St. Mark's Hospital - March 18, 2019

It’s easy to oversimplify what it means to be healthy. We’re all guilty of saying things like “no broken bones, no problem!” Yet, thinking of good health as just physical or emotional wellness can be problematic. Why? Because a narrow focus can lead you to neglect vital aspects of well-being.

The fact is good health results from many interconnected factors. Researchers have identified several aspects of life that influence health, including emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, environmental, financial and, of course, physical. A problem in any of these areas can impact your health if you ignore it.

Keep Your Balance

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a balancing act we don’t always master. Women can face additional hurdles, especially if they’re focused on the care of others. Caregiving can leave little time for self-care. During Women’s Health Month, we want to encourage all women to take better care of themselves by attending to all of their needs.

Ready for a health tune-up? First evaluate how well you’re balancing these seven dimensions of wellness. Then take steps to deal with shortfalls. (These strategies also work great for men!)

Emotional

Think about how you express and cope with emotions like sadness, frustration, fear and happiness. Do you usually feel confident, accepting of yourself, happy in your relationships and optimistic? If you think this is an area you need to work on, try doing more activities you find fulfilling, whether it’s tending a garden, reading a novel or having coffee with a friend. When stress or anxiety bring you down, add relaxation practices to your routine. If you’re struggling with grief, hopelessness or anger, talk to your doc¬tor or a therapist.

Intellectual

Being a lifelong learner stimulates your mind, boosts creativity and improves problem-solving. To foster intellectual wellness, seek novel ways to grow your skills or knowledge. For example, if you love Italian food, take an Italian language class, attend an exhibition of Italian art or take a learning vacation to Italy. Seeking out people who challenge you intellectually also helps expand your horizons.

Social

People who are socially healthy do more than nurture relationships with loved ones. They also stay connected with people in their communities by volunteering, joining clubs and simply showing up to local events. A great way to jumpstart social growth is to get involved with a group doing something you care about.

Spiritual

Tending to your spirit isn’t just a matter of attending religious services. Spiritual wellness comes from living in harmony with your values. Spending time in contemplation, meditation or prayer can help you explore your faith or refocus on the guiding principles that give life meaning.

Environmental

We all benefit from clean air, clean water and energy conservation, so we all need to do our part to protect the environment. This can mean recycling and reusing products, conserving natural resources, and taking care of public and private spaces. You can also benefit from improving your personal space. Start by keeping toxic chemicals and smoke out of the house and clearing out the clutter. Maintaining a safe, clean home supports physical health.

Physical

OK, ladies, you know the drill. Exercise, eat right, and so on. But your physical wellness involves more than checking these boxes. It’s also about getting regular checkups, reducing your alcohol intake, watching your weight, sleeping well and managing any chronic condi¬tions you may have. Plus, don’t forget the old saying about an ounce of prevention.

Financial

Women today have greater financial power than ever, but they also face a variety of money challenges. For instance, women tend to be retired longer than men but have smaller nest eggs. So it’s crucial for women to know how to manage their money and prepare for the future. If you’re not comfortable with your financial know-how, hire a financial planner to help you navigate insurance and retirement options.