Originally posted in The Jamestown Sun.
By Dr. Dean Cramer, South Central Human Service Center
In thinking about wellness, and New Year’s resolutions related to improving health, I often encourage people to consider the concept of the “Health Triangle.” True to its name the health triangle proposes that there are three core components to healthy living including physical, emotional and social health.
So often our New Year’s resolutions narrow in on one side of this triangle and perhaps even a single aspect of that side. For example, most of you reading this article have likely had a New Year’s resolution at some point related to weight loss. Physical health, however, is a much broader concept than your weight and should include an emphasis on nutrition, exercise habits, sleep, and use of alcohol and/or drugs, etc.
It is also important to consider the other two sides of our triangle. Emotionally healthy and socially supported individuals are more likely to be successful in any change they make than are those who feel isolated or unhappy.
New Year New You taps into the idea of having a support network as you seek to make changes. Healthy home environment, loving families and close friends are all critically important parts of our overall well-being. Consider the people around you and whether they are supportive people who build you up or are negative/critical people who lead you to doubting yourself.
As much as possible, consider increasing your involvement with those who will support you. Likewise, set limits and if necessary consider removing or reducing the influence of the negative people in your life. It is remarkable how much our mood, feelings of self-worth and view of the world are impacted by those around us.
The final side of this triangle relates to emotional health, which is an area that people often fail to consider when making New Year’s resolutions. Emotional health includes the way you feel about yourself, how you deal with emotions and how you manage stressors. In my work as a psychologist, I encounter people who often hold a very negative self-perception. People will berate or be continually critical of themselves in ways they would never consider talking about another person. I would encourage everyone reading this article to take a day and “watch” your thoughts carefully while considering “what sort of messages am I sending myself” and depending upon what you discover consider practicing sending more positive messages. This rather simple change can lead to a marked difference in mood and attitude.
Other activities that can positively impact emotional health include taking time for your hobbies, reaching out to friends, managing stress, stepping away from the television or computer monitor and limiting worry. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety or some other mental health concern, please reach out for help to your physician or a counselor. The research is conclusive that therapy and/or medication management are extremely effective in treating these disorders.
The biggest barrier for so many people is taking the risk to share their struggle and ask for help. Change happens every day, and often it comes from a person simply deciding “I’m worth it.” If you are so inspired and are looking at making changes with regard to your health please consider the New Year New You program’s global vision of wellness.