Wellness is a dynamic process of living opposed to a state to be conquered. I define wellness as creating a balance within the multifaceted areas of life. I prescribe to the theory that wellness is divided into multiple dimensions, which include physical, social, emotional, environmental, spiritual, occupational, and intellectual wellness. The dimensions are intricately woven together, influencing each other and governing an individual’s overall well being. When balance is met within each component of life, an individual is able to thrive and experience the good life rather than simply exist. In essence, the purpose of wellness is not to prevent illness or heal disease. Instead, the purpose of wellness is for an individual to experience true, sustaining happiness and joy. As a wellness professional, it is my duty to inspire and empower individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to enhance and maintain balance in each aspect of life, thus enabling each individual to experience a preposterous and joyous life.
As I discuss the existence of multiple dimensions of wellness, it is necessary to expand on each facet and provide greater detail of my personal perceptions. The following viewpoints have been developed through an introspective reflection of my wellness journey.
- Physical wellness can be defined as the state of the physical body. I chose to start with this dimension because I believe it leads to the greatest misconceptions of wellness. Throughout my life I unknowingly interchanged physical health (i.e. fitness/diet) with total wellness. While in reality physical health is only a single component of living well. Yes, it is vitally important to eat well, be active, and keep my body free of disease, but if I become obsessed with any single area I create an imbalance that results in a state of ill-health.
- Social wellness embodies the need for healthy social interaction. As an extrovert those around me profoundly affect me and I rely on social contact to recharge my system and give me energy to handle the demands of life. Additionally, this encompasses the need to actively nurture and develop relationships with those around me.
- Emotional wellness requires dealing with emotions in a healthy, nondestructive manner. This has not always been a strong point of my health. Through practice and honest personal evaluation I have learned how to appropriately express and feel emotions in a constructive way. However, there is always room for improvement and I work daily at developing emotional habits that foster a higher level of emotional wellness.
- Environmental wellness and the external world around me have a profound impact on my physical, emotional, spiritual, occupational, and intellectual well-being. I did not truly understand the power of my surroundings until I moved to British Columbia. Growing up in Texas, due to abundance, I never longed for the sun or warm weather. However, after nearly two and a half years of living in the gray clouds of the Pacific Northwest, I understand the power environment plays on my health and happiness. Furthermore, during the past two and a half years I have also grown to understand my role and responsibility in preserving the earth and its resources. As a result, I have come to strongly believe that the manner in which I treat the environment is equally important as how the environment affects me.
- Through my wellness journey, gaining a deeper understanding of my spiritual wellness has been an incredible blessing. I have come to understand that my spiritual wellness is more than my relationship with God (although this is the most important element); it encompasses my connection to all living things and stresses the importance of living a life that aligns with my ethics, morals, and values. This focus has led to incredible life changes such as choosing to become vegetarian, preserving the earth around me, and understanding the ripple effects of the seemingly meaningless decisions I make.
- Occupational wellness refers to the vital influence my occupation has on my overall wellness. While the purpose of working is to make a living, as I spend most of my day at work I believe it should provide strength and support for total wellness. As a middle school physical education teacher, I am fortunate to work in an environment that nurtures the other realms of wellness. However, I struggle when I look beyond my current job and I am unsure what career the future holds.
- Intellectual wellness encompasses the ability to understand and accept reality and to effectively meet the demands of my everyday life. I find this is the hardest dimension for me to attain balance. I feel as though life passes before me a million miles a minute and I am left juggling work, school, and home. As this is only a temporary situation, I push through, although I am unsettled by the growing demands of life and I realize I will soon have to let something go.
It has taken me nearly three decades to develop my present beliefs of each aspect of wellness and to understand the necessity for balance within each dimension. As I reflect, I realize that although I have not always been consciously aware of it, my life has been a continual search for the necessary tools to live a high quality life, full of health and happiness. In essence my philosophy of wellness is a dynamic approach to living that is continually being adapted and adjusted as I encounter new life experiences and gain new perspective. By no means do I believe I have reached the pinnacle of this journey, instead I feel the opposite. As I observe how limited my views of health and wellness were just five years ago, I am motivated to continue on this journey and I am excited to uncover the knowledge and insight future discovery will generate.