August is National Wellness Month

In honor of National Wellness Month, it seems fitting that we discuss what wellness really is … and how we define wellness based on our individual characteristics.

People often think about wellness in terms of physical health — nutrition, exercise, weight management, etc., but it is so much more. Wellness is a holistic integration of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, fueling the body, engaging the mind, and nurturing the spirit. And while yes, wellness is about striving for health, it’s more about living life to become the best kind of person that your potentials, circumstances, and fate will allow.

The definition of wellness is the practice of healthy habits on a daily basis in order to achieve better physical and mental health outcomes, so you thrive rather than just survive. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is defined as being “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Eight dimensions of Wellness

Several key areas of your lifestyle are considered dimensions of overall Wellness. They include: social, physical, environmental and mindfulness. Each one has an impact on your physical and mental health. By making simple and healthy choices on a daily basis, you will be well on your way towards reducing stress, having positive social interactions and achieving optimal wellness.

It’s key to start with small changes within each dimension and take it one day at a time – you don’t have to sign up for a triathlon or go on a strict diet to apply wellness into your everyday life! Here are some ways to help with wellness:

  • Social – Reach out to friends and/or family. Take a few minutes out each day to call or even yes send a text. And even better to do either or both while on a walk or on the treadmill. Helps makes the time pass and allows you to connect with those you care about.
  • Physical – Strive for 20 to 30 minutes each day. Get moving to help those endorphins improve your mood and give you more energy. Making small changes during the day like using the stairs, or parking further away adds up.
  • Environmental – be considerate of the Earth and it’s limited resources. Declutter, recycle, reuse, conserve energy, remove and take time to get outdoors be it on a walk, ride or just enjoying a good book.
  • Mindfulness – while maybe not something you practice on a daily basis it’s important to pause, listen to your thoughts, give yourself an opportunity to think about them or how you handled them or perhaps can going forward. Focus on your breathing and listen, appreciate, observe and be aware. Try to practice this for 5 to 10 minutes.

Carolina Salvador, MD is an Associate Professor in the Division of Oncology and the Medical Director of the DOM Wellness Program. Dr. Salvador offers a health and wellness program for to support the wellness of DOM faculty through a commitment to services, education and research. The goal is to help improve the well-being of faculty and staff, help evaluate burnout, develop interventions.

The Well-Being Council is made up of faculty from each division in DOM to help work toward faculty wellness. You’ll find the website offers a wide array of support, help with information geared to the various areas of WashU that can help. Be it emotional support, childcare, priority doctor appointments,

Another recommendation is to visit the Well-Being website for WashU Resources in health care, wellness challenges, religious and spiritual help, financial assistance as well as resources outside of WashU. You’ll find Wellness Programs to sign up for, exercise classes, financial webinars and you can even sign up as a Wellness Champion. Wellness Champions are WashU employees who are passionate about leading a culture of wellness within their department at the university.

Learn more about the 8ight Ways to Wellness … with good health, energy, and confidence to live our lives to the fullest. View here for some local wellness events happening in and around the St. Louis