What does it mean to you to be well? Most people I’ve conversed with about wellness said it is the absence of illness. Wondering if you agree…
Being free of illness or disease is about the physical, which is just one aspect of total health. Ignoring or minimizing the other aspects of health—mental, emotional, spiritual—severely comprises your wholeness and your wellness.
Focusing on any one at the exclusion or minimization of the others
can cause you to be unwell.
Interdependent Elements of Health
Each human being, including you, is a unique and dynamic creature comprised of all of these elements. Focusing on any one at the exclusion or minimization of the others can cause you to be unwell. Physical illness, anxiety and/or depression, being dramatic or chaotic, and disconnection from self, loved ones, community, or Creator are examples of how being unwell presents.
Thus wellness for me, because my life’s work is about total health, is the balance between the interdependent aspects of health—the physical, the mental, the emotional, and the spiritual. When one aspect is below par, then one or more of the other ones step up to compensate, to maintain the delicate balance needed to function optimally and to experience joy.
For example, I have food allergies and digestive issues. So when my colon gets overwhelmed, my energy is so concentrated in my lower abdomen that my ability to focus and move physically are significantly hampered. Once during a tennis practice match, my abdomen felt so weighted that my reactions to the ball were super slow and it felt like I was running in heavy platform shoes. It did not go well. Yet, my deep resonating enthusiasm for tennis enabled me to smile and laugh and be present still.
Wellness is about your wholeness and the equilibrium between mind, body, and spirit. Your wholeness is represented by the 5 pillars of health, which are interdependent. Health in any one pillar positively impacts health in the others. The pillars of health are not sequential, so you can work on each in whatever order you decide is best for you and your path to wellness.
5 Pillars of Health
Below is a brief overview of each pillar. You can read more about total health and wellness in Living in Total Health, the 2021 Indie Book Award Winner for Health & Wellness and Finalist in the Mind, Body, Spirit category.
Your physical health is reflected by how you relate to the earth, to the elements, to biology, and the other pillars of health. These components of the physical involve nourishing your body, engaging in activities, getting adequate sleep, and getting regular physicals and labs to know what’s happening on the inside of your body. Please note that physical health is far more than just diet and exercise.
Sedentary and fast paced lifestyles and poor nutrition and inadequate sleep can negatively impact the other pillars. Such effects include diminished immune functioning, difficulty focusing, being easily irritated, feeling on-edge, relationship issues, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
According to the CDC, the most common mental health issues among American adults are depression and anxiety. That’s right, most people experience them more so than the severe mental illnesses shown on the news. Life and intrapersonal stressors coupled with inadequate coping skills can lead to anxiousness and depressed mood. And by the way, depression and anxiety contribute to or trigger health conditions like high blood pressure and weaken your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to viruses and other pathogens.
Seeking help from professional mental health providers, your medical doctor, or your primary healthcare provider can help you learn how to cope better with stress, grief, trauma, and other matters that hinder you from achieving your best mental health.
Emotion regulation is critical to total health. Managing life’s emotional ups and downs in a way that enables you to maintain a healthy balance and learn from the experience that triggered the emotions is emotional wellness. It may seem that the easiest thing to do is to wait for the ‘negative feelings’ to pass or to ignore them. However, ignoring your emotions, allowing them to fester, or lashing out at others does not enhance your emotional health. Either one of those actions, in fact, makes things worse–the situation that triggered your reaction remains unresolved and problematic.
The goal is to manage and control your emotions, to regulate them. Allowing them to control you damages the other pillars—sleep and appetite disturbance, unstable relationships, excessive worry, loneliness, disconnection from your Personal Truth.
How well connected you are to your Personal Truth, to your family, to your community, and to your Creator defines your spiritual health. Living mindfully in the present moment enables your intuition, your innate Knowing, to guide you to profound understandings and to the best choices available to you at any given moment. This deepens your experience of joy and your relationship to self and others.
The absence of joy and authentic love will most certainly lead to depression, anxiety, illness, anger, and/or aggressiveness which negatively impact the physical, mental, and emotional pillars of health.
Healthy boundaries are the foundation of health and happiness. Without them, achieving health in the other 4 pillars is improbable. You see, boundaries are your innate alarm system designed to protect you from harmful forces and boundaries are necessary for you to properly develop into your own unique self. You will not receive warning signals from your intuition when you’re in danger and you will be enmeshed with others if your boundaries are unhealthy.
Every aspect of health is heavily influenced by boundaries. They protect the integrity of your person by alerting you when physical/mental/emotional/spiritual danger is near, when your agreements are broken, when your expectations are unrealistic, when you lose yourself in another person, and when you are not living your Personal Truth.
3 Wellness Resources
1. Read Living in Total Health, Reconnecting with Your Wellth, 2021 Indie Book Award Winner for Health & Wellness and Finalist in the Mind, Body, Spirit category It’s available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook on glenalex.com.
2. Tune in to The Glen Alex Show, broadcast live on the Bold Brave TV Network on Thursdays @ 1:00 PM PST / 4:00 PM EST. Catch the replays on glenalex.com.
3. Read Glen’s health blogs on glenalex.com. All elements of health are covered.
Wellness is the compete integration of body, mind, and spirit – the realization that everything we do, think, feel, and believe has an effect on our state of well-being.
As you can see, wellness is not the absence of illness or challenges. Wellness is the balance between your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual selves that enables you to meet life challenges while you experience life with joy and enthusiasm.
Focusing on one aspect of self at the exclusion of the others leaves room for
dis-ease…physical illness, depression, anxiety, loss of self, or existential angst. So spare yourself these unnecessary struggles and choose to nurture your total health. Life will present enough challenges to you. Accept your wholeness and strive to integrate all of who are to be well.