What is "Wellness"?

I attended a conference once that had a presentation called, "Wellness is not a bubble-bath." The gist of it was that wellness is about self-care. How's that for another empty buzz-word? Wellness, self-care, burnout - they're words that can be nouns, verbs, or adjectives that describe a state of being or emotion. But what do they mean and how can we incorporate the gist of what they mean without feeling like we're adding an additional item to our to-do list? 

On this site, I try to explore different aspects of what we mean when we talk about wellness - especially since it's such a buzzword these days. My aim is to talk about wellness from a more psychological approach. The concepts are not mine, but the words are.

 

First, it's important to understand what is meant by wellness both in terms of how you define it for yourself and how it's currently being defined in popular culture and social media. "Wellness" is now a multi-billion dollar industry that includes definitions that include meeting up with friends for a cup of tea to knowing when to take a nap. Those acts are worthy and should not be thrown out, but wellness is not only a superficial activity. Wellness is a state of being. As with any state of being, it is not the result of a one-time action or a place where that you get to but rather, wellness is an accumulation of small habits and acts that encompass your values, your health, your spirituality, your emotions, and your sense of purpose. When we define wellness in this broader way, we can see that getting a manicure is not going to be enough to give us that sense of wholeness and balance that comes when we are living in wellness. Trust me, I'm not knocking a good (or even a bad) manicure, I'm just pointing out that wellness is really a state of being. When you are living in a state of wellness, life happens through you, not to you - and that, can make all the difference. 

Self-care is also a term that is making appearances everywhere in recent months. I don't use the terms self-care and wellness interchangeably. To me, self-care is the practice of wellness and wellness is a practice that encompasses your whole life. Self-care is intentional. Self-care is living in tune with myself so I can hear my needs and respond as required. Wellness is the result of constant self-care. Does that make sense? 

 

Below, I briefly describe the five major components of the holistic wellness model based on the work first introduced by Sweeney and Witmer in 1991. The belief behind this model is that it is necessary to look at the whole picture of your life and to give each area the attention it deserves. If you want to know more, I suggest you check out this blog post.