What Really is Wellness?
By Gina Cipriano
In the era of social media, people may interpret wellness as green juices, cute workout gear, and an Instagramable lifestyle. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting these things! However, it is often portrayed that once you achieve what is considered to be social-media worthy, you will automatically be happy, which may not be the case. Rather, wellness entails many factors.
The indivisible self is a model that proposes 17 different components of wellness (Myers & Sweeney, 2004). There are five themes of the indivisible self with sub themes (Myers & Sweeney, 2004).
1) Essential Self: The essential self includes spirituality, self-care, gender identity, and cultural identity.2) Creative Self: The creative self includes thinking, emotions, control, positive humor, and work.3) Coping Self: The coping self includes realistic beliefs, stress management, self-worth, and leisure.4) Social Self: The social self includes friendship and love.5) Physical Self: The physical self includes nutrition and exercise.
In addition to these 17 components of wellness, the indivisible self model also considers the CONTEXT in which these factors occur. These include a person’s ability to be safe locally, institutional factors that can positive or negatively affect people (such as laws and access to education), events occurring at the global level, and changes that occur through the lifespan (Myers & Sweeney, 2004).
What Does This All Mean for Me?
Interestingly, there is not a clear definition of wellness as there are diverse ways to describe this construct. However, it is agreed upon that wellness entails “the intentional act of embracing health-enhancing values, motives, and behaviors in efforts to promote good health” (Fetter et al., 2009, p.4). Wellness is multidimensional in that it proposes that “health” is not just physical health, but also mental, spiritual, social, environmental, and intellectual. All of these health-related constructs influence a person’s overall wellness.
The scenario shared at the start of the blog demonstrates how the media often portrays a one-sided view of wellness that is glamorous in nature. Further, people often speak about taking care of ones’ body in association with wellness through nutrition and exercise. While these components are vital for a healthy lifestyle, they do not encompass enough for a person to be well. Rather, if a person considers the 17 components of wellness, they can get a comprehensive
understanding of what else needs to be focused on within their life to improve their quality of living. Additionally, the indivisible self model assists people in normalizing times when they “should” feel well and do not by recognizing that the context in life can influence a person. For instance, given what is happening at a Global level, such as the war in Ukraine, many people understandably feel as though complete wellness is difficult to achieve at this time.
Therapy can serve as a means to help people identify areas of within their lives that they want to improve. Further, it can assist people in gaining insight into patterns they have concerning their thinking process, social relationships, and health-related decisions. Ultimately, this can help a person get more in tune with how they can improve their wellness while honoring difficult life situations.
Fetter, H., & Koch, D. W. (2009). Promoting overall health and wellness among clients: The relevance and role of professional counselors. Adultspan Journal, 8(1), 4-16. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-0029.2009.tb00053.x
Myers, J. E., & Sweeney, T. J. (2004). The Indivisible Self: An Evidence-Based Model of Wellness. Journal of Individual Psychology, 60(3), 234-245