Wellness is typically defined as a state of good health, especially mental or physical health. Wellness is not something that is achieved naturally; it involves an active pursuit of betterment, taking concrete steps to achieve overall well-being. It is a term commonly used in holistic medicine as well, which explains that the experience of wellness is unique to each and every person. While each of us has some degree of autonomy over and responsibility for our own health choices and behaviors, they are also likely to be influenced through cultural or societal norms. To understand wellness, you must essentially understand yourself.
What Is Wellness?
It is important to note that wellness is multidimensional. This means that wellness is not just merely physical or mental. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the dimensions of wellness include:
While there is certainly common ground for each dimension, wellness can be understood differently from person to person. There are subjective health factors and conditions that might cause your understanding of general wellness to differ from someone else’s. Consider how each dimension might impact your friend or family member differently because of their own life experiences. For example, you may struggle with spiritual wellness if you find it overwhelming or challenging to discover purpose in your life. Meanwhile, your friend might find it easy to uncover deeper meaning in their life experiences but struggle with their physical wellness, experiencing issues with their sleep or diet. Although it is common to refer to wellness as one category, recognizing wellness as a multidimensional experience can help to uncover challenges and encourage growth in specific dimensions.
Being in recovery, you may feel as if you lack wellness in any of the dimensions listed above. In this situation, you try looking at these elements as if you are beginning a new life. Focus on finding wellness within each dimension, one at a time. This can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed or incomplete.
Define What Wellness Means to You
Once you are able to identify which dimensions need attention, pick one to focus on. Try to give yourself a personal definition of wellness tailored to your specific category. For example, you might choose to focus on emotional wellness. While you are defining and creating goals, remember that your idea of wellness might be very different than your peers. For example, you may struggle with panic attacks and define mental wellness as experiencing a day or week without the distressing symptoms of a panic attack. Your friend may not experience panic attacks and struggle with depression instead. They might define emotional wellness as being able to do at least one thing a day that brings them genuine joy and excitement. You may also find your emotional wellness goals including more common goals, such as fostering an authentic and vulnerable home environment for you and your loved ones to share feelings openly. Wellness is what leads you to feel well and content in any specific dimension.
Wellness may be a challenge for those experiencing deep or intense stages of recovery. Many of us will experience times in our life that we need to focus on just surviving the day. Wellness comes after these experiences, when you finally feel like you are ready to contribute more dedicated time and energy to positively impact yourself. Instead of aiming to survive, wellness motivates you to thrive.
Some examples of how to achieve wellness for each specific dimension might include:
- Engaging in holistic care (mindfulness, mediation, yoga)
- Engaging in physical fitness and exercise
- Finding happiness in daily life
- Finding time to relax during stressful times
- Identifying coping mechanisms for triggers, cravings, and other stressors
- Increasing quality of life through social connection
- Identifying and working towards your purpose
How Do I Know When I Am Experiencing Wellness?
Because wellness is personal, recognizing experiences of wellness can also be challenging. It may be even more difficult to recognize if you have struggled for years to achieve wellness in a specific dimension. Consider the unique feelings of contentment and appreciation that you experience when you find wellness. For example, you might experience:
- Being comfortable with who you are
- Recognizing meaning in your life or understanding your purpose
- Feeling excited to see what life will bring your way
- Genuine positive relationships with your loved ones
- Feeling balanced between factors of working, playing, and relaxing
- Situations where you are able to adapt and persevere more easily than in the past
It is normal to feel wellness stronger in some dimensions compared to other dimensions. There will always be areas in life where we need growth, and those areas are likely to vary from season to season. Focus on your own unique goals and definitions to help you bring yourself to experiences of wellness.
Wellness is a term often used to describe mental or physical health, although it can also be viewed as multidimensional. This means that there are many dimensions to wellness, including physical, mental, spiritual, social, emotional, and environmental. Every person will experience deficits in different facets of wellness at some point in their lives, which will vary over time. To discover what wellness means to you, it is important to define wellness in each dimension in your own way. You will be able to discover goals related to each dimension, leading to a better understanding of what wellness means to you. You will know when you are experiencing wellness when you become comfortable and content with who you are in any given dimension, even while you are still striving for growth in the process. West Coast Recovery encourages you to find wellness in your life, especially within your recovery journey. For more information, call us at (760) 492-6509.