Health is a topic of conversation, a state of being, something we strive for, and a balancing act. We think we understand what it means – yet when we look deeper it is no longer so clear. What does being healthy mean?
Once we get the definition of what ‘health’ stands for – what is then ‘wellness‘? And – to confuse us further – the way to get to that elusive state of ‘wellness’ seems to be ‘lifestyle changes‘. A barrage of information is out there – and half of it you cannot even begin to digest. It it just too much…
Before you even begin – you revert to that wonderful state of ignorance and bliss.
The great John Lennon said it so well, didn’t he? “Living is easy with eyes closed” – but then again he also said “When we are afraid, we pull back from life”.
And now with that niggling sensation returning of not feeling as good as you once did – let’s also consider what Victor Cousin said: “If ignorance is bliss, there should be more happy people.”
Let’s leave ignorance aside for a while and begin from the beginning……
Health and Wellness
Definitions of Health
In 1946 The World Health Organisation defined Health as : “as state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This gives us a clue that ‘Health’ is so much more than the absence of illness or disease. In his article in Medicalnewstoday.com “What is Health? What Does Good Health Mean?”, Christian Nordquist gives a great definition of health. He gives us the range of what health actually means, and in my mind, also makes it easy to see the relationship between health and wellness.
Health and wellness – a relationship
If ‘health’ is more than absence of sickness – what is then ‘wellness’? To understand further how health is connected with wellness we can find information at a ‘clicks’ distance.
There are more or less elaborate definitions of what wellness is. We already see from Wikipedia that ‘Wellness’ as a term is not definitive. And when looking further – ranging from the scholarly to a website promoting healthy living, the following definitions were found:
- “Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.”…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”” – The World Health Organization.via Health Topics: What is Wellness?.
- “What Is Wellness?Wellness is a state of being well, a way of life, a choice, and a lifestyle designed to achieve a persons highest potential for well-being. It is an aspect of health cost management that focuses efforts on maximizing an employees general health and a decision a person makes to move toward optimal health. Furthermore, the concept of wellness uses daily practices that keeps one “well” and involves maintaining good nutrition, exercise, stress control, and good personal and social relationships. In addition, it is a balance of the mind, body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being which is a process of becoming aware of and practicing healthy choices to create a more successful and balanced lifestyle.”via What Is Wellness? – Recreation and Wellness Armstrong Atlantic Savannah Georgia.
- “Wellness is now understood as balance of mind, body, spirit – and the process of understanding and practicing a ‘healthy choices to create a balanced lifestyle‘.
Now we can get into the core of the matter for indeed to be ‘healthy’ with ‘wellness’ as a goal – an understanding has to be achieved, choices made, and daily steps taken to make lifestyle change.
The act of choosing lifestyle
When placing the word ‘lifestyle choice’ into a search engine – you find reference to ‘Lifestyle disease‘ – i.e. the presence of illness and disease as a result of a ‘choice of lifestyle’ and it is directly linked to those living in ‘western’ societies – where an active choice is available on how to eat, exercise, sleep etc.
The fact that many do not choose well – or know how – brings us right back to the beginning and the World Health Organisation definition of health. In other worlds, it is not merely the absence of illness or disease, there is an active act we can do. The act of choosing how we live our lives.
The act of choosing is key here – as well as taking responsibility for these choices. No one but the individual can decide to start (or re-start) something. Even so, with more clarity on how health, wellness and lifestyle is connected, what is actually meant by lifestyle choices? And – do all people have the luxury of choice?
He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.
“What is Health? What Does Good Health Mean?”, Christian Nordquist, Medicalnewstoday.com
“4 ways to live a Healthy Lifestyle“, from wikiHow.com
“Getting Healthy“, from American Heart Organization