Riverside Serenity Massage & Wellness

September 8, 2017

What Is Wellness, Anyway?

When you think of “wellness,” what pops into your mind?

Our society typically equates wellness strictly with physical well-being (and a carefully curated image of physical well-being, at that), with maybe a smattering of spirituality or emotional health as a garnish. With the wealth of green smoothies, guided meditations, “diet tips,” and exercise routines abundant throughout the wellness industry, it’s hard to see wellness as much else.

However, wellness encompasses much more, offering an integrated and holistic goal for living a good life. (And if you let me talk long enough, you’ll know how passionate I am about connecting seemingly disparate things into a holistic, integrated picture.) In this 10-part blog post series, I’ll be discussing the components of wellness and how to build a life filled with wellness adventure!

So what is wellness, anyway?

Common definitions of “wellness” include:

As you can see, these definitions include much more than just physical well-being. Through my research, I have consistently found between six and eight “pillars” of wellness (sometimes different elements are combined into a single pillar, and other times they are separated). These are:

  1. Physical Wellness. This is the one we’re all familiar with (and the one many of our workplaces and health insurance policies emphasize). Physical wellness is about the health of your body (oddly considered separate from “you” in our dualistic culture… but don’t get me started…), including elements such as exercise, diet, sleep, and getting proper medical care.
  2. Emotional Wellness. This is also typically included in mainstream definitions of “wellness,” and deals with the healthy processing of emotions as well as stress management.
  3. Spiritual Wellness. This is sometimes combined with emotional wellness, and includes not only elements of emotional resilience, but a sense of purpose and living according to a set of values, as well as a sense of peace and connection to something “bigger” than oneself. Spiritual wellness may or may not include religious practices, depending on the individual.
  4. Intellectual Wellness. This is also sometimes connected with emotional wellness and spiritual wellness, though it is disturbing in its absent from some lists. Intellectual wellness deals with one’s desire and ability to learn new things and expand one’s horizons culturally and intellectually. This has very little to do with one’s IQ and more to do with openness to new ways of thinking.
  5. Occupational Wellness. This one is sometimes left off of lists as well, but from my observation, it is one that many people are weakest in. Occupational wellness deals with the connection one feels to the work that one does, the way they spend their days earning a living. When the work that a person does “lights them up” and gives them a sense of fulfillment, they are occupationally well.
  6. Financial Wellness. This one is fairly self-explanatory, but is also an area people in our culture tend to have weakness in. “We don’t talk about money.” But financial wellness is key to total wellness – having a healthy relationship with money earned and spent, having a healthy relationship with debt (spoiler alert: there IS such a thing as healthy debt), and having a good credit score – these are key to living a life that is truly “well” and free.
  7. Social Wellness. This encompasses the relationships we have in our daily lives, with our family, friends, coworkers, community, and significant others. Having a healthy social life, and having healthy social interactions and connections (defined in the context of that particular relationship) is the cornerstone of social wellness. This also ties in with being involved with your community in ways that are meaningful to you – building up your community without tearing down anyone else’s humanity.
  8. Environmental Wellness. This encompasses the relationship we have to the physical environment we occupy, from the space we sleep in to the planet we live on. Having a living and working space that is clean and free of clutter, having clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, and a healthy environment to live in, are the key parts of environmental wellness. Interacting with that environment in a mindful way is also a key component – such as going on nature walks, or even simply lighting a candle to change the mood of a room.

As you read through these eight components, I’m sure you took inventory of your own wellness. Which areas are you strongest in? Which ones could use improvement?

The members of my Wellness Adventure Club not only receive support for their emotional and physical wellness through discounts on their massages and massage Power-Ups, but they also receive a seasonal Wellness Adventure Guide with tips and walkthroughs to support all areas of wellness in their lives. Even if you don’t live in the RVA area, I highly recommend that you sign up so you can get all benefits.

Next time, I will start discussing the individual components of wellness, starting with the one we’re most familiar with in our culture: Physical Wellness.

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