Webster defines wellness as “the quality or state of being in good health, especially as an actively sought goal, such as lifestyles that promote wellness.” I like to think of wellness as a continuum. It’s not a matter of either/or, but of degrees. Are you sick, almost sick or healthy and feeling great? Visualize a continuum that spans from 0 to 10, with 0 being very ill, 10 being “total wellness” (extreme health) and 1 thru 9 as degrees of wellness. Your state of wellness, or health, is how close to 0 or 10 that you rate.
Unfortunately, we tend to take health for granted. It’s kind of the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy. If not feeling sick we may not get our annual health screenings, concern ourselves with eating right, get enough physical activity, or do many of the other things that can contribute to our health. Then we slide down the wellness continuum and get all the closer to being ill or contracting a chronic disease, often without realizing it until it’s too late. If, for example, we get high cholesterol from eating a poor diet, we may not know it until it leads to heart disease.
Eliminating genetic, age, ethnic and gender factors that we can’t control, healthy lifestyle habits remain as the determinant factors within our control that influence our place on the continuum. Eating nutritiously and being physically active help keep our bodies strong and resilient, and aid us in maintaining a place near 10 on the continuum. Other lifestyle habits, such as brushing and flossing our teeth daily, wearing seat belts, donning helmets when biking, and keeping our minds active also help prevent physical and mental calamity and preserve a high wellness status.
It all begins with a state of mind – a wellness state of mind. We adopt behaviors that lend themselves to wellness. We perform these behaviors until they become second-nature to us (habits). Once incorporated into our lives in this manner, it is no longer a struggle to maintain these activities, because they have become part of the fabric of our lives. And then we become all so close to being a Wellness Continuum 10!
The Wellness Continuum – Where are You?
Disease _______________________________________ Health