Whole Health | VA Washington DC Healthcare



The innermost circle represents each of us as unique individuals. We start in the middle by saying, “I am the expert on my life, my values, my goals, and my priorities. Only I can know WHY I want my health. Only I can know what really matters to ME. And this knowledge should drive my health and health care. I am the most important person when it comes to making choices that affect my health and well-being. I am the leader of my team and the professionals of my medical team are among the invited players.

The following are examples of the types of services Veterans can access and use to support this area:

  • What REALLY matters to you in your life?
  • Why do you want your health?
  • What is your vision of your best possible health?

conscious awareness

Mindfulness is being fully aware or paying attention. Sometimes we go through our daily lives on autopilot. We are not fully aware of the present. We often dwell on the past and plan events for the future. We don’t spend a lot of time really paying attention and noticing what’s going on right now; without judging or trying to fix it. Your body and mind are constantly sending you signals. If your attention is elsewhere, you don’t notice it. Then the signals that started out as whispers become audible warnings. For example, when you miss the whispers of early discomfort or feelings of sadness, you miss the opportunity to make a change before it turns into real pain or depression. Being mindful, or mindful, allows you to make conscious proactive choices about all aspects of your health. Mindfulness connects you to every component of your well-being and to your whole self.

The Eight Domains of Self-Care

Self-care is often the most important factor in leading a healthy life, allowing you to live your life to the fullest, in the way that matters to you. Self-care includes all the choices you make every day that affect your physical, mental, and spiritual health. In fact, how you take care of yourself will have a greater impact on your health and well-being than the medical care you receive. Evidence shows that each of these eight areas of self-care contributes greatly to your overall health and well-being. They can also affect your chances of developing diseases as well as the severity of that disease. Consider your values, lifestyle, habits, and motivations in each area. Taking stock of where you are now and where you want to be in each of these areas is the first step to living a healthier life.

  1. move the body “Energy and Flexibility” –> Exercise/movement gives you energy and strength. Movement can make you more flexible. Exercise/movement is also good for your mind. Regular exercise/movement can lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Walking, gardening, dancing or lifting weights are examples of exercises and movements. It’s important to find what works for you. Moving the body may include: yoga or tai chi. It can also mean increasing your business by parking further from the store or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  2. Surroundings “Physical & Emotional” –> Your environment can affect your health. This includes considering where you live and who you live with. Is your home peaceful or chaotic? Do you live in a safe or unsafe environment? What aspects of your environment can you influence and change and what aspects can you not control? So safety can be a challenge for you, or it can be other elements in your environment like clutter, noise, bad odors, poor lighting, or water quality. Again, you may be able to change some of these issues and not be able to change others. It starts with paying attention to the influences of your environment on your life and health. Improve what you can. It’s good to have a safe, comfortable and healthy space.
  3. Personal development “Personal life and professional life” –> No matter where you are in life, your personal and professional life is very important. How do you spend your time and energy during the day? Do things give you energy or make you tired? Do you spend time doing what matters most to you? How do you feel about your finances and how they affect your life? Perhaps you have thought about how you would like to volunteer to support others during the pandemic? These factors not only affect your happiness, but also your health. Self-care can include taking a course you’ve always wanted to take. Maybe volunteering? Maybe you want to learn another language, take a painting class or learn to play an instrument?
  4. Food and drink “Nourishing and Nourishing” –> What you eat and drink can nourish your body and mind and have a huge effect on your health and well-being. Choose healthy eating habits that fit your lifestyle. Certain supplements can support your health goals. Limit alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. Keep your body and mind properly fueled. What we ingest in our body… What our diet includes or does not include… How aware are we of the impact food has on our health, our mood, our energy?
  5. Reload “Sleep and refresh” –> Sleep is very important for your body and mind. Rest can give you peace. Relaxation can reduce stress. Activities you enjoy can help you feel recharged. A good balance between activity and rest improves your health and well-being. How do we use our time to relax? Do we have relaxing hobbies? Are we getting enough sleep each night?
  6. Family, friends and colleagues “Relationships” –> Feeling alone can sometimes make you sick or keep you sick. Positive social relationships are healthy. A healthy intimate relationship with a life partner can be a source of strength. It’s good to talk to people who care about you and listen to you. Who is our support system? Is it our family? Do we have people in our lives who support us?
  7. mind and soul “Growth and Connection” –> Meaning and purpose in life are important to many people. When things are tough, where do you turn for strength and comfort? Some people turn to spiritual or religious faith. Some people find comfort in nature. Some connect with art, music, or prefer quiet time alone. Some want to help others. You can express this as a guide to living fully. Connection to ourselves and to the world around us. What feeds us spiritually? How are we connected to others? With nature? Music?
  8. mind power “Relaxation & Healing” –> Your mind can affect your body. Sometimes when you think about stressful things, your heart rate and blood pressure increase. You can use the power of your mind to lower blood pressure or control pain. Learn to use the connection between your body, your brain and your spirit. Warriors and athletes use the power of the mind to visualize a successful mission or event. Mind-body practices harness the power of the mind to heal and cope, and can help us move forward with what we want most in life. How we think and how we see the world.

Professional care

Prevention and treatment of illness or disease and traditional and complementary medicine are part of professional care. Preventive care includes things like vaccinations and cancer screening. Common treatments include checkups, medications, supplements, physiotherapy, surgery, and counseling. Complementary medicine includes approaches such as acupuncture and mind-body therapies. It’s important to stay up to date with your personal health and wellness care plan.


The outer ring represents your community. For some their community is nearby and for others it is far away. Your community is more than the places where you live, work and worship. This includes all people and groups you connect with; who rely on you and who you rely on.


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