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Holistic wellness: The many aspects of being WELL

Brought to you by Lockton Health Risk Solutions

Written by Cortny Garmong, BSN, RN, GBA, Nurse Advocate Manager at Lockton

Being well, feeling well, living well; these all mean different things to different people. What does being well mean to you?

The Institute for Wellness Education states: “Wellness is a state of well-being and is a process that applies to the whole person. Human beings aren’t one dimensional – our lives comprise of many facets.” What this statement is saying is, being well isn’t necessarily based on merely physical wellness; listed below are the many elements that shape wellness in our lives.

  • Physical
  • Nutritional
  • Social
  • Environmental
  • Spiritual
  • Psychological and emotional
  • Behavioral and intellectual
  • Occupational
  • Financial

PHYSICAL: Activity is very important when it comes to overall wellness. Physical activity increases energy, metabolism, attitude, motivation and contributes tremendously to emotional wellbeing. When you are not physically active, your energy decreases, (odd, thinking we can sit all day and feel more tired than we would if we were up and active) your metabolism slows to a crawl, your attitude and motivation also spiral further and further down. This creates a vicious cycle of, “I sit all day and am too tired to do anything after work, so I sit some more, then I go to bed and sleep terrible because I haven’t earned my sleep, then I wake up tired and do it all over again.” Sound familiar? When we do this for years our bodies adapt, our organs go into sleep mode and we start to develop health problems. So, get up, get out and get some exercise. I promise, it will make a difference.

Many things contribute to our emotional wellness – from our thoughts, actions and reactions, to our environment and surroundings (things and people). Below is a breakdown of some of the internal and external components of emotional wellness in our lives.

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SOCIAL: Social wellness is key to our overall emotional wellness. Family, social support and cohesion can play a huge role in how we cope with stressors or traumatic events. When you find yourself taking on too much socially, whether it be kids’ activities, helping someone out or taking on a community role, it can cause extra stress and leave you with less time to take care of your whole self. When it comes to social wellness, take time to look over your calendar, along with the family tree, and if necessary do a little trimming. This will give you more time and energy to take better care of yourself, your family and your positive relationships.

ENVIRONMENTAL: This includes living conditions and physical surroundings. Observe and evaluate your surroundings. Do you have a lot of clutter or papers on your desk? Does your house and car look the same? Clutter can increase anxiety and cause us to feel overwhelmed by our surroundings, leading to depression, lack of motivation and then, of course, decreased physical activity, creating further health issues. Do you see the pattern? Do your best to break the pattern by creating an organizational plan and executing it. Every. Day.

SPIRITUAL: Core values, identity, and purpose. This can be done in any way, whether you go to church multiple times a week, practice meditation, yoga, or other ways to get in touch with yourself spiritually. Taking time to quiet your thoughts, gain perspective and re-center your mind, body and soul can increase your energy, confidence, and motivation, thus creating a positive cycle.

PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL: Your current mental state, coping and problem-solving skills, stress management, and decision making. Stress management is crucial to our busy lifestyle – life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Take the time to think before you react, put things in perspective and come up with a wise way to react to the things life throws at you. Do your best to see the bright side, come up with a solution, execute that solution and move on. Dwelling on things only clutters our mind, starts that vicious cycle and creates the heaviness of life.

BEHAVIORAL AND INTELLECTUAL: Thoughts and actions that have positive or negative effects on life; this refers to active participation in expanding your knowledge in academic, cultural and community activities. Join a book club, take a class, start reading, volunteer, attend local festivals or cultural events to help you live a stimulating, intellectually successful life.

OCCUPATIONAL: Work life balance; addressing workplace stress and building healthy relationships with coworkers is crucial to occupational wellness. Not settling for a job just for the paycheck, find where you fit, what drives you to perform well and be successful. Settling allows the acceptance of discouraging people, relationships, and environments, leading to physical and emotional turmoil, creating a poor overall quality of life.

FINANCIAL: According to Forbes magazine, 62% of Americans reported money as a significant source of stress in their lives. Financial wellness is more than planning for retirement it also includes planning and saving, cash and credit management, and risk management. Being financially well can be measured by a combination of factors, overall satisfaction with current financial situation, actual financial behaviors (budgeting, saving, debt reduction), financial attitudes, knowledge and objective financial status. Financial stress can lead to poor physical and mental health, thus starting the same cycles of negativity and emotional chaos in your life.

Now what? How can we improve our holistic wellness?

Most people are aware of what they need to do to make life improvements in some or all of the above. The questions to ask yourself are “Why haven’t I made moves to improve?” or “What resources do I have to help me?” Set short term and long term goals that are measurable and achievable. Set yourself up for success, start slow and steady and increase in intervals.

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Set SMART goals

  • Specific: Simple, sensible, significant. Lose 2-3 pounds per month with a long term goal of 25 pounds per year, start an exercise routine, read a book a week, start cleaning and purging your home.
  • Measurable, meaningful, motivating: Walk 3 times per week for 30 minutes, create a book list and add it to your calendar, organize your organization, start with the hall closet then the bedroom closets and so on.
  • Achievable: Not too far-fetched, time consuming or dependent on someone else to achieve.
  • Relevant: How will this goal help you get you to where you want to be?
  • Time-bound: Deadlines – this will help organize your time, give you something to shoot for, and is significantly more motivating if you know you have to get it done by a certain date.

Use your resources to achieve these goals: Reach out to your Nurse Advocate, wellness program, employee assistance program, or credit/financial advisory services. Personal trainers or group fitness with a friend can also help keep you accountable.

At the end of the day, you are a whole person and that whole person needs to be taken care of by you. Grab your belt loops, pull those pants up and get yourself in gear to increase your quality of life. It’s your health; own it.

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