I like to think of wellness as a system with many different parts all functioning together and influencing each other. Wellness can be divided into different areas of your personal world and the different things that impact your wellness from outside yourself. The diagram below represents our wellness model.
The way we look at it, all of these different areas can impact the others when changed. This is simple systems theory. Change one part of the system and everything changes along with the outcome.
Sometimes these connections can be hard to imagine. Like why does my personal physical wellbeing have anything to do with others around me and my relationships? Here is an easy example we can all relate to. We have all had a night or two (or many!) of little to no sleep. Maybe you were experiencing work stress and your racing mind wouldn’t let you sleep. Perhaps you had a late night studying, out late with friends, or a new baby joined the family; you get the drift. Now let’s consider how your behaviour changed the following day. How did you react to that slow driver on the way to work? What was it like when your in-laws showed up unexpectedly? Or how was it when your child’s principle called to tell you how your child has been misbehaving at school? And, my personal favorite, how much quality time did you spend with your children that day and did you exceed the recommended hours of screen-time for their age that day?
These connections are also not so obvious, but just as real. I want to share with you a much lesser-known connection that science has brought to light in the last 30 years. It is said that “you are what you eat”. Quite literally, we now know that our food can effect many things, including our mood.
Take a minute to watch this video
And one more complex example, but useful for helping us really see just how different areas of wellness are interconnected. In recent years, researchers have even begun to identify a link between inflammation related to individual diets and the effect it has on post traumatic resilience (the way we cope after trauma). In other words, the higher amount of inflammation present in a person’s body, the less likely they are to deal with trauma well. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6315131/.
The long term impacts of any type of stress will gradually push most areas of our lives to a state of poor functioning. When we are “stressed out” we are staying in a state of stress for longer than is healthy. More permanent behaviour patterns emerge and rooted-in neurological changes can set in. Not to mention the stress of an overworked nervous system. Our digestive systems don’t break down food properly; we can’t fight off infection as well because the immune system is chronically shut down; and our hearts are over worked with little time for restoration and healing.
My point is, that in order to thrive we really need to examine our wellness in a more holistic fashion. This means looking at our wellness from many angles, and considering what changes might have the greatest benefit for us. Finding the right balance in all areas of wellness is key and unique for each individual and their situation.
At the VK wellness Initiative, we encourage our clients to take a more intentional and personal look at their life and considering the whole picture. We also see wellness change as a process involving intention and commitment. Our process always begins with considering these different areas of wellness.
Here is a simple but intentional change exercise that is an effective way to get change started. Consider each part of the wellness experience and give yourself a quick rating of 0-10 for each. Once you have done this, put a star beside the areas of wellness you think might be simple or easy to change. Many of you will find once you do this the ideas and motivation will start to flow. Others may find this process overwhelming which is also an important thing to tune into. If this is your experience when you look at the wellness model, instead try taking a look at the areas of wellness with higher scores and consider how you have managed wellness in this area. Now let the ideas for change flow!
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending”
– S Lewis
Wellness is something you deserve and can find more of in your life. Our desire is to help you find your wellness path. And it all starts with taking an intentional look at your own personal experience with wellness.
May you be well,