For the past few weeks, hundreds of Ohioans have participated in the Ohio State Universtiy Extension’s Live Healthy Live Well Email Challenge — Spring Into Wellness. Each week, participants have explored the Nine Dimensions of Wellness, a holistic approach to the concept of wellness.
The nine dimensions are physical, spiritual, emotional, social, financial, career/vocational, environmental, creative and intellectual. It is helpful to imagine all these as spokes in a wheel. When each area is full and evenly distributed around the wheel, it runs smoothly. However, if areas are missing or less than full, then we have a bumpy ride.
It is easy, though I’ll admit sometimes overwhelming, to find information about improving many of these dimensions of wellness. There are countless experts telling us the latest about nutrition and physical activity. There are also career counselors, financial counselors and the list goes on and on.
However, spiritual wellness may be addressed less often than the others, perhaps because it is one of the more personal dimensions and requires intimate reflection. It is helpful to know the definition of spiritual wellness in the context of the dimensions of wellness. Dr. Bernadette Melnyk is the OSU chief wellness officer, dean and professor in the College of Nursing.
Melnyk said “You can seek spiritual wellness in many ways, including quiet self-reflection, reading and open dialogue with others. For the spiritually well person, exploring the depth of human purpose, pondering human connectedness and seeking answers to questions like ‘Why are we here?’ is okay. Spiritual wellness includes being open to exploring your own beliefs and respecting others’ beliefs.”
My OSU Extension colleague, Shari Gallup, said being spiritually well is important for a few reasons. “First, because spiritual wellness allows you to think about the meaning of your life and why you were put here on this earth. As corny as this sounds, we are all here for a reason. And discovering your purpose helps to build a strong base for living a meaningful life because there is direction.”
Many people would say specific kinds of faith or religion does not matter. What does matter is you practice it on a regular basis and recognize there is a higher power at work. However, a Christian receives life and power only through a direct relationship with the source of life and power.
The Christ follower recognizes spiritual wellness comes from abiding in Christ. In John 15 Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Spiritual wellness involves one’s values and beliefs. If you have not considered this aspect of your wellness, here are some ways to begin getting in tune with this aspect of yourself and your wellness:
- Spend time to purposely consider deeper meaning. Build quiet time to think about your life and why you do things.
- Spend time in nature. It is well documented that nature and human health are connected. Nature can calm and heal the human mind and body.
- Take time to meditate or practice mindfulness. Slowing down will help you connect with yourself.
- Travel. Spending time in new places can help keep distractions and stressors to a minimum and give you a different perspective on life.
- Visit with a pastor or person of faith to learn more about their journey and the role of faith in their life.
Today, I’ll leave you with this quote from Mahalia Jackson: “Faith and prayer are the vitamins of the soul; man cannot live in health without them.”
Emily Marrison is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 740-622-2265.