What is Health and Wellness?

What is Health and Wellness?

In order to set goals and make progress, it might be a good idea to know what you’re even aiming for. What is health? What is wellness? 

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The Definition of Health and Wellness

A simple search comes with simple answers. UC Davis, in California has this to say on their website: “Wellness is an activeprocess of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.” 

Before I get into the italics, let’s address what is “healthy”. A simple definition states “free from illness or injury.” Simple, but what does that say about you? How do you live a life “free” from illness and injury? 

Well, think about it. You can only maintain this level of health by keeping active. Not just physically active, but actively aware and actively making good choices. It is a constant that needs to be maintained throughout your life. There is a reason the phrase “health and wellness” comes so often as a package deal. You cannot maintain your health without the constant striving for wellness.

Why? What good is your fit body when you are not enjoying your favorite foods, like yesterday’s cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving? What good is lack of injury when you do nothing but workout on a treadmill in your house. What good is lack of illness when you stop spending time with your friends at the bowling alley? Note the end of UC Davis’ definition: “a healthy and fulfilling life.” You are not going to appreciate your health without being fulfilled.

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Multi-faceted Wellness

So, how do we approach becoming fulfilled? If you look at UC Davis’ website, they have seven different kinds of wellness. I won’t address them all. But it should be noted that there is not just physical wellness. There is emotional, mental, even spiritual wellness that can effect our overall health. When I say what good is your lack of illness if you stop going to the bowling alley, it works both ways. You could ignore your social time with friends, damaging your emotional wellness, to get better physically, but depleting emotional wellness will eventually negatively effect your physical wellness as well.

2013 study on how emotional well being effects the rest of life was done by Yale University and found that not only could better emotional states positively effect health, but that the awareness of potential health problems and making the choice to respond to an emotionally upsetting event by exercising instead of drinking, for example, has positive effects on physical health as well. This seems obvious, but I think we often narrow down what health requires of us, and ignore the real responsibility we have over our own lives.

Building, not Beating

For example, you might understand that you are not as fit as you would like. But many of us would not take that to mean that we should allow ourselves the ice cream option every once in a while. Many of us like to attack ourselves for not being good enough, for needing to do better, and then take that as an opportunity to beat ourselves up. And how healthy and well are you after getting beaten up? For health and wellness to work, you need to be building yourself up, not beating yourself up. 

This is why goal setting needs to be done smart. You need to be aware of your needs and constantly making choices that motivate you This might also be a reason why our friendly competition model works so well. When you’ve got friends and loved ones fighting for the same goals, when you are engaging in exercise but also in a social activity at the same time, you are motivating yourself from different angles. With that said, maybe it’s time to host a challenge:

 

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