The Wellness in Recovery (WinR) program in the Rutgers Center of Alcohol and Substance Use Studies is pleased to share monthly Wellness Tips. Wellness is always an essential aspect of people’s lives. The COR syndemic, which is the interface of the coronavirus, opioids, and racism epidemics, has elevated the need for wellness rituals and habits in a time where one in three adults reports symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder (CDC, 2021). Wellness is essential for supporting overall health and well-being.
Walking for Wellness: Fall Edition
Fall is a wonderful season to enjoy the outdoors and practice wellness by taking a walk. Research shows the many benefits of walking as a simple way to build a healthy lifestyle. Regardless of the time of day, Fall is the ideal season to be outside as the temperature is not too hot or too cold. The surrounding nature is a burst of colors that represent change. For a welcome change, consider including a daily walk to prioritize your mental health and wellbeing, and to connect with nature. To take your daily wellness walk to the next level, track your progress in a journal or set walking goals to build on your progress. Finally, here’s a list for New Jersey of nature parks, hike trails, and accessible walking paths for people of all mobility levels for your next wellness walk!
Swarbrick, M., Nemec, P. B., Brandow, C. L., Spagnolo, A. (2018). Strategies to promote walking among community-dwelling individuals with major mental disorders. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 56(3), 25-32. doi: 10.3928/02793695-20171205-0
Walking for Health is a brief summary of the benefits of walking, as well as practical strategies for setting goals.
Disclaimer: The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies
Wellness Tips for the 8 Dimensions of Wellness
These wellness tips are guided by the Eight Dimensions of Wellness (Swarbrick, 2006).
Everyone can benefit from improved wellness. It’s important to pause and think about wellness, and consider one’s own rituals, habits, and routines and whether there are areas for improvement. For guidance with reflecting on wellness habits, the Wellness Inventory is a helpful tool.
Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
In the COR syndemic, many people have realized the value of their relationships with others, and with self. For many, coping strategies have been put to the test with the recent, and current, elevated individual, community, and collective trauma experiences. Taking care of one’s emotional wellness can include activities like spending fulfilling time in reflection, whether that’s journaling, meditating, or reading.
Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, people around the country flocked to outdoor spaces, seeking safe environments for individual and social activity. At the same time, racial unrest and police violence caused many outdoor areas and communities to feel unsafe. It is important for people to find or create an environment to support well-being. This may include being outside or in nature or using colors, textures, scents, and lighting to create pleasant space in one’s home or room.
Satisfaction with current and future financial situations
Every dimension of wellness has been impacted by the COR syndemic. Many people have been laid off or otherwise lost their jobs or primary sources of income. Financial wellness can feel like a particularly difficult area for people right now. If feeling dissatisfied with the current financial situations, it can be important to process, plan, and strategize how to improve the current and future outlook. Access to money itself can feel out of our control, but our sense of financial wellness is in our control. Trying things like participating in free events, meal prepping for the week, taking free debt management courses at a local credit union, or cutting out non-essential costs can help people gain some control.
Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
The COR syndemic has highlighted, for many, the value of connection and importance of a meaningful, compassionate support system. At the same time, many people can feel burnt out from virtual meetups, or anxious about in-person gatherings. Finding balance between solitude and connection with others is important. Having a sense of belonging can come from connecting with others with shared interests. Local libraries, community wellness centers, co-working spaces, and various meetup groups can be helpful ways for meeting new people to build with. Taking time to nurture existing connections is important. Taking time to call, text, or message people to let them know they’re being thought about can go a long way.
Expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life
Spiritual wellness has been challenged for many people in the COR syndemic. And, for many, the epidemics have helped to create a sense of purpose and meaning in life. Being connected to something larger than ourselves, or feeling our own lives have meaning, is an important part of overall well-being. All of the dimensions of wellness are connected – enhancing spiritual wellness can include things like stargazing or enjoying a silent walk in nature (environmental), or talking about the meaning of life with trusted loved ones (social).
Personal satisfaction and enrichment derived from one’s work
Like all dimensions of wellness, occupational wellness will vary from person to person and what “work” means for them. For some people, their work includes a career or other job. For others, it may be caretaking or being a carer. Being a student or learner, participating in a skills training or independently exploring new skills and trades are all examples of work. In occupational wellness, the work is not necessarily a paid job. It’s important that whatever this work is feels meaningful, and brings personal satisfaction and enrichment.
Recognizing the need for physical activity, diet, sleep, and nutrition
Our physical wellness can impact the habits, routines, and rituals we engage in for other dimensions of wellness. Without proper nutrition or sleep, it can be hard to have the energy or motivation to engage in wellness-strengthening activities. It’s important to take the time to move the body and participate in accessible physical activity. Physical wellness isn’t necessarily about starting a gym routine or transforming eating habits, especially after many people’s routines were transformed by the COR syndemic for many reasons. Physical wellness can be built by small, daily choices to move, create regular sleep habits, and increase awareness of food and beverage choices. September is a great time for engaging in outdoor physical activities, enjoying farm-fresh foods, and adjusting sleep habits as the days become shorter.
Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
Just as expanding knowledge and skills can support occupational wellness, it can enhance intellectual wellness. Everyone has creative strengths, and it can be helpful to expand on the knowledge and skills that contribute to these strengths. If someone is unsure about what creative abilities they possess, journaling or brainstorming might help with recognizing what they are. Writing, reading, creating art, and dancing all enhance intellectual wellness, as does putting together puzzles, visiting museums, or doing a crossword puzzle.
For More Wellness Tips and Tools
Your Healthiest Self: Wellness Toolkits | National Institutes of Health
What You Need to Know About National Wellness Week | Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Learn the Eight Dimensions of Wellness (poster) | SAMHSA
Take Charge! A Workbook to Enhance Well-Being with the 8 Dimensions of Wellness | Policy Research Associates, Inc.
Eight Dimensions of Wellness Daily Plan | UIC Solutions Suite for Health and Recovery
Disclaimer: The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies.