What is this thing called 'Wellness'?
How does one have more of it in our life? Are we seeking change, and why? Is it a life-style change? Is it a healthier outlook on life? What about (fill in the blank) would we like to change? Maybe it's a good time to think about what, exactly, is wellness? How can it be defined? What does it look like? And what does wellness look like to you?
Having studied this, and attempted to embrace living 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 somewhere between 4 to 9 components), but more precisely 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 of these components are in harmony, THAT is what wellness looks like. All components are essential; one relies on the next to flourish. The concept of Wellness can be thought of as a wheel, wherein all components compose one piece, and are necessary and important in order the wheel to properly turn.
Social well-being. Each person has their own degree of need of socialness, for interaction with others, for connections, as well as for their preferred mode of communications. Social well-being includes one’s ability to make friends as well their sense of belonging. 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.
Mental and emotional well-being. Answer me this: how do you feel? How do you handle day-to-day life? The answer is likely to change from day to day, month to month … maybe even minute to minute. ‘Good’ mental and emotional health would indicate an individual who has positive self-esteem, and can healthfully feel and express a wide range of emotions. This person can build and maintain relationships with others and engage in the world. Very importantly, this part of wellness also includes coping and dealing with stresses of daily life, being productive, and having the ability to adapt and change. Life is full of a lot of emotions, so one can also understand that it will change. For someone who is well-balanced in this component of wellness, they will be able to see that things may look down RIGHT NOW and they feel the sadness, but understand that things will change, and they will be able to move past that sadness at some point; sadness is not enduring, nor defining. This can be defined as your resiliency, which is your ability to bounce back after a slap in the face (both proverbial and physical). Resilience is not just trying hard; but rather trying hard, sure, and also being willing to try differently, developing a strong set of problem-solving skills.
Mental and Emotional health are interrelated and influence one another. Mental health is your ability to properly think and process information while emotional health is your ability to appropriately express feelings. While the two are very different, you can’t have one without the other. The choices you make on a daily basis involve both mental and emotional processing – your cognitive reasoning may be influenced by the way you feel about a certain situation.
Spiritual well-being. Spiritual well-being can be described as a sense of inner peace, as well as the journey to finding one’s purpose and meaning in life, as well as the discovery of what is important in life and one’s place among these important things. Spiritual well-being plays a role in one’s coping mechanism, and also includes personal values. It is important to understand what you need to feel spiritually fulfilled, and to fully embrace your own personal values. With a healthy level of spiritual wellness, one can accept and grow from the challenges in life, and benefit from a strong sense of self-efficacy which in turn feeds into a strong sense of self and a purpose in life.
Physical well-being. Physical well-being is so much more than great muscle tone; having a healthy quality of life embraces one’s level of physical aptitude, sure, and also the ability to recognize the impact of one’s own behaviors and focusing on adopting healthful routines. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, staying well-hydrated, staying active – all part of the physical well-being piece of your wellness pie.
How is your wellness wheel rolling? Smoothly, or are there some hitches in the roll? What can I do to help? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in Wellness Coaching. I'm available for individual sessions and for group work. Let’s get your wheel back in proper alignment.