What Is Wellness?
I’ve been thinking about wellness a lot of late. Perhaps because I’ve had more hospital appointments this year than throughout my entire life.
But what actually is wellness?
The World Health Organisation describes wellness as being “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Wellness is an active process. It’s about making choices toward a healthy, fulfilling life. It’s dynamic. A process of change and growth. A lot of factors combine to make us feel well, vital and fulfilled. Every action and every emotion affects our well-being. In turn, our well-being directly affects our actions and emotions. It’s a continuous circle. Wellness is crucial for a good quality of life.
Dr Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute, has broken wellness down into six aspects. He suggests that in order to lead a vital, fulfilling, well-rounded and balanced life, we must meet certain lifestyle dimensions. If one or more of these dimensions is lacking, it causes an imbalance.
It’s a broad and fascinating topic and one which will resonate differently with everyone. Therefore, I’ve written what I believe to be the salient points, along with how each aspect affects my own wellness.
Optimal physical wellness is achieved via good exercise and healthy eating. It’s also about understanding the body and knowing when to seek medical attention.
In my New Year Resolutions post, I mentioned three separate health issues that needed investigating. To briefly recap, I had a skin lesion on my nose and two cysts in my eyelid. Each has since been successfully removed and I need no further intervention. Both procedures were slightly uncomfortable but quick and minor. I’m glad I had them done and I don’t need to give them any more thought. The third is ongoing but the end is in sight. I have heavy bleeding for which I had a hysteroscopy investigation.I’m due remedial treatment soon.
Looking and feeling good increase self-esteem. I love clothes, I strive to look my best and my main blog category is style. However, looking good goes hand in hand with feeling good. If I don’t feel my best, no clothes or makeup in the world can make me look my best. On the other hand, if I feel great on the inside but something doesn’t suit, I won’t feel right on the outside. I can’t have one without the other. This is one such example that shows how different aspects of wellness are inter-related.
Emotional wellness is the ability to express and manage feelings. It’s better to be aware of, and accept feelings, than to deny them. It’s also characterised by an optimistic outlook. Optimism runs strong through my family. I see silver linings and I look on the bright side and I’m very grateful for this. I’m the most emotional person I know. Consequently, I love deeply, feel pain intensely and laugh and cry easily. My sensitivity is one of my biggest strengths yet greatest weaknesses. I can sense if someone is upset from one hundred metres, but sometimes I over-react. And I frequently overthink. It’s taken a long time for me to accept that I can’t have one without the other.
Occupational wellness is personal satisfaction and enrichment through work. It’s better to choose a career that reflects our personal values, interests and beliefs than to follow a path which is unrewarding. As well as this, it’s useful to develop functional and transferable skills.
I’ve come full circle in my career. I studied Optometry at university and worked in practice for about fifteen years. I took a career break to suit our family circumstances and decided that I didn’t want to return. During that break I started writing this blog. I was subsequently invited to combine my writing with my clinical skills and offered a style-based column for a professional optometry journal, In turn, this role has led to more optometry collaborations and I now have a dedicated optometry blog category. I added the tagline “Life and Style Through The Eyes of An Optometrist” to reflect this.
In my case, the transferable skills in combination with my personal interests have given me what I feel is the perfect career for me.
A person with intellectual wellness undertakes creative and stimulating mental activities. They strive to expand their knowledge or skills, because it’s beneficial to challenge and stretch the mind. It’s useful to identify potential problems and act appropriately, rather than wait for them to happen which might cause worry.
I want to improve my intellectual wellness and said last year ago that I’d begun to learn conversational Spanish. This fell by the wayside, (I was teaching myself using an app), so I must resume this. I have had more success with reading though, something I vowed to do more of. I still don’t read as much as I’d like to, but it’s a positive step forwards.
Spiritual wellness relates to the meaning and purpose of human existence. Spiritual individuals appreciate the natural forces in the universe. They are open-minded and tolerant of other beliefs. They can harmonize their internal feelings with external challenges. Life brings so many different feelings: joy, happiness, discovery, despair, fear, disappointment. All of these are important and help us to place value on our existence; they give us a sense of perspective.
I was in an emotionally abusive marriage and went through an horrific divorce four years ago, after I discovered long-term infidelity. There’s no need for more detail here, but consequently it has given my children and me an excellent sense of perspective. We understand that everyone has their own story and are more empathetic. It has made us stronger, more resilient. We know what really matters. And I truly believe that some wonderful forces somewhere in the universe conspired to bring Ian and I together.
Social wellness relates to the interdependence of humans and nature. It’s about living harmony with others and contributing to the common welfare of the community and environment.
This year I made the conscious decision to buy more organic foods and toiletries. I’m very aware of the impact chemical nasties and plastics have upon our planet, the beautiful seas and oceans in particular.
My lovely outfit is a gift from Asquith, an eco brand that sells women’s activewear and ethical yoga clothes. I love the oyster pink of this organic yoga top,which is made from organic cotton. It’s super soft and very easy to wear. The Hero Tie Pants are made from bamboo, a very sustainable material. They’re deliciously drapey and tie at the knee or the ankle to suit.
I felt so joyous Paddling here, in the North Sea, at Marsden Rock in Northumberland. Nature at her finest. In fact, the whole day filled me with joy. Ian and I had an exhilerating and uplifting walk along the beach, followed by a leisurely lunch.
I felt fulfilled in mind, body spirit and soul. I felt utterly well.
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