Wellness: the difficult art of being well
Don’t you ever feel bad? It’s unclear why; whether it’s for something specific or for everything. The term “wellness” refers to a comprehensive approach to physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
In recent years the term wellness has been used to refer to the active process of making conscious decisions in order to live a healthy and fulfilling life. This wellness is about more than just avoiding illness. It is about starting a dynamic process of physical, mental, and emotional change and growth on both an individual and collective level.
Unlike some movements that focus solely on the body (such as fitness) or the mind (such as meditation), wellness proposes a synthesis of these aspects from an integrative, holistic standpoint.
The National Wellness Institute’s Dr. Bill Hettler proposes a model of six dimensions of wellness that interconnect and modify one another.
This dimension views work as a source of personal fulfillment and enrichment, which is fundamentally determined by one’s attitude toward one’s work. In general, occupational well-being will be determined by: a) selecting a career, profession, or trade that is compatible with our personal tastes and values, and b) developing transversal and transferable skills in our commitment to our work rather than distancing ourselves and doing the bare minimum.
This includes regular physical activity as well as healthy eating and nutritional habits. In this regard, it is critical to cultivate the ability to listen to one’s own body and respond in a gradual and understanding manner. Physical well-being is founded on the pillars of a healthy and balanced diet and appropriate physical activity for one’s age and body.
Instead of viewing the individual as a passive being in the face of the circumstances in which he or she lives, the school of wellness encourages action and each individual’s contribution to the environment and his or her own community. According to this viewpoint, solidarity and commitment to others are essential components of one’s well-being. On the other hand, selfishness has the opposite effect, making the person feel worse because of his or her alienation from others.
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A certain level of complexity and difficulty in mental activity allows people to explore their abilities and push their limits. Problem solving, creativity, and learning are all part of this process of integral wellbeing, which is not satisfied with routine and uninteresting tasks, but sees intellectual activity as a complement to physical activity, almost like brain gymnastics.
The wellness movement, while not affiliated with any particular religion, believes in the need to find meaning and purpose in one’s life. In a nutshell, it proposes integrating all aspects of human existence into a global view of the world, our experiences, and beliefs that does not seek to impose itself on others, but rather to live together with others in respect for diversity without abandoning our own convictions.
The final dimension of wellness is recognizing and accepting one’s own emotions and feelings. it includes not only managing frustration and stress, but also expressing them. In short, commitment, trust, and respect for others are founded on having the same attitude toward oneself, without denying or hiding one’s emotions, and adopting an optimistic outlook on life.
Its detractors see the wellness movement as a new age substitute for religion or a particular type of vulgar psychology. For them, it is a conservative and individualistic movement that seeks to give meaning to a life of unnecessary consumption and excessive restrictions on individual freedoms, particularly in developed countries’ middle and upper classes.
In any case, humans have always had a need to be well that cannot be satisfied in a purely physical or purely mental, exclusively collective or exclusively individual way. Thinking of our wellness as more than just the absence of pain is a good first step in that direction.