What is Wellness?

what is wellness

The word wellness is far from underutilized in today’s world. Not only do we see it applied to all categories of health care businesses, but we also see it used evermore frequently in the pet industry. Even with this extensive use, if you should stop 100 people and ask them for their response in defining wellness, you may in fact hear 100 different answers. It is for this reason, that near the turn of the century, two researchers from Arizona State University began their quest of establishing a uniform definition of wellness.

In their research “Toward a Uniform Definition of Wellness,” Pangrazi and Corbin, came up with this definition: “Wellness is a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.” To understand this definition most clearly, it may help to break down each part and examine it for what it is.

1. Wellness is multidimensional – This statement refers to the notion that the well-being of each person is affected by their emotional life, spiritual self, mental health, environment, occupation or vocation, financial framework, social well-being and physical health. It is a culmination of our well-being in all of these areas that provides the foundation of true health for each of us as individuals. This multidimensional concept is often depicted in the form of a wellness wheel as illustrated below.

2. Existence of positive health in an Individual – According to the definition of health as provided by the World Health Organization: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”  Health then, is more than the positive results of a physical, but rather, the complete make up of who we are. If we desire to be truly well, then a positive aspect of health will reside in the majority of the dimensions shown above.

3. Quality of life – The quality of our life is largely an internal perception. What makes up the idea of quality of life for one person may be viewed very differently by another. For example, an individual may not have financial security or even financial stability, but if they perceive their personal quality of life to be high, it likely, will in fact, be high.

4. Sense of well-being – Similar to the quality of our life, our sense of well-being is also highly subjective and will also be determined largely by our perception. Research has shown that even individuals with poor physical health, if they perceive that they are well, are more likely to productively engage in life and work.

Practically speaking, how does this information apply to our individual lives? Wellness is largely a decision, a pursuit and a practice. It is a way in which we approach various facets of our lives and the energy we put into creating the most positive state of well-being that we may have control over for any given period of time. It is both an art and a science. And although there may always be areas of our life where we may not hit our ideal mark, the pursuit toward wellness will have its own reward in helping us reach that much closer.

Greg McCann is a certified Wellness Coach, a certified Personal Trainer and a certified Yoga Instructor.