The Different Dimensions of Wellness – Caroline Ademiluyi

Last week, the discussion was centred on precautionary measures that should be taken in exercising, for beginners, those with health problems and the importance of moderation in exercising. Approval from a medical doctor needs to be sought if one has been inactive for a long time or if living with a chronic condition, before commencing on a program of aerobic exercises.
The role of physical exercises on Mental and Spiritual health was discussed in respect of two common mental problems viz- Anxiety and Depression.Regular light to moderate level intensity aerobic exercises have been found to decrease anxiety and to help a person get out of depression.
We discussed over- exercising or Exercise Abuse -also called Exercise Addiction which is detrimental to health. We emphasized the Exercising is a means to wellness and not an end in itself; regarding Exercising as a means of wellness is a healthy spiritual attitude which will promote physical, mental and spiritual wellness and thus prevent any tendency to Exercise abuse.

The Dimensions of Health can be regarded as Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, Mental and Social.
The physical dimension of health refers to the bodily aspect of health.Physical health ranges in quality along a continuum where a combination of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease are at one end a person who is at optimum health is at the other. Physical health can affect other dimensions of health, as a decline in physical health can result in a decline in other forms of health. E.g. someone with a viral infection is often isolated socially so as not to infect others and such a person may feel sad as a result of the isolation.
Mental health refers to the cognitive aspect of health. Although mental health is linked to and includes Emotional health, it may be be preferable to distinguish the two. Mental health refers more to the functioning of the brain, while Emotional health refers to the person’s mood often connected to their hormones. Mental health includes mental health issues such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia which refers to a person’s ability to use the brain and think; this may be to solve problems or to recall information, but the focus is on the cognitive aspect of the person.
Mental health affects other dimensions of health. An increase in mental health can come as a result of physical activity; good mental health can then lead to an increase in self esteem as mental performance improves.Greater self esteem then leads to more confidence in social situations and this can lead to increased spiritual health.
Emotional health is about the person’s mood or general emotional state. It is the ability to recognise and express feelings adequately.It relates to your self esteem as well as your ability to control your emotions and to maintain a realistic perspectives regarding situations. There is definitely a relationship between Emotional and Mental health and as such, some illnesses relate to both e.g. Depression and Anxiety.
Emotional health affects other dimensions of health, as a person with a high self esteem is more confident in social settings, makes friends easily and often performs better in physical activity.
Spiritual health refers to our sense of overall purpose in life. People often find this purpose from a belief or Faith system, while others create their own purpose. A person who has a purpose in life is said to be healthier than those who don’t see a purpose in life.
Spiritual health can very easily affect Emotional health and Mental health, as having a purpose in life can help in applying oneself to achieving goals. Having a purpose in life can also help people maintain a proper perspective on life and overcome adversity.
Often, people who are spiritual meet together regularly around their spiritual purpose , which helps improve social health.
The social dimension of health is our ability to foster and maintain meaningful relationships with others. Good social health includes not only having relationships, but behaving appropriately within them and maintaining socially acceptable standards.The basic social unit of relationship is the family and these relationships impact a person’s life a lot. Other key relationships are close friends, social networks and youth leaders.
Social health affects the other dimensions of health in many ways; a bad social life can lead a person to question his or her purpose in life or feel isolated or unwanted. Such feelings can demotivate people from physical activity and lead them towards depression.
It is imperative that none of these dimensions are neglected to ensure an ever increasing level of health; all the different dimensions of health must be well taken care of.
Concerning the physical dimension, there is need to exercise- aerobic exercise like walking or jogging and other exercise types can greatly improve health. Eat healthy foods, take lots of fruits and vegetables in the diet daily. Take regular meals, Take lots of water and get at least 6-8 sleep every night.
With respect to Mental health, keep abreast of current affairs, take study very seriously and strive to be a life-long learner.
Regarding emotional health, try to maintain a positive attitude always, even when problems arise and making the effort to smile even when you don’t feel like it. Manage time well, identify stress and acquire coping mechanisms for stress. It’s very important to share feelings with trusted friends and seek professional help when needed.
With regards to social health, it’s necessary to get involved with other people in various useful joint endeavours, make friends and form healthy relationships, attend social functions.
With respect to spiritual health, there is need to study and practice the Faith you profess, spend some quiet time regularly in contemplation , fostering a relationship with your Creator and appreciating the natural world around you.
It is imperative to constantly do an appraisal of our efforts to live all the dimensions of health on a regular basis. Set goals/ targets and struggle to meet them as much as possible. Seek counsel when necessary and always do a root cause analysis to find out the underlying reasons causing any form of setback in not meeting up with Health goals so as to rectify as soon as possible.

Caroline Ademiluyi is a Lagos based Pharmacist.

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