Start 2020 by Looking at Your Whole Health
By Kathy Ferguson, RN, Parish Nurse
Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. Jeremiah 33:6
When we talk about health, it’s just about physical health, right? Many consider that to be the case. However, there is so much more to consider when we look at our health wholistically. All aspects of health contribute to our well-being.
There are two health models that I use to guide my parish nurse practice. They both happen to be in the shape of a circle. One comes from Church Health Reader and the other from the ELCA. They are quite similar, but do have some differences.
The Model for Healthy Living from Church Health:
This model identifies relationships between all parts of our lives. If one component is out of balance, it can affect all aspects of our wellness. The Model for Healthy Living recognizes the relationships between all parts of our lives. One component out of balance affects everything else.
• Faith — Building a relationship with God, your neighbors and yourself.
• Medical — Partnering with your health care provider to manage your medical care.
• Movement — Discovering ways to enjoy physical activity.
• Work — Appreciating your skills, talents, and gifts.
• Emotional — Managing stress and understanding your feelings to better care for yourself.
• Food — Making smart food choices and developing healthy eating habits.
• Community — Giving and receiving support through relationships.
The Wholeness Wheel from the ELCA:
The Wholeness Wheel aids in understanding the complexity of health and wellness. You may notice that the Wholeness Wheel has at its center the belief that in baptism, God offers new life in Christ. Baptism turns the wheel, and various dimensions of health are expressed in the context of spiritual well-being. God’s grace is the force behind health and wellness journeys because God is present in every aspect of well-being.
• Social and interpersonal well-being—God created us to be social beings in community with others.
• Emotional well-being—feeling the range of human emotions but expressing them appropriately.
• Physical well-being—honor our bodies as gifts from God.
• Vocational well-being—encourages us to appreciate all the gifts God gives and be faithful stewards of lives of meaning, purpose, and service.
• Intellectual well-being—challenges us to be curious and keep learning, but also to recognize when we need to rest our minds.
• Financial well-being—helps us demonstrate healthy values in the ways we save, spend, and share our resources.
• Spiritual well-being— the things we do to nurture spiritual well-being in personally meaningful ways. Spiritual well-being surrounds each of the other areas of wellness and affects each aspect of our well-being.
I will share a couple of fictional examples to better explain the connection between the various areas of wellness. As you read these, try to identify which aspects of health are being affected and how they connect by looking at the models.
• J.D. loses his job and along with it his health insurance. Because of a significant loss of income, he must choose between purchasing medication and putting food on the table. J.D. finds that the cheapest and easiest way to eat is to get fast food. After a few weeks, he notices his weight creeping up and his regular exercise has diminished to almost nothing. The decline in income also has forced him to cut back on most of their social activities including church attendance. Since he has stopped taking his medication for depression, he begins to experience symptoms of depression. With the loss of health insurance, visits to the doctor are put lower on the priority list and chronic health conditions are not well-managed.
• G.G. has made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and become more active. She purchases a membership to a local gym and begins to take a Zumba class. As part of the gym membership, she has access to various classes and attends some healthy eating and cooking classes. She begins to cook her own meals at home rather than eating at restaurants. Some of the people from the gym have invited her to attend their book club and others have started a walking group which she has joined. After a few months and a weight loss of 25 pounds, G.G.’s blood pressure has dropped and she is able to stop taking her blood pressure medication. When the opportunity presents itself, she joins a biking group associated with her church and begins to get more involved with her church activities.
I am hoping that you were able to identify the various aspects of health in these examples and how one area of well-being affects another. We can’t look at health and wellness as only one thing, but must consider how the various areas of wellness affect each other. This year instead of just looking at health as the absence of disease or being physically fit, consider all of the aspects of health that impact your wellness.
Happy New Year!