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  • Writer's pictureKim Smolders

What does 'Wellness' mean?

Ask this question to a group of individuals and you are bound to get all kinds of different answers. And so you should - wellness is a very personal, unique, active and fluid concept that is shaped by us and for us - by our past and present experiences, our lifestyle, our environment, our awareness, where we are in life and where we want to be

In general terms, it is agreed by the National Wellness Institute in the US that wellness is "a process of becoming aware of making choices toward a more successful existence". It is recognising that every thought, word and behaviour affects our greater health and wellbeing emotionally, physically and spiritually. The most common misconception, spread by many in the what they think is the 'wellness' field, is that wellness is solely about physical fitness and nutritional awareness. This could not be further from the truth. Wellness is holistic - it is about the whole person and all the aspects of their life.

It is important to note that wellness is a conscious, proactive process, driven by (self-)awareness, towards your highest and most optimal self in every way possible. It is a decision you make daily to make choices that enhance your health and enrich your life. Decisions in nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, stress management, environment, spirituality, (self-) love, life purpose & meaning, intimacy and the people you surround yourself with. But how exactly this looks for YOU will be unique and it is key that you, and only you (with the help of a health coach if you desire) define this for yourself so that you can work towards being the highest version of yourself. That you are true to and honest with yourself, and live your life as authentically as possible.

What is wellness for me?

For me, wellness is living with meaning, intention, awareness and being my authentic self in everything I do. It is living my life's purpose every day and being conscious that every choice I make and decision I take is aligned with purpose and vision. It is nourishing my mind, body and soul only with those things that I know will soothe, heal and grow me. Wellness is about my tribe - only surrounding myself with people that feel like home, where there is mutual love and respect, that share my values, that champion my every move and keep me in line when I stray. The importance of spending time in nature, with animals and appreciating the beauty of a flower, the warmth of the sun's rays and the feeling of grass or the sand beneath my feet can not be underestimated. It is a holistic, continuous journey encapsulating the physical, the emotional, the psychological, and the spiritual, influenced by the environment around me.

The Ten Tenets of Wellness.

Michael Arloski PhD, PCC, CWP, psychologist, author, CEO and founder of National Board of Health & Wellness Coaches created the Ten Tenets of Wellness, fundamental principles of how people can, and do, change, and what might hold them back as a framework for answering the question: why don't people do what they know they need to do for themselves? Information in and of itself is not enough to empower people to make significant lifestyle and behavioural changes.

  1. Tenet 1: Wellness is a holistic concept Wellness looks at the whole person, and needs to include the mind, body, soul, and environment.

  2. Tenet 2: Self-esteem is a critical factor in change You have to care enough about yourself to (re-) evaluate your life, see where change is needed, have the courage to make those changes and find the support to maintain your motivation. It is important that you dig deep, confront your traumas, blockages and fears and heal those wounds in order to move yourself forward and closer to your authentic self and highest wellbeing.

  3. Tenet 3: Positive peer health norms encourage wellness lifestyle changes Our inner circle is key to our wellbeing - the people in it can quite literally make or break us. Surround yourself with people who have positive health norms and who root for you on your wellness journey. Mutually beneficial relationships are the hallmark of a healthy support system.

  4. Tenet 4: Conscious living means becoming aware of all the choices we have and acting on them Live as consciously and aware as you can. Recognise the choices you have and act on them, consciously working on your relationships, life goals, and maximising your potential.

  5. Tenet 5: A sense of connectedness grounds us in our lives Feeling connected to the people, species, environment and even the higher power around us is humbling and grounding. By realising we are all connected, and paying attention to our immediate environment we not only develop a love for it, but we feel loved in return. It has also been shown that being in touch with nature is energetically healing and can heighten one's awareness, purpose and meaning in life. It also reminds us to take great care of Mother Earth - and wow does she need it!

  6. Tenet 6: We are primarily responsible for our health This might be one of the most important of the ten. Knowing that we have the power and responsibility over our own health and life. Epigenetics has shown us that whilst genetics might give be risk factors, it is our emotional and lifestyle choices that determine our health and wellbeing more than anything else. Being honest to ourselves and having agency over one's life, power to make your own choices and the responsibility to make it all happen, you will thrive!

  7. Tenet 7: Increased self-sufficiency gives the confidence and power that overshadows fear Knowing that we are competent, self-sufficient and that we can care for ourselves gives us self-confidence and makes us demand more self-respect. In turn, confidence will make us choose growth over fear, choosing for wellness over status quo.

  8. Tenet 8: Time spent alone helps us to get know ourselves better As much as we are social animals, we still need me-time. Time alone, and especially meditation, can help you tap into your life's purpose, meaning and direction. As mentioned above, spending this time in nature can have the added benefit of decompressing, relaxing, connecting and escaping the hustle and bustle of modern life and really getting to know ourselves.

  9. Tenet 9: You don't need to be perfect to be well Extreme perfection is a shame-based process that can hinder growth and achieving our highest wellness. Wellness is not depriving or shaming ourselves - it is about embracing ourselves and having healthy habits and behaviours that enhance our health and life. In fact, extreme behaviour or addiction are often ways we distract ourselves from other, more serious issues that we should be paying attention to.

  10. Tenet 10: Play Balance is key in life - our yang needs to equal our yin! We also need to lighten up and allow ourselves to tap into the inner child within us. Balance work and play; in fact add play to your work day and you are sorted!


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