Healthy choices contribute to Total Wellness

Total Wellness. This is a big concept. The definition of wellness is the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to better health outcomes. There are two important concepts in this definition. First, health is not a passive or reactive state of being. Second, it is multi-dimensional. It extends beyond just our physical health of what we eat and exercise programs we participate. Instead, our personal wellness is determined by our choices, behaviors, and lifestyles as well as being strongly influenced by physical, social, and cultural environments in which we live.

Wellness is a different concept than healthcare. Healthcare is reactive. An individual with poor health engages with health providers to treat illness. On the other hand, wellness is focused on prevention and maximizing quality of life.

There are 6 dimensions of total wellness:

≤ Physical: nourishing a healthy body through nutrition, exercise, and sleep.

≤ Mental: Engaging the world through learning, problem-solving, and creativity.

≤ Emotional: Being aware of, accepting and expressing our feelings, and understanding the feelings of others.

≤ Spiritual: Searching for meaning and higher purpose in human existence.

≤ Social: Connecting and engaging with others and our communities in meaningful ways.

≤ Environmental: Fostering positive interrelationships between planetary health and human actions, choices and wellbeing.

For older adults, wellness is critical. It means preventing chronic health conditions and lessening the effects of other conditions. The healthy habits of a quality wellness program can lower the risk of diabetes, cancer, obesity, arthritis, Alzheimer’s Disease, high blood pressure, and mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Other benefits include improved cognition, learning new skills, improved self-esteem and confidence, encourages independence, and promotes emotional health.

Additionally, we must keep in mind that our wellness is strongly influenced by the environment in which we live. For example, people who do not have access to grocery stores and healthy affordable food are less likely to choose nourishing foods for good physical wellness. These factors are the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). Other examples of SDOH include safe housing, transportation, neighborhoods, language and literacy skills, discrimination and violence, and polluted air and water. The Office for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion is prioritizing improving the SDOH in the Healthy People 2030 Goals across the United States.

Here are a few tips for actively working toward total wellness.

1. Be as social as you can be.

2. Eat a balanced diet, get proper amounts of sleep, and exercise daily.

3. Find and practice new hobbies.

4. Remind yourself to take notice of your feelings to help you understand what triggers feelings of stress and anxiety.

5. Take 10-15 minutes each day to re-organize one space each day and review your to-do list. You will be shocked by how your stress levels decrease when you can find things and remember things.

6. Laugh and Enjoy!

By making simple and healthy choices on a daily basis, you will be well on your way towards achieving optimal wellness. We know the healthy choice is not always the easiest choice, but small changes can make a big difference. Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services offers Nutrition & Wellness programs to help you in your journey toward total wellness.

Please remember to contribute toward your OFAS Nutrition &Wellness programs if you can. These programs are not sustainable without the support of participant and community contributions. Be aware that SNAP benefits can be used toward your contribution. Call NY Connects at 716-453-4582 for more details and information about any of these Nutrition and Wellness programs provided by Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services.


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