Defining Wellness: What Is Wellness?

8 min read
Feb 2, 2024
Defining Wellness: What Is Wellness?

Shattering the Wellness Myths: What Is Wellness?

The term "wellness" has ancient roots yet is modern. The foundational ideas of health, which are comprehensive and preventive, date back to the ancient East (India, China) and West (Greece, Rome).

A multitude of intellectual, religious, and medical movements emerged alongside traditional medicine in 19th-century Europe and the United States.

These movements, which emphasize natural and holistic methods, self-healing, and preventive treatment, have laid a solid foundation for wellness that exists today.

Thanks to the writings and thought leadership of an informal network of US physicians and intellectuals (including Halbert Dunn, Jack Travis, Don Ardell, Bill Hettler, and others), wellness-focused and holistic approaches have become more well-known during the 1960s and 1970s.

These have influenced the healthy-living, self-help, self-care, exercise, nutrition, food, and spiritual practices that have grown into a thriving wellness movement in the twenty-first century as they have developed, multiplied, and entered the mainstream.

Unveiling the Dimensions of Wellness: Building Your Strongest Foundation

Let's start with the physical, the very foundation upon which our other dimensions thrive. It's more than just a six-pack or a number on the scale; it's about feeling energized, resilient, and ready to tackle life's adventures.

1. Physical Wellness

Physical wellness refers to taking care of your body through healthy habits and lifestyle choices. It's like building a strong foundation for overall well-being, enabling you to live an active, energetic, and fulfilling life.

Here are some key aspects of physical wellness:

  • Nutritious Diet: Choosing a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein provides your body with the essential nutrients it needs to function optimally.
  • Regular Exercise: Engaging in physical activity most days of the week strengthens your muscles and bones, improves cardiovascular health, boosts energy levels, and manages weight.
  • Quality Sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to allow your body to rest, repair, and recharge for the next day.
  • Stress Management: Your physical health may be adversely affected by ongoing stress. To effectively handle stress, try relaxation practices like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.
  • Preventive Care: Regular checkups with your doctor and screenings for potential health risks help identify and address problems early on.
  • Lifestyle Choices: Limiting alcohol intake, avoiding smoking, and minimizing processed foods contribute significantly to physical well-being.

Benefits of Physical Wellness:

  • Increased energy levels
  • Stronger immune system
  • Reduced risk of chronic diseases
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Better mood and mental well-being
  • Enhanced self-esteem

Keep in mind

Small changes add up! Taking small steps towards healthier habits each day can make a significant difference in your physical well-being and overall health.

2. Mental Wellness

Mental wellness encompasses the emotional, psychological, and cognitive aspects of your well-being. It's about nurturing a healthy mind that allows you to navigate life's challenges with resilience, thrive in your relationships, and experience a sense of fulfillment.

Here are some key pillars of mental wellness:

Self-Awareness: Understanding your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors empowers you to make conscious choices and navigate life's ups and downs effectively. Practices like mindfulness and journaling can enhance self-awareness.

Emotional Regulation: Managing your emotions constructively, instead of being overwhelmed by them, is crucial for mental well-being. Techniques like deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and cognitive restructuring can help regulate emotions.

Positive Thinking: Cultivating an optimistic outlook fosters resilience and helps you cope with challenges. Gratitude practices, identifying your strengths, and focusing on the present moment can promote positive thinking.

Healthy Relationships: Strong social connections with supportive individuals provide a sense of belonging, love, and security, contributing significantly to mental well-being. Prioritize nurturing positive relationships with family, friends, and loved ones.

Stress Management: Chronic stress can negatively impact your emotional and mental health. Learn healthy coping mechanisms like exercise, relaxation techniques, and time management to manage stress effectively.

Meaning and Purpose: Having a sense of purpose and meaning in life provides direction and motivation. Explore your interests, values, and aspirations to discover what sparks your passion and drives you forward.

Seeking Professional Help: If you're struggling with mental health challenges, seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor is crucial. They can provide evidence-based strategies, support, and guidance tailored to your unique needs.

Benefits of Mental Wellness:

  • Increased emotional well-being and resilience
  • Improved relationships and social connections
  • Enhanced sense of purpose and meaning in life
  • Greater satisfaction and fulfillment
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Better coping mechanisms for life's challenges

3. Emotional Wellness

Emotional wellness isn't about suppressing your emotions or forcing a smile. It's about cultivating a rich inner world where you can understand and navigate your feelings with grace and self-compassion.

Imagine yourself as a maestro, conducting the orchestra of your emotions – a beautiful interplay of joy, sadness, anger, fear, and everything in between.

Here are the key instruments in your emotional orchestra:

Self-Awareness: This is like having a clear score in front of you. Be mindful of your emotions, identifying their triggers and understanding what each feeling communicates. Journaling, meditation, and therapy can all help you become more self-aware.

Emotional Expression: Bottling up emotions can be harmful. Find healthy ways to express yourself, whether it's talking to a trusted friend, writing in a journal, or engaging in creative activities like art or music.

Emotional Regulation: Not all emotions need to be amplified. Learn to manage your emotional intensity through techniques like deep breathing, relaxation exercises, or cognitive restructuring. Remember, the volume on your emotions doesn't define you.

Positive Mindset: Cultivating a positive outlook doesn't mean ignoring negatives, but choosing to see the good and focus on solutions. Gratitude practices, affirmations, and surrounding yourself with positive people can help build a more optimistic mind frame.

Self-Compassion: Be your own kindest critic. Treat yourself with understanding and acceptance, acknowledging that emotions are a natural part of being human. Forgive yourself for missteps and celebrate your emotional growth.


Progress, not perfection: Emotional wellness is a journey, not a destination. There will be ups and downs, but every step towards understanding and managing your emotions is a positive step.

Professional help: If you're struggling, don't hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor. They may offer insightful advice and assistance catered to your particular requirements.

By nurturing your emotional well-being, you create a richer, more fulfilling life. Embrace the symphony of your emotions, and become the maestro of your own happiness!

4. Social Wellness

Dismiss the romanticized notion of the isolated individual. Authentic social well-being transcends solo existence, instead emphasizing the development of robust social networks, as evidenced by research on social determinants of health.

This involves nurturing healthy interpersonal relationships, effective communication skills, and active community engagement, building a support system that demonstrably enhances well-being and allows you to contribute to something larger than yourself.

Imagine fostering social interactions characterized by trust, respect, and open communication. These elements, as supported by studies on interpersonal relationships and attachment theory, form the foundation of strong social networks.

Trust fosters a sense of security and allows for authentic self-expression. Respect promotes positive interactions and affirms the value of others. Open communication enables effective exchange of information and understanding, as highlighted in research on communication competence and conflict resolution.

But connection isn't just about proximity; it's about the quality of interaction, characterized by active listening and assertive communication. Active listening, as demonstrated by research on empathy and social cognition, involves attentively focusing on understanding another's perspective.

Assertive communication, supported by studies on interpersonal communication skills, entails expressing your needs and opinions respectfully, ensuring clear and healthy interactions.

Expanding your social network beyond individual connections to encompass the wider community further strengthens well-being.

Participation in community activities, volunteering, or joining social groups, as suggested by research on social support and community psychology, allows you to connect with others who share your interests, experience a sense of belonging, and contribute your unique talents to something larger than yourself.

This, in turn, fosters feelings of purpose and social responsibility, as supported by studies on prosocial behavior and social identity theory.


Building social wellness is a continuous process, not a one-time achievement. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge your accomplishments as you go.

There's no single "correct" approach to social connection. Explore various avenues and discover what works best for you, considering your personality, interests, and life circumstances.

Seeking professional support is always an option if you're struggling to connect with others. Therapists and counselors can provide evidence-based strategies and guidance tailored to your unique needs.

By prioritizing social connections and nurturing your social network, you cultivate a richer, more fulfilling life, and contribute to a stronger, more connected world, as supported by extensive research on the positive impact of social well-being on physical and mental health, longevity, and overall quality of life.

5. Spiritual Wellness

Extending one's sense of meaning and purpose in life, together with one's principles and ethics, is what is meant to be considered spiritual wellness. There might be religious activities involved or not. 

Priorities for your Spiritual Wellness

  • Examine your own values.
  • Examine and make clear your moral principles.
  • Recognize how experiences in life shape and alter one's values.
  • Recognize how other people's values differ from your own.
  • Look inward for the purpose of your existence.
  • Act in a way that is compatible with your principles to develop integrity.
  • Examine the questions surrounding mortality, as well as your own life and death.

6. Environmental Wellness

Living in enjoyable, stimulating surroundings that promote wellbeing is what is meant by environmental wellness. It encourages socializing with the natural world and cultivating a pleasurable atmosphere for oneself (in and out of your workspace).

By increasing awareness and adding elements that make their surroundings more comfortable for them, everyone can have a strong environmental conscience.

Why is Environmental Wellness Important?

Respect is the cornerstone of environmental wellness; it is reverence for all of nature and all of the creatures that inhabit it. You can see how your daily routines impact both your home and professional lives when you develop an awareness of the environment.

Increasing environmental wellness leads to a more balanced way of living and is quite easy.

The Path to Ecological Wellness

The path to environmental wellness is very simple to follow once it is started. You may enhance your connection with the environment by implementing a variety of eco-friendly habits.

The foundation of everything is conservation. A list of some ideas to help you become more ecologically conscious is provided below.

  • Organize your workspace to be more comfortable and productive.
  • Be energy-efficient.
  • Recycle (you can also carry a water bottle or coffee cup with you to work).
  • Learn about the natural resources on Earth. Recognize and comprehend the function of our natural resources.
  • Take a walk outside, maybe in one of the parks owned by the City of Newport News, and get some vitamin D !