How do you define wellness? We continually hear this word during the news, in conversations, at work or read it in newspapers, magazines and the like. Surprisingly, there’s no definition of wellness that seems to be universally accepted. Nonetheless there is a set of general characteristics found in most good attempts at define wellness. We routinely see a references made to wellness being a “state of well-being,” which is very vague. We also routinely see wellness defined as a “state of acceptance or satisfaction with our present condition.”
Truth be told, wellness is a very tough difficult word to define. Personally I like what Charles B. Corbin from Arizona State University has to say. He defines wellness as a “multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.”
Wellness is considered to be an active process of becoming aware of and learning to make choices (healthy choices) that lead toward a longer and more successful existence.
- We use the word “process” to note that further improvement is always possible
- We use the word “aware” to note that we are continuously seeking more knowledge about how we can improve.
- We use the word “choices” to note that we consider many options and choose those in our best interest.
What is Wellness?
Wellness and good health have historically been seen a freedom from disease; thus, if you weren’t sick, then you were considered healthy. This historical perspective on wellness is changing. While virtually everyone agrees that absence from illness is a primary component of being healthy, it doesn’t however indicate anything about your state of well-being.
As a state of health, wellness is closely linked to your lifestyle and the choices you make. Each individual has a responsibility to themselves to provide for the essentials of good health – that being proper weight control, good nutrition, physical activity and exercise, and controlling of health risk factors such as tobacco use, alcohol and drug use and/or abuse. These things all have a role in wellness.
Research studies related to wellness indicate that Americans who take good care of themselves and make healthy lifestyle choices are healthier, happier, more productive, miss work less, and have lower healthcare costs. An article from the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA) noted that, in one research study, the “wellness” approach produced a 17% decline in total medical / doctor visits and a 35% reduction in medical / doctor visits for minor illness. The participants in this study took part in a year-long self-care education program.
Since lifestyle and the choices we make been found to be the most important factor in determining your overall health, it’s important for you to be educated about your health and “take charge” of your life and have healthy lifestyle-related goals. The lifestyle choices you make will and do have a huge influence on your health and your wellness. The secret isn’t in healthcare, but healthy and consistent self-care. While traditional (Western) medicine is focused on alleviating disease, the wellness approach to things encourages you to take responsibility for your own personal well-being.
Wellness is much more than simple an absence of illness and/or disease. Wellness is a proactive and preventative approach that’s 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, body and the mind; and the understanding that everything we do, feel, think and believe has a direct impact on your state of health.