So many of us are working to be the picture of wellness, in all of its eight dimensions. For instance, we try to exercise and follow a healthy diet. Sometimes we take trips to the spa, the gym, the golf course, and the park. Moreover, we chase wellness through self-care and self-improvement.
Yet despite our best intentions, we are experiencing a “wellness” crisis. In fact, one in five adults in the US is dealing with mental illness (1). Almost 75% of adults are overweight (2). Also, the number of overweight children and adolescents is on the rise. And these are just the aspects of wellness that are simple to quantify.
The World Health Organization calls wellness not just the absence of illness, but the presence of positive well-being. (3) Our ongoing efforts to find wellness through diet, exercise, and relaxation, while important components of wellness, are incomplete by themselves. In fact, real wellness is the act of caring for ourselves as a whole, integrated person.
We’re more than just bodies that need movement and nutrition. Being healthy in the body doesn’t necessarily mean we are experiencing wellness. Our minds too need stimulation and rest. Our spirits need connection with others and connection to the greater world around us. Every aspect of ourselves needs to be tended and fed for real wellness to occur.
True wellness requires integration in 8 key dimensions (4):
If one or more of these areas is out of balance or causing stress, then feelings of wellness can easily slip away.
Wellness requires action. It requires reflection and self-awareness so we can make smart choices that will promote our health and wellbeing. The goal throughout our lives is a continual effort in each of these areas to become the most healthy person possible.
As a result, wellness looks different for everyone. For some people, it might mean working less and finding more time for leisure, while for others it might require more engagement in a vocation that provides deep meaning to their lives. For example, achieving wellness might mean a robust religious community or perhaps spiritual fulfillment in a more individual context. There is no one right way. Only the right way for you.
Tending to the 8 key dimensions of wellness is a journey towards personal growth and fulfillment. Above all, it empowers us to engage fully with what it means to be an integrated human. It is a path to happiness for not only ourselves but for everyone around us.
The world needs more people who are living lives of true wellness. That life is within our reach.