JFSC: Make personal health and wellness a priority

By Roxanne Droppo

(AJNews) – As Alberta starts to “Open For Summer,” we can see the potential to return to a more ‘normal’ state of existence in the coming months. While this brings a certain sense of excitement and relief, there can also be some anxiety as many of us grapple with what ‘normal’ looks like.

Assessing and addressing our own personal health and wellness can feel challenging. While we are heading in the right direction to contain the spread of Covid, we are not at a point where our lives can fully resume. Anticipating the spread of new variants and the potential for a ‘fourth wave’ are possibilities lurking in the back of our minds. We know that now, perhaps more than ever, we need to be patient and focus on our personal health and well-being in the home stretch.

Many us have lost sight of what health and wellness actually means to us. Health is defined as a “state of being.” Our “state of being” for the past 15 months has been unpredictable, isolating, lonely and at times, hopeless.

When we think about our own health, we generally consider our physical well-being. Are we eating properly, exercising, getting enough sleep and of course consuming enough water to regulate our bodies and nourish our skin, hair and cells? If you ask your friends and family, many will respond that during our mandated down time they have embraced their physical health and made changes to prioritize their health and lead their best lives.

Wellness on the other hand, is elusive. The World Health Organization, defines wellness as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” The consensus is that wellness is the state of living a healthy lifestyle that enhances well-being.

Our physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual health work together to define our general well-being. Over this past 15 months, many if not all of these dimensions have been challenged by our current circumstances. This is recognized by medical and mental health professionals, and the challenge we face is that, unlike physical health, how can we quantify and enhance our wellbeing?

There is a sense of accomplishment and a reduction of anxiety when we feel we are in control of our circumstances. Below are some suggestions on how you can take this time to work on connecting with your inner self and enhancing your well-being. These constructive exercises can help you cope with your current reality and formulate a plan to move forward for life after Covid.

In a journal, jot down your thoughts on where you feel you are right now with your health and wellness. Consider all of the dimensions of your life and assess what is working and what you would like to change: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual.

Write down your plan to address any changes and make sure to date your entry.  Revisit your plan every month. Write down your progress and your challenges and maintain the journaling as a way of staying accountable and prioritizing your health and wellness.

Reach out to someone who you trust and share your thoughts. Reach out to someone in your community who may need a friend and encourage them to start the same journaling exercise.

Consider accessing physical and mental health resources if you need them: your family doctor, dietician, mental health professional, fitness trainer, massage therapist, acupuncturist, naturopath, etc.

While we cautiously anticipate recovery from Covid and a return to our ‘normal’ lives, looking into the future can cause anxiety. Take this opportunity to evaluate and work on your health and well-being for the present and into the future.

JFSC enriches lives and strengthens communities by providing social services to individuals and families across their life spans, based on the values of compassion, social justice and improving the world. If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulties, call JFSC’s Mental Health Line at 403-287-3511.  For more information on our programs and services: www.jfsc.org.

Roxanne Droppo is Executive Director at Jewish Family Services Calgary.

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