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Definition of "wellness"

The World Health Organization (WHO) formulated a definition of health in
1970 that has influenced the medical model of health care. Health was
defined as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well being, not
merely the absence of disease of infirmity” (Shillingford J. Shillingford A. 1991).
This definition has paved the way for wellness or for a more holistic approach
to health care. Philosophically, the wellness movement could have had its
roots in the Greek civilization because the concept includes wholeness of
mind and body and in the Greek culture, programs of physical education
became a systematic part of overall education.

Our lives today are very complex thus making it more difficult to achieve an
overall feeling of wellness. The definition for wellness includes many dimensions
of our lives.

To maintain health, all dimensions of our lives need to be addressed. If we
invest too much time in one or two of these dimensions, the others will suffer,
resulting in a decrease of our overall wellness. All dimensions relate to and
affect each other. For example, what happens at home often affects what
happens at work and vice versa.

A wellness model has been developed by Dr. Bill Hettler
(bhettler@health1.uwsp.edu) from the University of Wisconsin. He is also
the co-founder of the Wellness Institute at Stevens Point, Wisconsin
54481-0827 (1300 College Ct.; PO Box 827, tel 715 342-2969, fax 715 342-2979, http://www.nationalwellness.org). Some of his publications
include:

Hettler B. Wellness: encouraging a lifetime pursuit of excellence. Health Values 1984 Jul-Aug;8(4):13-7
Hettler B. Wellness promotion on a university campus. Fam Community Health 1980 May;3(1):77-95

Dr Hettler has developed a wellness instrument called Test Well which
assesses wellness. This instrument is also available on-line at
http://www.testwell.org. The original version of Hettler's questionnaire can
be found at: http://wellness.uwsp.edu/Health_Service/services/

Hettler's wellness model has been adopted by some university, corporate,
and public health programs.
For example, Jones & Frazier 1994 (Assessment
of self-esteem and wellness in health promotion professionals. Psychol Rep 1994; 75 (2) Oct 75:833-4)

tested 90 wellness professionals attending the National Wellness Conference
using the Adult Form of Coopersmith's Self-esteem Inventory and TestWell;
participants scored above the norm on self-esteem and over-all wellness
and on the subscales of Sexuality and Emotional Awareness, Safety, and
Emotional Management; TestWell showed internal reliability (alpha) of .84.

TestWell is based on the six-dimensional model of wellness.

This six-dimensional model emphasizes the importance of creating a balance
in the many different areas which make up your life. Each of these affects
each other and determines your overall wellness status.

The goal of a wellness lifestyle is to continually strive for both a balance
between the dimensions as well as a high level of wellness in each dimension.

Wellness is a constant and deliberate effort to stay healthy and achieve the
highest potential for total well-being. Thus wellness is something one has to
work at by making life-style changes. Even though life style is determined by
each individual, personal responses to changes and behaviours, should be
enabled by the community through the provision of facilities and education.

Another way to look at wellness is through the "Wellness Wheel"

The Wellness Wheel has been designed by the Department of Education
in Canada or the "Wellness Curriculum". (http://www.sasked.gov.sk.ca/docs/wellness/index.html).
It is in the form of concentric circles to reinforce the integration of physical
education and health education. The Wheel is best interpreted beginning at its
centre and progressing outwards. The centre circle is the focus, with the
aim being the lifelong pursuit of Wellness. The body, mind, and spirit are
viewed as interrelated dimensions. While each dimension has some
specificity of its own, it is the integration of the dimensions that gives
meaning for the individual who is starving to establish and maintain a balanced
lifestyle. "Body" means one's physical development; "mind" refers to intellectual
and emotional development; "spirit" includes personal reflection. This reflection
is based on that less tangible yet very real "Presence" that makes us aware of
being part of a bigger "whole". The development of social skills and relationships permeates all three dimensions of body, mind, and spirit.

Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence. Wellness involves 'process' and 'awareness' - which means developing awareness that there is no end point and that we never arrive at a point where there is no further possibility of improving; health and happiness are definitely attainable. .

The key words in the previous sentence are process, aware, choices, and success

Wellness is a way of life - a lifestyle we design to achieve an optimal level of
well-being.

Wellness involves 'choice' - which means that we have considered a variety of
options and select those that seem to be in our best interest - a decision we
make toward optimal health.

Wellness is the positive acceptance of oneself.

Wellness is the interaction of the body, mind, and spirit - the appreciation that
everything we do, think, feel, and believe has an impact on our state of health.

Success is determined by each individual to be their personal collection of accomplishments for their life.

Each of Hettler's 'TestWell' domains in more detail (adapted
from his website www.nationalwellness.org):

Social & Environment

The social dimension encourages contributing to one's human and physical
environment to the common welfare of one's community. It emphasizes the interdependence with others and nature. It includes the pursuit of harmony in
one's family. As you travel a wellness path, societally, you'll become more
aware of your importance in society as well as the impact you have on nature
and your community. You'll take an active part in improving our world by
encouraging a healthy living environment and initiating better communication
with those around you. You'll actively seek ways to preserve the beauty and
balance of nature along the pathway. As you proceed on your journey, you'll
discover many things-you'll discover that you have the power to make willful
choices to enhance personal relationships, important friendships, your
community, the environment and, ultimately, the world.

As you understand what 'wellness' means, you will begin to realise that
societally it is
better to contribute to the common welfare of our community
than to think only of ourselves. It's better to live in harmony with others and our environment than to live in conflict with them.

Occupational

The occupational dimension is involved in preparing for work in which one
will gain personal satisfaction and find enrichment in one's life through work. Occupational development is related to one's attitude about one's work.

Traveling a path towards your occupational wellness, you'll contribute your
unique gifts, skills and talents to work that are personally meaningful and
rewarding. You'll convey your values through your involvement in both paid and
unpaid volunteer activities that are gratifying for you. You'll know when you're
on the correct path for career wellness, when your work and hobbies become
exciting. On your journey you'll begin to value the importance of not only
your own personal gratification, but also your contribution to the well being of
the community at large. The choice of profession, job satisfaction, career
ambitions, and personal performance are all-important components of your
path's terrain.

As you understand what 'wellness' means, you will begin to realise that
occupationally it is better to choose a career which is consistent with our
personal values, interests and beliefs than to select one that is unrewarding
to us. It's better to develop functional, transferable skills through structured
involvement opportunities than to remain inactive and uninvolved.

Spiritual

The spiritual dimension involves seeking meaning and purpose in human
existence. It includes the development of an appreciation for the depth
and expanse of life and natural forces that exist in the universe.
As you begin
to develop the spiritual dimension of your life you'll start asking the question,
"who am I and what is meaningful in my life?" You'll observe the scenery
along the path, the world around you with appreciation and wonderment.
You'll ask many questions about the scenery, the world, as well as you
everyday experiences, and learn to value that which cannot be completely
understood. Growing spiritually, you'll try to find peaceful harmony between
internal personal feelings and emotions and the rough and rugged stretches of
your path. While traveling the path, you may experience many feelings of doubt,
despair, fear, disappointment and dislocation as well as feelings of pleasure, joy, happiness and discovery - these are all important experiences and components
of the terrain, your value system. You'll know you're becoming spiritually well
when your actions become more consistent with your beliefs and values. On this excursion, you'll continually think about and integrate your experiences and
beliefs with the experiences and beliefs of those around you. With this valuable information, you'll be able to engage in the formulation of your worldview, and
your system of values and goals.

As you understand what 'wellness' means, you will begin to realise that spiritually
it is better to ponder the meaning of life for ourselves and to be tolerant of the
beliefs of others than to close our minds and become intolerant. It's better to
live each day in a way that is consistent with our values and beliefs than to do
otherwise and feel untrue to ourselves.

Physical

The physical dimension encourages cardiovascular flexibility and strength
and also, encourages regular, physical activity. Physical development
encourages knowledge about food and nutrition and discourages the use of
tobacco, drugs and excessive alcohol consumption. It encourages consumption
and activities, which contribute to high level wellness, including medical
self-care and appropriate use of the medical system.

As you travel the wellness path, you'll strive to spend more time each week
building endurance, flexibility and physical strength. Sometimes the path
may become narrow and treacherous - you'll become more aware of the
hazards around you and you'll begin to take safety precautions so you may
travel the path successfully. The physical dimension of wellness entails taking responsibility and care for minor illnesses and also knowing when professional
medical attention is needed. By traveling the wellness path, physically, you'll
be able to monitor your own vital signs and understand your body's warning
signs. You'll understand and appreciate the relationship between sound
nutrition and how your body performs. The physical dimension provides almost
immediate beneficial results-both physical and psychological. The physical
benefits of looking good and feeling terrific most often lead to the psychological
benefits of enhanced self-esteem, self-control, determination and a sense of
direction.

As you understand what 'wellness' means, you will begin to realise that
physically it's better to consume foods and beverages that enhance good
health rather than those which impair it. It's better to be physically fit than
out of shape.

Intellectual

The intellectual dimension encourages creative, stimulating mental activities.
An intellectually well person uses the resources available to expand one's
knowledge in improved skills along with expanding potential for sharing with
others. An intellectually well person uses the intellectual and cultural activities
in the classroom and beyond the classroom combined with the human resources
and learning resources available within the university community and the larger community.
Traveling a wellness path, intellectually, you'll, explore issues
related to problem solving, creativity, and learning. You'll spend more time
appreciating and thinking about the scenery along the path - pursuing interests,
reading books, magazines, and newspapers. You'll discover a natural interest in
keeping abreast of current issues and ideas. As you develop your intellectual
curiosity, you'll actively strive to expand and challenge your mind with creative
endeavors. On your path, you'll begin to see problems and challenges not as
stumbling blocks but stepping-stones.

As you understand what 'wellness' means, you will begin to realise that
intellectually it is better to stretch and challenge our minds with intellectual and
creative pursuits than to become self-satisfied and unproductive. It's better to
identify potential problems and choose appropriate courses of action based on
available information than to wait, worry and contend with major concerns later.

Emotional

The emotional dimension emphasizes an awareness and acceptance of one's
feelings. Emotional wellness includes the degree to which one feels positive and enthusiastic about oneself and life. It includes the capacity to manage one's
feelings and related behaviors including the realistic assessment of one's
limitations, development of autonomy, and ability to cope effectively with stress.
The emotionally well person maintains satisfying relationships with others.

As an emotionally well person, you'll be aware of and accept a wide range of
feelings in yourself and others. You'll be able to express feelings freely and manage feelings effectively. You'll be able to arrive at personal choices and decisions
based upon the synthesis of feelings, thoughts, philosophies, and behavior.
On the wellness path, you'll live and work independently while realizing the
importance of seeking and appreciating the support and assistance of others.
You'll be able to form interdependent relationships with others based upon a
foundation of mutual commitment, trust and respect. You'll take on challenges,
take risks, and recognize conflict as being potentially healthy. Managing your
life in personally rewarding ways, and taking responsibility for your actions, will
help you see life as an exciting, hopeful adventure.

As you understand what 'wellness' means, you will begin to realise that
emotionally it's better to be aware of and accept our feelings than to deny them.
It's better to be optimistic in our approach to life than pessimistic.

HOW WELL ARE YOU?

Test your wellness using 'TESTWELL' by going to http://www.testwell.org

Last Updated: February 2003

 

 
 
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