Why Study Wellness?
As most college students do, you have probably set goals. Obviously, your individual goals differ from those of your fellow classmates, but everyone’s goals share one common attribute: their intention to improve individual wellbeing. However, there are as many ideas about how to do that as there are individuals. Do your goals involve making more money, achieving better , improving your relationships? Holistic wellness involves all those aspects of life and more. This chapter explains the importance of overall wellness, which is about more than being physically and mentally healthy, free from illness and disease. In fact, the study of wellness incorporates all aspects of life. Achieving overall wellness means living actively and fully. People in this state exude confidence, optimism, and self-efficacy; they have the energy reserves to do what needs to be done today and to plan for a better tomorrow. The most effective and transformative goals are those designed to achieve the highest level of personal wellness.
Dimensions of Wellness
Wellness is a familiar term, but what is its true definition? Is it simply the absence of disease? This chapter will define all the components of holistic wellness and describe the factors that contribute to not only a person’s physical and mental health, but also their ability to develop, thrive, succeed, enjoy life, and meet challenges head on with confidence and resolve. To achieve this type of overall wellness, a person must be healthy in nine interconnected dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social, environmental, occupational, financial, and cultural. A description of each dimension follows.
The Nine Dimensions of Wellness
Physical Wellness. People who are physically well actively make healthy decisions on a daily basis. They eat a nutritionally balanced diet; they try to get an adequate amount of sleep, and they visit the doctor routinely. They make a habit of exercising three to five times per week; they have the ability to identify their personal needs and are aware of their body’s limitations. They maintain positive interpersonal relationships and make healthy sexual decisions that are consistent with their personal values and beliefs.
Emotional Wellness. An emotionally well person successfully expresses and manages an entire range of feelings, including anger, doubt, hope, joy, desire, fear, and many others. People who are emotionally well maintain a high level of self-esteem. They have a positive body-image and the ability to regulate their feelings. They know where to seek support and help regarding their mental health, including but not limited to, seeking professional counseling services.
Intellectual Wellness. Those who enjoy intellectual wellness engage in lifelong learning. They seek knowledge and activities that further develop their critical thinking and heighten global awareness. They engage in activities associated with the arts, philosophy, and reasoning.
Spiritual Wellness. People who can be described as spiritually well have identified a core set of beliefs that guide their decision making, and other faith-based endeavors. While firm in their spiritual beliefs, they understand others may have a distinctly different set of guiding principles. They recognize the relationship between spirituality and identity in all individuals.
Social Wellness. A socially well person builds healthy relationships based on interdependence, trust, and respect. Those who are socially well have a keen awareness of the feelings of others. They develop a network of friends and co-workers who share a common purpose, and who provide support and validation.
Environmental Wellness. An environmentally well person appreciates the external cues and stimuli that an environment can provide. People who have achieved environmental wellness recognize the limits to controlling an environment and seek to understand the role an individual plays in the environment.
Occupational Wellness. An occupationally well person enjoys the pursuit of a career which is fulfilling on a variety of levels. This person finds satisfaction and enrichment in work, while always in pursuit of opportunities to reach the next level of professional success.
Financial Wellness. Those who are financially well are fully aware of their current financial state. They set long- and short-term goals regarding finances that will allow them to reach their personal goals and achieve self-defined financial success.
Cultural Wellness. Culturally well people are aware of their own cultural background, as well as the diversity and richness present in other cultural backgrounds. Cultural wellness implies understanding, awareness, and intrinsic respect for aspects of diversity. A culturally well person acknowledges and accepts the impact of these aspects of diversity on sexual orientation, religion, gender, racial and ethnic backgrounds, age groups, and disabilities.
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Absence of disease or illness.