What is Wellness and Why Should I Care?

In the past, when I read the word wellness, I would think of a boring work program or some weird way of living that meant I had to cut out all joy from my life.

I couldn’t have been more mistaken!

A few years ago, I ended up the emergency department with symptoms that resembled a heart attack. I was in my mid-thirties, had been married over a decade, and had three kids. I could not believe what was happening to me. Turns out, I did not have a heart attack. But I did have what the docs called a hypertensive crisis. Basically, I ran right into a perfect storm: I was predisposed biologically, had tons of stress from living through a natural disaster and helping with the relief efforts, had just started a business, and was not sure about our finances because many of our clients’ homes flooded. I was exhausted and my body was trying to tell me to slow down.

While wellness as a concept had been on my radar for several years, wellness as a reality hit me hard...or the lack thereof! I have spent the past couple of years pursuing wellness, and it has made all the difference in my life.

So, what is wellness? I define it as the ongoing pursuit of wholistic health. That’s right. On-going. Wellness is life-long. And what, you might ask, do I mean by the word wholisitic? Wellness is wholistic because it is concerned with our whole lives. In other words, wellness encompasses several areas. I’ve listed them below:

Physical: the overall health of your body

Examples of physical wellness are working out, getting enough sleep, and eating well.

Intellectual: how we take in, process, store, and use multiple types of information

A mentor of mine says that intelligence is the ability to identify the salient issue at any given time in any given circumstance. In a nutshell, intellectual wellness is the ongoing development of our critical thinking abilities.

Psychological: how we understand emotion (i.e., emotional health) and use emotion to engage the world around us

Anger is a great example. Emotionally well people are able to use anger to understand what boundary line was crossed. They respond out of values rather than react out of anger.

Relational - the way we engage the world around us (e.g., family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc.)

One example of relational wellness is boundaries. Boundaries are meant to be used for self-care, not as a weapon to get revenge on those who have hurt us.

Occupational - work/life balance and the meaning we find in our work

Great work/life balance looks like the parent who works hard AND prioritizes spending time with the family.

Financial - deals with how we earn, save, spend, and steward our money and resources

Financial wellness is resisting the impulse buy and talking with your spouse or mentor about what the purchase will do to help you live with purpose. It’s also having clearly defined strategies and goals for how you will earn, save, spend, and steward your resources.

Environmental - related to the health of our surroundings and what is happening around us

If you litter, stop it! Ha. No, seriously. This is one simple way to engage environmental wellness. Another is to pay attention to the order of your home. Is it clean? Order promotes psychological health.

Spiritual/Existential - connects to our spiritual health as well as meaning and purpose in life

Missional living (i.e., living with a clearly stated purpose) is an example of this area of wellness. Also, I believe that understanding how your mission connects and supports God’s heart and intention for you brings a deeper level of engagement and meaning in our lives.

So why should you care about wellness?

Simply put, your wellness is tied to your quality and length of life. I don’t know many people who would say, “Yeah...I’m good if my life is terrible,” or, “I sure do want to die young.” Even if you have had these thoughts in the past, most people do not want these thoughts. We are built to thrive, not just survive. We want to experience a long, fulfilling life. Wellness is a major tool that increases the likelihood of a long, fulfilling life!

Take sometime and use this guide to evaluate yourself. Read through each of the wellness areas again. Click the link below to download our Wellness Guide.

Download the Wellness Worksheet

Find a friend and talk about these areas. Accountability is a great first step towards lasting wellness.

Also, The Well Clinic has a resource launching this fall called Rhythms. It’s a video series with a supportive workbook that can help you create healthy life rhythms that support wellness in your life. It will become available in the resource section of our website this fall.