When someone asks, “How are you?” often we reply, “I’m well, thank you.” But in saying “well,” we just mean we’re OK, or we have no big problems or we’re not ill. Is that really wellness?
The World Health Organization defines wellness as “… a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The National Wellness Institute defines it as “… a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.”
It’s easy to say we’re going to start a healthy lifestyle, eat right, sleep enough, exercise regularly, reduce stress and lose weight. As nurses especially, we say we’ll model these things to help our patients.
But we try and we can’t do it all, so we don’t do any of it. Life intervenes; we’re busy, distracted and committed. We gain weight, don’t sleep right, eat junk food and get stressed to the max.
We convince ourselves wellness is beyond our reach. But maybe we need to make just one move toward wellness, and it will lead to another. Today’s choice of a healthy fruit or a glass of water instead of a bagel and coffee might lead to tomorrow’s brisk walk or gym session. All the health and fitness experts can’t be wrong; one step at a time, they say.
Read our article on school nurses helping students with wellness and another on community nurses starting wellness programs.