When it comes to self care, understanding the wellness continuum can help keep you at your best. I put together a guide to make it easier!
Wellness isn’t simply the absence of disease. It’s important to know how to move towards ultimate wellness in order to live your life as your best you!
The Illness-Wellness Continuum is a concept from the National Wellness Institute that proposes that wellbeing is more than just whether or not you have symptoms of an illness. It encompasses mental, emotional, and physical health.
Oftentimes we think of health only as relating to visible illnesses such as disease, injuries, or disabilities. But what about anxiety and depression and other unseen facets of our life that contribute to our overall health, or wellness?
This continuum is a sliding scale that we are constantly moving back and forth on. To the right is optimum health and wellness, and to the left is illness and premature death. Through awareness, education, and growth, one can continue moving towards the positive end of the spectrum.
Dimensions of Wellness
Depending on where you look, you may see either fewer or more dimensions. The National Wellness Institute identifies the following six dimensions:
- Emotional Wellness– the awareness and acceptance of your feelings and emotions and how you cope with relationships and life in general.
- Occupational Wellness– the idea of enriching your life through work that aligns with your values and is fulfilling and rewarding.
- Physical Wellness– how you care for yourself through what you eat and drink, ensuring you are sleeping enough, and exercising.
- Social Wellness– how you contribute to your community and interact with others.
- Intellectual Wellness– keeping your brain stimulated by engaging in challenging and creative activities.
- Spiritual Wellness– to discover your meaning of life and using your beliefs and values to live a life with purpose.
Stages on the Wellness Continuum
As you move along the spectrum the ultimate goal is to work towards better mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing so that you can achieve your full potential.
The stages along this path are split by a neutral zone. As you move in the direction toward illness you pass through the signs, symptoms, and disability. While heading in the way of high level wellness you pass through awareness, education, and growth.
It’s possible to move up and down this spectrum throughout your life, and even day to day.
How does it work
In your day to day life you should be practicing habits that help you progress you along the positive path.
Living your life to your full potential requires you to be in a positive state of mind. If in a state of physical or emotional disease, the body cannot function at its best.
Many areas of life can improve including physical health and relationship as you work toward wellness.
You’re probably familiar with Newton’s First Law of Motion, which states that a body in motion remains in motion. The same goes for moving toward wellness. Once one area of your life improves, it motivates more positive changes affecting your overall wellbeing.
How can you apply it to your everyday life
There are a number of small actions you can take to work your way along the wellness continuum. The following are simple thing you can add into your life bit by bit that will help with each dimension of wellness:
- Eating well by adding in wholesome nutritious food to your diet.
- Get your body moving every day.
- Practice meditating.
- Try activities that challenge you and make you step out of your comfort zone.
- Do caring acts for others.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Make sure your circle is filled with people who contribute positively to your life.
- If you belong to a church, participate in activities.
- Rest well! Shoot for at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
- Try to limit how often you are on social media.
- Pick up a new hobby.
The 5 stages along the continuum are disability, symptoms, awareness, education, and growth.
On the end of the illness side is premature death, and at the end of the wellness side is high level wellness.
Emotional Wellness, Occupational Wellness, Physical Wellness, Social Wellness, Intellectual Wellness, Spiritual Wellness
The wellness continuum is sometimes referred to as the health illness, illness-wellness, and health continuum. All of these terms refer to the same concept.
As your journey along the path to wellness, the following information may help you out:
- More Than Just Food
- Mindfullness Principles and Pillars
- Small Habits Make Big Changes
- Exercise Habits for Life Success