The wellness continuum is a sliding scale with no end. The goal is to move towards wellness, but each moment can take us in any direction.
Wellness isn't simply the absence of disease. It's a multidimensional continuum that encompasses both sides of health. The goal is to move towards optimal wellness, but the reality is we move up and back with every situation.
What is Wellness?
The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as "an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence."
Basically it means you are practicing habits that move you towards better mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing so that you can achieve your full potential.
The illness-wellness continuum shows a visual interpretation that shows how wellness is not simply the absence of disease, in fact there is a neutral point that depicts neither illness or wellness.
The Illness-Wellness Continuum
This visual of the concept of wellbeing was first proposed by John Walton Travis in 1972. People generally associated wellness with the absence of illness. But through his illustration he showed that overall wellness includes many factors.
Not only is there the absence of physical disease, but it takes emotional and mental health into account as well. Just because someone doesn't have physical disease, it doesn't mean they don't suffer from mental disease.
Dimensions of Wellness
There are many factors when it comes to wellness. While many focus on the physical and mental aspects, other areas come into play as well.
- Physical Wellness- the state of your physical health meaning how you eat, sleep and move your body affects your overall wellbeing.
- Emotional Wellness- the state of your feelings and emotions and how you cope with relationships and life in general.
- Social Wellness- how you interact with others.
- Spiritual Wellness- using your beliefs and values to live a meaningful life and develop a world view.
- Intellectual Wellness- keeping your brain stimulated by engaging in activities that are creative and challenge you.
- Environmental Wellness- making sure your environment allows your well-being to thrive.
- Occupational Wellness- enriching your life through work that is fulfilling and rewarding.
The Importance of Wellness
Being able to live life to your full potential requires you to be in a positive state of wellness. Our body cannot function at it's best if we are in a state of disease, whether it is physical or emotional.
As we move towards wellness, we start to see many areas of our life improve. From our physical health, to the state of our relationships.
Like Newton's First Law of Motion states that a body in motion remains in motion. This can be applied to the motion towards wellness. If we start with one are and work to improve on it, then we are motivated and able to work on other areas.
This will come together to affect all areas of wellness and will help our overall wellbeing.
Examples of Wellness
There are many ways that you can work on your overall well-being. Here are some examples for all dimensions of wellness.
- Focus on eating wholesome nutritious food.
- Move your body each day.
- Participate in activities that challenge you and make you step out of your comfort zone.
- Do something nice for a friend to show them that you care.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Surround yourself with people who contribute positively to your life.
- If you belong to a church, attend activities.
- Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
- Monitor how much social media you take in
- Start a new hobby.
These are just some examples, there are many things you can do to improve your overall state of health in order to live your best life.
Don't forget to download this healthy habits guide to help you along the way!