There are a lot of misconceptions about wellness. This happens for two major reasons. The first is that the idea of wellness is a fairly new concept within the larger concepts that we associate with health and medicine.
The second reason is that the concept of health – which is already very complicated – is only one aspect of wellness. The idea of wellness is a bit more to take in than the idea of health but it also offers a better and more complete understanding of what each of us can do to live our best lives.
That’s why it’s worth setting the record straight on the myths and facts about your wellness.
Fact 1: Health and Wellness Aren't (Exactly) the Same Thing
The first thing to set straight when it comes to wellness isn’t a myth so much as a misconception. That misconception is that health and wellness are the same thing.
This was touched on briefly in the introduction but it is worth discussing in greater depth.
When most of us think of health, we think of how well our bodies are doing – things like blood pressure, pulse, etc.
This is only one of the six “Dimensions of Wellness.” Wellness is a more topic than health and includes our physical wellbeing as well as our social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and occupational wellbeing.
While most of us are familiar and fairly comfortable with the concept of health, some of the other dimensions of wellness may be a little more alien or abstract.
This leads to many of the other misconceptions of wellness.
Fact 2: You Don't Have to Go to Church to Tend Your Spiritual Wellbeing
As mentioned above, spirituality is one of the six dimensions that make up overall wellness. This raises eyebrows for many people who too closely link spirituality and religion.
Religion is one approach to spirituality, and it involves a specific system of beliefs and rituals that some people find satisfying and some people don’t.
Spirituality is something like how most people think of philosophy – it's a way of understanding your place in the universe.
This can be a rigid system like religion or some school of philosophy, morality, or ethics but it can also mean simply allowing yourself the things that you need that don’t involve food and shelter.
You may find this at a church or you may find it walking in the woods on a quiet evening or any other way that allows you to unplug from responsibilities and concerns and reflect on yourself.
Myth 1: You Have to be “Book Smart” to be “Well”
A similar misconception involves the “intellectual” dimension of wellbeing. This aspect isn’t about things like your IQ, it's just about challenging yourself.
This might mean going back to school but it might mean reading about things that interest you or that you’re curious about.
You might also satisfy your intellectual needs by watching the news or documentaries or doing word and number puzzles.
Think about the intellectual dimension of wellness as less a matter of how well you would score on Jeopardy and more a matter of how well you are able to meet the mental challenges of your daily life.
Myth 2: You Either Are Well or You Aren't
A final misconception about wellness is that you either are or are not well. It’s a little more complicated than that.
Because wellness is made up of so many dimensions, it’s easy to be doing really well in several dimensions and not so well in other dimensions.
Think of the professor who has a great social life, a safe job, a thriving intellectual life, but might not eat right or exercise enough. Compare that to the bricklayer who may have a great social life, and good physical health, but might not focus on things like spiritual, emotional, or intellectual wellbeing.
These differences show themselves in interesting ways. Someone who is overweight but who watches out for their emotional and spiritual wellbeing may very well have a better blood pressure than someone who eats right and is more active but who doesn’t know how to handle stress.