Health isn’t just about taking care of your body but about understanding the interconnectedness of different aspects of your life. There are actually 8 dimensions to consider. The Wellness Wheel is a useful visual aid that helps you find balance so you can be your healthiest and most resilient self.
The 8 dimensions of wellness are:
What is intellectual wellness?
Intellectual wellness is all about expanding your critical thinking skills and exploring your creative side. This dimension is rooted in finding opportunities for personal growth like improving your problem solving abilities and building your resilience to challenges.
Research shows that tending to our intellectual wellness helps reduce the risk or severity of illnesses like depression, Alzheimer's disease, and other cognitive problems over your lifespan. Regularly challenging our minds with higher levels of mental activity helps our brains create a reserve of healthy and efficient brain cells and connections.
If you are currently experiencing depression or anxiety, try to find opportunities for intellectual stimulation as a form of self care. Don’t worry too much if your job isn’t delivering this; intellectual wellness is not just about learning new skills in a professional capacity but tapping in to your creative self in all parts of your life.
Habits and benefits
Just like with all dimensions of the wellness wheel, the intellectual dimension is about developing healthy habits. The benefits of these habits are wide ranging- from building a strong mental foundation, to discovering new passions and skills.
Here are some examples of how to practice intellectual wellness:
- Develop good study or work habits like removing distractions and budgeting your time
- Challenge yourself to see all sides or the opposite side of an issue or topic
- Nurture your own ideas and opinions through critical thinking
- Expose yourself to new ideas, people and belief systems
- Become aware of your own values and what is most important to you
- Improve your sense of self-worth through successful problem solving
- Foster feelings of dignity, tolerance and acceptance
Assessing your current wellness
Take a look at these questions to assess your current wellness. Remember that your answers reveal opportunities and not shortcomings. Throughout your life you will experience difficult situations and challenges. If you realize you have been neglecting your wellness, re-visit these questions and check back in with yourself.
- Am I curious and interested in the world around me?
- Do I search for learning opportunities and stimulating mental activities?
- Do I manage my time well, rather than it managing me?
- Do I enjoy brainstorming and sharing knowledge with others?
- Do I enjoy learning about subjects other than those in my field of work?
- Do I seek opportunities to learn practical skills that will help others?
- Can I critically consider the opinions and information presented by others?
Themes and activities
It’s okay if some of these questions and concepts seem daunting and difficult. Recognizing this is what can get you started on your journey. You don’t have to change your world view overnight, you can start with simple but powerful habits first. The major themes of this wellness dimension can give you some structure for your first steps.
- Take notes during meetings or lectures so your information is centralized in your notebook or computer.
- Make to-do lists- cross off completed tasks as you go. Remember that no one completes their to-do list everyday. Bump incomplete tasks to the next day's calendar and start fresh.
- Set specific goals for the year, month or day. There is no “right way” to approach this; choose the frequency that helps you without it becoming overwhelming.
- When setting larger goals, break them down into smaller steps and tick those off your to-do list to score small wins throughout your day
- Learn to say no to social activities when appropriate, like when you have an exam coming up or a project deadline at work.
- Using your time efficiently opens up space for activities that are meaningful to you. Time management allows you to consider your total workload and avoid over-committing or experiencing burnout.
- Set boundaries- if taking on extra tasks at work results in lost personal time, learn to say no. Create a dialogue with your manager about what times of day you will be offline and unavailable for last minute requests. Most of the time, they can wait until the next day.
- Choose a tracking system that works for you. There are weekly and daily planners online or in print form as well as calendar and task management apps for your phone.
- Schedule your day by blocking out time for projects both at work/school and at home. Think about what times you are most productive during the day and schedule more difficult tasks for that time window. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a set time and leave room for breaks as well as unexpected tasks and activities.
Fostering a desire to learn
- Strengthen your neural pathways by exploring new hobbies. These are fun activities that open you up to the world around you. You’ll naturally find ways connect with other hobbyists and get involved with the community
- Choose a hobby that taps into your creativity. Take up knitting or sewing. Try learning a musical instrument. The possibilities are endless.
- Experience other cultures through classes, community events or simply exploring a new neighborhood. Visit your local library, community center or cultural center to find out what types of resources are available.
- Learn a new skill at work- this can be a skill relevant to your current job or you can dip your toes into other career paths that interest you. Perhaps register for a course or join a professional network and attend their events.
- Learn there is more than one way to do something and sometimes there is more than one right answer (or no clear right answer at all).
- Practice active listening when presented with new ideas, insights, thoughts and values. When given new information, it’s okay to change your opinion on an issue.
- Intentionally expose yourself to differences- visit a local fair hosted by the Greek, Japanese, Middle Eastern or other communities. Watch international movies with subtitles or read a book about the history of another country.
- Volunteer with an organization whose mission is important to you. You will meet people who are different in many ways but share the same passion for your cause.
Critical thinking and creativity
- Actively engage in conversations, readings and lectures- don’t just passively absorb information. Ask questions and reflect on others’ responses.
- Challenge the norm- When given an answer, don’t just take it for what it is without first asking yourself if you agree with that answer. Avoid the trap of thinking that “this is just how things are” and brainstorm other solutions.
- Keep your brain active with fun brain teasers.
- Improve your spatial thinking with puzzles or sculpting clay.
- Engage in strategic thinking with board games or cards.
Most importantly, have fun!
Taking care of your intellectual wellness can be very enjoyable. It’s always awkward when you try something new like joining an athletic club or learning an instrument, but that feeling is soon replaced with confidence as you improve. Being open to other ideas or viewpoints can reveal solutions to sticky problems in your life. Surmounting that challenge is rewarding and good for your health. Remember to have fun learning, making mistakes, and becoming an expert in new skills!
Looking for additional support or recommendations? Let us help you. Contact SF Upper Cervical Chiropractic at (415) 823-9707 today to learn more about how an Upper Cervical chiropractor can help you manage your stress, improve your health and wellness, and live pain and worry free. Also, call us to book an appointment. We are here to help and we look forward to hearing from you.