• The Meaning of Wellness

    What does “wellness” mean?

    There are many aspects of wellness: physical, emotional, spiritual, social, environmental, and more. While there is agreement that wellness takes on many forms and has many components, there isn’t necessarily agreement as to how many components there are.

    From my perspective, I am armed with the knowledge, education and experience to help people with their physical wellness. This includes nutrition/diet, physical activity/exercise, stress management, and preventive measures to help reduce the risk of disease.

    Stress management does have some overlap into other areas of wellness, but here the focus is on the physical part of it.

    What is wellness?

    By definition, wellness is a state of being in good health, and it is actively sought. So, this doesn’t mean that there is an absence of illness, but actually being in good health and attempting to maintain good health.

    WELLNESS word cloud, fitness, sport, health concept

    Let’s unpack that a bit more:

    • Being in good health” could be the absence of disease or it could be managing it. A lot of people aren’t necessarily “sick” but aren’t feeling their best day-to-day. So many people go about their day feeling okay. They get through their day. They may have some “minor” aches and pains or feel run down, but tend to attribute that to getting older or being busy. Many people have no idea that they could feel so much better with some tweaks to their lifestyle – and still have the same commitments and busy schedules as before.

    • “Actively sought” means that we are ensuring that we are managing or reducing risk of disease by doing something, some action, daily or regularly to maintain good health. This includes choosing healthier food options, choosing to move more with planned exercise or even just taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and taking preventive measures such as getting some routine health screenings or not using tobacco.

    Wellness isn’t the pursuit of perfection – as if there is such a thing when it comes to health.

    Wellness is outsmarting our genetics, our environment, and the easy-to-adopt less-than-healthy-habits.

    Wellness is a choice but it also requires action.

    People say it is hard. Eating healthy is hard. Exercising regularly is hard. Quitting smoking is hard. Lots of things are hard. I bet most of us were frustrated when we were trying to take those first steps in an attempt to become more mobile when we were transitioning from infancy to toddlerhood. But we persisted.

    I know I had some frustrating experiences when I was learning to drive a stick shift/manual transmission. Especially on those hills. But I mastered it.

    Lots of things in life that are hard. Giving up is easy.

    There are things we need to do every day to maintain health and we take it for granted. We do it because it is for our health. We brush our teeth, we shower, we wash our hands. Most people I know don’t give up doing it because we didn’t brush our teeth perfectly or our hands will just get dirty all over again. That would be silly. But people give up on an regular exercise routine or eating healthier because why?

    And, yes, we are busy, but then who isn’t? This is our life today – being busy. But is it for things that are really important or just busy work? Likely both. Consider how much time is wasted everyday doing things that don’t NEED doing. I am not going to call anyone out, but really, you know those time wasters.

    And, why should we worry about this physical wellness anyway? People have challenged me, questioned me, by asking about extending their life. I have no illusion that I can help anyone live longer.

    Is living longer the point? Perhaps.

    Or is it living healthier longer? Probably.

    I do make a promise that if they take on some of these wellness goals and address them regularly, then they will have a healthier life. Meaning this: in those last 5-10-15 years of life, how do you want to live? Active and independent or sitting and having someone else help you go to the bathroom?

    I’ve seen the latter and I don’t want to be that person. I’ve seen the latter last for a long time. I want to be able to stand up from a chair on my own. I want to be the person who is hard to chase down rather than waiting for someone to visit me every few days.

    It is likely that will still get sick, because you know life happens. But reducing that chance or addressing it in the early stages is so much better mentally, emotionally, financially and physically than waiting for it to take over and be the sole focus of day-to-day living. For example, catching a cancer diagnosis at stage 1 or even stage 0 has a much better outcome than finding it at stage 3 or stage 4.

    Don’t avoid wellness, embrace it. And feel better doing it.

    What does wellness mean to you? What are your biggest wellness questions? What is your biggest wellness challenge?

    Come back on Wednesdays for #WellnessWednesday for more.