Education Matters: Pay attention to wellness during holiday season

The holiday season seems to fill up quickly. This year, Thanksgiving and the beginning of Hanukkah fell on the same day. Between finals, family, traveling and weather changes, maintaining balance can be challenging and take away from the meaningfulness of the season.

With so many expectations placed on us, either by others or ourselves, it can be overwhelming to attempt balance and mindfulness.

Using the Wellness Wheel can help focus our efforts to maintain balance. The Wellness Wheel is composed of six dimensions: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual and career/occupational.

Physical wellness refers to physical health and nutrition. Daily routines can fluctuate during end-of-semester activities. If you study or work with the TV on, take breaks for light exercise during the commercials.

Intellectual wellness focuses on lifelong learning and the ability to open and challenge our minds with new concepts and experiences. The holidays are great for leisure reading. Choose a book you can finish during the break to avoid the temptation of reading it instead of course materials when the spring semester begins.

Emotional wellness is achieved through the ability to understand, share and manage feelings. Stress can be experienced in both positive and negative forms; the holiday season can provide both types of circumstances. Consider in advance how you will practice self-care and remain mindful of your emotions as you experience the season.

Social wellness reflects our ability to interact and relate to others. It is influenced by the degree to which we can establish and maintain positive relationships and contribute to our campus, community and environment. Each time you add a winter activity to your calendar, think about how attending that event contributes to your wellness.

Spiritual wellness recognizes the importance of searching for meaning and purpose in life. It involves gaining a better understanding of your beliefs and values and behaving in ways consistent with those values. Upon participating in activities, consider the meaningfulness of that participation and whether participating is congruent with your beliefs and values.

Career wellness encompasses the personal satisfaction and enrichment gained through work. It also involves the ability to achieve a balance between someone's work and personal life.

Work-life balance can be particularly challenging during the holidays. However, the end of the year is a natural time to reflect on the meaningfulness of your work or to re-evaluate your occupational goals.

Katherine Bacon is a visiting assistant professor of counseling in the UHV School of Education and Human Development.