What Is Wellness?
The National Center for Biotechnology Information describes wellness as, ‘A conscious self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.’ Wellness is also loosely defined as having satisfactory mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. The act of wellness is to ensure one’s personal ease and overall improvement of their lifestyles. It can include holistic or natural-focused solutions to achieve such states of being.
Although the state of wellness is not limited to simply feeling well, it includes an ongoing level of relaxation, self-responsibility, and maintenance. Being ‘well’ translates to adopting routines and habits encouraging daily de-stressing, hence practices like yoga and meditation. Major themes in wellness-based practices typically include a focus on natural or holistic methods for healing. Wellness can greatly add to the positive quality of living. As a result, individuals often feel more lively, productive, grounded, and less premature deaths can occur. Wellness helps to make people aware of the best lifestyle choices, encouraging a longer life span and avoiding diseases.
The Eight Dimensions of Wellness
There are eight tiers of wellness people can consider when trying to achieve a healthy lifestyle. This model was developed by Margaret Swarbrick; when balanced, these 8 dimensions can enhance someone’s wellbeing. These 8 dimensions include:
- Emotional: Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
- Occupational: Feeling satisfied and enriched from one’s work
- Physical: Recognizing one’s need for healthy nutrition, sleep and physical activity
- Spiritual: Expanding to a sense of purpose and meaning in life
- Intellectual: The ability to recognize creative abilities and explore knowledge and skills
- Social: Developing a feeling of connection, belonging and having a well-developed support system
- Environmental: Having good health by having pleasant, stimulating environments that support wellbeing
- Financial: Contentment with current and future finances
Once people take personal inventories of their wellness in these categories, they can gauge if the need to apply additional tools for wellbeing.
Wellness trends have revealed increased numbers in unhealthy nutrition and low levels of activity. A survey noted “less than 5% of adults participate in physical activity each day.” Children are spending more time watching television, revealing the inability or lack of wellness at early life stages. To add to this trend, 28% of Americans are inactive. Besides this statistic, more surveys found Americans consumed too many calories, too much sodium, and a high amount of saturated fats. These trends reveal the onset of increased health-related illnesses.
High blood pressure and a high sodium intake are often connected. Another health-related risk due to poor dieting is diabetes from intaking a high sugar content. Consequently, obesity rates have been on the incline. Over 78 million American adults and 12.5 million American children are obese. The number of people with heart disease increase as stress increases.
Physical and Emotional Wellness
Other large components of wellness include the vitality of the emotions and body. This doesn’t just lend itself to how healthy someone looks, but how healthy they are. Maintenance includes physical routines like exercise and eating what’s best for you for energy and vitality. Lastly, mental health and emotional health should be a priority, as neglected emotional and mental health can become problematic.
A few examples people can apply to create mental and emotional health can be getting enough rest, maintaining healthy relationships, or trying new things for excitement. Talking through difficulties in life can help people understand driving forces for unhealthy behavior. These examples can vary depending on individual needs. An individual with depression may not only need medication depending on a doctor’s diagnosis but may also benefit from getting enough rest and developing self-care.
Stress and Wellness
The connection between wellness and stress is a powerful one, and stress has short and long-term effects. The lack of wellbeing can create much disease and destructive tendencies in the mind and body. Poor wellbeing can look like a lack of night’s rest and excess worry. Physical symptoms of stress affect wellbeing by involuntary weight gain or weight loss, digestive problems and hormonal problems. People can lose hair and develop skin conditions in response to distress.
Stressful emotions can stem from trauma, grief, unhealthy relationships, and poor self-esteem. Individuals can be exposed to toxic people and unstable home environments and react in damaging ways. As a result, some can cope in unhealthy ways, threatening their sense of wellness. Examples of unhealthy coping methods from stress include:
- Substance abuse (including prescription drugs)
- Binge eating
- Behavioral compulsions
- Alcohol abuse disorders
- Violence/harming others
- Property damage
If you or a loved one finds comfort is alcohol or substance abuse, please contact a treatment provider immediately.
Wellness and Opioid Abuse
Many see Opioid abuse as a problem emerging from a lack of wellness. Often times, men and women who abuse Opioids may have underlying emotional and mental conditions. Depression and Opioid abuse are highly linked. Many people abusing Opioids also battle anxiety disorders, thinking Opioids will “calm them down”. Unfortunately, continued Opioid use becomes problematic, as people develop a tolerance and can easily grow dependent.
Individuals suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder may also abuse Opioids for feelings of relaxation; victims of assault may attempt to suppress their emotions with illicit Opioids to feel euphoria. Regardless of the specific reason, Opioid abuse is not the solution. Medical and psychological help is needed to soothe the deeper layers of distress and poor wellbeing plaguing the individual.
Living a Life of Wellness
If you, a friend, or a loved is unwell and needs support, or professional intervention, there is help available. They deserve a chance to gain assistance in living a life they are satisfied with. Those with a substance use disorder should consider their rehab options to meet their goals of both achieving and maintaining sobriety.