Wellness is more than being free from illness. It is a positive approach to living that involves making choices towards a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life. There are many interrelated dimensions of wellness including physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social and environmental. Each dimension is equally important for the pursuit of wellness and optimum health.1 In fact, the World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.2 Wellness is all about optimising your potential and is a life-long process of moving towards and enhancing each of these components of your life.3 Sounds good doesn’t it? Wellness is in reach of everyone, and there are many natural health and lifestyle modifications that may assist in achieving this state of optimum health.
To live a wellness lifestyle there are many positive steps that you can take:
- Eat a healthy diet – focus on fresh fruit and vegetable and whole grains. Lean quality meats and dairy, as well as beans and soy products, are important to receive adequate proteins and amino acids. Good quality fats and oils such as those obtained from oily fish, nuts and seeds are also very important.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, smoking and other toxins – these substances are unhealthy for the body and reducing them may enhance your overall health and wellbeing.
- Learn stress management techniques – do not underestimate the effect of stress on your overall sense of wellbeing. Learning meditation, yoga or breathing techniques can have a profound impact on your overall wellness.
- Stay positive – a good mental attitude is the cornerstone of health and wellness. Researchers investigating happiness found that healthy self-esteem and an optimistic outlook are key to enhanced wellbeing.4 If you struggle to stay happy, a counsellor may be able to assist.
- Spiritual or religious beliefs – can give people a sense of purpose and meaning which is important for overall wellbeing.4
- Socialise – developing and maintaining strong relationships with family and friends can enhance your wellbeing. Make time for regular social contact. It may help to join local organisations or clubs that appeal to you. A happy and healthy relationship with a partner and a network of close friends also positively impacts your emotional wellbeing.4
- Work well – try to find work that is enjoyable and rewarding to you, rather than just working for the highest pay. Research shows that people who pursue external goals such as money and fame are more anxious, depressed and dissatisfied with their life then people who value internal goals like close relationships with loved ones.4
- Sleep well – make sleep a priority and ensure you receive adequate amounts for overall wellbeing.4 Keep technology away from the bedroom and make sure your room is dark and quiet for a peaceful sleep.
- Keep moving – exercise affects every area of life and can greatly improve your quality of life. It keeps weight in check and keeps bones, muscles and heart strong and healthy. A minimum of 30 minutes per day can allow you to enjoy these benefits. Exercising with others can also give you an opportunity for increased social contact. It may also change the levels of chemicals in your brain such as serotonin, endorphins and stress hormones.5
- Consider detoxification – If you have been over-indulging and are feeling sluggish it may be worth considering detoxification for your overall health and wellbeing. We are constantly exposed to food additives, pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals. All of these place an additional burden on the liver. A program that assists in eliminating toxins from the body and supporting the health of the liver and digestive system may enhance wellness. The herbs milk thistle, and globe artichoke may support the health of the liver and detoxification processes. Dandelion is another great liver tonic herb and may improve bile flow and aid digestion.
- Digestive support – the health of your digestive system also plays a big part of your overall health. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria which may encourage wellness from within by maintaining a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria. You can obtain them in your diet from fermented foods such as yoghurt and sauerkraut, or take them in a supplement. Western Herbal medicine also provides many herbs to support digestion such as slippery elm, golden seal, fenugreek and ginger.
- Take a multivitamin – multivitamin supplements can aid general wellbeing and reduce the likelihood of nutrient deficiencies. They may assist with energy and may help maintain a healthy heart, immune and nervous system.
- Antioxidant supplementation – antioxidants counter the damaging effects of free radicals. Green tea contains high levels of polyphenols that act as powerful antioxidants and may reduce oxidative damage to the body. Other antioxidants include grapeseed, coenzyme Q10 and vitamins E, C and betacarotene. Grapeseed contains flavonoids called oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) that act as powerful antioxidants. Coenzyme Q10 is a fat soluble antioxidant that protects cell membranes from free radical damage. It plays a vital role in energy production and is important for energy dependant process, including muscle and heart function.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – these are known as “essential fatty acids” because our body cannot manufacture them and they must be obtained from our diet. They have well recognised health benefits due to their anti-inflammatory properties and involvement in healthy brain function. Oily fish such as tuna, salmon and sardines as well as most nuts and seeds are good sources. Two to three serves of oily fish per week is recommended. If you find it difficult to obtain enough of these essential fatty acids in your diet, you may like to consider a supplement for your overall health and wellbeing.
Frequently asked questions
Isn’t “wellness” just a trendy fad – is it really for me?
Wellness is not a fad, it is a state of optimal wellbeing that many people strive for. It is the ultimate in a happy, healthy and fulfilled life. It can be thought of as a life-long process of enhancing ones mental, emotional, physical, social and spiritual wellbeing.
I feel pretty good but I struggle to get enough healthy food in my diet. Can superfoods help?
Superfoods are naturally rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants may help to reduce the damage to the body’s cells and tissues caused by free radicals. Free radicals are formed by normal bodily processes and exposure to toxins and chemicals. Antioxidants are also a source of important vitamins and minerals that can help give your body a daily nutrient boost. Some excellent superfoods are green vegetables such as spirulina, alfalfa, barley grass, kelp, wheat grass and chlorella. These are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and can be obtained in a superfood blend supplement form. Other superfoods include berries, chia seeds and cacao. Cacao is the seed that chocolate and cocoa are made from – yum!
Where can I find more information about enhancing my health and achieving optimum health and wellness in all the dimensions of my life?
Your natural healthcare practitioner is a great place to start. They will be able to guide you in a holistic way to achieve wellness.