Wellness. This blog is a ‘wellness toolkit’. Well, what exactly is wellness? What does it mean to you?
At the Yellow Kite Books panel event recently, four Instagram ‘wellness influencers’ were asked to define what wellness meant to them. Whatever it is, it’s something that has sparked off a whole industry, myriad fads, brands and communities.
The two nutrition-based experts, Harley Street-based Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert and junior doctor and PT Dr Hazel Wallace focused on the link between the quality of the food you put in your body and your mental wellbeing. And more importantly about educating yourself about the facts around your own wellness, what is unique to your needs and not to be found in fads. Making choices based on how you feel, not just immediate gratification desires about what you want to look like. A long-term mind-body connection to fortify you for your golden years, not just a bikini image to get likes on Instagram.
Shona Vertue, a yoga teacher and Personal Trainer who has created a mind-body fitness system The Vertue Method, described it as ‘a deeper connection into what your mind, body, spirit needs.’ Jody Shield, a ‘modern-day healer’ and author of Life Tonic, developed that further by adding ‘SOUL’ into the mix. Listening to and nurturing what your soul is calling for.
In 1948, the World Health Organisation defined ‘Health’ as “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This definition hasn’t been amended or added to since – because it’s pretty perfect, right? Health – and this for me is Wellness – is not just being free from physical illness, it is being wholly and fully well, in body and mind: actively seeking a balanced healthy state in a dynamic process retuned day to day month to month, according to changing external influences and circumstances. You can have a banging ‘bikini body’, but be anxious and depressed inside which dulls your senses and ensures that you don’t notice or celebrate it positively.
Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a fulfilling life, a resilient mind, a healthy body, strong relationships with those around you.
Modern humans live with a fraction of the physical strength that our prehistoric ancestors needed in order to function in their daily lives. We sit too much. We atrophy. We see our bodies as separate from our minds. And then we wonder why we become so depressed and anxious. We’re not allowing our bodies the movement and oxygen that it needs to function optimally, or giving conscious attention to the thoughts we’re filling our minds with.
Modern life has become a blocker for so many natural inherent magic aspects that the human body and mind possesses: Rhiannon Lambert described how, if you eat food while you’re looking at a screen: be it TV, iPhone, computer, you are actively blocking the natural triggers for your digestive system: we look at food, the brain processes what food that is and the correct enzymes are magically produced in order to digest that specific food. The human body is truly awesome. Now, we inhale food without even glancing at it – unless perhaps to photograph it before posting on Instagram… And then we wonder why our systems aren’t functioning perfectly.
Why does wellness matter?
Maintaining an optimal balance of wellness is crucial to being able to live a higher quality life. Wellness matters because everything we do, every emotion we feel, every thought that we think, relates to our wellbeing. In turn, our wellbeing directly affects our actions and emotions. Our body is continually communicating with us through our aches, pains, stiffness and niggles. Listening to our bodies and offering our bodies the movement and nutrition they are asking for is an essential step in proactively seeking wellness. Mind-Body-Mind: It’s an ongoing circle.
If everyone took small steps every day to achieve optimal wellness, stress levels would lower, and the risk of illness is also lessened, relationships would benefit because of more positive interactions between yourself and your body, and by a lovely domino effect, between yourself and everyone around you.
“…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
– The World Health Organization
“a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.”
– The National Wellness Institute