Wellness can be broadly defined as “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.” [Dictionary.com]
There are three important things to note about what this definition suggests and one missing piece that I will elaborate upon:
1. Wellness encompasses the body and the mind.
2. It is the result of specific efforts.
3. Those efforts are deliberate.
The missing piece is that wellness is a process. Rather than wellness being something we achieve and check off our to-do list, we must be deliberate and choose behaviors that will lead us toward a desired state. This is important to note because if we think of wellness only as a state of being, we could very well overlook important considerations that will help us sustain our state of being.
Here’s a comparison to illustrate how wellness can be a ‘state of being’ and a ‘process’. ‘Quality’ in business or manufacturing allows consumers to declare whether or not a product is superior or inferior – as in ‘good quality’ or ‘poor quality’. In the production of the product, specific standards of quality are set and numerous processes are created to ensure those standards are reached and maintained. Entire departments and quality management teams are formed to develop new processes and throw out or adapt the ones that don’t work. It’s an ongoing process. It never stops. Just as in our quest for wellness, once we achieve our desired state, there are likely specific behaviors we will have to maintain or adapt in order to stay there.
So, our definition of wellness becomes: the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate, and ongoing, effort.
Jane: An Example
Three years ago, Jane would not have described herself as “well.” She was overweight and as a result of many years of what she describes as “neglecting her body” she developed high cholesterol and diabetes. She looked down upon herself, often quietly insulting herself. Then she began to wonder about what it would be like to be healthy and well. She learned that all three conditions could be improved with a healthy diet and regular exercise. She had tried different diet programs in the past but always gained the weight back and gave up. She decided to make a change but this time something needed to be different. She began to reach out for support and with commitment and hard work she achieved her goals. Today, Jane’s weight and cholesterol are within a healthy range and she no longer has diabetes. Through a healthy diet, regular exercise, and techniques for stress management, she reached her desired state of wellness. But she didn’t stop. She kept going. Because she knows that what she does everyday not only keeps her body healthy, but helps her believe in and feel good about herself. Jane now describes herself as ‘well.’
A Personal Wellness Foundation
Being “well” means something different to everyone. Some of us have to work hard at it and for some, it seems to come with much more ease. Either way, our own personal wellness journey often arises out of a lack of balance somewhere in our life that leads to setting a goal. As we work toward achieving our goals, we sometimes fail to recognize all of the factors at play and what’s already going well.
Use these Key Components of Wellness to assess where things are going well in your life and where you would like to see a change. Together, these components of wellness can help you create a strong foundation for personal wellness.
The 8 Key Components of Wellness
1. Social Wellness – how you relate to self, others, and community; having supportive relationships and a sense of belonging.
2. Physical Wellness – how you care for you body and mind; your health and vitality.
3. Environmental Wellness – how you create environments around you to support your best self, as well as how you relate to the global environment.
4. Emotional/Mental Wellness – your awareness and acceptance of your feelings; your thoughts, attitudes, and self-talk; your resilience and self-esteem.
5. Intellectual Wellness – having creative and stimulating activities that allow you to continue learning and pursuing your interests.
6. Career / Livelihood – having fulfilling and meaningful work in which you nurture your gifts, skills and talents.
7. Spiritual Wellness – your sense of meaning and purpose in your life; how you integrate your beliefs and values into action.
8. Financial Wellness – how you understand and handle your money in ways that provide for you now, as well as prepare you for financial changes.
In each of these areas, do you have a balance of the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of wellness? Where are things going well? Where would you like to see a change?