What is Wellness?

Wellness is being thrown around the inter web like crazy. In fact, wellness is a trillion-dollar industry. Everybody is talking about wellness, but what does it actually mean? The World Health Organization defines and divides wellness into two basic concerns that include realizing one’s fullest potential and fulfilling one’s role expectations.1 Sounds pretty simple, right? If it is so simple, then why are we being inundated with information and products that will help us be well? To start, there is more to it. Being in a state of good health is subjective. What I consider good health may be completely different from what you consider good health. I also believe that people are actively seeking wellness. More and more people appear to be unhappy, for whatever reason, and as a result, they have a desire for change. Believe it or not people want to eat better, move better, sleep better, and just be better. It makes sense, but it also seems pretty overwhelming.  

So, let’s break this down a little bit. When I think about wellness, I think of it in terms of three elements: physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. The question is, can you consider yourself well if you have one without the other? Can you be physically well but not mentally well; spiritually well but not physically well? You get the point.  

In my opinion, the answer is no. It is all encompassing. You can’t be strong in one area and lacking in another. As an example, I consider myself to be physically well. I exercise 5-6x per week. I include a healthy mix of aerobic, strengthening, and stretching exercises, which I have been doing for years. I also eat a mostly whole-food-plant-based diet. Both my physical activity and my nutrition contribute to my physical wellness. My spiritual and mental wellness, on the other hand, require more effort on my part.  

To unload this a little further, I want you to imagine having a glass that is divided into thirds. One third is your physical wellness. Another third is your mental wellness. The last third is your spiritual wellness. Your goal is to fill the glass on a daily basis, with equal parts physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. This is not to say that the time spent on each will be equal, but more importantly that you focus on all three elements of wellness on a daily basis. 

So what does this look like? There is no one size fits all, and what works for me may not work for you, but here is what my wellness tends to look like. My physical wellness includes running, strength training, Pilates, and stretching. As stated earlier, I also eat a mostly whole-food-plant-based diet. For my mental wellness, I have been going to therapy for about two months, and I recently started going to church for spiritual wellness. Just be willing to listen to your intuition and do what your body needs. Physical wellness may also include rest. Mental wellness may include therapy. Spiritual wellness may mean meditating. Use this as a guide. But at the end of the day, I hope to inspire you to achieve your best well-self. Because when we are our best well-selves, we are bound to be happier. 

  1. Christianson J, Kattelmann K, Riggsbee K, et al. Promoting Wellness on College Campuses: Identifying and Addressing the Wellness Needs of College Students. Topics in Clinical Nutrition. 2019;34:125-137. 

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