What Is Wellness?
Wellness is one of those current buzz words we hear a lot about but hard to define. Is it drinking bottled water? Jogging? Taking vitamins? Is it all those together? While those things are beneficial, wellness encompasses more than that. I would define wellness as the degree to which we experience health and vitality in any dimension of our lives. This definition allows a person to always be working on wellness and working toward wellness.
If I am in optimal aerobic shape does it mean I have optimal wellness?
Aerobic health is a part of physical shape and is only one part of Wellness. Physical health can also be divided into positive stress and negative stress. Negative stress can range from simple traumas like stubbing our toe, to experiencing a major car accident, or to giving birth.
In addition, there are physical stresses we don’t often think about – like repetitive strain injuries. Working in an environment using a mouse and keyboard all day when their position isn’t ergonomically correct is a good example. Over time, this can create a physical stress that our bodies must to adapt to. On the other hand, our bodies can experience positive physical stresses like exercise, stretching, and even fiber in our diet moving through our intestine. These are examples of good, positive, and necessary physical stresses that our bodies encounter and grow through.
How does eating right fit into wellness?
Eating healthy is also only one part of wellness, the biochemical part. Biochemical stress is a category many don’t think about. It represents all the different chemicals and toxins we assimilate into our bodies as we interact with our environment. They can also be good or bad. Fast food, too much coffee, and energy drinks can alter the biochemistry of our bodies and force them to adapt and can affect wellness negatively. Vegetables, fruits, healthy fats like avocados are examples of positive biochemicals.
Can stress affect wellness?
Emotional stress can often be the most deleterious when it comes to our health. Even though we don’t think about our emotional health as having anything to do with our bodies, it’s really that mind/body connection where our bodies are forced to deal with emotional stress. These can result from a sudden emotional incident or from something that happens gradually over time. Losing a loved one suddenly, whether through natural causes or something like a car accident, would produce an abrupt emotional stress. Although the incident was sudden, the emotional stress could be present in the body for years to come. Even if our health in the physical and biochemical dimensions is functioning well, in the emotional arena we can simply be a wreck. Therefore, in terms of total wellness, we can be experiencing some level of wellness in one or more dimensions while experiencing serious deficiencies in the others.
What is optimal health?
Dorland’s Medical Dictionary, describes it well, “An optimal state of physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
What is optimal Wellness?
Wellness is not a place to be, it is a continuum. We’re either moving toward or away from it based on the decisions we make. When we wake up in the morning, we’re making a daily decision, “Am I going to have a donut for breakfast or am I going to have a smoothie?” One is a disease decision and one is a wellness decision. “Am I going to sit in my office chair all day long with poor posture or am I going to sit up straight and get up every thirty minutes and walk around?” Again, one is a disease decision; one is a wellness decision. If we’re ever going to reach a point of wellness, we’re going to have to head toward wellness. If we’re not, we’ll be heading toward disease or sickness.