What is Wellness?

Wellness is such a buzzword these days, and it’s something I’ve been pursuing for some time now, but what is it exactly?  Obviously, it must refer to physical health…one cannot be “well” and be ill at the same time.  I think most people would agree that mental health would fall into the same category.  So is “wellness” then, merely the absence of illness?  Preventing illness?

We all know the things we are supposed to do to be “healthy.”  Eat whole, unprocessed foods, avoid sugar and preservatives, exercise most days, drink lots of water, avoid excessive alcohol, don’t smoke…the list goes on, and there is no question these habits will make you feel better physically and improve your mental health as well as your cognitive function.  Good stress management skills also contribute to disease prevention.  So now you’ve read all the books, watched videos and scoured the internet and you’re doing all of these things, does this mean you are well?  You’ve achieved a state of “wellness?”

I think that there are a lot of people who would say yes.  We all know people who are doing everything the experts say they should be doing, and we may even envy them and their willpower.  I know several such people…many of them with boundless energy combined with seemingly endless misery.  Why aren’t they happier?  It seems to me that some people are so busy doing everything they’re “supposed” to do to live a “perfect” life that they no longer have any true sense of self.  “Wellness” has become another hamster wheel to run on every day…

I think that any approach to wellness needs to incorporate the understanding of each of us as individuals.  That means we need to spend some time with ourselves, getting down to the nitty-gritty of our motivations and true desires as well as identifying internal and external obstacles.  I think that we are happiest and most at peace when we are living in line with our authentic selves and beliefs.  Society bombards us constantly telling us who we should be, what we should think, what we like and how we should live.  It’s easy to get lost, and society rarely tells us to put our own well-being ahead of itself…

How can we live the life that we want if we don’t know what we want?  What is the point in having 10 or 20 extra years if we are unhappy with our quality of life?  Only after careful self-reflection can we know which steps to take to positively affect our overall well-being.  I think that “wellness” would have to include a general sense of well-being and happiness with yourself and quality of life.  This would naturally affect all areas of your life.

There are many ways out there to facilitate the getting-to-know-yourself process, but I think the end goal needs to be the same…connecting with and listening to the inner voice that’s telling us if we’re on the right track…which areas need attention and which goals to set.  Otherwise, it does seem like we’re just running on another hamster wheel…what is the point of that?


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