WHAT IS WELLNESS?

Guest Contributor: Stacey Roberts PT, Owner of New You Health and Wellness

Stacey Roberts

Stacey is my friend and colleague. She has been a physical therapist since 1990, specializing in outpatient orthopedics and sports medicine. 

In 2003-2004 Stacey became a master herbalist to further her knowledge in the complementary therapies that her patients were starting to use.  From 2004-2017 she owned and operated a cash based health and wellness clinic on the Gold Coast of Australia specializing in in women’s health and hormones, and couples fertility. Her interventions combined conventional knowledge with complementary treatment emphasizing lifestyle changes in her patients regarding their eating plan, supplementation programs, and stress management to help  thousands of women and men achieve their health goals as well as create and expand their families.

After returning to the United States, Stacey was hired by a national physical therapy company to grow and develop their orthopedic outpatient practice. From 2016- 2020 Stacey has been an associate clinical professor at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s Physical Therapy doctoral program. 

Recently, in 2021, she opened New You Health and Wellness, a holistic cash based clinic where she combines her knowledge of wellness, hormone health and musculoskeletal health in the treatment of patients with issues related to musculoskeletal injuries/sports medicine, sexual health and pelvic health.

I am excited to have Stacey as a guest writer on my website.

You can find out more about Stacey at Newyouhealthandwellness.com

WHAT IS WELLNESS?

My guess is since you are visiting our website and this article caught your eye that you are a person who puts your health as a top priority in your life.  You want to make healthy and responsible choices for your health.  And if that’s the truth then while striving to make these choices you undoubtedly have come across terms like holistic, natural, organic, etc.  And I am sure you have come across terms like health and wellness before.  But have you ever thought about what they really mean? 

I have to admit, though I have spent the last three decades working with men, women and children to help them improve their health, I never really gave much thought to the term wellness before.  I mean, I thought I knew what it meant until I actually tried to narrow it down to a couple sentences.  That proved to be impossible. 

Every time I thought I had a comprehensive definition and discussed it with some friends, they would usually say, ‘Yeah, but, what about….?”  What I learned is this is a word that has a much bigger and deeper meaning than I had ever considered.

So back to the original question…What is Wellness? What does it really mean? 

According to Northwestern University that one little word covers many big areas.  After reading through their website I discovered why my attempts to narrow its definition down to a concise little description for this article just wasn’t going to cut it. 

At Northwestern’s Student Affairs Department they list the following Eight Dimensions of Wellness:

  • physical
  • emotional
  • social
  • intellectual
  • environmental
  • spiritual
  • vocational
  • financial

Physical wellness is not just the absence of disease or illness but it is about creating and maintaining a healthy physical body supported by a balanced physiology.  In other words, it’s not just about having healthy muscles and joints, but physical wellness includes striving to create an optimal balance of your whole physiology.  This includes what your hormone balance is like, how your blood sugar levels are being managed through the foods you eat and the exercises you do,  and what you are doing to manage your stress levels, just to name a few.   It’s about making choices that help you feel well physically and allow you to create an enjoyable fulfilling life.  Striving for physical wellness will allow you to function at the level that gives you the most joy and satisfaction.

Emotional wellness and physical wellness definitely overlap as do all these dimensions.  When we think about how we feel emotionally, this will often affect us physically and vice versus.  But if we had to narrow down emotional wellness in a few words or phrases you might come up with being in a balanced mental state or creating a state of mental health where life can be experienced in all its ups and downs. And at the end of the day when you choose to practice things such as mindfulness, meditation, or visualization you will find a balance.  Emotional wellness is about building resiliency, experimenting with ways to cope with stressful events or people.  It’s about seeking out relationships that support your mental health and not being afraid to reach out for help when you need it.

Social wellness encompasses connection.  Connecting with your community and developing meaningful relationship within your life.  Creating a network or networks of people to communicate with in a world that makes social isolation easier than ever.  Even if you consider yourself an introvert and would rather spend time alone, social wellness is still an important part of overall health.  Connecting with the community doesn’t mean you have to be with large crowds of people.  There are many ways for example to support causes in your community without putting yourself in uncomfortable situations.  We are social beings and it’s our responsibility to find the ways that we feel most fulfilled and balanced as we interact with our community and develop supportive relationships.

Intellectual wellness reminds us to participate in stimulating environments and activities to help tap into our creativity and intellectual ability.  It also involves thinking things through, making responsible choices and understanding that learning is a lifetime journey.

Environmental wellness is taking responsibility in whatever way you can to contribute to creating a healthy and thriving environment.  To focus on this dimension if each of us strive to do even one or two things to make the Earth on which we live a little better place, this would be the best gift we can give to the next generation. 

Spiritual Wellness is taking care to nurture your connection with a higher power.  It involves being compassionate, practicing gratitude, and sitting with oneself and reflecting on how you are living life in line with your values.  Spiritual wellness involves being aware of the mind-body connection as well as tapping into the very nature of our living soul.

Vocational wellness is seeking out and participating in work that is satisfying to you and in line with our values.  It is finding meaning and personal satisfaction in the work that you do.

Financial wellness is all about the relationship we have with the money. It is so beneficial to explore the beliefs that we were raised with about money and decide whether these beliefs serve you or create more stress in your life.   Managing risks and preparing for the short and long term by educating oneself on what skills are needed to be financially responsible now or if mistakes have been made, to learn from them and find resources to help get in a more stable position financially is also a part of creating financial wellness.

When you think about it and take all of these dimensions into consideration, it may seem overwhelming or even impossible to manage.  But the truth is each day we are confronted with several or potentially all of these dimensions and if we just strive to become aware of that and aware of our thoughts and ultimately our choices each day in these areas, in a very short time we will be moving forward quite significantly towards creating optimal health and wellbeing. 

Part of doing that is also being kind to ourselves along the way.  Be okay with working on any one of these areas whenever you can.  And understand that some days will be more stressful than others. 

And always remember that being well is seeking balance in these areas over time.  Striving to be honest with ourselves as to what areas we do need to work on and congratulating ourselves on what areas we are doing well in will go a long way towards reaching our wellness goals.

It’s pretty evident that one word, with only two little syllables can have a big impact in the short and long run.

Be well 😊

Stacey Roberts PT

Newyouhealthandwellness.com

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