Wellness is a modern word with ancient roots. The key tenets of wellness as both preventive and holistic can be traced back to ancient civilizations from the East (India, China) to the West (Greece, Rome). In 19th-century Europe and the United States, a variety of intellectual, religious and medical movements developed in parallel with conventional medicine. With their focus on holistic and natural approaches, self-healing and preventive care, these movements have provided a firm foundation for wellness today.
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Wellness is the act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes, so that instead of just surviving, you’re thriving!
To understand it’s significance, it is important to understand how it’s linked to health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is defined as being “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
There are two important aspects to this definition. First, wellness is not a passive or static state but rather an “active pursuit” that is associated with intentions, choices and actions as we work toward an optimal state of health and wellbeing. Second, it is linked to holistic health—that is, it extends beyond physical health and incorporates many different dimensions that should work in harmony.
Wellness is an individual pursuit—we have self-responsibility for our own choices, behaviors and lifestyles—but it is also significantly influenced by the physical, social and cultural environments in which we live.
Wellness is often confused with terms such as health, wellbeing and happiness. While there are common elements among them, wellness is distinguished by not referring to a static state of being (i.e., being happy, in good health, or a state of wellbeing). Rather, wellness is associated with an active process of being aware and making choices that lead toward an outcome of optimal holistic health and wellbeing.