on all of them to create total balance and experience a greater quality of life.  

So, what if the best version of you is waiting on the other side of improving all aspects of your health, not just one? When you choose to improve all dimensions of your health is when you unlock your full potential to do amazing things. Because healthy people can do amazing things. Cheers to 2023! 

 

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