What is “wellness”? We hear the word often, but how much thought do we give to what it actually means? Wellness tends to refer to an overall state of being… it incorporates how one not only feels physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well, basically, mind, body and spirit. The reason why that is so important is because it impacts every aspect of our lives, whether we admit it or not. It affects how we not only treat ourselves, but how we treat those around us. I always say, that if we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we possibly take care of other people?
To me, wellness means not only taking care of myself physically through exercise and good nutrition, but taking care of myself emotionally as well. This is something I have really had to work hard on over the years. When I first started out in the world of fitness 123 years ago, I focused all my attention on the physical aspect. Just “workout”…that’s all that needed to happen! Then as I progressed along the knowledge continuum I began to realize the importance of “feeding” my body, fueling it with proper nourishment. It only stands to reason that if we want our bodies to perform at optimum levels we need to be very aware of what we are putting into them. Over the years I can’t count how many clients I’ve had that wouldn’t dream of putting anything less than top-grade fuel into their cars, but don’t give a second thought to going to a drive-through window for themselves.
After exercising and eating healthy became second nature it became apparent that there was another component to wellness that I needed to focus on and that was the emotional aspect. Tackling the emotional side of things is where the real work is! It’s a lot easier to run five miles sometimes than it is to work through our emotional baggage. But when you deal with the emotions and some of the underlying reasons for behavior other things start to fall into place. You may figure out WHY it is you want to eat all the time. You may find out WHY you are angry or fearful or resentful. After you’ve had a chance to do some self discovery you may just find that you get along better with people and are better able to get through the day which leads to a healthier, happier life.
For me it’s all tied into one…. When I feel good physically, I tend to feel good emotionally. I will say though, that if I don’t feel well emotionally, I generally don’t feel as good physically
Wellness doesn’t automatically mean “exercise” either because exercise can mean so many different things to so many people. So let me say this, I believe that as human beings we were designed to be active, to move. To someone, that could very well mean a walk around the block in the evening, to someone else it could mean running a marathon, and to another group it means something in between those examples. As we know though, exercise has been proven effective to reduce diabetes, heart disease and to improve bone density and emotional well being. So maybe instead of saying does wellness = exercise… we can say wellness = being physically active.
Wellness can and SHOULD play a role throughout people’s lives. I think that from a very early age if people were taught the importance of connecting with themselves physically, spiritually and emotionally a lot of folks would tend to be a lot happier. Instead we are usually taught that exercise and physical activity is hard and boring or just selfish and shallow pursuits. The message should be that we only get one body and it is up to each and every one of us to take care of it. The same holds true for our emotional growth as well, instead of being told that we should keep our emotions bottled up and hidden, we should be taught that it’s a good thing to pay attention to what we are thinking and feeling before we engage in unhealthy and self-destructive habits as a way to suppress our feelings. The earlier we all “get that” the better the quality of life will be, for whatever stage of life you’re in.