A Definition of Wellness

What is the definition of wellness?
Wellness is the ongoing process of becoming self aware and making choices that moves you along a continuum of experiencing greater and greater states of feeling better. This experience is also known as "wellbeing". Well-being is the experience that occurs as you move towards greater states of wellness.

Wellness is the goal of a proactive lifestyle that embraces our holistic health, the totality of who we uniquely are and our connection to the greater communities or "systems" that define the world around us.

A wellness revolution has been quietly growing over the recent 30 years. The current rising costs of health care and the crisis within the industry here in the United States, is causing this wellness revolution to gain momentum. It's gaining force for two reasons: being "well" feels better and being "well" actually costs less. As a result the wellness revolution is beginning to swell as it moves strongly into mainstream awareness.

Throughout this revolution there have been many views that have tried to define what is wellness and what the attributes are. The definition of wellness has evolved. In 2004, psychologist Judd Allen, Ph.D. surveyed experts in the wellness field to understand the unique and defining characteristics of wellness. He observed the following common themes:

  • Wellness is a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.
  • Wellness is multi-dimensional and holistic encompassing such factors as lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being and the environment.
  • Wellness is positive and affirming.

From: Arloski, Michael. (2007) Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change (p. 12) Duluth, Minnesota: Whole Person Associates.

A deeper definition of wellness reflects the following ten dimensions of wellness that Dr. Judd refers to. Together they define the larger picture of who we are.

It's also called a Wellness Wheel.

Dr. Judd's 10 most common dimensions of wellness are:

  1. Social Wellness
  2. Occupational Wellness
  3. Spiritual Wellness
  4. Physical Wellness
  5. Intellectual Wellness
  6. Emotional Wellness
  7. Environmental Wellness
  8. Financial Wellness
  9. Mental Wellness
  10. Medical Wellness

A self-care moment. Try this:

Now that you have a clearer wellness definition, explore your overall wellness and promote well-being:

  • Review Dr. Judd's list.
  • Ask yourself if you are walking in balance with these 10 dimensions of wellness.
  • Which dimension(s) of you needs support?
    Most of us are in need of strengthening a few or more dimensions. Change begins with becoming aware of what we need support in. Take another step in your wellness revolution today.


Sources: Gerber, R., (1988) Vibrational Medicine: New Choices for Healing Ourselves, (p. 438) Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Co.

Wellness. (2009). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved December 19, 2009, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wellness

Wellness. (2009). In Wiktionary: A Wiki-based Open Content Dictionary. Retrieved December 19, 2009, from http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Citations:wellness?action=edit

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