Wellness has become a major issue for Western civilization, becoming a top priority in the media and advertising. The statistics make scary reading. In the USA currently, the leading cause of death is heart disease, closely followed by cancer. Adult obesity is on the rise, increasing 12% in the last 14 years. Even worse is child obesity – Obesity among kids age 6 to 11 has almost doubled. It’s now up to nearly 20 percent of children. American teens are gaining weight, too: 18 percent of all adolescents age 12 to 19 are now considered obese.The number of smokers has stayed fairly constant, despite tax increases and advertising campaigns detailing the harmful effects of continuing to smoke. Diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions, in both adults and children. Yet more than 75% of chronic diseases are preventable with a combination of lifestyle changes.
For some time wellness had been defined as the “absence of disease” – however as with other movements that focus on a state that they wish to avoid, that definition has only served to continue the negative aspects that needed to be eradicated. A more recent definition by the Wisconsin-based National Wellness Institute declares wellness as an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence. This is consistent with a shift in focus away from illness in viewing human health, typical of contexts where the term wellness is used. In other words, wellness is a view of health that emphasizes the state of the entire being and its ongoing development. (Wikipedia)
The more recent views on wellness take account of the contributing factors being multi-dimensional, interconnecting to contribute to the overall well being of the individual. The National Wellness Institute suggest that there are six dimensions that contribute to overall wellness:
This approach combines to ensure that wellness is not treated as a uni-dimensional function, so that true, total wellness is not possible without addressing all these dimensions. Three questions have been proposed that help individuals or organizations to assess the degree to which wellness is fully incorporated into a particular approach or program:
- Does this help people achieve my or their full potential?
- Does this recognize and address the whole person (multi-dimensional approach)?
- Does this affirm and mobilize peoples’ or my positive qualities and strengths?