Thursday, October 4, 2012

Defining Wellness

More than ever before, Wellness has become a prevalent word in today’s society. We see it in magazines, on TV, on billboards and it has even become a popular topic of conversation. But what exactly is Wellness? How is it defined? Wellness is an inspiring and powerful word. However, it is one of the least understood words of the English Language and therefore, there is no universally accepted definition of Wellness.  In most thoughtful attempts to define Wellness, we commonly see a reference to a “state of well-being”, which is vague, to say the least.

The truth is wellness is a tough word to define because it exists on a continuum and is unique to each individual person based on our individual circumstances. With that being said, here is my definition of wellness: “Wellness is a multi-dimensional state of being which is oriented toward maximizing the potential existence of positive health in an individual exemplified by maintaining a continuum of balance and purposeful direction within the environment.”

First and foremost, wellness is a choice. It is a choice to assume responsibility for the quality of life that you want to live. It starts with a conscious decision to shape a healthy lifestyle. Wellness is a pre-disposition to adopt a series of key principles in the various aspects of life that lead to high levels of well-being and life satisfaction.

Once an individual has chosen to commit themselves to a life of wellness, it becomes a process. It is a never ending, conscious, deliberate process that requires a person to become fully aware of all the aspects of life and to make positive changes for a more satisfying, successful existence. Wellness is also a process of creating and adapting patterns of behavior that lead to improved health in each of the wellness dimensions. Everyone has individual needs and preferences. Therefore, each individual must find a balance of the dimensions that satisfies their needs and preferences.
  • It is a never ending process because improvement is always possible.
  • Being aware means that we are continuously self-educating and seeking ways to improve.
  • Before making changes, we must consider a variety of options and select those that are in our best interest.
  • Success is determined by each individual to be their own collection of life accomplishments.
While traditional (Western) medicine is focused on alleviating disease, the wellness approach to things encourages an individual to take responsibility for his/her own personal well-being. Wellness is much more than the simple absence of illness and/or disease. Wellness is a proactive and preventative approach that is designed to provide optimum levels of health, emotional and social functioning. Wellness involves our recognition that we have psychological, physical, spiritual and social needs that are necessary for us to have higher levels of functioning. Wellness emphasizes the whole individual. It’s the integration of the spirit, the body, the mind and the environment in which we function; and the understanding that everything we do, feel, think and believe has a direct impact on our state of health and overall happiness.

What does wellness mean to you?


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