Have you ever tried riding a unicycle blindfolded while juggling a tennis ball, bowling pin, and chainsaw? Assuming most of us haven’t performed in a circus, the answer would be no. However, life can be very similar to this act. Finding balance is the base of success for both the juggling act and life itself. In both scenarios, things will start to fall apart without balance, both literally and figuratively. We are pulled in a million different directions daily; often making it difficult to find balance.
When talking about living a healthy and fulfilling life, we often look at three aspects: mind, body, and spirit. Comparable to nutrition when we look at carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, we must dig deeper to further understand how much of each category we need and what to include or what to avoid. I like to break down these three aspects of life further into five subcategories of wellness:
Physical wellness focuses on your physique, nutrition and health habits. When talking about physical wellness, it is more than hitting the gym regularly; it also includes what and how much food and liquid you are consuming, the amount of sleep you give your body and your ability to make healthier lifestyle choices such as avoiding tobacco and alcohol. This dimension is directly related to the body, which is the home for the mind and spirit. We can’t live alone on our physical wellness; however, it is often a representation of how the mind and spirit are feeling as well. Physical strength allows our mind, body, and spirit to thrive in a healthy environment that we can build ourselves.
Tip: Go for a walk next time you feel like using an unhealthy habit to cope with stress.
Mental wellness can often be the most difficult for us as humans. According to the American Mental Wellness Association, this subcategory can be described as, “A state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Mental wellness deals a lot with our personal issues, confidence, self-esteem and how we deal with stress. When related to stress, it is our mental strength that helps keep us from avoiding unhealthy habits to cope like smoking or drinking. Mental health can be influenced similarly to physical wellness as we need proper sleep and a nutritious diet; we also need to know when to rest mentally versus physically. Taking a few minutes out of your hectic schedule to meditate or just pause for some stillness allows mental rest throughout your day.
Tip: Next time you start to feel flustered at work or home, step into a closet or quiet room and take ten long deep breaths, regroup your thoughts, and then go back and dominate the rest of your day.
Emotional wellness is where you are in touch with your feelings: joy, sorrow, love, hate, fear, anger, trust, etc. Often, it is our emotions that drive our motives and control our reactions to whatever life throws at us. Emotional strength is not being able to hold in your tears during a dramatic movie, but instead being able to express your emotions in a healthy manner. Emotional strength is being able to smile throughout the day, be light to anger, and express yourself through healthy outlets like dance, singing and art. Emotions can be contagious! If someone is feeling joy, he/she might hug you or open a door for you. This then makes you happy and may change your feelings for the day. However, it can also be road rage when someone is driving angrily and cuts you off, thus angering you on your way to work. It is important to be aware of other people’s emotions and how you react to them. When it comes down to it, you have negative and positive emotions, but you have to decide how they will impact you.
Tip: Focus on the emotions that feel good inside and express with a smile or dance.
Social wellness is one of my favorites because of its fluency with all the other dimensions of wellness. First, imagine living life all alone. With no one around to talk to or bug you. Some people, at first, would love this concept; however, as Tom Hanks taught us in the movie Castaway, we would eventually start to go crazy. Our mental health would start to fail and we would start talking to inanimate objects. We wouldn’t be able to express our emotions with others who could understand our feelings and we would have no workout buddies to push us in the gym! Jokes aside, social health is how we communicate and get along with others who may keep us accountable in other aspects of life. Social strength allows us to create strong relationships that connect us with others. Whether it be workout partners who train and eat together, someone to express our emotions to when we are feeling frustrated, or groups of people who have had similar struggles and work together to overcome them, Social health is important because it helps us succeed in different areas of life with a team.
Tip: Find a social group for areas of life you want to improve in.
Lastly, spiritual wellness is a personal matter involving values and beliefs that provide a purpose in our lives. While different individuals may have different views of what spiritualism is, it is generally considered to be the search for meaning and purpose of human existence, leading one to strive for a state of harmony with oneself and others while working to balance inner needs with the rest of the world. I believe everyone should have something that he/she believes in, whether it be religion, fate, science, an all-powerful being, nature, etc. Spiritual health is believing in something that helps bring reason and understanding to our lives when nothing else makes sense. This dimension is the most personal and self-driving of the five subcategories.
Tip: For some, this can be difficult to establish so I would recommend exploring your family background, practicing yoga, traveling and meditating to try to find some answers.
Finding balance in our lives may sound difficult when looking at ourselves as a whole, but when we take a step back and look at how well we are doing in certain areas, we can establish a base. From there, we can see where we struggle and then find ways to improve. Just like we do in the gym, we want to focus on the weak parts of ourselves because that will only make everything else stronger. Imagine going through life as driving a car: if you get a flat tire, you don’t pump up the other tires and keep driving without addressing the flat tire. It may be possible to keep going for a short distance, but the rest of the car will eventually fall apart. Instead, you need to fix the flat tire so you can stay balanced and keep driving to your destination.
Tip: Set realistic goals and priorities. Tackle what needs to be done first. Find support and purpose. Don’t forget to reserve time for your own needs too!
Progressive Health & Performance resides in the Temecula and Murrieta area of Southern California but we work with clients nationwide. Whether it's your toughest health challenge or your next fitness goal, we are here to serve you.
39400 Murrieta Hot Springs Rd
Murrieta, CA, 92563