When it comes to Aging Well, many people focus on physical health—exercise and diet. But there are other areas of healthy habits that can provide balance in life, with the added benefits of being good for your brain health, mood, and overall quality of life.
“To age well and achieve optimal health, one must balance the six essential dimensions of whole-person wellness,” explains James Edwartoski, executive director of Splendido, an all-inclusive community in Oro Valley for those 55 and better. “We are all capable of leading a life that is meaningful—and that doesn’t look the same from person to person. Our job at Splendido is to help people enhance their lifestyle to move toward this state of optimal health using resources that honor each person as the unique individual they are.”
In other words, there are no rules about following the six dimensions. Below is an explanation of each, along with some suggestions on how to achieve wellness within each dimension.
Emotional wellness: The goal is to be aware of, and comfortable with, your emotions and thoughts. That comfort translates to high self-esteem and a positive attitude. You should be able to recognize your emotions and share them with others in a constructive way.
Ways to practice emotional wellness include journaling to express your feelings; coping with stress through meditation, sports, or talking with friends; and making regular time for contemplation.
Intellectual wellness: The goal is to continually challenge your intellect—working your brain through learning or practicing a different way of thinking. Ideally, this will include interacting with others, either in a class or in a conversation.
Ways to practice intellectual wellness include learning a new language or skill such as digital photography; or trying your hand at new and challenging puzzles or books.
Physical wellness: This is an easy one: physical wellness includes regular exercise, good nutrition, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol.
Ways to practice physical wellness include a brisk daily walk or yoga session; creating a diet plan to ensure you’re eating well; and getting regular medical check-ups.
Spiritual wellness: Spiritual wellness refers to having a sense of purpose, finding meaning in life events, and living a life that reflects your beliefs and values. It may be found through religious faith or by finding your own inner peace.
Ways to practice spiritual wellness include meditating or practicing yoga regularly; finding ways to incorporate universal values into daily life; and keeping a journal, which may help you make sense of what is happening in your life.
Vocational wellness: This may refer to your career, but also applies to occupational interests. You can achieve vocational wellness through meaningful activities by setting goals for your own enrichment.
Ways to practice vocational wellness include volunteering your expertise and time to one or more causes; and sharing your experience and knowledge through teaching, mentoring, or writing a book or a blog.
Social wellness: Interacting with others is vital to our health; enjoying a variety of one-on-one, small group, and larger group interactions results in social wellness. Interacting online, such as through social media, has been shown to offer the same benefits.
Ways to practice social wellness include widening your circle by joining a book club or bridge group; setting regular dates to get together with friends and family, such as a monthly dinner or movie date; and reconnecting with old friends online.
Take inventory of your current wellness. Which dimensions could use some regular attention? Are there ways you can address these that interest you? For instance, joining (or starting) a walking club could cover three or more of these dimensions.
Once you have some ideas, set goals and write them down to help strengthen your commitment. “A wellness plan that targets your interests, passions, and needs is so much easier to stick to than a random workout schedule or diet,” says James. “It also provides a great way to explore activities you may have always wanted to try.”