Wellness is on trend right now. In the last year there’s been a spike in the number of searches on Google for the term. Search Instagram and Twitter for the hashtag #wellness and you will be overwhelmed by the number of results.
But what does the term “wellness” actually mean?
Wellness is more than just health, although the World Health Organization’s definition of the latter term veers more to wellness than you might expect. They describe health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Wellness is about the proactive pursuit of health, rather than just trying to recover from an illness or only becoming active when things go awry.
Everyone has their own techniques for feeling good and feeling healthy. What wellness means to one person is different than what it means to another. Some look to exercise, while others prefer meditation. For some it’s avocado on toast for breakfast, whereas others might need a high protein diet. Finding out what works for you might be a bit of trial and error, but it’s an experiment worth undertaking to reach a state of wellbeing.
While nutrition and exercise are two key elements of wellness, they don’t paint the entire picture. Your version of wellness might be about setting up healthy boundaries that allow you to make the most of your personal relationships. It could be about making sure that you have a lunch break and finish work on time. We’ve broken down six key elements of wellness that everyone can work on to improve their lives. Which of these elements resonate with you?
Fueling your body properly is crucial in generating the energy you need to accomplish your daily activities, especially those that fulfill you most. Whether it’s going on a jog, walking your dog, dancing or writing, maintaining a healthy diet allows you to experience any activity to its full potential.
Incorporating fresh foods that feature all the food groups in balance – carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fruit and vegetables – will keep your body running like a well-oiled machine.
Planning your meals at least a few days a week will set you up for success in the nutrition realm. Instead of turning to fast food in a last-minute fit of hunger, having healthy meals at the ready will keep you on track and help regulate blood sugar levels.
Not sure how to plan your meals? Try Mealplan app on iOS. Just enter your goals, age and eating preferences, and you’ll receive a personalized meal plan complete with recipes and weekly grocery lists.
Move your body regularly in a way that brings you joy. For some, that’s going as hard as possible at the gym, while for others, that’s taking a brisk walk around the park.
“Fitness is a lifestyle, once you’re able to make the switch mentally, seeing it as something that’s part of your day instead of something you have to do, that’s when you start feeling great,” says Fitplan Trainer Ray Diaz.
Whatever exercise you enjoy most, getting at least 30 minute of brisk movement four to five days a week can make a huge difference in your overall wellness. Besides building muscle and burning fat, regular exercise provides a variety of life-altering benefits.
Benefits of Regular Exercise
- Increases your energy levels.
- Decreases your risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.
- Regulates blood sugar levels.
- Promotes memory and brain health.
- Improves sleep.
Changing up your fitness routine is a great way to reinvigorate your physical and mental wellness. Fitplan has over 65 fitness programs to choose from, including weight lifting, cardio, sculpting, STRONG by Zumba® and more. Try it free for one week!
Some people find a state of flow, a state defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as the sensation of losing yourself in your activity to reach optimal experience, in art and creative pursuits, which in turn helps them feel well.
Greta Solomon is the author of Heart, Sass & Soul: Journal Your Way to Inspiration and Happiness and says that creativity is hugely important.
“Wellness for me is about being able to fully express all your positive and negative emotions and to use creativity to work through grief and loss to find joy on the other side.”
What puts you in a state of flow? Whether it’s a hyper-focused workout, cooking a new recipe, pottery or painting, finding a creative outlet that brings calm and clarity to your day is a big win in your wellness journey.
Emotions are crucial and complicated. “Your feelings, emotions and social well-being are just as important [to your] overall health as they are your nutrition and your workout regimen.
“In fact our physical bodies react to our mental / emotional well-being just as much as [they do] to our nutrition,” says Eleonora C. Bastos, a Health and Wellness Consultant from the UK.
When we think of health we often forget our emotional and mental states, which play a huge role in our lives —whether we like it or not.
Many of us push down or ignore our emotions to get through the day. Between work, relationships and physical health, feelings are placed on the back burner and if left unattended, they will combust.
Making the effort to acknowledge your emotions, whether by journaling, talking to a friend, or investing in group or one-on-one therapy, will help keep your mind in balance.
Self care is another term that has reached peak popularity recently, and it is one that is bound up with wellness. It’s impossible to be well if you’re not looking after yourself.
“Essentially wellbeing is looking after oneself and appreciating the impact of self care regardless of how busy our lifestyles are and how much we have on our plate,” says life coach Raghav Parkash.
“It’s critical to put yourself first and prioritize your needs, as in order for you to give your best to anything whether your work, business, career or even family, you must first be your best self.’
Tuning into your own mind and body to discover what helps you thrive in life, no matter how big or small, is essential to your overall wellness.
Whether it’s relaxing in a hot bath, drinking a glass or wine, or attending a spiritual service, making time for an activity that truly fulfills you and not anyone else is what self care is all about.
Balance is the apex of wellness. It’s about mind, body, and spirit. Finding your groove in all the aforementioned elements of wellness is the ultimate goal.
Hard workouts should be counterbalanced by movements like stretching or relaxing yoga. A healthy meal full of super foods can coexist with the occasional greasy takeaway. It’s alright to go out dancing until the early hours some weekends, then spend others sleeping and relaxing.
“Seeing noticeable changes that are sustainable is all about creating new habits/routines,” says Fitplan Trainer Katie Crewe.
“There are going to be days when you really don’t feel like going [to the gym], so instead of always relying on motivation, having set times where you’ve scheduled in a gym session, pre-packing your bag and snacks so you’re ready to go, having a set time to meet a friend for a workout can help to remove some excuses.
“That being said, listen to your body and if you’re feeling rundown, don’t be afraid to take a day off. That’s part of self care and wellness too. Enjoy the break and then get right back on schedule when you’re ready.”
Wellness is For Everyone
Anyone can embrace wellness. You don’t have to be a certain size or shape, or have specific athletic abilities. There are as many different ways to be well as there are people.
Giving yourself permission to step back from demands and create your own space that allows you to thrive is the key to wellness. Isabelle Griffith, a Mindfulness and Emotional Wellbeing Coach and founder of Light Up & Thrive describes it as your “own personal climate.”
Wellness isn’t only about big goals and difficult challenges. It’s also about the small things that you do every day to help you feel good and thrive in life.
Fitplan Trainer Katie Chung Hua focuses on five main wellness habits:
- Take time to myself: I try to spend some time reflecting and relaxing daily.
- Write down a list of things I’m grateful for: this helps keeps my mind positive and reminds me to appreciate what I have.
- Listen to self improvement podcasts: I find them motivating and easy to relate to when I’m trying to overcome an obstacle. They also gives me different outlooks.
- Help others: Helping others helps put things in perspective and gives me a sense of need and shows how much I can positively impact someone’s life.
- Spend time with friends/family: Being around people to laugh with and share my passions with lifts me up and encourages me to pursue my dreams.
Anna Parker-Naples is a Business and Mindset Coach and says that “Wellness is about looking after your mind, your body, your spirit all in one go! Finding ways to live a life you love, creating with passion and integrity, all whilst keeping yourself physically fit and healthy and your mental wellbeing accounted for. It’s not a done deal. It is a process that you have to work at, since wellbeing is at the core of a happy, well-rounded life.”