Take a Shot at Achieving Wellness

Article excerpt

"People don't learn well if they're not healthy. The success of the institution's academic mission depends not only on the instruction it provides, but also on the climate it creates and its climate is about how students live, not simply how they do schoolwork.

"People of all ages need to learn how to engage in the process of good health, not just for themselves, but also for partners, children, family members, and neighbors. College is often the last chance to help people become effective agents of health."

So writes Charles Deutsch at the Harvard School of Public Health.

"Wellness" is one of the many terms that have sprung up over the last decade to become a regular part of our language. What is really meant by the term? Wellness is not simply being free of illness. It has a much more holistic meaning, implying that individuals have achieved a balance in the personal, work, familial, and spiritual facets of their lives.

Healthy lifestyles are not simple to reach and maintain. Wellness involves a personal commitment to discover what makes and keeps one happy and healthy as an individual. And although this is not an easy process, individuals who live healthy lifestyles report greater satisfaction with every component of their lives including their health, as well as work, familial relationships, and having a sense of direction, purpose, and meaning in their lives. Wellness is therefore highly beneficial to every individual and has the wonderful "ripple effect" of both directly and indirectly benefiting those who work with, befriend, live with, or simply encounter a well and balanced person.

Think, too, of the impact of the absence of wellness. This absence places a burden on humanity as evidenced by the rising costs of health care, the three major causes of death and disease in modern society cardiovascular disorders, cancer, and hypertension, not to mention the personal losses associated with chronic illness.

All these conditions are influenced by lifestyle choices but so too are a majority of medical conditions. The mind and body connection is no longer a hypothesis. There is a branch of medicine called psychoneuroimmunology that has clearly demonstrated the scientific link between medical and psychological health. We all struggle to manage stress in a rapidly changing and technologically evolving society. …