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Whole Person Wellness

by Sadie C. Hawthorne

Welcome to the new school year! Are you well rested and ready to work with adult learners or do you feel overwhelmed by all of the demands on your time and energy? Do you believe you are in control of your life or is life controlling you? Perhaps it is time to consider the areas of life and seek balance in each. This article will identify eight categories that should be considered when seeking that balance we so long for in our daily existence.

The first, and most obvious, is the physical category. The acronym Healthy DEAR + is a good way to remember the main components of physical wellbeing:

  • Diet: Recent studies reveal that approximately one third of the population in our country is obese and one third is overweight (please note this is true for all age groups) based on the guidelines from the American Medical Association, included on the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart. The Standard American Diet (as our diet is known around the world) is, indeed, very SAD. Processed foods, refined sugar, and excessive food additives such as sodium have all contributed to our problems. What’s a body to do? Shop the outer edges of the grocery store, with an emphasis on fresh vegetables, fish, and fruits.
  • Exercise: Start now with your choice, such as walking, swimming, or cycling. Gradually increase your activities so you can engage in movement that strengthens your cardiovascular and muscular systems. **Always check with your health care provider before beginning a new program.**

  • Agua: The current recommendation is to consume one half of your body weight in ounces of water daily. Again, increase slowly to work toward that measure.

  • Rest: According to research, you will benefit from and be at your best if you get between six and nine hours of sleep a night. Find out what your ideal amount is and try to maintain that each night. It is important to be consistent with your bedtime in order to feel most rested. If you want extra rest, go to bed earlier. Unfortunately, sleeping in will not produce the desired results.

    + All your efforts to improve your life will be magnified with a positive attitude! Count your blessings. Focus on the good in your life. You will find what you seek!

In addition to the physical self, we should also consider our emotional, social, mental, spiritual, volitional, P&P, and the category I list as “et al. areas.” Read on to catch a brief glimpse of each area.

Daniel Goleman brought attention to our emotional intelligence (EQ) and social intelligence (SI) in his books. Emotional and social intelligence allow us to identify our emotions and determine why we have them, manage our emotions effectively, recognize emotions in others, and maintain a healthy relationship with others, both in the personal and professional arenas. The greater your awareness in these areas, the higher your emotional and social intelligence. How do you respond when a student becomes upset or frustrated? How about your significant other or your child? As our awareness of emotions increases, so does our emotional intelligence. Yes, we can actually grow in this area.

As educators, we have placed great value on standardized tests to identify our mental intelligence. It’s time to think outside the box! As Howard Gardner proposed in his 1983 book, Frames of Mind, there are many ways to consider being smart, or multiple intelligences, as he named the concept. Are you supporting your areas of strength, such as the linguistic or naturalist interests you have?

Emotional and social intelligence allow us to identify our emotions and determine why we have them, manage our emotions effectively… and maintain a healthy relationship with others, both in the personal and professional arenas.

The belief in a power greater than our self and a need for that belief is at the core of our spiritual component in life. We are hardwired to seek the connection. Seek, and when you find, grow closer. As humans, spiritual connection will bring peace to a weary soul.

Decisions, decisions, decisions, and more decisions! In our volitional state, we are challenged to make wise, healthy decisions moment by moment. Some are large (will I accept this job or a marriage proposal?), some are minor (which menu item will I order for my meal?), and we are always faced with more and more. Gather your data and seek to make the most informed decision possible in each instance.

P & P represents purpose and passion for our lives. What do you believe is your purpose in life—why are you here on earth? Passion—what is there in your life that drives you, what is so important that you think you must be able to continue to do it or be involved in it for your life to have meaning and value? Identify and live it!

The Latin phrase et al. covers everything else, such as your heredity, current environment, personality, etc. In reviewing these factors, we can determine their influence and determine what role we will allow them to play in our lives.

So this is a glimpse of the eight categories. How much balance do you believe you currently have? What small changes are you willing to make to bring more balance to each area? What are you waiting for?

Sadie C. Hawthorne is currently the Director of Adult Education at the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation. She has an M.S. in administration and supervision and an M.S. in counseling. She has taught a range of students from kindergarten to college and has developed and conducted workshops and keynote addresses on a range of topics.