What is Wellness?

Wellness is a broad term that describes overall health in terms of a balance between the body, mind and spirit. The emphasis in this concept is the aspect of balance in one's overall lifestyle rather than a focus on just physical health as is common in traditional Western medicine. For this reason, the idea of attaining wellness is often considered alternative medicine. The simplest way to define it is as a state of overall well-being.

The well-being aspect of wellness is associated with personal responsibility. Individuals are considered to have a responsibility to make choices with their optimum state of being in mind. The concept is also said to be holistic, or whole. Holistic refers to an approach that involves the entire person and not just the physical body, so increasing one's quality of life is an important part of wellness.

Quality of life extends beyond the mind, body and soul to include actions and behaviors in every lifestyle. For example, there is financial and vocational wellness as well as many other types. Generally, the more areas one looks after and achieves balance in, the greater the overall wellness or well-being that is achieved. The individual may have peace of mind when he or she takes the responsibility to look after each life area to the best of his or her ability.

Peace of mind is an important goal in attaining wellness. The more peaceful a person may feel, the less harmful stress he or she is likely to have. Stress may work against this by affecting blood pressure and other functions of the body. Activities such as meditation or deep breathing exercises may help reduce feelings of stress as well as improve a person's mental and spiritual outlook.

Since wellness involves the mind and spirit, intellectual and spiritual goals are important to overall well-being along with physical and behavioral objectives. Making and keeping these goals in so many areas may be overwhelming, though. Beginning with just one or two health objectives may be more effective than trying to make many changes at once.

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