My first article for Sixty and Me described the Vitality Portfolio® approach that helps build health/well-being in the same way you might use a financial portfolio to build financial well-being. Namely, it helps you make a (vitality) plan, balance (vitality) assets and make regular deposits.

The Vitality Portfolio model identifies three main asset categories: wellness, core and functional – all necessary to support lifelong vitality. Today’s post asks you to evaluate your wellness wheel and then takes a deeper dive into the physical and social dimensions of well-being.

Is Your Wellness Wheel Balanced?

Last November I asked you to draw your Wellness Wheel. This offers a quick snapshot of how well each dimension of wellness is currently supporting your overall health. Take a moment to draw your Wellness Wheel again (or for the first time).

You may find that it’s lopsided, reflecting that you make regular deposits into some dimensions but leave others to languish. Creating a balanced Wellness Wheel requires planning how specifically you’re going to improve each area of your life!

Physical Dimension – More Than Physical Activity

The Physical Dimension encompasses the many different ways you interact with the physical world. That includes your physical capacities and physical competence (maximizing abilities in the face of challenges), but also includes the other ways you support (or diminish) physical health.

Do you wear a seat-belt when driving, have regular medical check-ups, choose healthy foods, maintain a healthy weight, avoid high-risk situations and health saboteurs like smoking or over-indulging in alcohol?

Consider all of these aspects to get a clear picture of how well your lifestyle supports the Physical Dimension of your health.

Social Dimension – Social Connection

The Social Dimension of wellness seems pretty straight forward. Are you socially active? Do you have a close circle of friends and/or family that you interact with regularly? But it’s actually more related to how truly connected you feel with these individuals or groups.

I’ve often said that a person can feel lonelier in a room full of people than sitting at home alone. It hinges on feelings of connection rather than just proximity to others.

Social well-being also includes how you interact with others in casual social situations. Do you consistently demonstrate respect for yourself and for others in social interactions? Is it relatively easy to put yourself “out there” to meet new people and enjoy new experiences?

People with social anxiety often far overestimate how much judgement they are receiving from others and so shy away from all but the most familiar social situations.

Social isolation has emerged as a primary barrier to good health and longevity, so efforts made to improve your social dimension of wellness can pay significant health dividends.

Another aspect of social well-being includes the ‘health’ of your social relationships. You only need to watch a few episodes of Dr. Phil to see that it’s very common for people to get into and sustain unhealthy relationships – not only with family but with co-workers, love interests, neighbors or even strangers (think road rage).

It’s also very common to repeat unhealthy relationship patterns over and over again. If you find yourself in conflict with others often, it may be time to re-evaluate your social relationships and interactions for warning signs that you’ve slipped into unhealthy patterns.

Consciously choose to step back periodically and determine if your relationships are uplifting or draining your personal well-being and the well-being of others. Do you need to make a change?

Plan for Behavior Change

Refer to my August blog post outlining the 5-step process of behavior change to assess your stage of change in each particular dimension of wellness.

Once you have a sense of your readiness to make behavior changes, it will be easier to pin point strategies to improve your efforts in each dimension of health.

The next blog post will address the emotional and spiritual dimensions of wellness.

Are there areas of your physical well-being that you feel great about? Which aspects of the physical dimension could use more attention? How do you feel about your social dimension of wellness? Are your relationships uplifting? If not, can you identify one change that could improve your relationships? Let’s start a productive conversation!

Kay Van NormanKay Van Norman is an internationally known healthy aging expert who directed the Keiser Institute on Aging, has extensive publications – including a Chinese translation of her book “Exercise and Wellness for Older Adults” – and created the Vitality Portfolio®, an action plan to build lifelong vitality – regardless of challenges.

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