While the idea of ‘Wellness’ is obviously quite distinct from the concept of mainstream health, it is interesting that as yet no fixed definition or theory exists for Wellness. Yet this is not to be viewed as a bad thing. The wide use of the term Wellness results in different meanings, for different groups, in different contexts.
There are certainly some firmly accepted principles around what wellness is:
- Wellness is a choice – it is a decision each person makes to move toward optimum health and wellbeing
- Wellness is a way of life that is also influenced by the environment
- Wellness is a holistic process
- Wellness is multidimensional
- Wellness is achieving balance
- Wellness is the loving acceptance of you
Wellness is not static, it is a dynamic state requiring in the words of Dr Travis “…giving good care to your physical self, using your mind constructively, expressing your emotions effectively, being creatively involved with those around you, and being concerned about your physical, psychological and spiritual environments” (Wellness Workbook, 2004). Dr Travis, also an Adjunct Professor at the Master of Wellness, likens the wellness path to a continuum where in order to achieve high levels of wellness one must choose to take the wellness paradigm. This chart explains it well.
Charles Corbin and his colleagues determined that “…it is NOT the same as physical fitness, is not a form of alternative medicine, and IS what one is rather than what one does”. More recently the Corbin and his colleagues have described wellness as being “characterized by a sense of wellbeing, reflected in optimal functioning, health related quality of life, meaningful work and a contribution to society”. This description begins to consider the multidimensional, balanced and holistic state of Wellness.
As is often the case Wellness is considered in its relationship to health but if we accept that there are in fact many dimensions of Wellness over and above the mind, body and spirit, we come to realize that Wellness is a way of life that requires balance, integration, resilience and self-responsibility.
So, as with all of us who have studied Wellness, I have attempted to describe or at least explain Wellness in a way I and I hope you, can relate. I describe Wellness as: