Is wellness an end goal or a process?
Today, I am thinking about what it means to be well. Is it a goal I can achieve and check off my list? If I am struggling emotionally or physically, does that make me unwell or is it just part of the process of being human? What is true wellness or well-being?
The National Wellness Institute (https://nationalwellness.org/) defines it this way: "Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence." I like this definition. I especially appreciate that it acknowledges the active process, that wellness is not a stagnant end goal to be achieved.
I think of myself as a fairly healthy person. I exercise every day. I drink a lot of water. I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. My carbon footprint is small. Yet as healthy as I am, I also have ongoing back issues that have greatly affected my sense of well-being in recent weeks. I have just muddled through some days, finding it painful to sit for long, but also tiring to be up moving around very much. On those days, my process towards a successful existence was minimal - try not to get stressed about the difficulties, alternate sitting/standing/resting positions frequently, take hot baths and deploy a number of essential oils to the areas that were hurting.
Finally, I had to admit I was becoming fearful that the issue would not resolve. My emotional health was deteriorating as a result. Having confessed this fear to my husband, I followed up by discussing it in tearful detail with my chiropractor. We scheduled x-rays and based on the results I now have a treatment plan to address the issues.
My point in sharing all of this is not to garner sympathy, but to really think about the ways these last weeks fit into my sense of wellness. If "wellness is an active process..." I need to look at these last few weeks as part of that process. I wished to feel better physically, but that is just one factor in my wellness story, at one relatively short period of my life. Recognizing the pain and implementing my own self-care was a choice in that process towards a more successful existence. When those attempts reached the end of their usefulness, I actively sought additional options to move forward some more. As I continue through the treatment plan, I expect to continue actively building on previous steps until my back feels well again.
But that is not the end! In my experience, wellness is not an end goal, with a singular focus. The physical issues may resolve, but at the same time I am addressing the emotional toll of these recent weeks. I will use the active process of wellness to recognize when I can improve my social, or spiritual, or occupational wellness. I will proactively monitor my physical health to maintain my well-being, or to address issues as they arise. This is just one short segment of my life, one small blip on my wellness journey. I am learning from it, and I will continue on my lifelong path of well-being.
What does your wellness journey look like?