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Week 1 Definitions & Dilemmas

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

(If you’ve arrived here and want to know a little more about me, Margaret, and the background to this project this 3-minute introductory read is for you. These are my personal views. I’m very open to learn new things and want to reflect on my beliefs).

Week 1 - The tricky question of definitions - what does "wellness" mean, to me?

So, the Week 1 task I set myself was to define “wellness” and quite frankly I’ve failed. Yes, straight out of the gate I’ve fallen at the first hurdle. But it’s OK. I didn’t expect this to be an easy week and now I realise that the very process of thinking deeply about my own wellness over the coming weeks will help me understand what wellness does indeed mean, to me. So, defining wellness is going to be a work in progress and I’ll be coming back to (hopefully) refine my thinking over the course of the project.

But, despite the fail, I have learnt a lot this week and below I’ve tried to capture some of my initial thoughts. Some of this is pretty macro stuff so please stick with it. I expect the following weeks will be much more about wellness in the context of an individual.

My Week 1 Take Aways

The Scale of Wellness

No dictionary, health coach or governmental body is going to define wellness for me, it really is personal to me. This is a big learning point which is all tied up with my need to own and intentionally influence my own wellbeing. There seems to be some degree of proactivity in the concept of wellness as oppose to passive acceptance of the status quo.

The WHO's list of pre-requisits for health include "peace, adequate economic resources, food and shelter, education and social justice, and a stable ecosystem and sustainable resource use. Recognition of these pre-requisites highlights the inextricable links between social and economic conditions, the physical and social environment, individual health behaviours and skills and health. These links provide the key to a holistic understanding of health." Huge world issues.

Elements & Evolution

I don’t yet know all the elements that make up my holistic wellness or how to prioritise them (or if priorities are indeed needed although I suspect that's the case). I do know it’s more than “just” physical health and fitness. I’m going to use Week 2 to come up with my first pass at my wellness elements.

What I include in my definition of wellness today is likely to change and evolve as a result of things that happen to me over time, as I learn more and as science and general knowledge linked to wellbeing develops.

Politics & Vested Interests

Wellness is a political hot potato. The health of its population has a huge impact on each country’s economy. In a similar way, the wellbeing of a corporation’s employees directly affects productivity, performance and retention.

There are also lots of vested interests in the wellness arena. These include the interests of health care providers, food producers, pharmaceutical companies, employers, the leisure wellness industry, social media influencers and more. It’s important to consider context and motivation especially when someone has something to sell, although in many cases this isn’t easy to do.

Trends, Hacks & Diet Wars

Wellness trends, hacks and controversy are never far away, especially on social media and in the Sunday supplements of the traditional press. Headline grabbing new diets or treatments are far sexier than the sensible building blocks of good health and wellbeing and so tend to get the most column inches and Likes.

For reasons which I don't fully understand, things like specific diets, Paleo vs vegan for example, can become very tribal. There can be intolerance and reluctance to try and understand the views of an opposing side in what are described as diet wars.

Sources of Information

Many wellness information sources are trustworthy and helpful. However, some are less good and some can even cause harm for example by creating fear in order to sell something or grow followers. I need to be careful about where I get my information from. I’m going to share some of the people and places I currently go to for my wellness information and inspiration and I hope to find some new sources of knowledge.

So next week, my first attempt to create a list of the elements that I think make up holistic wellness, for me.

Thanks for reading, Margaret

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