What is wellness? 

I would hear people talking about it all the time and at first, I thought of it more like a “buzz word” than anything. Like it was a part of a pyramid scheme for money grabbers and people who do yoga. Although what I just said may be slightly true, I assure you it is way more than that!

Wellness is a state of mind and body for self care. It is the act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to better your physical and mental health all around. It is what allows you to feel joy and contentment when you recognize that you are more than surviving, you are thriving!

Many of us have a hard time understanding this concept, so here are the 7 Wellness Dimensions to help self check and or to support your journey towards a healthier you. I have also included a few examples of things that you can try. Please keep in mind that my approach and understanding of wellness comes from a “Harm Reduction” lens. Meaning no judgement and constantly “meeting my spirit where it’s at”. Not everything I do will work for every situation I am in and I am human so I don’t always have all of the answers. What I can do is focus on the here and now in the safest way possible.

Physical wellness focuses on maintaining the vessel, your body.

When my own energy is low it is mandatory that I get up and shake my whole body from fingertips in the air all the way down neck, chest, abdomen, hips, thighs, knees, ankles and toes on the floor. I count down from 10 to 1, and focus on breathing in through my nose and out my mouth, and tell myself “I’m proud of you” when I am done. This little routine always gets active because I have allowed my blood to circulate, oxygen is reaching my brain and my body is getting some movement. Getting out of a funk can be difficult sometimes and every acknowledgement of any effort big or small counts!

Try these:

*Exercise daily (get your blood circulating)

*Get adequate rest (having a steady sleep routine)

*Get out on the land and take a walk

*Dance to your favorite music

*Learn to recognize early signs of illness

*Eat regularly (healthier options can really help too)

*Regular medical check ups

Emotional wellness focuses on optimism, self-esteem, self-acceptance and the ability to share feelings. While it can fluctuate between the other 6 parts of wellness this is where you can process your experience with feeling and expressing multiple human emotions.

I find myself to be a very emotional person and oftentimes when I am stressed, I tend to experience many emotions all at once, kind of like an emotional rollercoaster. Being aware of what I am feeling and why I feel it has been a staple in building the confidence to not only find but to lead with healthier ways of communicating them to others around me. This wasn’t an easy task either… I went through a few different people until I was able to find “my tribe” of professional therapy and traditional and ceremonial support. They became my very own and customized wellness team!

This gave me the tools to not only take control of my own feelings but to also demonstrate how I choose for others to treat me as well. We are not responsible for how others prefer us to experience our own emotions, however, we are most certainly in control of choosing to respond/react for our own intimate peace of mind.

Try these:

*Tune in to your thoughts and feelings

*Cultivate an optimistic attitude

*Seek and provide support

*Learn time management skills

*Practice stress management techniques

*Accept and forgive yourself

Intellectual wellness focuses on mental stimulation. Having the opportunity to peak mental arousal through interests and hobbies ensures an active mind. Not only does it help to keep you sharper with processing things, it also encourages your own knowledge growth.

Over the years I have realized that both society and social media has had a strong hold on how little I was taking time to focus on my own intellectual health. Even though I loved learning new things, I was being over-stimulated with the newest TikTok craze and never really stuck to anything long enough to absorb the experience and its benefits. I actually became really bored because my mind would overthink everything to the point I just became lazy. Too much chaos in the mind resulted in my body becoming idle.

I needed to rewind my toxic mindset and minimize what had been loaded up onto it so I could refocus on reconnecting with what I felt intellectually estranged from. I decided on reconnecting with the outdoors (hiking, camping, exploring our country, learned about wild edibles and survival tactics)

  1. Got a dog which helped me to learned new ways of training, gave a healthy companionship, and demanded my need to keep physically active
  2. Took on a hobby that would also add benefits to organization and life sustainability. I got a massive dehydrator! Whether it’s making jerky, dehydrating medicines or petrifying bird wings for fans, a whole new world of possibilities and creative opportunities started brewing.

 I needed to simplify my life so I could experience less mental static.

 

Try these:

*Take a course, workshop or become a helper (volunteer)

*Learn (or enhance your knowledge of) a traditional language

*Seek out people who challenge you intellectually

*Reading or watching documentaries

*Learn to appreciate art (be it your own or another’s you feel inspired by)

 

Social wellness focuses on having healthy interactions with both the global community and ourselves. Having the ability to live up to your own expectations and your own personal roles intertwines with having mindful communication, meaningful relationships, and a stable support system. This is how we experience belonging.

The pandemic has definitely taken a huge toll on how I establish and maintain relationships of many kinds. I recognize that my ability to have meaningful relationships with others has been slightly damaged due to fear of getting sick. It’s not that I judge others’ way of maintaining their well being, I fear that unknowingly I could get sick (and I have). Honestly, most of us have this fear, it’s kind of the “New Norm”. However, I can’t go forever without being social when I’m naturally a social butterfly, I really miss that part of myself.

To help me with feeling “normal” I:

  1. Created a small bubble of people that I felt was safe enough to meet up. We would arrange hangouts mostly in outdoor places for scheduled amounts of time. 
    1. We spent a portion of our time checking in on each others mental health/wellness
    2. Took the time share tips on how each of us were coping in healthy ways
  2. Started attending dog play dates and walks as well as joining online dog groups in particular Dobermans training and feeding raw foods.
  3. Created medicine bundles and mailing them to community members when they needed
  4. Posted songs I composed on my social media platforms

 

Try these

*Cultivate healthy relationships

*Get involved

*Contribute to your community

*Share your talents and skills

*Communicate your thoughts, feelings and ideas

 

Spiritual wellness focuses on living or walking with a set of mindful beliefs, principles, or values that help give direction on our journeys. Through this we are able to experience meaning, purpose, and fulfillment of our commitments and balancing things around us.

 It’s fair to say that we are all a part of some sort of religion, spiritual, or other belief systems that we resort to when clarity and direction is most needed. We tend to acknowledge these the most when we are feeling lost or uncertain. For many years I spent my time hopping from one to the other because not everything I was taught to follow felt right for me. I had a few teachings from each and kind of added them all together to what made the most sense to me so I could feel like I was able to make it through whatever it was that I was experiencing.

Today I use practices/rituals from both my Afro Diasporic culture and Traditional Anishinaabe ways of life. When I am uncertain of how something is done or how to understand the intentions of why we do these things, I prepare offerings to other knowledge keepers who live in these ways. If I don’t feel comfortable with what they present I am free to connect with others who align better with my beliefs. As I grow over time I will experience a challenge with my systems because I am forever evolving, and my beliefs will change along with it.

Try these:

*Explore your spiritual core

*Spend time alone/meditate regularly

*Be inquisitive and curious

*Be fully present in everything you do

*Listen with your heart and live by your principles

*Meet yourself and others where their spirits are at

*See opportunities for growth in the challenges life brings you

Environmental Wellness focuses on our relationship with Mother Earth and the ways in which we take care of all the things she provides for us. Having a healthy relationship that supports minimal harm to the environment and all the beings we share it with (everything under Mother Earth’s crust and into the skies). We all have a responsibility to protect our surroundings.

Earlier I had mentioned that I had been building a physical relationship with the outdoors. A large part of that relationship is the appreciation I have for it and my responsibility in maintaining it. Not just for my own use but also for those who rely on it as much as I do. Examples of some things I do is:

  1. Carrying a garbage bag with me just in case I see litter laying around.
  2. All of my biodegradable food and paper scraps go to my home compost for my spring/summer gardens
  3. Sharing knowledge on wild medicines and edibles whenever I am with someone else (sharing knowledge is key)
  4. Harvesting medicines and foods ethically and sustainably

 

Try these:

*Conserve water and other resources

*Minimize chemical use

*Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

*Renew your relationship with the earth

*Learn about the traditional territory protocols of the land you reside on

 

Occupational wellness focuses on preparing and making use of your gifts, skills, and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness, and life fulfillment. It is important that we experience satisfaction about how and what we contribute to society. It should feel rewarding and part of your lifestyle rather than feeling like it’s all for nothing and unappreciated.

Easier said than done but, creating work/income around the things we love the most is enabling us to have our DREAM JOB! It took me many years and several job/volunteer experiences for me to learn that more than anything, I love the outdoors, working with youth, and traveling everywhere possible. Over time I was able to recognize ultimately what I was really good at and felt most happiest doing – Interacting with people!!! I NEED it to feel like I am thriving in life.

I understand that there will still be things I enjoy the least about working any job including my own dream job, however when I weigh out the ratios of likes and dislikes, my contentment and all around wellbeing determines if I continue on with the work or if it’s time to try something new. The best thing about shape shifting through my work journey is that there is always a need for something! I just gotta figure out what suits me and my chosen lifestyle the best.

 

Try these:

*Explore a variety of career options

*Create a vision for your future

*Choose a career that suits your personality, interests and talents

*Be open to change and learn new skills

 

 

I hope that you were able to find relatability to some or all of what I have shared with you. Take your time, there is no need to make sense of everything right now. Wellness is a journey that is forever evolving and heavily customized to each of our individual needs and desires. It’s like a puzzle, but we get to decide how each piece fits as we go along. We are not “precut” beings as no two journeys are the same. I assure you, there is so much more to explore. 

 

Which “Wellness Dimension” did you most connect with?

 

-Nenookaasi

 

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