Last month I stated that wellness is not just being physically fit but a combination of various dimensions of being well. For the best possibility of wellness it is essential to find positive feelings about each wellness dimension (emotional-mental, intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual). A well person is fulfilled in work, is spiritually satisfied, enjoys free time, is physically fit, is socially involved, and has a positive emotional-mental outlook. Many researchers feel that an overall positive outlook is a key to wellness. Being well is individual – meaning everybody’s ideal concept of wellness is different.
So how does one stay well when unexpectedly faced with a traumatic life experience, such as having a preemie or micro-preemie. Obviously there is a lot that is out of your control but the key is how you deal with the situation and how to keep yourself well during that time so you can be the best parent you can be for your child/ren.
This month I am going to focus on the emotional-mental and intellectual dimensions of wellness.
Emotional-mental wellness: the ability to cope with daily occurrences and to be able to deal with personal feelings in a positive, optimistic, and constructive manner. An individual who possesses emotional wellness is typically characterized as a happy person.
Being able to deal with your feelings in a positive manner is essential to being well. This means that you know how to deal with those tough days in (and for some; after) the NICU properly. Journaling and/or being able to talk to someone (whether that is a social worker, another NICU family or therapist of some kind) about how you are feeling is a lot healthier than keeping your emotions bottled up. For me, friends and family members tried very hard to empathize with what my husband and I were going through but in reality it was the other NICU families we met who we connected with and talked the most about our little one’s progress. Does that mean we were both happy everyday? Absolutely not; but it helped us deal with how we were feeling in a very beneficial manner.
Intellectual wellness: an individual possesses the ability to learn and to use information to enhance the quality of daily living and optimal functioning. A person with intellectual wellness is typically thought of as informed.
This is tough to do at times, especially in a medical setting when you do not have any medical background and it seems that everyday you are thrown a new medical term you have never heard of before. Needless to say, every NICU family is different and how they use that information. During our NICU stay, I wrote down my daughter’s daily progress report from her neonatalogist so if there was something I didn’t quite understand I could ask her nurse or do some research myself on the internet. My husband and I chose to learn everything about our daughter’s care, what types of procedures or surgeries she may have to have and what the side effects of all of those were. We wanted to be prepared for anything that could happen to our daughter. Some families choose to just educate themselves and deal with issues as they happened. The common denominator is that we all educated ourselves to become better informed when/if something happened to our children. Even learning how to change your baby’s diaper while he/she is in the isolette is educating yourself to better take care of your child while enhancing your overall wellness because you are able to actively partake in the care of your baby.
Coming up I will hit on the physical, social, and spiritual dimensions of wellness.