Our “Journey to a Healthier You” series kicked off this January with a look at the difference between health and wellness. February introduced the concept of physical wellness, March brought social wellness and this month, we examine intellectual wellness.

The term intellectual wellness may seem intimidating or overwhelming (and not terribly exciting), but hear us out. Intellectual wellness is more than just sitting in a classroom.

Intellectual wellness is expanding one’s knowledge and skills while discovering the potential for sharing your gifts with others. It is achieved through activities that inspire and stimulate a person’s desire to learn, explore and expand their mind.

Engaging in lifelong learning makes you a more mindful and well-rounded person. It stimulates curiosity and motivates you to try new things and develop an understanding of your place in the world around you. Intellectual wellness can be developed by taking classes and seminars, learning about your own and different cultures, becoming involved in your community and engaging in hobbies.

How intellectually well are you?

Asking yourself the following questions can provide insight into your own intellectual wellness. Answering “no” may indicate an area where you could make changes to improve your wellness in the future.

  1. Am I open to new ideas?
  2. Do I seek personal growth by learning new skills?
  3. Do I search for lifelong learning opportunities and stimulating mental activities?
  4. Do I look for ways to use creativity?
  5. Am I challenging my mind?

How to contribute to intellectual wellness

There are many activities that contribute to intellectual wellness. Before continuing to read, pause and consider what hobbies or activities you currently do that stimulate your mind. Are you handy around your home, garage and yard? Do you recognize and appreciate the satisfaction that comes from fixing something? Do you find new ways to utilize your tools? Do you follow the news and current events? Do you read for pleasure or do crossword puzzles? Do you build, paint, color or sculpt? Do you learn more about culture and history by visiting museums? Do you travel domestically or abroad and immerse yourself in the native culture?

Similar to the other wellness dimensions we’ve covered in this series, intellectual wellness is personal and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. As you move along your wellness path, try to challenge yourself and consider becoming involved in things that achieve the following:

  • Create new skills or build upon existing skills. Whether you enjoy working on your car or motorcycle, taking things apart and putting them back together again or fixing something that’s broken, the one thing all of these activities have in common is that they stimulate your mind and make you think.
  • Improve critical thinking by actively engaging in conversation and challenging the norm rather than accepting an answer at face value.
  • Keep an open mind by learning that there’s more than one way to do something, acknowledging there isn’t always a “right” answer and being open to new ideas or seeing something in a different light.
  • Improve time management by making a “to-do” list, prioritizing tasks in order of importance, learning to say “no” and knowing your limits when it comes to being productive while multitasking.

Now is as good a time as any to challenge yourself to try something new. What have you always wanted to do but made an excuse not to try in the past?

Future articles in the “Journey to a Healthier You” series will explore finding a hobby that is right for you and offer suggestions on improving time management and critical thinking skills.

[Emily Smith is the Health Promotion Division’s Wellness Coordinator.]