What is wellness?

What does it really mean to be "well"? Learn all about how to be well, and why wellness should be important to you.

Being well is about managing stress levels, having a good support system, knowing how to deal with your feelings, and having balance in your life. Everyone wants to feel confident and happy, and wellness is the unique process by which we get there. It's a journey — not an ending.

The good news is that you might already be doing things that are contributing to your overall wellness! It's good to pause and be mindful of what is already working for you. What makes you happy? What things do you do well? Does your life feel "balanced"? If someone is well, it doesn't mean that they won't have problems or challenges, it might just mean they are better able to cope with those challenges. So, someone who is "well" will probably have some kinds of tools, resources,or personality traits that would help to get them though bad times. Being well is also connected to being resilient, or able to cope and pull through life's challenges.

Illness and wellness are separate things. Whether you are dealing with an illness or not, your wellness should matter to you. There are things you can do, and that you may already be doing, that can help you be "well".

Through self-care, skill building and understanding yourself, you can change the way you feel about yourself and your life!

Mental/ emotional wellness:"I know myself well. I feel like I can cope with whatever life throws at me."

  • Our ability to feel, accept and share our feelings
  • Feelings of optimism, self-control, trust and self-esteem, satisfaction, curiosity, enjoyment and resiliency
  • The need to feel independent, competent, reliable, important and a healthy sense of self
  • Quality connections to others, and a sense of empathy and affection

It is affected by family history, illnesses, traumatic events, financial status, physical activity, nutrition, sleep, stress, attitude, and environment.

Physical Wellness:"I do things to take care of my body. I am mindful of my body's health, and how it responds to stress and setbacks."

  • Your body's condition and behaviours upon it, focusing on
    • A balanced diet
    • Exercise (of all three types: cardio, flexibility and strength)
    • Regular checkups

It is affected by medical history, medications, awareness of your body and self-image, and substance use/abuse.

Intellectual/ creative wellness:"I do things regularly that challenge and stimulate my creative/intellectual self."

  • Attitude towards personal growth, education, achievement and creativity 
  • Experiences of learning (through reading, studying, travelling and exposure to the media)
  • Sharing gained information, seeking opportunities to share and feeling stimulated by this exchange
  • Development of skills, talents and critical thinking (including learning how to learn)
  • Being open to new ideas and experiences (and applying what is learned)

It is affected by education history, learning style, flexibility, and attitude towards learning.

Social wellness: "I feel confident in my ability to relate to and connect with others."

  • Being comfortable with expressing yourself
  • Being in supportive and fulfilling relationships
  • Attitude towards your relationships (and your willingness to ask for help)
  • Peer acceptance, close bonds and social skills (like assertiveness or conflict resolution)
  • The ability to accept others for being different
  • The extent of community-building and volunteer work engage in

It is affected by social history, cultural values, open-mindedness, and knowledge of healthy relationships.

Spiritual wellness"I care about things outside of myself, and feel connected to a set of beliefs and values. I feel like there is meaning and purpose in life."

  • An appreciation for life (while questioning your purpose within it)
  • A search for the meaning in life, shared values and a community with common vision
  • A sense of selflessness and empathy
  • Creating shared myths, symbols, stories and other ways to support a gathering

It is affected by upbringing, religion (or lack of), and willingness to live with uncertainty or "have faith".

Occupational wellness:"I feel a sense of satisfaction in the work I do. I feel like I'm being productive when I go to school/volunteer/work."

  • Having your work match your values and goals
  • Your attitude towards your work and the personal satisfaction you gain from working
  • Contributing your skills and talents in a rewarding way
  • Balance between work life and other commitments

It is affected by age, level of employment, education, location, and economy.

Environmental wellness: "I feel like most of my interactions with the outside world are positive. I feel a sense of responsibility to make the world better."

  • The ability to make the most out of life, given safe environmental standards
  • High levels of trust and low levels of corruption
  • Effective social and political institutions

It is affected by location, wealth level, political stability, and societal infrastructure.

No one is immune to setbacks and no one manages everything perfectly. Personality traits, stress, environment and/or life events can get in the way of one's ability to be well. What are some of the setbacks or factors that get in the way of being "well"?

  • Mental/emotional setbacks: Self-doubt, negativity, ignoring your dreams and valuing wealth over self-realized goals can hold us back from feeling emotionally well.
  • Physical setbacks: Negative habits like smoking, substance use, and inactivity can affect our ability to be physically well.
  • Intellectual/Creative setbacks: Underachievement, test anxiety, and dropping out of school can get in the way of intellectual or creative pursuits.
  • Social setbacks: Co-dependency, low self-esteem, anxiety and bullying are things that can affect our relationships and social development.
  • Spiritual setbacks: Hypocrisy, loss of belief system, negativity and a poor work/life balance can get in the way of spiritual growth.
  • Occupational setbacks: Being underemployed, unemployed or even overemployed, and level of education can get in the way of feeling productive or good about the work we do.
  • Environmental setbacks: Living in an environment that is politically unstable, has poor infrastructure, poor safety or health standards, or where you are exposed to violence, second- hand smoke, pollution etc. can affect your ability to interact positively with the world around you.

mindyourmind is in the process of developing more pages around the topic of wellness, which will highlight strategies and ideas for how one might manage their personal wellness. These pages are coming soon, and will include topics like stress management, self care, resilience, and healthy relationships.

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