Written by Kyle Buchanan
The word “wellness” is used a lot these days, and while it may be a bit oversaturated when it comes to marketing, the concept of wellness (defined as the quality or state of being in good health) is still something worth striving for.
Working towards feeling our best is admirable for ourselves, as well as for our friends and family. Because let’s face it, when we feel our best, we’re more likely to be nicer to be around!
Here’s the thing though: wellness isn’t a singular concept. It’s not just what you eat, or if you exercise. It truly is multifaceted, and it’s the culmination of all of its parts that determine how great you feel.
So, join me in exploring a more holistic, 360 approach to wellness, infusing it into 4 core pillars of our lives: mental health, physical health, emotional health and our relationships.
Mental health and how we feel inside our own heads has always been important, and it’s wonderful to see it becoming a more mainstream conversation. When it comes to supporting our brain and mental wellbeing, you want to ensure you are making sleep a priority1, eating a diet rich in brain-supportive foods like blueberries2 , leafy greens, olive oil and omega-3, while limiting the amounts of stimulants like coffee and tea past 2pm (again, for that better sleep!). Beyond diet, when it comes to supporting vitality and mental health, taking social media breaks is a key factor in today’s modern world as well as finding ways to laugh every single day!
Movement is a key factor for how well we feel in our head and our body3, so it’s vital to incorporate some form of movement every day. The key to prevent burnout and boredom is to add variety to your movement; it doesn’t have to be a strenuous weight training workout every day, (although some days please do incorporate some form of resistance training for better bone health). Examples of what I call more ‘passive’ movements include going for a walk around the block, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or simply lying in bed and doing some gentle stretches!
When it comes to physical health and movement, it should be noted that nutrition plays a big part in how comfortable movement itself is, as well as proper recovery. Ensure you’re getting adequate protein in your diet like poultry, grass fed meats, fish, tempeh, tofu, legumes, or your favourite protein powder (we love this one!).
While some would argue that emotional health falls under the mental health category, I would kindly disagree. Emotional health speaks to the more spiritual side of you, beyond just the brain, encompassing all emotions that a human may experience and how they can manifest in all parts of the body.
The key to emotional health is respecting and honouring whatever feeling and emotion you may be going through. So, when it comes to our 360 approach to wellness and the emotional health pillar, I recommend finding an outlet that you find fitting to honour and sit with your emotions; whether that is journaling, meditating, talking with a professional and asking for help when you need it and/or watching movies that elicit the feeling you want to express (tearjerker movies can be great for this!).
I love the phrase - “What you resist, persists''. It’s so true for our emotions, so it is vital for emotional wellness not to push things down or ignore your emotions; instead, bring them up, sit with them and honour their presence.
The last pillar in our lives can sometimes be the most dramatic, but also the most satisfying. In rounding out our 360 wellness ride, it’s important we take inventory of the relationships we have in our lives.
First and foremost, honour the relationship you have with yourself. Do you speak kindly to yourself? Or are you always beating yourself up? Start with this one, perhaps make a large effort to speak in a more gentle, compassionate tone with yourself and see how much better you feel at the end of the day.
Next up, every now and then, take a close look at the people you surround yourself with and assess if they are relationships that still serve you. If they’re not, then perhaps it’s time to lovingly let go of those relationships - a conversation that is difficult to have, but in the end, can actually be best for both parties. But on the other side of that, if you evaluate and realize there are certain relationships that really make you better and happier, take time to put the spotlight on those and cultivate more time and perhaps a deeper connection!
Feeling good in your body, in yourself, is really an invaluable feeling. It’s something to strive for - because when you feel your best, you can be your best for yourself and for everyone around you, living your fullest potential. It can seem a bit daunting to approach all of these pillars all at once. If that’s the case, step by step is the song of the day - approach one pillar at a time and move on to the next when you’re ready!
Here’s to you feeling spectacular, 365 days a year!
- Freeman, D., Sheaves, B., Goodwin, G. M., Yu, L. M., Nickless, A., Harrison, P. J., Emsley, R., Luik, A. I., Foster, R. G., Wadekar, V., Hinds, C., Gumley, A., Jones, R., Lightman, S., Jones, S., Bentall, R., Kinderman, P., Rowse, G., Brugha, T., Blagrove, M., … Espie, C. A. (2017). The effects of improving sleep on mental health (OASIS): a randomised controlled trial with mediation analysis. The lancet. Psychiatry, 4(10), 749–758. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(17)30328-0
- Willis, L. M., Shukitt-Hale, B., & Joseph, J. A. (2009). Recent advances in berry supplementation and age-related cognitive decline. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 12(1), 91–94. https://doi.org/10.1097/MCO.0b013e32831b9c6e
- Warburton, D. E., Nicol, C. W., & Bredin, S. S. (2006). Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l'Association medicale canadienne, 174(6), 801–809. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.051351