What is wellness, really?
Nowadays, wellness feels like the buzzword of the decade. With health and wellness splashed across Instagram, knowing where to start can feel confusing and overwhelming. Every year, it feels like there’s a flurry of health and fitness gadgets, tools, and ideas you have to get to grips with (let’s not talk about the celery juice diet craze). When something delivers quick results in a practically impossible timeframe, it’s usually too good to be true. The reality is that small, achievable changes can make a big impact in all areas of your life, including your health. So, what is wellness? It’s an awareness, a process of making decisions to improve your physical, emotional, social, mental, and spiritual health.
How is wellness evolving?
Any statement about the coronavirus pandemic will be a colossal understatement. We'll just leave it at this - it's been a tough one. As we all look to brighter days and the opportunity to connect with each other, wellness has shifted. Things like avoiding common illnesses and building the immune system are taking priority (we can’t imagine why). More people are looking to preventive healthcare to develop healthy habits to not just live longer, but also healthier lives.
With the quick adoption of working from home, it’s clear that we’re fitting our work around our lives, not the other way around. There are benefits of remote working, with a massive 97% of people saying that a more flexible job would have a “positive” effect on their quality of life.
It’s no secret that 2020 was a wellness write-off. But, 2021, for many of us, was about regaining our lives to not only take care of ourselves, but also our loved ones.
What is health and wellness?
To really understand what wellness means, we can look to see how wellness influences health. So many different areas of your lifestyle are wellness: it’s what you eat, how you move your body, the conversations you have with friends, and even the way you talk to yourself.
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” - World Health Organization.
Dr. Kien Vuu explores how pursuing positive emotional states is good for your health. Research shows that a good state of mind actually affects your genes. Eudaimonic well-being is a state of happiness that comes from self-actualization and having a meaningful purpose in your life. A report from UCLA's Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology and the University of North Carolina found that people who have a high level of eudaimonic well-being had lower levels of inflammation and higher antiviral and antibody genes. What this means is that people with happiness that comes from a deep sense of purpose in life have more favorable gene expression in immune cells.
No way is finding self-actualization and meaning in life easy. We’re not saying you need to go out and find your life’s passion overnight. But we are advocating for taking small steps within each area of wellness so that you can live a more stress-free, happy life with positive interactions for optimal well-being. Everyone has their own techniques for feeling good, and that’s why it’s so difficult to define wellness. It can look different.
Make time for your wellness journey
Sometimes finding out what works for you can be a little trial and error, but it’s a journey worth taking. If it feels overwhelming to start, choose just one thing you want to do. It could be to go for a daily 10-minute walk, drink one extra glass of water, or brighten up someone’s day. Simple wellness habits and kind gestures add up to big change. You don’t need to know your passion or purpose in life right now, but you can begin to harness your own happiness and health to better your well-being.