Am I the only one who turns on the TV only to find some super-fit chick talking about wellness and the importance of exercise? Probably not. There is a reason why we keep hearing this word in conversations, in the news, in movies, at work and magazines. So many people are living unhealthy lives because they are too comfortable to exercise, too lazy to care about what they’re eating or too busy to feed their spirit.
If you were to ask different people: “What is wellness?” the answers would undoubtedly be different. That’s because there is no universally accepted terminology for the word. Magazines and newspapers refer to it as a “state of well-being” so it is safe to assume that the concept of wellness is different from one individual to another.
The Definition of Wellness has changed over the Years
Back in the old days, freedom of disease or illnesses was associated with a state of good health. Historically speaking, a state of wellness meant that you weren’t sick. This limited perspective on wellness has changed over the years. Nevertheless, it is still agreed upon that absence of illness remains a decisive factor. In today’s world, wellness is difficult to define because it encompasses various aspects that indicate towards an overall state of well-being. Charles B. Corbin, from the Arizona State University believes that wellness is:
“a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health and an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.”
Studies show that good well-being can lead to a better, healthier life. As a matter of fact, in an article from the Journal of AMA, it was discovered that individuals with a ‘wellness’ approach on life had to pay 17% less total doctor visits and 35% less visits for minor illnesses. In other words, it is extremely important to remain educated on the benefits and importance of wellness.
Why Wellness Matters
Wellness isn’t only about absence of disease or illness. By applying a proactive wellness approach individuals can maintain optimum levels of health, social and emotional functioning. Wellness doesn’t emphasize physical aspects. It recognizes the whole individual, with his spiritual, psychological and social needs. It is the understanding that everything we feel, do or do not do will directly impact our mental and physical health.
For this purpose, various health organizations such as WHO, the Alliance Institute for Integrative Medicine and the National Wellness Institute have struggled to find a way to define wellness. Although there are still some different views on what it encompasses, there seems to be a general agreement on a few aspects. First of all, wellness is a self-directed, conscious process that promotes an individual’s full potential. Secondly, wellness is affirming and positive. Thirdly, wellness requires a holistic approach which involves mental, spiritual and physical well-being.
Dimensions of Wellness
Some organizations say that there are six dimensions of wellness; others say that there are 7 dimensions of wellness, or even more. The number doesn’t matter that much, because each dimension, while equally vital, is intertwined with the other. We would like to take look at the most important dimensions of wellness as defined by the University of California, National Wellness and Promote Acceptance.
- Spiritual Wellness: refers to the ability of maintaining a balance between spiritual and mundane needs. Spiritual wellness can be achieved by creating a common purpose of harmony & peace through the individual’s values and actions.
- Social Wellness: represents one’s ability to connect and communicate with those around him. To achieve a state of well-being an individual must have positive and meaningful relationships with his friends, family and colleagues.
- Physical Wellness: is achieved when we are able to go through a day without feeling physical stress or fatigue. It also represents our ability to realize that every action we make will impact our lifestyle and health. Physical wellness implies adopting good habits such as exercise, balanced died while also avoiding destructive ones (alcohol, tobacco, drugs etc.). The Physical Health Definition has also changed over the years. Several centuries ago the term was used to describe individuals with no illnesses. Today, physical wellness also refers to fitness level and lifestyle of a person. Modern medical innovations have helped individuals improve their physical wellness through good nutrition, regular physical activity and adequate rest.
- Intellectual Wellness: is a vital element of wellness, especially for individuals over a certain age. It is very important that we keep our minds open to new information and experiences that will have practical applications in our community or at work. Individuals should seek to improve their skills or complete challenges in pursuit of lifelong learning.
- Occupational Wellness: the work place is probably one of the most stressful places on Earth for many people. The good news is that it doesn’t have to b. The key to occupational wellness is choosing a fulfilling career path that you enjoy doing, while also maintaining a balance between personal and professional life.
- Emotional Wellness: Life is challenging and we must learn how to deal with it. Emotional wellness doesn’t mean that you have to relinquish all negative feelings; it refers to the ability of acknowledging these feelings (sadness, stress, anger, joy, love etc.) in a productive manner.
- Environmental Wellness: we are responsible for the waste that we generate, for the quality of air around us etc. Having a positive impact on the quality of air, water and surroundings through sustainable actions contributes to Environmental Wellness.
- Financial Wellness: some definitions don’t include the dimension of Financial Wellness, but the University of California deems it essential to the well-being of an individual. The truth is that money plays a critical role in our lives, and not having enough may impact our emotional, physical, occupational or spiritual wellness dimensions.
This information may sound like a lot, and some of you may think that it is impossible to respect all the dimensions of wellness, but it isn’t true. As long as you create a wellness plan that you can follow in order to achieve spiritual, social and physical well-being, you are sure to also achieve satisfaction on other levels.
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