What, exactly, is wellness? How can it be defined? What does it look like? Having studied this, and attempted to embrace living it' it for a better part of three decades, I still feel as though my understanding of -- and application -- of this concept is ever-morphing. Not because the idea of wellness changes (although, I guess it does, as, depending on your source, it includes 4 to 9 components), but rather what it means to me keeps changing. By definition, the basic concept of wellness embraces more than the absence of illness. Rather, it is a dynamic process of change and growth that encompasses social, mental and emotional, spiritual, and physical components - when all are in harmony, THAT is what wellness looks like. All components are essential; one relies on the next to flourish.
Let’s look at each component.
Social well-being. There is no one definitive answer to what this should look like that works for every individual. Each person has their own degree of need of socialness, for interaction with others, for connections, and for their preferred mode of communications. For some, it may look like 5,277 Facebook contacts and juggling 4 different events each night. For others, it might be a monthly book club meeting and chat room involvement. Social well-being includes one’s ability to make friends as well their sense of belonging. For me, part of my social well-being is feeling to be a part of a community. It gives me peace of mind to know that I am surrounded by like-minded and supportive friends, and that I have key friends I can rely on for things like kid-schlepping or ear-bending. These are people I respect and admire, they feel the same about me, and they often count on me too. Having (for me, multiple) friends I share these friendships with brings me happiness. This is all important, and part of my balance. What does ‘social wellness’ look like to you? Do you like to be busy and surrounded by friends? Do you prefer one or two close confidants? You know you best; you know what you need best. Balance what you need with what you HAVE to do; work- or family-related social obligations are also something to consider when you look at what you are putting on your social calendar.
Mental and emotional well-being. Answer me this: how do you feel? How do you handle day-to-day life? The answer is likely change from day to day, month to month … maybe even minute to minute (perhaps especially for parents, when dealing with preschoolers or teenagers who are also on a mental and emotional rollercoaster). When I refer to mental and emotional health, a ‘good’ rating would be for an individual who has positive self-esteem, and can healthfully feel and express a wide range of emotions. This