Christine Zellers, Assistant Professor/Educator Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, Department of Family and Community Health Sciences
According to a poll conducted by Forbes Magazine the top New Year’s resolution for 2023 was improved mental health, fitness, weight loss and improved diet. If you don’t remember what you resolved to improve in 2023 maybe it’s time to look at a new way of making healthy lifestyle changes in 2024. Post-pandemic a lot of people are struggling with their emotional and mental health and to improve these areas you may need to resolve to get professional help or make a clear plan to take small steps to care for your emotional health. Improving emotional health is a good resolution but be sure to examine all areas of your life to determine where changes might assist with improving mental health. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) identifies the 8 dimensions of wellness that include physical, emotional, social, occupational, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, and financial. Creating balance in all 8 of these areas could contribute to overall wellness and assist with improving areas you may have identified to work on as New Year’s Resolutions. Making small changes throughout the year rather than trying to change a lot at once is key to keeping resolutions and seeing real improvements.
To create physical wellness, recognize the need for physical activity, quality sleep, and a nutrient dense diet. Rather than tackling all three of these areas at once, try to get more physical activity then try to add nutritious food and sleep. Concentrating on one item at a time can be less overwhelming and make it easier to achieve goals. Emotional health needs to be attended to when things are not quite right but also maintained when things are going well. Recognize personal strengths and use them for positive reinforce of emotional health. Social interaction will assist you in maintaining wellness, to do this keep in contact and socialize with supportive family, and friends. Join a club, social group, or volunteer to be connected for social interaction. When practicing wellness, occupational satisfaction and enrichment from work, volunteerism or hobbies will create a sense of fulfillment. Find something you love to do for occupational wellness and self-gratitude. People generally know their intellectual abilities, expand on that, and learn new things to feel engaged. Reading or taking part in an activity that expands your mind can develop your intellect. Take time for spiritual practices and connections too. This may include religion, meditation, yoga, or another activity that supports a spiritual connection. Environmental wellness can mean the environment itself but that is something that is very overreaching and hard to control. Conversely, our direct environment is something we can control therefore think of personal surroundings and organize your spaces by reducing clutter. Financial wellness means finding a sense of satisfaction from not only your current finances but future finances, to do this create a budget and set financial goals. The 8 dimensions of wellness are a framework for achieving personal satisfaction and overall wellness and being aware of them can set you on a path to be well!
If you would like to make creating wellness a New Year’s Resolution Rutgers Cooperative Extension can keep you on track throughout 2024. The Family and Community Health Sciences Department of RCE in Cape May County will be offering a virtual monthly lunch and learn series that highlights one of the dimensions of wellness each month. Stay on track and get ideas to stay well by listening to one of the webinars. For more details check out the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County website, https://capemay.njaes.rutgers.edu/fchs/