What Is Wellness?
“Wellness means overall well-being. It incorporates the mental, emotional, physical, occupational, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of a person’s life. Each aspect of wellness can affect overall quality of life, so it is important to consider all aspects of health.
“Wellness incorporates many dimensions of health. Dr. Sarah R. Linde-Freucht of the US Department of Health and Human Services stated that ‘health relates broadly to how an individual functions in one’s life, the quality of one’s relationships, and how one adapts to change and copes with difficulties.’ ” (2008). 10 x 10 Wellness Campaign
The underlying concept of wellness is that it is holistic — wellness involves all aspects of a person, and their life, in relation to others and their lives, in their broadest social and physical environment, in relation to the world and ultimately, to God. Don’t be misled–wellness IS attainable for anyone, regardless of current or longstanding physical or mental illness, disability, or other perceived limitation. Wellness is about being who God created you to be, and living out your LifeStory.
What does wellness mean to you? What areas and aspects of your life would be important in maintaining your wellness?
Can Wellness Be Measured?
Not exactly. It is after all, a man-made concept to define God-made things and aspects of life and living. It seems that the best measures of these would be devised by God and so would be found in the Bible. (check back for a new article coming soon containing helpful verses.) For example, the fruits of the Holy Spirit at work in one’s life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23.) The Bible is often called the ultimate guide, dictionary and handbook when it comes to life. A good suggestion is to test everything related to life and “good living” with what is found in it, using a translation that is accurate and easy to understand.
Regarding the measurement of wellness, there are descriptions that can help us determine if we are headed in the direction of “wellness” as a concept. You will be your own best judge of whether you are working towards greater wellness on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. Consider the following “models” for areas to focus on. (Note: The related concept of resiliency is useful. Check back for a future article on resiliency, which can be “measured” using methods developed by researchers.)
Model A: Click this link to www.DefinitionOfWellness.com for a nice visual model that is copyrighted, so cannot be produced here. It lists the following Ten Dimensions:
- Social Wellness
- Occupational Wellness
- Spiritual Wellness
- Physical Wellness
- Intellectual Wellness
- Emotional Wellness
- Environmental Wellness
- Financial Wellness
- Mental Wellness
- Medical Wellness
Other definitions of wellness include eight dimensions which are defined here.
Model B: The model below, from the McKinley Health Center at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, presents a person-centered graphic of wellness. While it does not show the person in relation to others, it does includes the social and environmental dimensions. It does not graphically convey a person’s relationship to God, or convey that one’s sense of greatest wellness may be when he or she has this relationship, and knows God intimately as the center and Lord of their lives. But it does include the emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions and is useful in terms of “picturing the experience of personal wellness.” Hopefully at this point, and in the following discussion you will begin to see that the dimensions of wellness overlap onto each other.
“Wellness is a state of optimal well-being that is oriented toward maximizing an individual’s potential. This is a life-long process of moving towards enhancing your physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental well-being. These six dimensions highlight important components of wellness. Take time to explore your own level of wellness and see if you have gotten “your dose of wellness” today!
Elements of Wellness
Like in the two examples cited above, models of wellness usually contain some or all of the following elements, and attempt to define them. The following are definitions and examples that we can refer to easily:
- Social – relating with and contributing to one’s family, friendships, organizations, community, culture, etc.
- Physical – staying active, learning about the body, healthy habits like nutrition, taking care of illnesses, handling stress
- Emotional/Mental – being aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, finding balance, communicating in a healthy way
- Spiritual – searching for meaning and purpose, knowing God, having faith, worshiping, praying, serving, loving
- Occupational – deriving personal satisfaction/enriching other’s lives from one’s efforts, work, or labor broadly defined
- Intellectual – creativity, engaging in mentally stimulating activities of interest, studying, hobbies, projects, goals
- Environmental – living and working in healthy spaces, caring for nature, being responsible with natural resources
- Financial – having basic needs met, assessing that one’s own financial status is positive, or objective measures of such
Where To Start?
Ultimately, many people identify the spiritual dimension as a turning point, or as the strongest foundation of their wellness. In terms of belief in a “higher power”, a relationship with a truly existing and personal God can transcend any circumstance, condition, or situation. Jesus Christ reportedly (in the writings of ancient historians, as well as in the Bible Gospels and letters of eye witnesses) claimed to be God, came to earth, lived, died, and rose from the dead to bring forgiveness, healing, hope, restoration, new life, eternal life…the ultimate in wellness. So the answer often given, is to start by knowing God, and making sure God is in the center of your life, not your Self–specifically, to determine who is Jesus Christ and who am I in relation to Him?
Engaging in personal or group study, prayer, worship or other spiritual activities influence all elements in a wellness model, and so these are always beneficial and even fundamental. God provided these as ways to love us and communicate with us; to outline how we are to relate with others, His creation, and the world; and generally for our growth, strength, encouragement, wisdom, joy, comfort, and peace.
See FaithandHealthConnection.org, an excellent website for wholistic health and wellness information from a Christian perspective, compiled by Dale Fletcher. Here is the text from the homepage:
“Welcome to Faith and Health Connection
“There is a direct relationship or link between faith or spirituality and health. God made us with a spirit, soul and body and they work together in a marvelous way. This ministry was founded to teach people an integrated spirit, mind and body approach to wellness and living a healthy life, all based on Christian principles. I hope you’ll find resources that will help you grow deeper in your faith and to live a healthier life. Enjoy your time exploring here.”