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What is Wellness?

I have reflected often on ‘wellness.’ The word has become so pervasive and its meaning so expansive that It seems we are reading and hearing about the importance of wellness and its consideration in all that we do everywhere. To be clear, I don’t disagree with people’s being well- meaning healthy- both physically and mentally; however, I can’t help thinking that we have overused the word and, as a result, made it a mystical ‘thing.’

I was reminded of my concern while reading an article in the Globe and Mail entitled “Our Wellness, Ourselves,” about the book Wellmania: Extreme Misadventures in the Search for Wellness by Brigid Delaney. I have not read this book; however, I appreciated Delaney’s comments regarding the wellness industry and our need to refocus: “We rely on the wellness industry because things are so out of whack. Many of us in the west…are living in times of high decadence.”

Nine years ago, St. Clement’s School created an approach we called LINCWell, an acronym for Learning, Individualization, Nurturing, Creativity and Wellness. Our fundamental belief is that wellness is a mindset fostered by learned skills or ‘tools’ that support our girls in learning, leading and life. Important to note is that LINCWell is an approach, and while it requires resources and expertise, it is not about equipment, gadgets or facilities.

At the end of MacDonald’s article, she cites Delaney, who describes having met a farmer who had ‘wellness’ figured out. She writes, “He eats what he grows, does physical work on the farm each day, has one or two drinks every night and doesn’t spend time on a device [the internet.]”

While I marvel at all of the gadgets and things these days that allegedly assist people in staying physically fit and mentally focused, I continue to wonder whether we have complicated a simple but powerful concept of well-being. I realize that the opportunity to grow our own food is not easily available but physical exercise- like a long walk or a jog- can be done outside without any electronic devices. Being mindful- of what we eat and how we live- are also powerful skills to be leveraged.

While the issue is not straight-forward, I think we could all be a little more well, with less ‘wellmania.’

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