If you ask different people the question “What does wellness mean to you?” you may find surprising how many different answers you receive. Indeed, the term “wellness” is perceived differently by different people.
To some, wellness means not having physical pain, especially if they experience pain regularly. Others, who aren’t aware of pain, experience a physical limitation that keeps them from enjoying an activity. To still others, wellness is a broader term correlating with a sense of happiness, in which stress levels are managed by a combination of quiet, reflective time, daily exercise and balanced nutrition.
In our activity-driven society, it is important to balance activity with rest. Too much of either will move you away from wellness, and lead to physical problems.
Take, for example, a highly active person who has pushed his or her body hard and hasn’t stopped to listen to the warning signs. Without quiet time, a sudden period of physical downtime can produce a profound impact. Often, then, returning to full activity too quickly can cause discomfort that is masked with pain medication, only further complicating the problem. For this type of highly active person, taking time to read a book, listen to music, sit on a beach or slow down and take a leisurely stroll can offer a nice balance. Sports like golf (especially when not using a cart), yoga, or Tai Chi are also worthwhile.
If a person is at the opposite extreme and is too sedentary, the body will often exhibit a different set of problems. Obesity, poor cardiovascular health, weakness and high susceptibility to a variety of health problems are typical outcomes for a very sedentary person. Wellness for this type of person often involves slowly increasing an activity level, without having any negative rebound effects, which would deter the activity.
For example, for some people, the starting point of even being able to take a deep breath is already compromised by tightness and poor posture. A routine must be slowly initiated and closely monitored to make sure that progress is slow and steady.
When you visit any health professional, it is important to identify and mention your health goals. Is wellness a goal? If so, what does wellness mean to you? Does the health professional have the credentials to safely help you achieve your goal?
These are just some of the questions to ask to help you choose wellness.