In our latest blog series, we are looking at the eight pillars of wellness and considering how each, when maintained and supported, can allow us to become the healthiest version of ourselves.
In our second blog article, we look at the pillar of physical wellness.
What is physical wellness?
Physical wellness refers to the choices we make that ensure good health, help us to avoid preventable diseases, and support a balanced state of body, mind, and spirit.
While most people might immediately think of exercise, this is an important aspect but not the only thing that requires attention when focusing on one’s physical wellness. Physical wellness also includes appropriate sleep, hygiene, and a healthy diet.
Achieving a good level of physical wellness supports you in developing personal responsibility for your own health and taking accountability for your chosen lifestyle.
Why is physical wellness important to overall wellbeing?
Giving appropriate focus to your physical wellbeing and making positive lifestyle choices can help to prevent chronic diseases, such as obesity and cardiovascular disease, that can seriously affect long-term health. Dedicating some time each week to maintaining a good level of physical activity can also help to reduce high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, heart disease, and weakened bones and muscles.
A well-balanced diet full of nutrients and vitamins will not only help prevent illness, but will also keep your body functioning at its best.
Taking care of your physical wellbeing has a direct impact on our resiliency and overall general wellbeing and can also have a significant impact on other dimensions in your life, including the professional, emotional, and relational pillars of wellbeing. Not only will it allow you to focus your thinking and learning abilities, but improved physical wellbeing will also improve your sense of self-esteem and self-control.
A number of studies have found that exercise helps depression, with many views on how this is achieved. It may be that exercise provides an opportunity for social interaction, that increased fitness lifts mood and improves sleep, or triggers a level of chemicals in the brain such as serotonin, endorphins and stress hormones.
How can I assess my physical wellness?
Below are some questions to think about when assessing your physical wellness.
- Are you taking part in regular physical activity?
- Do you have a physical schedule that supports general good health?
- Have you had a physical examination in the last two years?
- Are you getting enough quality sleep? If not, what’s stopping you?
How can you achieve physical wellness?
Here are 5 top tips to help kickstart your journey into boosting your physical wellbeing:
- Get good quality sleep. This can be achieved by avoiding screens for 30 minutes before bed to fall asleep faster, incorporating a relaxing wind-down ritual (such as calming music, and perhaps light stretching or yoga), and blocking out unnecessary light and noise e.g. with blackout curtains and a white-noise machine). The NHS[i] suggests that most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep every night. By working out what time you need to wake up, you can set a regular bedtime schedule.
- Take regular exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day and try to find time for more vigorous exercise for additional health and fitness benefits. Also, try and minimise time spent sitting down and break it up with standing up and short walks. It is a good idea to see your doctor before starting your physical activity program if you are over 45 years old, at higher risk of heart disease or have existing heart problems or other medical issues you think might be affected.
- Maintain a healthy diet by eating a variety of nutritious foods and controlling your meal portions. A popular and rather ‘handy’ way to monitor your single servings can be to use the following: carbs and fruit = size of your fist, protein = the size of your palm, cheese and nuts = size of your thumb, fats = size of your fingertips, vegetables = the size of your hand. Good Housekeeping have a great article on the method which you can read here.
- Keep good general hygiene which can not only help you ward off illnesses, but help make you feel good about yourself and thus give your mental health a boost. Adopt a regular cleansing routine, including regular bathing, washing of hands and brushing/flossing teeth.
- Learn to recognise warning signs when your body begins to feel ill. Staying in tune with your body and knowing what your ‘normal’ is will help you to recognise when you might be overdoing things or coming down with an illness, which can help you to avoid symptoms becoming worse and an increased recovery time.
It should be noted that the path to wellness is not one size fits all, but the common thread for everyone is that wellness requires a holistic approach. The eight pillars are not prescriptive but should help form the basis of a personalised journey.
While there are many ways for you to take charge of your physical wellness, the help, guidance, and experience of a wellness professional can give you the boost you need, when you need it most.
If you would like to develop your physical wellness but don’t know where to start, please use the Wellness Wide directory here to find a professional today.