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Published: January, 2016; Vol 12, Num 8

Journey to a Healthier You:

Health and Wellness Explained

By Emily Smith

The start of the New Year also marks the start of a new Lifelines series, “Journey to a Healthier You.” The purpose of this series is to educate and enhance – educate you about the eight dimensions of wellness and enhance your own personal wellness. We will focus on one dimension each month and provide tips and strategies you can apply to your own life and the different roles you may fill.

Health

True or false: health and wellness are the same. Though these terms are often used interchangeably, if you answered “false,” you are correct.

Health is typically thought of in terms of the absence or presence of disease. It is often defined by objective yes/no responses. Are you sick? Have you been diagnosed with a medical condition? Are you currently taking medication to manage a chronic condition? What is your cholesterol level? What is your blood pressure? Is your blood sugar in a healthy range? While the answers to these questions may provide a snapshot into your general physical health, they do little to determine how “well” of a life you are leading.

Wellness

Now consider the following questions. What is the quality of your sleep? How healthful and nutritious are your meals and snacks? How often do you exercise? Do you lead an active or sedentary lifestyle? How many close family members and friends do you have and what is the quality of those relationships? What kind of leisure activities do you participate in? Are you financially secure? How fulfilled are you in your work (paid or unpaid)? Are you living your values?

The answers to these questions may not be as cut and dry as the previous health questions. They likely require an explanation or a scale to answer, but they may also lead to a panoramic view of your overall, holistic sense of health, better known as wellness.

What is wellness?

Wellness is a multidimensional, holistic, evolving state and process of achieving your full potential. It is subjective, personalized, individual, cultural and situational. One’s own sense of wellness may change based on experiences, age, life stage and values. Wellness is about balance, moderation and avoiding social comparison. It is comprised of the following dimensions: physical, social, intellectual, emotional, mental, financial, vocational and spiritual.

Why call it a journey?

The title of this series is the Journey to a Healthier You because there is not a defined starting or stopping point; it is different and personalized for every individual. There are many different paths to follow and you should take the path that makes the most sense for you. The journey is comprised of eight wellness dimensions and people are at varying levels on each dimension. For example, while someone may have a very strong sense of spiritual wellness, they may be lacking in their emotional wellness. Another person may feel secure in their financial wellness, but their physical wellness could use some improvement.

All aboard! Join us as we embark on this journey to become healthier, happier and well-balanced Laborers leading successful lives and doing our best each and every day.

[Emily Smith is the Health Promotion Division’s Wellness Coordinator.]