What are the pillars of health and wellness?
According to Pfizer, “Wellness is the act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes so that instead of just surviving, you’re thriving.”
When you search “pillars of wellness,” though, you will find dozens of different results. The Academy for Brain Health and Performance says there are ten. Move Daily has five pillars. Buddhist Mala has eight different categories.
None of them are wrong. There is just no consistent classification of what the pillars of health and wellness are.
Since we like to keep it simple at WeStretch, we will make just four broad categories.
Body + Mind + Soul + Community = Wellness
This is anything relating to your physical health. Body wellness has the most subcategories and is the easiest to see when something isn’t right.
If you’ve ever eaten pure junk food on a weekend, you probably didn’t feel very good on Monday. Our bodies require a variety of all food groups to function properly. Focus on what is healthy and fuels your body, but remember that eating can be enjoyable, too!
There is an eating technique called Intuitive Eating that will help cater to your body’s needs. The basic premise is that you relearn your body’s signals and you eat accordingly. By listening carefully, you can come to understand what you need to do to feel your best.
That can be as simple as truly savoring a piece of chocolate or truly desiring to eat a well-cooked steak and salad. The principles of intuitive eating reject the diet mentality and are a paradigm shift to make peace with food.
Fuel your body appropriately and it will take care of you.
Physical exercise and care
Exercise doesn’t have to be long, painful hours working out. It can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or doing a quick stretch in the morning. Incorporating regular exercise into your day is one of the best ways to age gracefully.
Flexibility work helps you to prevent falls and motion injuries. Strength training keeps your muscles and bones strong, which helps to do everyday activities safely. Cardio work keeps your heart and lungs strong and functioning well to carry you as you age.
Physical health is also taking care of yourself, both when you’re sick and healthy. Visit your doctor regularly, keep your teeth clean, and listen to your body. If something feels off, seek to correct it, not just manage until it goes away. Unfortunately, there are too many instances of curable illnesses that go ignored until they become irreversible problems.
In western culture, it has unfortunately become the norm to be proud of a lack of sleep. Many studies have shown the impact of poor sleep on our lives, from shortening our lifespans to leaving us more at risk of illness, and impaired thinking.
Emphasize sleeping well, and you will quickly begin feeling the benefits of being well-rested.
Everything that you think of and anything you feel can contribute to your mental well-being.
For many of us, getting stuck in the exact same routine day in and day out is mentally exhausting. Even if what you’re doing is easy, the lack of stimulation can begin to weigh down on us.
Take the time to do something that stimulates you. That could be walking somewhere new, trying new food, or even learning an instrument or language. It doesn’t need to be something drastic- even trying out a new phone game will work!
Giving your brain new stimulation to play with also keeps your mind stronger as you age.
Many people struggle with their financial health and these worries can weigh a lot on your mental health. Whether it’s covering the rent, paying off debt, or struggling to get food on the table, these are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed.
While you can get started on your own with budgeting or paying down your debt, it’s always a good idea to get some help. Money problems aren’t something you need to tackle on your own. Many banks offer financial advice for free, and they can often give you some ideas on how to get started. Talk to a therapist, counselor, or someone you trust- they can help you feel not so alone and give you encouragement to keep going.
Remember that while you won’t be able to solve all your financial worries overnight, with some patience and persistence, you can come out on top!
Much like how you don’t have to be alone when it comes to financial struggles, you are allowed to have help when it comes to your emotions. Reach out to someone when you need help. Know that it’s okay to cry- but it’s also okay to smile, too! 😊
This is for the big questions in life, your spirituality, and accepting the world around you.
Meaning in life
The “answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything,” is 42. There: soul-searching over!
Okay, while we might not all be fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it does prove that we don’t necessarily want a specific answer to the meaning of life. Part of what makes us human is looking for something that adds meaning to our lives. The great this is that this meaning can come from anything.
You can devote your life to finding cures for debilitating illnesses. If you just want to be the best parent that you can be for your children, that is wonderful! Even if you find purpose in just watching the sunrise every day- that bit of meaning can make your soul feel whole and at peace.
While mindfulness is often associated with yoga or meditation, you can find mindfulness in everyday activities. Mindful practices are simply the act of being aware of what you are sensing and feeling in a moment without judgment.
Instead of making your to-do list while you’re stretching or worrying about what to make for dinner while watching a movie, allow yourself to breathe deeply and experience the world around you in the present moment. Feel any parts of your body touching the chair or the floor. Observe anything you see around you, without judging, just noticing.
Next time you do a stretching routine, be mindful of your breath and focus on how each muscle feels as it stretches. You will get more out of each routine and boost your overall sense of wellness.
None of us live in a bubble- and humans are social beings. Connecting with people plays a huge part in our well-being.
Covid-19 has shown us the impact that socialization has on our health and wellness. While in-person interaction is best for our mental health, connecting with others in any capacity is still beneficial.
Reach out to your old friend with a Facebook message. Phone your grandma for a quick chat. Find a virtual chat room about one of your favourite things. Humans are social creatures, and we need regular contact with people to truly thrive.
If you are looking for an online community to join, check out WeStretch Insiders on Facebook. We offer tips, tricks, and an entire group of people who love stretching!
Learning and connecting with others
While just socializing and hanging out with people is great, learning from them is even better. Find a mentor in whatever field you enjoy and embrace their knowledge. Try learning a new language so that you can experience a different culture directly. This boosts your strength in the community and also keeps your mind sharp.
On the flip side, don’t be afraid to go out and share your experiences. You never know when you can become a role model for someone. Teaching others often comes with its own benefits!
Wellness is about taking care of yourself. Our bodies are well-designed machines, but even one element out of balance can have huge effects. By taking the time to discover what wellness looks like for you in your life, you allow yourself to lead the best life possible for yourself.
WeStretch is here to help you get started on your wellness journey. It allows you to move your body safely, which releases tension and can help you sleep better. Stretching is a great opportunity for mindful movement, and you can stay connected with your loved ones through stretching challenges. Download WeStretch for free from the App Store or Google Play.
Any links included are for reference, additional information, or entertainment value only, without monetary compensation. Contact us on social media or at email@example.com. Photos courtesy of Unsplash.
This article is not intended to act as or replace medical advice. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner if you have any concerns.
Written by Kayla Willsey
Updated May 31, 2021