What exactly is wellness?Published 7:00pm Tuesday, May 15, 2012
A couple of weeks ago, Polk Wellness Center had a community awareness event focused on “taking charge of your wellness.” Wellness is one of those nebulous terms on the surface, but if you dig deeper, you realize there is a lot going on with a word that is a noun. It has come to have a proactive undertone and almost seems to be a very active verb.
In 1948, the World Health Organization called it “a state of complete physical, social and mental well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” A current definition describes wellness as “an active process of becoming aware of, and making choices toward, a more successful existence.”
Again, vague and confusing at best.
At its core, “wellness” implies an optimal level of spiritual, mental, physical and emotional health. But how do we reach that level?
First, we have to educate ourselves about making appropriate choices on all levels as we adapt to our ever-changing environment. As circumstances change, we should be fluid enough to change with them while keeping focus on staying well in the process. Whether the change is good (birth of a child, wedding, new job) or bad (loss of a loved one, loss of one’s home or employment), we have to keep our eyes steady on wellness. Asking hard questions of ourselves as these changes take place will help maintain that focus on wellness.
While we tend to focus on physical heath, as it is the most obvious and easily seen, we are wise to bear in mind that spiritual, emotional and mental stress can have a physical manifestation. That is why it makes sense to embrace a holistic approach to health that integrates the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual areas of our lives.
“It is not the mind which makes man, nor is it the body; it is mind and body. Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more,” said Nicola Tesla in his book, “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy.”
Recognizing the mind-body connection is truly one of those light-bulb moments in life. When you realize the stress you cannot deal with adequately during the day is causing insomnia at night, you start connecting the dots. Stress is mental, but it has a direct causal link to many physical conditions and illness.
A person on the path to wellness will realize that to fix the symptoms associated with insomnia, he or she must address either the cause of stress or how to deal with it. Again, it’s all about being proactive.
A joyful, productive, fulfilling, loving and positive life, with an optimism about the future, sounds like wellness to me.
Doing your best with the hand life has dealt you, and smiling about it, is my own personal definition of living in wellness. What is yours?
This article was submitted by Polk Wellness Center Board Member Dr. Charles P. Whalen, D.C. For more information about Polk Wellness Center, visit www.polkwellness.org or call 828-894-2222.