Wellness – what is it and what does it mean?

When I first started to receive treatment for depression and anxiety, I kept hearing this term “wellness”.  When I was asked by my counselor what I thought it meant I really had no idea.  I thought it just meant being healthy in the sense that I didn’t have a disease of some kind.  Wow was I wrong.  Little did I know, there is so much more to the term “wellness”.

The World Health Organization defines wellness as follows,

 “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

University of California Davis defines wellness as,

“Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth.”

When I first saw these definitions I was like wow I really got this wrong.  I realized that the process I was going through to get help for my depression and anxiety was actually “wellness”.  I was making a conscious effort to get well.  I knew then that in order to live a better life, I needed to be improve my wellness in every aspect.

Society seems to put an emphasis on exercise and maintaining a healthy body.  That is certainly important and should be done.  I know for myself, once I started feeling like I wanted to exercise, I noticed a huge change in how I felt.  But there are other categories of wellness that are often overlooked.

what is wellness?

Categories of Wellness:

  • Emotional wellness – understanding your feelings.
  • Environmental wellness – how you interact with your surroundings and nature.
  • Financial wellness – learning how to manage finances and wealth.
  • Intellectual wellness – expand your knowledge and being open to new ideas.
  • Occupational wellness – enjoying your job and contributions to the workplace.
  • Physical wellness – maintain a healthy body and seeking care when needed.
  • Social wellness – development of meaningful relationships with people.
  • Spiritual wellness – develop a set of values that seek meaning and purpose.

In the beginning of my treatment I really focused on emotional wellness.  I needed to understand what I was feeling.  Why I was feeling the way I was.  Why it was ok to feel that way.  From there I worked on my physical wellness by exercising more.  Even when I didn’t want to.  I would force myself to do and eventually I started to see results.

Lately it has been occupational wellness and intellectual wellness.  I feel more engaged at work.  I am studying for another accounting designation.  I am challenging myself in areas that I totally dismissed when I was in the fog of depression.

You may not be able to tackle all areas at one time and that is ok.  Start with one and once you see some results, move on to another.  The key is to understand that there are various aspects of life that we need to work at to be our optimal self.  Even those that don’t struggle with mental health issues need to work on these aspects of life in order to succeed.

Start with one and I promise that if you put in the time and work, you will start to see results!

For some of my thoughts on how to deal with anxiety and the holidays, check out my tips.