For centuries, people have sought optimal health and wellness, but it was not until the 1950s that the wellness movement took off. Flash forward to today, and the word “wellness” is everywhere. The wellness movement has grown into a giant, profitable industry. That growth continues to be spurred on by social media influencers who are turning wellness into a hot trend. Profits and trends aside, what exactly is wellness, and how does it relate to recovery? How do you achieve and maintain wellness?
What Is Wellness and Is It the Same as Health?
Although many people use the terms health and wellness interchangeably, the meanings and origins of the two words are different. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Depending on the context, the definition of wellness can vary. However, the definition, according to the National Wellness Institute, is “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” This definition is based on three principles:
- Wellness is a continuous, self-directed, and evolving process, and the goal is reaching one’s full potential.
- Wellness is not just about physical health but is holistic and includes lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and one’s environment.
- Wellness is affirming and positive.
While health is a state of being, wellness is the act of pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
Ways to Improve Wellness
Most of us want to experience wellness, but what can you do to ensure that you are making choices that lead you there? There are several things you can do to promote wellness in your life such as:
- Regular physical activity—Physical activity is a preventative measure and a cure for non-communicable diseases. It also improves mental health, well-being, and overall quality of life.
- Eating a healthy diet—Your diet can have an enormous effect on your wellness. Eating a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do for your body and mind.
- Stay hydrated—Drinking enough water helps your organs to function properly, ensures nutrients are delivered to cells, prevents infections, and maintains body temperature and skin integrity.
- Stay connected—Take time to connect with friends and family. We have seen from the COVID-19 pandemic that loneliness and isolation can be detrimental to wellness.
- Do what you love—Engaging in enjoyable hobbies and activities boosts overall wellness. Whether you love gardening, painting, puzzles, or playing baseball, take time for the things that please you.
- Quit using drugs and alcohol—Illicit drugs, alcohol, and misused prescription drugs can lead to poor mental and physical health and a shortened lifespan. Embracing sobriety can greatly improve health and wellness.
- Get plenty of sleep—Your body needs sleep to rest and repair.
- Meditate—Taking 5-10 minutes out of each day to relax, take some deep breaths, and decompress can decrease stress levels.
- Spirituality—If you are spiritual or religious, take time to engage in meaningful rituals related to your religion or spirituality. Spiritual well-being is an important part of wellness and should not be neglected.
How Can These Steps to Achieve Wellness Help With Recovery?
Recovery and wellness are entwined with each other. The actions you take to work toward improved wellness can also help you stay sober. Exercise, a healthy diet, sleep, hydration, engaging in activities you enjoy, staying connected to support systems, and practicing your religion are all ways to help manage stress and triggers and combat cravings. Each of these can help with relapse prevention.
If you are dealing with mental illness and SUD, making an appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist can improve your chances of staying sober and improving your wellness. The mind and body are connected, so if you are not mentally healthy, it will begin to affect your physical well-being and vice versa. SUD negatively affects physical and mental well-being, so managing your SUD and mental health will go a long way toward improving wellness.
It Is Okay to Start Small
When you are new to recovery, implementing wellness strategies can be a huge and sometimes intimidating lifestyle change. It may seem impossible to make several more big changes in early sobriety. That is okay. You don’t have to make a lot of changes overnight. It is perfectly fine to embrace wellness a little at a time.
You might want to assess what change will benefit you the most and start there. For example, if your diet is extremely unhealthy, start by trying to add a serving or two of fruit and veggies each day. If you love steak, try eating leaner cuts. If you enjoy snacking on chips, try measuring out a serving and only eating that much. These small steps will add up to big changes over time. Once you are used to the dietary changes, you can work on drinking more water, staying more connected, or any other positive change for wellness.
Change is challenging and takes time. Be patient with yourself and celebrate the small victories.
Most people want to achieve optimal wellness, and part of that process involves taking care of our mental health and maintaining sobriety. When you seek mental health or substance use disorder (SUD) treatment at Sober Life, we understand you are more than a set of symptoms. We are committed to helping you discover and work on any underlying issues contributing to your SUD or mental health condition. Our staff understands mental illness and SUD. Many of them chose to work in this field to help others after experiencing the devastating effects of SUD or mental illness in their own lives. At Sober Life, we believe in our patients’ ability to change, and we balance empathy and compassionate care with high expectations. If you are ready to embrace sobriety and wellness, call Sober Life now at (619) 542-9542 to learn more about how we can help with your recovery.