Sammy Says: The 9 Dimensions of Wellness

Wellness is an active process through which people become aware and make choices towards a more successful existence

Gosh! Life is a lot and I feel all over the place. I’ve decided to write a blog post about something I’ve been thinking about a lot – wellness and self-care. 

There are some big things happening right now: Black Lives Matter, 2020 Elections, COVID-19 Pandemic, Extinction Rebellion, Sunrise Movement, Refugee Crisis, and more! As much as we need change and wish it would happen overnight, it won’t. The system we live in actively prevents quick change from happening, which is a good thing and a bad thing. I know when I was in Samos witnessing the human rights violations that I thought were primarily caused by bureaucratic processes that don’t take into account that they are dealing with humans NOT numbers, and fear of the unknown, of change, of not having enough – I knew that things needed to change fast. I thought it was easy, if only people could see this, if they knew what was happening, they could do something. I will never forget those screams from the camp. The rats, and the disease, and the trash. And those smiles! Still smiling, still hopeful. 

I thought I could do it all. And then, I realized – that this was a big big big problem that people had been working on for a long time. I also realized that I did not have the power to fix this problem, that we needed a lot of people working together and communicating to solve this problem. 

I didn’t take care of myself though during this time. Every time I laughed, I felt guilty that I was laughing. Every time I drank a glass of wine, I felt guilty. I started waking up at 7am and staying up until midnight just trying to figure out what we could do to communicate to people what was going on here and how they could help. I stopped eating well. I felt so strange around other people. I read about what was going on, the history of the countries the people were from, all the numbers – and it was too much. 

I broke down. 

2 weeks later I’m back home with my parents. I can’t support the refugee and asylum seekers because I can’t even support myself. 

I wanted to be a good person, and to me, being a good person meant taking care of everyone else first, it meant sacrificing your own well-being for others, it meant giving and never taking. It meant always smiling, always forgiving, always forgetting, always having an open heart and an open mind. It meant saying yes! yes! yes! 

But, it didn’t make sense. That kind of mindset had gotten me here- crying in my bedroom curled in a ball afraid of the world, afraid to leave these walls, afraid to open my heart again, and angry, so angry! Unable to forgive because I couldn’t forget. My body couldn’t forget. 

It was in this moment that I decided I needed to take care of myself first. And I began to believe that if every person could just take care of themselves and the few people around them then everything would be just fine. 

But what did it mean to take care of yourself? And how can you best support the few people around you? And who are those people you are responsible for and who are responsible for you? 

I’ve been working on these things for over a year now. I still have much to learn. I’m feeling ready though to open up about my learnings and share where I’m at. I’m not so embarrassed any more. 

I approached this question by reading loads of books, going to therapy, asking friends and family for advice, andddd getting a job as a Direct Support Professional. My job role is to support people with disability in living a life of their choice – a quality life! What does that even mean?! 

I’ve started to think that living a quality life is a daily practice, this daily practice of living a quality life is called wellness. I define wellness as an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence. 

I believe that wellness is a fundamental part of self-care (which I define as the active participation of enhancing your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and quality of life). 

From a lot of reading of theories, I’ve concluded that there are nine dimensions of wellness. 

These are my nine dimensions of wellness: 

  • Physical Wellness: Taking care of your body
  • Emotional Wellness: The feeling and expression of emotions that allow you to build trust, ask for help, make decisions, and connect with yourself and others.
  • Intellectual Wellness: Keeping your mind active by learning new things, trying different experiences, and being creative.
  • Social Wellness: Feeling a sense of belonging and acceptance through relationships and interactions in the global community.
  • Spiritual Wellness: Identifying and living by your own individual beliefs, principles or values that give your life direction, purpose, meaning, and hope.
  • Environmental Wellness: Acting in harmony with nature and the physical environment and awareness of the impact the environment has on your daily life.
  • Occupational Wellness: The development and contribution of your unique gifts, skills, and talents to the global community.
  • Multicultural Wellness: Understanding and appreciating cultures other than your own and finding common ground between individuals.
  • Financial Wellness: Having enough money to pay for all of your wellness needs. 

I’ve been working on researching each dimension and creating a daily planning sheet that can be used to plan your day to support you in engaging with your different wellness dimensions each day. 

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about social wellness so that will be next. 

Wanted to share this as I hoped it might help you figure out what dimension you need to focus on if you aren’t feeling happy right now. Using words to bring it into awareness.