"Wellness" no longer has the same meaning it used to. It's grown into a 4.4 trillion dollar industry of personal care products, smartphone apps, meal kits, fitness tracker wearables, trainers, therapists, medical specialists, nutrition supplements, specialty cook books, spa treatments and more according to recent data from the Global Wellness Institute. Despite this huge surge of interest in wellness, we're arguably no closer as a population to attaining it. Let's examine why...
Many people essentially think of wellness as a product they need to purchase. It's become an additional obligation on top of their already hectic day-to-day responsibilities. This mindset can leave them feeling that they lack the time or funds needed to pursue wellness, and when this situation occurs, wellness pursuits become an added stressor as opposed to something that improves their health.
What Wellness Isn't
The ever growing health and wellness industry can be a helpful tool, but it doesn't fully encompass what real wellness is. It's simply the commercialization and productization of our desire to be healthy and well-adjusted individuals.
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you just need more gadgets or a new routine and THEN you'll achieve "wellness", but this is a never-ending race that will likely leave you burnt-out and frustrated. Fancy products and services can be enjoyable and helpful, but they rarely deliver fully on their promises of helping us change our life.
What Wellness Is
So what is real wellness, and how do we find, nourish, create or cultivate it?
Since wellness is a subjective term, its precise definition is somewhat variable. Many describe it as a holistically healthy and fulfilling life, but I would expand on that to say it's a way of living that moves you in the direction of becoming your ideal self. Put another way: wellness is the continual process of positive growth and transformation.
“Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind, and spirit – the realization that everything we do, think, feel, and believe has an effect on our state of well-being.” – Greg Anderson
This might not sound as appealing as simply purchasing your way to wellness, because it requires hard work. Wellness isn't an achievement you can check off your to-do list, but rather a way of living that allows you to thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
It's also not something anyone can sell to you, or do for you. Instead, it shows up as a reflection of your habits, your choices, your relationships, and your mindset.
The Path of Wellness
This reframing of wellness has both discouraging and encouraging aspects. It means there are no shortcuts, but more importantly, it also means the power to live your life well is in your hands.
Pursuing wellness means addressing all aspects of your life holistically, because if one area is suffering, it will almost certainly seep out to impact the rest.
The five areas outlined by the Five Bridges system provide an excellent roadmap to navigate the various aspects of wellness with a clear sense of direction.
BOND: How You Connect
FUEL: What Goes In
MOVE: What You Do
REST: When You Recover
GIVE: Positive Output
A Life-Long, Self-Led Process
Recognizing that wellness is a lifelong journey may just be the first step to actually improving your life. There's no one set path that applies to every individual, and there's certainly no magic pill to make it happen overnight. We do have access to incredible tools and teachers to help guide us, but we must all do the walking ourselves.
The next time you feel overwhelmed by all the marketing messages and latest trending wellness practices plastered all over social media, remember that wellness doesn't come from outside of yourself. It's a self-led process towards growth, and you alone can choose to take the next step towards becoming a better version of yourself.
What Is The Wellness Economy? (Global Wellness Institute)
Dimensions of wellness: Change your habits, change your life (National Library of Medicine)