The Eight Types of Wellness
I am an educator by day. Something wonderful that my school principal does is send our staff helpful literature each week. This encourages us to think outside the box with ourselves as well as with teaching and forming positive, healthy relationships with our students. I always look forward to receiving this literature, and this week’s did not disappoint.
Those of us who have done research on macular degeneration know that there are many things we can do to help keep our bodies, minds, and eyes ‘well.’ We are keenly aware of physical wellness and emotional wellness struggling with this difficult diagnosis, but these are just a few ways for us to be ‘well.’ There is so much more going on than we realize.
Writing this article, I’m feeling kind of down on myself. I’m very much stressed and anxious about things that are completely out of my control. This is a huge flaw of mine that I struggle to overcome. I have A LOT going on right now, we all do. Reading the literature my principal sent to us this week gave me hope and clarity. Maybe I’m looking at things all wrong.
8 dimensions of wellness
Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation describes eight dimensions, or types, of wellness (not in any particular order):
It’s important to understand that there are so many different ways to define being healthy or ‘well.’ Personally, I have only been focusing on the areas in life that I’m struggling with. Instead, maybe I should be looking at the bigger picture. Focusing on my ‘wellness weaknesses’ has been facilitating an overall feeling of being miserable. This new (to me) information really helps me to know that in many of the dimensions of wellness, I’m doing okay and should keep my head up!
I think, if I start spending more time focusing on the positive...my life will BE more positive.
Things aren’t always as bad as they seem
We've all heard this saying before. I don't know about you, but sometimes hearing it causes an unintentional grumble under my breath. Please don't grumble at me, hear me out. Life can feel really bad at times. Really bad. And, when it does, it's difficult to understand this saying with clarity. But maybe, just maybe, learning about the eight dimensions of wellness can help with this clarity.
Let’s chat about each dimension, shall we? After each dimension is listed, I’ll provide the definition given by Boston University.
Emotional wellness:Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
Many of us living with macular degeneration are struggling with emotional wellness. How could we not? It isn’t always easy to cope with life when you’re worried about all the ways vision loss can affect you.
How can we work on emotional wellness?
Creating satisfying relationships can really help combat this struggle. Without them, it’s hard to feel well emotionally. It’s important to remember that some relationships can, unfortunately, take away from our emotional wellness. Difficult marriages, sibling rivalries, toxic relationships with parents, a loss of a special relationship with loved-ones (and many more) can all make it hard to cope effectively with life.
Quick tip: It is okay to set healthy boundaries with relationships that feel difficult. This is one way to help emotional wellness.
Financial wellness:Satisfaction with current and future financial situations
Macular degeneration can certainly be a financial burden. Health insurance, doctor and specialist visits, transportation, supplements, healthy food, glasses, contacts, and other visual aids can really take its financial toll. Many of us with macular degeneration are retired or unable to work the same career as we did before vision loss. This can certainly feel heavy and worrisome. It's important to recognize this because it affects so many of us.
Social wellness:Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
Isn’t that part of why we’re all members of this amazing MacularDegeneration.net community? This is the best place for support and knowledge through relationships with those who understand. We are so glad you’re here because here, you’re never alone!
Spiritual wellness:Expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life
Though religion and church come to mind for many of us when hearing the words ‘spiritual wellness,’ this isn’t always what it means. Spiritual wellness means having a general sense of who you are and what you do to give purpose and meaning in life. Going to church is one way to accomplish this type of wellness for some of us. Spiritual wellness requires a combination of mental and physical evaluation of our personal values and beliefs.
How else can we find spiritual wellness?
Other ways to seek spiritual wellness are through spending time in nature, exercising, reading motivational (self-help) literature, yoga, travel, positive thinking, and meditation. Spiritual wellness asks, "Who are you in your core?" and "What can you do to help feel calm and at peace?"
Occupational wellness:Personal satisfaction and enrichment derived from one’s work
Occupational wellness is very different from financial wellness, though in some ways they can be connected. This type of wellness centers mostly on the way you feel while working. Do you enjoy your days at work or are you robotically moving throughout your days waiting for the next paycheck? Do you have a sense of belonging and success at work, or are you stressed and uncomfortable? Are you learning new things or just doing the same things day in and day out?
What if you don't feel satisfaction from work?
If you struggle to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride at work, you may be adding a lot of unnecessary stress to your life. There is no easy solution to this except finding work that is more satisfying. We spend a lot of time at work, I hope we are able to do what we feel passionate about so we can both make a difference, feel successful, and have occupational wellness.
Physical wellness:Recognizing the need for physical activity, diet, sleep, and nutrition
We talk a lot about physical wellness here at MacularDegeneration.net. It’s certainly my passion (along with emotional health)! We know that living a healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising is important to our overall health and to the health of our eyes. Sleep is also very important, but one I have yet to conquer!
Intellectual wellness:Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
Learning new things and being creative is so important! One way to reach intellectual wellness with macular degeneration is to research and ask questions! I’ve always said that knowledge has been my superpower with this diagnosis.
With macular degeneration, we sometimes have to change the way we do things. But I encourage you to continue to do the things you love! If it’s necessary to stop doing something because of vision loss, then please don’t give up...there are SO many things out there to explore and enjoy.
Environmental wellness:Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being
Where we choose to spend our time matters. Our homes, workplace, and even doctor’s offices can immediately change how we feel. Homes and desks at our place of employment are a comfort for a reason. We organize them and decorate them in ways that stimulate a sense of calmness and peace.
I’ve always wondered why so many doctor’s offices are so blah and outdated. Honestly, I think more doctor’s offices should spend a little more money on updating their waiting rooms so their patients can feel a sense of well-being before their appointments. I know I would feel more at ease going into worrisome appointments like my retina specialist’s office or even the dentist (Eek! Not a fan) if the environment was homier.
We cannot eliminate stress completely
It’s important to remember that it’s not always possible for us to completely eliminate stress from our lives. And, our overall wellness can change over time. Sometimes we may be rocking our physical health, but struggling to achieve emotional wellness. As life changes, our stressors and needs change.
Know that we can still be ‘well’ even with stressors present. More importantly, we are not machines. It is very unlikely that we, as individuals, can have total wellness in all of these areas at once.
Go with the flow and keep your head up!
Do you rely on food and nutrition to slow down the progression of MD?