The World Health Organization defines wellness as a state of complete physical, mental and social well being, not just the absence of disease. The concept of wellness isn’t something new. In fact, the idea of wellness stretches back to ancient Chinese, Greek and Roman cultures, which all emphasized holistic approaches to achieving health, well-being, and harmony within one’s life. My personal definition of wellness is allowing the best possible health in my physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and social self.
Many of these concepts of wellness are still true today, as we manage even more life challenges than our ancestors did. Many health experts agree that wellness should include a balance among multiple life dimensions: emotional, physical, social, spiritual, environmental, financial, intellectual and occupational. They believe that all dimensions of wellness are interrelated and crucial to a fulfilling life.
What Wellness Means to Some Experts
While I was researching this article, I came across other people’s definitions of wellness. Maybe some of them will resonate with you and help you shape or refine your own.
Amanda Chantal Bacon, founder of Moon Juice
"Wellness to me right now and for the last little bit has been giving myself the permission to take time to take care of myself and to be by myself and to not have to feel guilty for not participating and responding to all of the demands all of the time. And to really give myself space and freedom to be with myself and my family."
Neil Grimmer, founder of Habit Food
"I think wellness is a feeling: when you just feel activated in all aspects of your body and your mind when things are lined up and they're harmonized, and you just feel unstoppable."
Ashley Neese, breathwork teacher, spiritual counselor, and meditation guide
"Wellness means the willingness to trust myself, to follow my instincts even when it's inconvenient, even when it's uncomfortable, even when I feel like it's uncomfortable. It really means trusting myself, listening to myself, and slowing down long enough to really get a clear picture of what's next."
Will Cole, functional medicine expert
"Wellness is an idea of total optimal function. And not just physical health. Someone can have physical health and their labs look great, but they are stressed out, and they are isolated, and they aren't living a full life. But it's just a total optimal function."
Krista Stryker, personal trainer
"Feeling good in your own body. Feeling strong in your body and mind, and that they're in sync with one another."
Alison Canavan, author and parenting expert
"Wellness to me means peace of mind and heart. That's what we're always striving for, and it really means spending time and being present. But real wellness for me means looking at the full 360. Really connecting the dots of your health and well-being for ourselves and understanding what we like and what works for us because we're all so different. So understand that it's a personal journey and being comfortable in your own skin. Being OK with saying, this is what works for me; this is what I like doing."
While each of these experts have their own unique definition of wellness, there are definitely common themes that have to do with nurturing the mind and the body.
Creating Your Wellness Goals
Once you have a good idea of what wellness means to you, you can start looking at creating goals to increase your sense of wellness. Having a clear idea of the different things you want makes it much easier to create those changes.
Typical wellness goals include maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress, managing medical challenges, increasing fitness or nurturing creativity to fulfill personal and professional goals. Some people I’ve talked to want a better balance between work and home. Others want to be more organized and less cluttered. And some people want to be more intuitive and better at listening to the signals their body gives them.
My wellness goals are centered around being aware of how I’m feeling, and using that awareness to make improvements as I go. In other words, it’s being aware of what is working in life and improving upon it, and also being aware of what is not working and being proactive about improving it. I’m always looking for the balance in my life, so I'm relaxing enough, moving enough, eating the things that makes my body feel good, thinking in ways that make me feel good emotionally, and challenging my mind and body in a way that create improvements.
I’m a big fan of writing things down, so now is a great time to grab a notebook. You could start by sketching out your definition of wellness, and then move on to listing some things you’d like to improve on. As we’ve learned, everything on this list has an impact on your overall wellness.
Reaching Your Wellness Goals
A good format is to first write down something you’d like to work on. Below that make a list of what that looks like. For example:
Be more organized
Less clutter on desk
Keep appointment calendar updated
Get ready the night before
From there, you can keep chunking those pieces down. Like this:
Be more organized
Less clutter on desk
Use a file holder to separate papers
Remove things that don’t need to be there
Keep appointment calendar updated
Set aside time each morning and afternoon to update calendar
Switch from paper to electronic calendar (or vice-versa)
Get ready the night before
Lay out clothes
Pack work bag
You can see that your plan for reaching your goals is writing itself as you go. Now you have small, manageable steps that you can take that get you closer to your goals. And because you’ve written them down, you have the pleasure of crossing them out as you complete them.
Appointments and Screenings
While your thinking about wellness, it's a good idea to make some appointments with your healthcare providers such as:
your annual physical
suggested preventive health screenings, appropriate for your age
your annual flu shot
an annual eye doctor appointment, especially for students and teachers heading back to school
your twice annual dentist appointment
visits to the chiropractor, podiatrist, etc
You might also find yourself ready to take some new steps. You may choose to contact a nutritionist, hypnotist, acupuncturist, massage therapist, or another expert that can support you in reaching your goals. Depending on your needs, wellness plans may include personal training, life-coaching, nutrition counseling, healthy aging and beauty-boosting, complementary support to medical treatment plans, mind-body services, outdoor experiences, and other areas of service.
The Role of Hypnosis
Hypnosis, to me, is a specific set of tools designed to help people use their own sills, abilities, and resources more effectively to take back control of the parts of their lives that they felt were out of control before. Hypnosis breaks down the barriers that held you locked in unwanted behaviors and habits, and empowers you to create new healthier behaviors in their place. A great way to begin is by using self-hypnosis. The steps below will guide you through a very basic introductory self hypnosis experience.
You don’t have to be able to meditate and clear your mind, but sitting quietly and repeating phrases is important. Your subconscious mind already has a number of phrases it repeats to you. “I’ll never lose the baby weight,” “I’m just not good at public speaking,” “I’ll never find another person to love me,” etc. Self-hypnosis works to replace these negative statements with more positive ones. You will have to make the time and find a place to sit quietly for about 5 minutes at least twice a day.
Before you begin, write out some positive statements in advance: Be sure you stay in the present tense (something you are doing now, not that you are going to do), and that you stay positive but not over the top. If your mind doesn’t believe whatever you are saying, it can reject it. In other words, say things like, “I know the right foods and I make good choices,” instead of, “I am looking more like a runway model every day.” Other good suggestions are “I am able to remain calm and relaxed no matter what happens around me.” “I wake up feeling refreshed and energized.” “I am more patient and able to take my time.”
Remember that you don’t have to create pictures in your mind in order to be successful. Some people see things very clearly in their minds. Other people just get a vague idea of the thing they’re thinking of. As long as you can “sense” what you want to achieve, you can self-hypnotize.
Find a comfortable place you can safely sit with your eyes closed for about 5 minutes. Turn off your phone and minimize other distractions. Take a few deep breaths. Let your eyes close or let your vision go soft and blurry. Begin to recite your suggestion at least ten times. When you’re done, sit quietly and let your mind wander or rest. After about 5 minutes you’ll feel like it’s time to open your eyes. When you do, your vision will clear and you’ll feel awake, alert, and refreshed.
Commit to this exercise for a full week - 5 minutes a day twice a day. Self hypnosis takes more repetition than using hypnosis with a professional, so you’ll want to stick with it for at least 7 days in a row. You’ll begin seeing positive changes in the way you think and feel almost immediately.
For some people, seeing a professional is the best option, but if you aren’t able to do so right away, begin to practice these techniques on your own and see the positive changes you can incorporate into your life.∎
Karen Gray is a Certified Professional Hypnotist, a Certified Hypnosis Instructor, a Registered Nurse, and the Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information on how you can use hypnosis to change your life, contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (802) 566-0464.