The Five Dimensions of Wellness: Physical Wellness

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

“If we make self-love or body acceptance conditional, the truth is, we will never be happy with ourselves. The reality is that our bodies are constantly changing, and they will never remain exactly the same. If we base our self-worth on something as ever-changing as our bodies, we will forever be on the emotional roller coaster of body obsession and shame.” — Chrissy King

What is Physical Wellness?

Physical wellness involves making choices to fulfill our bodies in a way that is meaningful for us. This includes a balance of activities that align with our values in regard to our physical health. Physical wellness balances all aspects of the physical self. This includes sleep, movement, nutrition, hygiene, relaxation, sexual health, management of illness and injuries, and the usage of drugs and alcohol.

Sleep: Sleep is a vital human function that allows the body to repair and rest for another day. During sleep, the body is repairing itself to support healthy brain function and maintain physical health. Restful sleep affects cognitive functioning, physical responses, and mood.

Movement: Movement gives the body an opportunity to strengthen muscles, build bone density, maintain coordination and balance, grow cognition, strengthen the heart, and strengthen the lungs. Movement can be planned physical activity that is structured to develop fitness. This would be a repetitive, coordinated exercise routine to focus on different parts of the body. Movement can also be spontaneous, and you can still benefit without the stress of following a strict exercise routine.

Nutrition: Nutritious food refers to food that provides beneficial properties for the body, such as vitamins and essential amino acids for cellular function as well as muscle and brain development. Nutritious food helps prevent malnutrition and illness. Eating nutritious food is an ideal that can be challenging to meet, especially when you’re stressed and busy. Eating what you can is better than not eating.

Why is Physical Wellness Important?

As humans, we are our bodies. Unlike material objects, we can’t replace our bodies when they start to fall apart. Physical wellness should not be a chore, and shouldn’t be separated from the other dimensions of wellness. Balancing activities for all areas of wellness takes time, intentionality, and compassion.

When you have restful sleep, your brain has the time to dump all the information it takes in throughout the day in the form of dreams. This repair overnight helps with decision-making, concentration, and memory. Repairing the body takes time and energy, which is why we feel foggy after a night of tossing and turning.

When we move the body in a meaningful way, we can strengthen and build areas that are necessary to overall functioning. The phrase “use it or lose it” can be applied to moving our body. Sometimes, we feel creaky and sore after sitting all day for work and that’s because we need to stretch our muscles and use our joints.

Our bodies need fuel to keep functioning and can use anything with calories as energy, regardless of the nutritional value. Let’s use a car as a metaphor. We have to put gas in the car so it’ll move from place A to B. All gas does the job, but they have different effects on the car and gas tank itself. Similarly, all food gives us energy and gets us from A to B. However, nutritious food will provide more long term benefits for our bodies. These benefits include more energy, more amino acids to build protein that builds muscles, improved brain function, and last but not least, increased immunity.

If we combine all the benefits of paying attention to our sleep, movement, and nutrition, we can improve our thinking, the way we feel in our bodies, and our mood. This then can trickle into other areas of our lives. Our relationships would improve because we’re feeling better. We can concentrate and learn more. We can feel our feelings more intently. We also can have the energy to reflect on our values.

The Route to Physical Wellness:

Here are some actionable steps you can consider as you begin down your journey on the route to physical wellness.

Awareness. Identify your values and where you might feel unbalanced.

Knowledge and Decision Making. Identify your options and weigh which options work better for your situation.

  • Maintain a regular sleep routine.

  • Try Intuitive movement: Intuitive movement strives to focus on how exercise makes you feel, instead of focusing on weight or body management.

  • Try Intuitive eating: Intuitive eating integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought to develop eating habits that satisfy biological and psychological needs. Rather than focusing on rules or beliefs about food, intuitive eating seeks attunement to bodily sensations and feelings when eating.

Planning. Create a realistic plan

  • Try to embed these practices into the routine you already have instead of trying to rebuild it.

  • If your routine no longer works for you, try to restructure the day in a way that feels better.

  • Decide what’s fun and accessible for you.

  • Build new strategies one at a time so you can become used to increment changes.

Action. Integrate realistic steps into your plan slowly

  • Find a partner to be accountable for each other and send reminders.

  • One step at a time: if your goal is to eat more fruits and veggies, add those components into the food you already eat either by supplementing or substituting. If your goal is to build muscle flexibility, try gentle stretches throughout the day. Then, move up to more extensive stretches and exercises after you’ve built muscle endurance.

Tips for Physical Wellness:

Let go of what people tell you what you “ought to” or “should” do.

Don’t wait for motivation to do something—do it when you think of it.

Have fun, do what feels good, and don’t overdo it.

Ignore prescriptive language that demands you label or measure your activities.

Remember, Jefferson Center’s Colorado Spirit team is here for you. Offering free and confidential support, we can help you with counseling tips and strategies to cope successfully and referrals to additional mental health resources. Call us if you need to talk at 720-731-4689.

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, please call 1-844-493-8255 or visit our 24/7 crisis walk-in center at 4643 Wadsworth Blvd, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033.