What’s the reference point?

So this past month we’ve been talking about various issues related to the topic of wellness in our MS Conversations, but what really is wellness? And how do you know if you’re truly living ‘well?’ What is the guiding point to reference when trying to determine this? All good questions, but not ones that necessarily produce easy, one word answers. Wellness can encapsulate many different factors, and its outcome can definitely be subjective at times according to each person’s view of it. It can be defined in very unique terms and the way each person lives their life can differ because of this. That’s not to say that one person’s take on wellness is better over another, it’s just different and relative to their own needs.

There are many components to the notion of wellness and that’s why its possibilities are abundant. Capturing not only the physical piece, but the emotional, spiritual, social, and intellectual factors too, also contribute to the vast definition of what wellness means for each person. It’s not measured by just one part but by many, and who’s to say that if a person focuses on one piece of it at a time that they’re not still living ‘well’ in their own understanding of it. That’s why it’s so hard to quantify exactly what the picture perfect frame of wellness is; everyone is different and lives by distinct belief systems and practices. Because the concept of wellness can change so subjectively, it’s challenging to try and identify an exact point of reference for it. So instead, ask yourself questions that gauge your own well-being and include things that are most important to you—health, spirit, relationships, values, beliefs, the list can go on…

 

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Family Wellness and Health

Wellness is a topic that encompasses many things. It is defined as the condition of good physical, mental and emotional health, especially when maintained by an appropriate diet, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications.

Wellness is much more than just medical health, it is a dynamic process. Maintaining a high level of wellness is crucial to living a higher quality of life. Everything we do and feel affects our wellness. And, our wellness affects our actions and emotions. It’s a circle. If we disregard our wellness, it can lead to a negative spiral that can be difficult to get out of. But, if we can achieve optimal wellness, it can lessen stress, reduce the risk of illness and ensure positive interactions with others. By focusing on your wellness, you and your family can become healthier and happier people.

5 Healthy Habits for Your Family

As a starter, incorporating wellness into your family is as easy as 5-4-3-2-1. Every day, attempt to reach the following goals and discuss your progress as a family:

FIVE servings of fruits and vegetables
FOUR servings of water
THREE servings of low-fat dairy products for calcium and protein
TWO hours screen time, at the most
ONE or more hours of physical activity

This simple plan laid out by the Tanner Clinic will help you and your family start to address your physical wellness. However, physical wellness is only one of eight dimensions of overall wellness according to SAMHSA. To improve your total wellness, spend some time assessing where you stand on the other seven dimensions of wellness listed below.

Wellness blogIf you and your family spend some time each week developing healthy habits related to each dimension of wellness, it will have a positive impact on both your physical and mental health in the long run.

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Social Wellness

As our blog theme for the month will focus on various concepts of wellness, I wanted to emphasize that wellness does not necessarily mean just in the physical sense with diet and exercise. Wellness can encompass many different factors, including spirituality or social well-being. As with many notions and ideas we have, wellness too can be perceived differently by individuals, and there’s not only one right way of looking at it.

Social wellness can be just as important as other types because of the impact it can have on one’s body and mind. Taking care of yourself physically is vital, but taking care of and being mindful of your social needs is equally essential. Human beings are meant to connect to others to find fulfilling emotional and thoughtful interactions. Reaching out to other people to make ties that create happiness and contentment is one of the most basic human instincts. Of course there can be interactions and relationships along the way that don’t always bring this sense of fulfillment or joy. But again, it’s part of our nature to either work through these obstacles to work on trying to change and repair these ties, or to dissolve them if they are causing increased stress and harm. The latter decision can be very difficult, but it’s important to know when a relationship is not providing positive benefits but rather draining energy and support.

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There are different ways for people to get socially connected to one another. Joining something like an art or education class, or attending social events in your community are some of the ways to increase connections. Throughout the MS community there are various internet group forums and discussions online, an MS Friends telephone line, support group settings and MS educational events. The form of communication can vary in social circles too, as some may feel more comfortable interacting online or may have access issues to physically attending outings. No matter the method, having affirmative social bonds can help to increase positive wellness.

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MSAA Motivator: Wellness in Multiple Sclerosis

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MSAA’s latest edition of The Motivator features an updated design, with printed and digital versions available.

Included in this issue of The Motivator:

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  • Cover Story – Wellness in MS: How good food choices, exercise, correct posture, and other lifestyle changes can have a positive influence on your overall health.
  • Up Front – MSAA’s president and CEO gives a special message to readers, reflecting on his 16 years of service to MSAA.
  • Research News – Updates on recent news items occurring since the last issue of The Motivator are featured.
  • Program Notes – MSAA’s new aquatic fitness DVD, plus My Health Insurance Guide, are both highlighted.

Throughout the month of October, aligned with the release of latest edition of The Motivator, MSAA Client Services staff and guest bloggers will continue to highlight the impact that a wellness strategy can have on an individual with MS. Discussing topics such as diet and exercise, mental health, and social wellness, we hope to continue the conversation about wellness and learn from each other’s experiences.

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