by Erin Faulkner, Family Peer Supporter
May 16, 2023
“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.” SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
Everyone goes through ups and downs in their mental health throughout their lives. Some people struggle more than others and require help beyond themselves. However, we all strive to be content mentally. How do you do that? Do you go for walks every day? Do you talk to your loved ones? Do you meditate?
I recently learned about the 8 Dimensions of Wellness. Before I dive into these, I first want to define what “wellness” means. Wellness is the “act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes.1” For many people, wellness is associated with physical health, but not necessarily with mental health. I know that was true for me for much of my life. By taking stock of different areas of my life and consciously making a plan for how to improve these various aspects, I can increase my quality of life. I am just starting this journey myself and have a ways to go, but I believe with guidance from these dimensions, I can make some improvements in myself.
The 8 Dimensions of Wellness include occupational, physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental and financial domains. To be honest, when I first started looking at these areas, I realized that I definitely take better care of myself in certain areas than in others. There are also areas where I felt I had a better handle on than I actually did once I started delving into some examples. I am a person who likes to follow rules, so having an outline or guide is comfortable to me and makes me more likely to follow through with an activity.
SAMSHA has an excellent guide to help you walk through each Dimension.2 You can choose any area to start with. Maybe you can only manage 1 area at a time. That’s okay. Baby steps towards mental wellness will still get you there eventually, but going too big, too fast may not be sustainable. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew,” as they say.
Which step on your journey to mental wellness will you take first?