The Fourth Definition of Wellness
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a state of full mental, physical and social well being and not just the absence of illness and disease. A wide variety of definitions has been used over the years. Some use the words wellness, health and illness interchangeably and others refer to the condition of a person’s health. What we call health is a state or condition that is neither broken nor in need of immediate repair. It is a state in which the person’s living conditions are such that a person can engage in active and healthy pursuits without limitation or risk of injury. It may be described as the absence of medical, dental or other unforeseen risks or dangers.
The word health has various other meanings, some of which are well-being, health promotion, and quality of life. A well-balanced diet, regular exercise and good hygiene are examples of wellness. Health promotion is a term sometimes used to describe public education regarding nutrition, active and healthy living, and other issues that affect health. Quality of life refers to the ability to function at optimum levels. These concepts are interrelated and a balanced approach to promoting wellness requires all aspects of health promotion, including education, prevention, early detection and treatment of disease, and providing support to those who may need it most.
Prevention is a combination of early detection and treatment of health disorders through lifestyle and behavior change and research indicates that the best way to prevent serious diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer is to start at an early age with screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure and weight. This is part of a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise. In addition, there are several risk factors for serious diseases, and good health promotion focuses on avoiding such factors.
Mental health refers to the ability to enjoy life and cope with stress. It refers to general emotional well-being, but it also takes into account the physical, social, and psychological well-being. Stress can cause depression and other mental health disorders and some diseases may be related to mental health issues, such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other psychosomatic conditions. Well-being promotes proper functioning in the workplace, at home, in relationships, and in school and community settings. It also promotes healthy aging and prevention of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer and other diseases.
Spiritual wellness reflects an individual’s sense of spirituality and how it affects their ability to cope with health and disease. A person with a strong religious faith has a higher sense of self-worth and is less likely to feel depressed or experience other types of illness. Spirituality promotes healing, but it is not a cure and should not be expected to prevent disease. A well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and spiritual wellness practices can improve health and decrease the risk of illness. Spiritual wellness emphasizes lifelong habits of mental health and physical fitness and can include aspects of diet and exercise, meditation, yoga, and spiritual reflection.
The fourth definition is resilience. Resilience refers to the ability of the body to recover from trauma. It also considers the length of time that someone can avoid disease, and how well they can tolerate the pain of diseases. People with resilience are less likely to develop certain types of diseases, and are at lower risk for many other diseases. Resilience reduces the risk factors for many types of disease and improves overall health.