¡We can no longer be a bunch of empty minds living in critical times refusing to recognize real lies!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


Wellness—as opposed to fitness—is making a comeback among gay men, and with good reason. Where a previous generation thought of wellness as just the absence of illness, these days wellness programs acknowledge that there's a lot more to being well than just not getting sick. And, at different moments of your life, how you assess your wellness, and what you need to do to maintain it, will substantially change. To stay well, you need to be able to gauge your wellness, and take steps to correct imbalances in your life. In this and subsequent pieces, I'll point some potential challenges to wellness at different ages, and direct you to some resources that can help keep you on track. Whether you're in your twenties, thirties, forties, fifties or sixties, there are actions you can undertake to keep well. Today we'll start with some introductory wellness tips for guys in their twenties—but if you've already left that decade behind, stay tuned. In the coming weeks, I'll have tips for the more…mature population as well. GETTING STARTED: WHAT IS WELLNESS? If wellness isn't just avoiding getting sick, then what is it? Wellness experts identify six major areas of wellness. Take a look at them and think about the form they take in your life—bearing in mind that there may be overlap between categories. 
  • PHYSICAL: Your physical wellness includes all the things you would expect, like your cardiovascular fitness, your strength, and your endurance; but it also includes preventive measures, such as regular testing for diseases, and maintaining a healthy diet, even if you're not overweight. In a traditional wellness program, the physical would be the entire emphasis—notice here that it's only one of six elements. That is because the body's wellness does not exist in a vacuum; it is part of an overall goal of health for the entire individual.
  • SOCIAL: Social wellness is not just about having fun. It's also a way of addressing your interdependence with the people around you. You will have a better, healthier life (and body) if you have strong relationships and a sense of community. In fact, studies show that people who have strong social networks tend to live longer. But you will have to actively promote and maintain those relationships, rather than just rely on them to be there when you really need them. 
  • SPIRITUAL: We often think of spirituality as necessarily meaning religion. And, for some people, religion will certainly be a key part of a spiritual life. But from a wellness point of view, spiritual fulfillment will more generally mean feeling that there is a purpose to your life. This can range from practicing meditation, to taking up volunteer activities in your community. Anything you do that lets you feel that you are here for a reason, and that you have a connection beyond the purely physical (even in a mind/body sense) will form part of your spiritual life.

  • INTELLECTUAL: Your intellectual development doesn't stop after school ends. Later in life you can, of course, pursue another degree—but you can also find other ways of maintaining your intellectual wellness. Creativity can do this, for instance, by stimulating new areas of your mind. Take up a new art, or some writing. Try to find mentally stimulating activities. The idea is to expand your sphere of interest beyond what you already find comfortable. 

  • OCCUPATIONAL: You probably spend eight to 10 of your waking hours in a workplace that you hope will be fulfilling, where you are setting and meeting goals, and where you feel a sense of achievement. To get to this state, you want to stay on top of your occupational wellness. Do you do work that you enjoy, and is it satisfying? Do you like both your work and your job, or only one? Does what you do match what you want from life, and how you see yourself? Note that this is not necessarily about financial gain; this is about fulfillment in your job and your profession. 

  • PSYCHOLOGICAL: Your psychological wellness may be heavily dependent on other areas of your life. Problems elsewhere—in your relationships, or your career—will take a toll on your psychology. That's why you need to be able to assess where you stand emotionally, and have strategies for improving your feelings. What would you need to change in your life to feel better about yourself? Are there habits of mind that are keeping you back in life? Is there a form of therapy that you want to think about taking on to work on your psychological wellness, whether traditional psychotherapy, or hypnosis or other more alternative methods?

I hope that EVERY glance at this list will leave you wondering where to put the various elements of your life. After all, your friendships are part of your social wellness, but if they are work friends they may be part of your occupational situation, and will, sooner or later, cross into your psychological wellness. Most of the elements of your life will not fall sharply into one single category. That's OK—instead of thinking of these as hard-and-fast categories, you want to assess how the elements of your life are interconnected, and how changes in one area bring changes elsewhere. Your goal isn't to separate the pieces of your life into categories, but to try to restore balance when something in your life brings one category out of kilter with the others. Only you know your own life—and so it's up to you to develop a thorough portrait of what things in your life impact which areas of your wellness.

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