What is “Wellness”?
It’s more than just a buzzword.
The term wellness can be traced as far back as the mid 17th century to mean the opposite of illness¹. But, that’s not the meaning we are talking about. We are talking about the meaning that started to arise during the 1950s. The concept of “high-level wellness”¹ was created by Halbert L. Dunn, then chief of the National Office of Vital Statistics. His goal was to define the broader idea of health as more than just not being ill. He was inspired by the World Health Organization’s constitution in 1948. His writings gained in popularity among individuals and companies alike as we strived to lead a healthy lifestyle in all aspects of our lives.
Today, we define “wellness”, as coined by Dunn, in the same manner as the 1948 constitution of the WHO, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” but the National Wellness Institute takes it further to add “a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential”². The modern understanding is that “Wellness” is holistic and includes all aspects of our lives, not just physical health.
The University of California, Davis breaks wellness down into its “Eight Dimensions of Wellness” including intellectual wellness, spiritual wellness, emotional wellness, financial wellness, social wellness, occupational wellness, environmental wellness, and of course physical wellness.
The University contends that by having a balance of those eight dimensions, you can lead a healthy life and “subdue stress, reduce the risk of illness, and ensure positive interactions.” Perhaps because they were raised with the term and idea of “Wellness” more and more millennials are open to general wellness and participating in their company’s wellness programs³.
So, how do you incorporate wellness goals into your life? Do you participate in a program at work, school, or other group?