One of our core beliefs at BHWP is that balance is needed across what we call ‘the eight dimensions of wellness’ in order to thrive to one’s fullest potential. We encourage individuals to evaluate their wellness using these eight categories as guidelines, and to consider whether or not some of these dimensions could use more attention. One dimension is no more important than another, so in alphabetical order the eight dimensions of wellness are: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual. Moreover, wellness across these dimensions has a highly-personalized definition, with different people having different needs and priorities. Yet mindfulness around this construct can help people to maximize their own personal well-being, regardless of what their definition of wellness entails.
So, what happens when a global pandemic strikes and much of our control over the ongoing pursuit of wellness is lost? At present, our ability to pursue traditional approaches to improving our wellness is greatly limited. Social wellness is challenging when isolated at home. Likewise, how does one pursue occupational wellness—not to mention financial wellness—if their employer is closed? Physical wellness can be hard to achieve without access to fitness equipment. This list could go on. However, it’s worth remembering that in our ‘normal’ pre- and post-pandemic lives, these challenges never disappear, they simply transform. In fact, achieving wellness is some of these dimensions will be harder when circumstances normalize.
Therefore, I believe that the answer involves focusing on what one can control. This thought is not new, and it is frequently voiced as a practical approach in many settings, let alone during times of crisis or intense stress, but it is worth considering anew in light of our current situation. If you have extra time on your hands due to cancelled activities, this could be a great opportunity to focus on an intellectual pursuit you have put off. Perhaps there is a new spiritual practice you’ve been considering, or maybe now is a good time to do some financial research or assessment. To provide my own personal example, I’ve attempted to compensate for some of the casualties associated with physical and social wellness by addressing them as best I can, but also by focusing on other dimensions. Completing overdue home projects has helped to advance my sense of environmental wellness. Extra time for reading and creative writing has fueled my intellectual wellness. In short, there’s always something within our control and worthy of our focus.
With all that said, I encourage you to keep moving forward in proactively assessing and addressing your wellness. While I have no hard data to support this feeling, it does seem as though the temptation to simply get by during the present crisis is widespread, with self-neglect being a potential side effect. I certainly do not want to trivialize the challenges that so many of us are facing at present, but nevertheless, I believe that it is important to actively maintain our wellness during this time. Be sure to take care of yourself as the coming months unfold and consider mindful utilization of the eight dimensions of wellness as a valuable construct in this pursuit. Keep moving forward!