Over time there’s been an increase in awareness and acceptance of how health and wellness practices are an integral part of our mental, emotional and physical well-being. Advocating for taking charge of our needs has gradually become a welcomed (even celebrated) social norm; with discussions and actions around health being more openly explored than ever before.
But we still have a long way to go.
Stigma around prioritizing personal care, whether it comes from internal or external projections of stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination continues to exist (particularly towards those with mental health conditions). Through sharing the wellness practices that recognize the importance of our holistic health and well-being; we expand the ability of society to regard individuals as a whole person comprised of the physical, mental, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual — all of which will need caring for at various points in our life. What was once deemed selfish or superfluous is progressively being seen as nuanced and necessary.
In the minds of consumers, “wellness” now encompasses a whole lot more than just being in shape. It’s reducing stress. It’s feeling confident. It’s finding a sense of community and belonging. It spans mental, physical, and spiritual dimensions—and consumers actually prioritized mental wellness above them all. | 2022 Wellness Index – MindBody
Part of enjoying full autonomy over our health includes the normalization of choices, actions and habits that form part of our individual wellness journey. While the variety and scope of these practices change over time — (hopefully) becoming more extensive as society learns how to better understand and protect our well-being needs — there’s frequent pushback against expansive, innovative concepts. An example of this is how the importance of self-care has become more universally acknowledged (and studied); leaving behind the notion that it’s conceited or inessential.
As our knowledge about physical and emotional well-being broadens, standards of care shift from idealistic to realistic; enriching the lives of more and more people who regard their health as an investment (which it is; probably the best one we’ll ever make). Championing what can establish better mental and/or physical health remains a way to end stigma, raise awareness and transform how we approach taking care of ourselves and each other.
Here are some examples of the wellness practices we should normalize and support …
Setting and Respecting Boundaries
As guidelines and principles used to communicate how we wish to be treated and interacted with; setting personal boundaries allows us to determine which actions, behaviours and situations we will/will not accept. They encourage our ability to thrive by valuing what clearly helps us maintain physical and emotional safety.
Working On Compassionate Inner Dialogue
Whether we catch ourselves doing it or notice it in other people; interrupting belittling, stressed/anxious or negative self-talk that diminishes belief in our own potential/abilities is key to building confidence and making positive changes in life.
Useful Article | Overcoming Negative Self-Talk – Mayo Clinic
Regular Health Check-Ups
If healthcare services are accessible and this is an option, don’t wait for illness or issues to arise before you see a doctor; go in for a general health and wellness assessment even when everything seems fine. It’s a straightforward and effective way to maintain our well-being and detect any health concerns before they potentially become more serious.
Useful Article | What To Do When You Need To See A Doctor But Don’t Have Insurance – Talk to Mira
Going To Therapy
Whether it’s to manage a mental health diagnosis, cope with a significant life event or navigate a challenging situation, there are many reasons to see a professional counselor — it’s not solely for times of crisis (although it’s beneficial for that too). Working through life’s difficulties in a healthy and productive way can require periodic support and guidance; finding the right therapist can do just that.
Useful Article | 9 Best Free and Affordable Online Therapists – HealthLine
Reclaiming Our Time
Being able to relax and decompress is all important; even if it’s only for a few minutes each day. Setting aside time for ourselves can help relieve feeling physically and emotionally drained and improve brain function, memory, decision making and our ability to cope with day-to-day stresses — prioritizing ways to refresh our mind, body and spirit is an empowering part of self-care.
Talking About Our Mental and Physical Health
One of the best ways to end stigma and discrimination about certain health conditions is to talk about them. Being open to sharing our experiences can help other people gain insight (and hopefully empathy) into what we deal with; it also indicates to those experiencing something similar they’re not alone. There’s more power in that than we may realize. Making a difference doesn’t require a large-scale platform; it starts with those in our inner circle.
It’s easy to appreciate the big moments or significant achievements in life — we often place great value in measurable success — but there’s meaningful purpose in also recognizing everyday accomplishments. Comparison can sometimes lead us to believe that we’re not doing as well as others, or we ‘should have’ attained and experienced more. The truth is, falling into this kind of thinking is often more fruitful at producing a sense of defeat than it is at igniting purposeful change within us. Signal boosting all the ways in which we triumph will look different from time-to-time; but don’t underestimate the importance of cheering yourself on even when life appears to have slowed down or become submerged by challenges. Make a point of celebrating the small stuff, no matter what it is.
This is by no means an exhaustive list; there are many ways to take charge of our mind, body and spirit that deserve encouragement and acceptance. As with any personal journey we undertake, focusing on our wellness starts with us being candid and bold — that’s as good a place as any to start.
What other health and wellness practices should we normalize? How do you maintain your well-being?
The Future of Health – Healthline