“Wellness” is a word that is thrown around a lot these days… to the point that I have witnessed people roll their eyes at the idea of it. I understand how unrealistic it can feel to focus on ourselves in this way. We are all doing the best we can at creating our lives, being adults, and surviving, so suggesting that we need to add to our to-do list by focusing on our wellness can feel out of touch, for some.
The same could be said about the practice to untap our sparkle. Sparkle and wellness are synonyms in many ways, but sparkle feels more joyful to me, and hopefully, less like yet another item on a to-do list. And still, for some, it can feel impossible. As our culture and medical community evolves (slow and steady, let’s keep moving forward, yes?), greater awareness about whole holistic health is becoming more mainstream. While there is still work to do on this front, I am grateful to see progress being made.
The government-run Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has produced a concrete outline of the dimensions of wellness, from their perspective. While SAMHSA states that these are the parts of life that improve mental and physical health for people with mental health and substance use conditions, I would challenge that, in reality, these dimensions are not specific to only supporting an individual with a diagnosis or specific life experience, but rather to a condition with which we all have experience: being human.
- Emotional—Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
- Environmental—Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being
- Financial—Satisfaction with current and future financial situations
- Intellectual—Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
- Occupational—Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work
- Physical—Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep
- Social—Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
- Spiritual—Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life
These dimensions are incredibly important to our overall wellbeing, but what do they mean, exactly? What I like to envision when I think about all these categories of wellness is not just that they exist, but also how am I balancing them all? Concepts like this are fine and well on paper, but how do they translate to real life?
Imagine that you have a really huge stove in front of you, with eight different burners. You can turn on all of the burners to different power or heat levels. Now consider that each of the dimensions of wellness represent one burner. Maybe your work life has been taking up a lot of hours and energy, so that burner is on the highest possible level. Perhaps you are late on some bills, so have been ignoring calls from collections or avoiding your bank balance. That burner is as close to being off as possible, as you are ignoring the reality that it is time to address your financial situation. You might only feel relaxation when you are spending time with your friends, so your calendar is heavy with social activities (meaning that burner is on high, too).
What happens when you keep a burner going at the highest-level 24/7? What happens if you ignore a burner completely and don’t use it at all? Either way, the burner… burns out. But what if you keep all the burners going at a middle of the road level? Does that feel more manageable? Consider this when you think about how these dimensions feel in your life. Are all of the burners working, or are some of those burners off while others are on the verge of burning out?
The reality is, sometimes, life throws us a very good reason to turn a burner on high for a time period. This is a very normal, real part of life. The key here is to keep in mind that the burner cannot be aflame at that level forever. Sometimes, it takes focusing some energy on the other burners to give your system, your inner stovetop, the chance to recalibrate and balance.
The same dimensions or burners could represent our focus as we untap our sparkle. In what ways can you use these categories to untap your sparkle? For me, a few of my sparkle practices include:
- Emotional—Connecting with loved ones, embracing vulnerability in an authentic way, feeling my feelings and honoring myself.
- Environmental—Creating spaces that feel good to me, from colors that lift my mood to plants that brighten the vibe. Spending time outside, appreciating nature.
- Financial—Knowing my financial situation, feeling comfortable with what I have and what I want as goals, and having a plan to address any areas that could use a little TLC (I see you, student loans!).
- Intellectual—Taking time to read books and articles, watching TED talks that inspire.
- Occupational—Connecting with humans that are motivated to sparkle more and learning from them in the process.
- Physical—Eating whole, real, unprocessed foods, hiking, taking breaks to rest, and practicing sleep hygiene.
- Social—Prioritizing the relationships in my life that bring me joy, putting in effort to stay connected with family and friends, and pushing myself beyond my comfort zone to meet new people.
- Spiritual—Embracing my desire to make meaning out of life, from daily meditation to exploring the spiritual practices that feel right for me.
All of the dimensions of wellness support our sparkle, particularly when we get real about what we deem is most important for ourselves. We are all unique, and how you design your multi-faceted sparkle depends on what fills your life with the most joy and vitality.
Are you looking for support as you explore your dimensions of sparkle? Let me know. We can walk together in sparkle discovery.