Guest Post by Gabrielle McGill Carpenter
Gabrielle McGill Carpenter completed a Post-Master’s Counseling Licensure Certificate in December 2020 and will be completing an internship April 2021 in pursuit of a Licensed Professional Counselor Certification.
The term “wellness” is used quite a bit lately as we are living through an unprecedented time in our lives with “if it is not one thing, it’s another.” Pfizer defines wellness as “the act of practicing healthy habits daily to attain better physical and mental health outcomes, so that instead of just surviving, you’re thriving.”
To understand the significance of wellness, it’s important to know its relationship to your health. Health is a state of being, and wellness is the state of living a healthy lifestyle. Health refers to physical, mental, and social well-being; wellness aims to enhance well-being.
I don’t think that any of us will soon forget the year 2020. For me, the year started with unexpectedly losing my healthy 89-year-old mother. And as of this writing, I know at least ten people who have lost their lives to COVID-19. The majority of them are from my hometown of Flint, Michigan.
The civil unrest, racial tension, compromised education, lack of accountability from the country’s leadership – and simply the dismissal and lack of acknowledgment that all lives matter, even brown and black ones – has been taxing on the mind, body, soul and spirit.
It is stressful. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in the moments and the movements, we can very well find ourselves unable to process the healthy thoughts and behaviors that keep us balanced and in alignment.
I keep a copy of 8 Dimensions of Wellness nearby to gauge whether I am living my truth or merely living. These dimensions encompass the areas of emotional, social, occupational, financial, spiritual, intellectual, physical, and environmental.
At any given point in our lives, we can be thriving in one, two or a few areas, and at other times, not quite meeting the mark. The goal here is not perfection, but balance. A holistic approach is necessary to be healthy. And what is great about it is that it is personal to each individual.
As women, it is easy to find ourselves comparing our lives to other women, especially when so many phenomenal women surround us. But if we think about how we are really doing, our responses would probably fall into these highlighted areas:
EMOTIONAL. Ask yourself if you are effectively coping with current life circumstances? What does that look like? Do you have satisfying relationships in your life? If not, what do you need to do to create them?
- Smile even when you don’t feel like it.
- Try to stay positive; things usually get better.
- Reflect gratitude.
- Be kind and pay it forward.
- Live in the moment (be present).
- Accept mistakes and grow from them and accept help and support from others when needed.
- Seek counseling.
SOCIAL. Do you have a well-developed and supportive network where you feel connected and belong?
- Reach out and connect with friends or loved ones.
- Take 10 minutes to call someone you’ve been thinking of but have not spoken to in a while. This is a great way to connect and catch up with the people who matter most to you.
OCCUPATIONAL. Do you derive enjoyment and personal satisfaction from the work that you do? If not, how can you change it?
- Do work that is motivating and interesting.
- Learn to balance work with leisure time.
- Update your skillset by taking advantage of personal/professional development opportunities. Pursue your passions.
FINANCIAL. Are you satisfied with the current and future state of your financial situation? If not, what are you doing about it?
- Don’t procrastinate; identify and address financial concerns. Seek professional guidance if that helps.
- Keep organized records of your finances (this is a great facilitator for tax season)
- Plan ahead and set budget goals; take advantage of discounts.
SPIRITUAL. Do you have quiet time set aside to meditate, pray, plan, reflect on your purpose and the meaning of your life?
- Pray or participate in organized religion.
- Practice meditation or yoga.
- Create positive self-affirmations.
- Build self-awareness through journaling.
- Listen to uplifting music.
- Spend time serving your community.
INTELLECTUAL. Have you acknowledged and recognized your ability to create and expand your knowledge and skills?
- Read for fun
- Take a class (lots are online!)
- Learn a foreign language
- Play games, sudoku or crossword puzzles
PHYSICAL. Are you intentional about the need for physical activity, diet, sleep, hydration and nutrition?
- Incorporating even 20-30 minutes of daily exercise can positively impact your outlook, overall sense of well-being, and help improve your mood.
- Try and set aside some time to take a brisk walk and choose stairs over elevators when possible.
ENVIRONMENTAL. Have you created a space that is inviting, pleasant and stimulating to your well-being? Do you purposely expose yourself to similar areas that you have not made?
- Remove clutter from your home or office.
- Work to improve your community.
- Be kind, respectful, inclusive and supportive of others.
Remember that every aspect of wellness can affect your life. Cheers to you on your journey to wellness through the pandemic and afterward! It is an excellent goal for the new year.
Gabrielle Carpenter is a Counselor Intern with Dr. Joanne Frederick, JFL & Associates Counseling Services, LLC. Dr. Frederick specializes in anxiety and depression, and telehealth options are available through Zoom, Doxy.me, and by phone. Contact 202-296-2925 to schedule a session, or click here for more information.
8 Dimensions of Wellness, is a publication of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For a copy of SAMHSA’s Creating a Healthier Life: A Step by Step Guide to Wellness, click here.