The term "wellness" means many things to many people but, generally speaking, it refers to a feeling of wholeness. While many people may regard wellness as an absence of disease, it goes far beyond physical health.
When we view ourselves from the holistic point of view, we see that we are much more than a collection of flesh and bones meandering aimlessly through life. We have physical needs that must be met such as food, warmth, shelter, sex, etc. Most people do well meeting these basic needs. But once these basic needs are met, we find that we need more. Instead of just physical gratification, we long for love and affection. Our bodies crave healthy, wholesome foods, not just whatever junk we find in the cupboard. We want to create an environment of peace and comfort that we can go home to at night after a long day at work. We seek relationships and environments that are nourishing and contribute to our fulfillment in life.
Wellness begins with our physical health. We can choose to be healthier by making better food choices, exercising more, watching our weight, and getting more rest. We can do what we can to prevent illness, rather than trusting to luck and treating the illness after the fact, when it is more difficult and more expensive -- or may be too late.
For example, we can stop smoking if we are concerned about future lung disease. We can cut back on red meat and consume more fruits and vegetables if we are concerned about heart disease. We can lose weight, exercise more, and cut back on starches and processed foods if we are afraid of developing Type II diabetes. This control is in OUR hands.
Taking this a step further, then, we can also find wellness in other areas of our lives. We can end an abusive relationship and associate with people who treat us with love and compassion. We can quit a dead-end job, go back to school, and follow a new career. We can cut up the credit cards and avoid incurring more debt. We can express our creativity through hobbies, loving relationships, service to others, and spiritual practices.
Wellness, from a holistic point of view, is wholeness. We achieve wholeness when all the parts of our lives come into balance. It is a feeling of being fully integrated and connected with the world. It is living a quality of life which brings us inner peace and a sense of well-being.
Examine your life. Are there areas which you could improve? Look at your options. Are there new or better ways that you could live? Make a choice and go with it. You can always choose new paths later on.
Dawn Pisturino, RN
November 2, 2006
Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, February 13, 2007
and The Standard, week of February 12, 2007