What is wellness, anyway?

I am sure you have heard the word, and in fact, you may be knowledgeable on the subject, but for the purpose and the future of this column, let's pretend you are in the ballpark to learn more.

I believe the best way to create a vision of what the term Wellness means is to provide a little history and offer a few definitions.

Many people think of health in terms of disease. It is either the existence or absence of illness. Throughout the years, researchers surpassed this view of health with an optimum well-being. Health has evolved into wellness and holistic health.

Wellness is the process of moving toward optimum heath. It is a process where a person continually makes choices, takes actions and grows.

Halbert Dunn greatly contributed to the areas of well-being and wellness. In "High Level Wellness," he stated that complete well-being contains wellness of the body, mind and environment happen together.

High level wellness is defined as "an integrated method of functioning which is oriented toward maximizing the potential of which the individual is capable. It requires that the individual maintain a continuum of balance and purposeful direction within the environment where he is functioning."

"A wellness lifestyle is more fun ... wellness is a positive approach to health - it's never done to avoid illness or even to live longer ... a wellness lifestyle is simply more enjoyable" is how Donald Ardell introduced "High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs, and Disease."

Wellness initiatives in one area of an individual's life will strengthen health-enhancing behaviors in other areas.

Next, it is possible to be well even though a person may be ill or dying.

Finally, Ardell believes high level wellness can be achieved by everyone. Having a high level of wellness will offer a life of greater satisfaction, increased composure, and an expanded interest in the future. More recently - which turns out to be my favorite definition - Dr. Ardell stated "Wellness is fun, romantic and hip, sexy and free."

The six dimensions of wellness, provided by the National Wellness Institute (NWI), can be seen below.

NWI defines wellness as "an active process through which the individual becomes aware of and makes choices toward a more successful existence ... a positive approach to living, an approach that emphasizes the whole person."

Whichever definition or theory strikes your fancy, please go with it. I have learned that wellness, once learning the basis or foundation becomes very personal. Every person has his/her own wellness.

Having given an educational foundation for Wellness, you have my word that the following articles will be more lively, fun, and exciting. I will focus on the six-dimensional model of wellness, because this illustration truly demonstrates REAL wellness in each area of your life.

• Laura Brownlee recently moved to Carson City and formerly worked with the National Wellness Institute. She can be reached at editor@nevadaappeal.com


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