This is a guest post by Diamond.
Many of us fall victim to the trap of comparing ourselves to others to determine our overall success and wellness. This is a mistake; we can only be defined properly on an individual basis. Your own wellness is relative to how you have felt and how you will feel in the future.
The same goes for other areas of wellness, including financial, physical and mental wellness. It isn’t something that can be diagnosed by a single visit to a doctor or life coach. In order to define your own well-being, you first need to create a metric by which to measure.
A word of caution: you should always approach wellness with a positive demeanor. It may be that you don’t feel as good today as you did yesterday, but that’s no reason to think you can’t feel better tomorrow than you’ve ever felt before.
Your physical state of wellness should be based on several different factors. To begin with, start by thinking of how you feel today based on:
- Is how you feel right now different than normal?
- Is your health better, worse, or different than in the past?
- Are you healthy enough to do the things you like to do?
- Are you happy with what you see?
- How do you want to feel tomorrow?
A simple question and answer session with yourself can give you a great starting place for defining your physical well-being. For instance, some people never experience pain, while others experience chronic pains every day; yet how you feel relative to your personal “normal” is a huge part in measuring your wellness.
We also all get older; we may not feel the same at 20, 40 or 60 years of age. But different isn’t necessarily worse; it just is. It very well may not be a bad thing to feel less energetic at 60 than you did at 20. Consider your circumstances.
But a big factor in personal physical wellness is being able to do what you want to do. If your goal is to climb mountains, then just being able to do pull-ups or run the mile may not feel “good enough.” If you like bird watching and walking outside, your needs will be different, and so will your measurement of what “well” is.
Don’t forget to reflect either; are you happy with what you see? But understand that such feelings are subjective. You can decide to feel better about what’s in the mirror and your personal wellness immediately improves.
Most of all, plan for tomorrow; if you do want to feel stronger and faster, you’ll need to set positive, attainable goals.
By far the most subjective state of wellness is financial. In some cases, entire families living in a single room apartment with barely enough to eat still consider themselves financially stable. They have what they want.
In your case, you need to define where you currently are and where you want to be. It may be that you’re happy with your position in life; you might enjoy your job and feel that your basic needs are taken care of. It’s okay not to have enough spare capital to buy everything you want.
But it’s also important to consider what you’re doing to maintain or exceed your current financial wellness. In a world of technology, staying financially fit means being prepared for identity theft, data loss, and scams; traditional methods such as saving money or balancing the budget aren’t necessarily enough.
To make sure your goals are met, keep an eye on your accounts; monitor your bank statements for unusual activity. Watch out for suspicious emails that ask for personal information or ask you to visit unusual websites.
If managing money isn’t your strong point, it may be worth meeting with a financial counselor to help create a budget and keep your bills paid. Just remember that there’s opportunity everywhere—if you want to work at it.
Measuring your mental wellness is done best after getting the rest of your ducks in a row. Poor physical health and bad financial situations can put major stress on your mental wellness. But the reverse is also true.
Defining mental wellness for yourself is based on parameters not dissimilar from physical wellness. You should examine some of the following areas:
- Can you concentrate enough to accomplish the tasks you want?
- Do you find stress interfering with your job or hobbies?
- Is there enough going on to justify your levels of stress?
- Can you remember things as well as you would like?
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t compare your levels of concentration unfairly; some jobs require far less concentration while others require years of practice. If you suddenly get a new job or take on a new hobby and find concentrating harder, it may just be because the task is different.
Stress is also important to consider; it might be normal to experience higher levels of stress if you’re constantly moving and working. It may be abnormal to experience high levels of stress while making dinner just for yourself.
Memory is also critical to consider. Our needs vary; if you’re working in a professional field, your memory needs to be razor sharp. If you find difficulty remembering things relative to earlier in your life, there may be something wrong (it could even be in your diet).
While wellness may be a complicated topic, the take home message is ultimately simple enough: you must be your own comparison. Comparing yourself to others is counterproductive, if not harmful. So take a good look at yourself and decide whether or not you feel good.
Diamond is a blogger and tech enthusiast who writes for eHealth Informer. She enjoys discussing the meaning of health in today’s world and how we can best define ourselves in an increasingly information-driven society. You can also find her on Twitter.
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Image: David Di Veroli