What do you think of when someone says the word wellness? What does it mean to you?Out of curiosity, I looked up “definition of wellness” on the web and a bunch of different results came up! Many of them referred to being physically, medically or mentally well.
My favorite definition of wellness comes from the National Wellness Association of Singapore – “wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence”. An active process….
To me, wellness represents the integration of physical, mental/emotional and spiritual fitness. A healthy mind and a healthy body so to speak. Throughout our lives, all these components change constantly because of new experiences and learning along with the body changes…especially as we enter middle age and beyond.
Do you know anyone who in midlife has become depressed or suddenly changed their behavior to what seems like a crazy destruction of all aspects of their life? We often refer to this sort of behavior as midlife crisis. Everyone has changes in priorities, lifestyles etc. in midlife, but why do some seem to really go to extremes?Psychologists tell us that very few people truly experience classic midlife crisis. Most of the time, the most extreme cases of change either ends up being classic depression or the person has had chaotic interpersonal relationships/job loss etc., all their lives.
Perhaps, these people are just lacking the integrated components of wellness that I am referring to above. In other words, they may get 1 or 2 components right, but just lose sight of the others. Something is missing…For example, say John Anyman who is 40. He is very fit, goes to the gym, runs and is on his local soccer team. He has been married for 15 years, has an eight year old child and a profession that he enjoys (good job). But he walks around with the nagging feeling that something is missing in his life. He just can’t decide what that is.
One day, John leaves his family, quits his job and moves to Morrocco to “find” himself. Five years later, John is no happier than he was before. Why? The nagging feeling that something is missing is still there. John changed the outward trappings of his life without turning inward. In addition, he now lives with the loss of his family and the guilt of hurting them.
Perhaps if John had looked at all the aspects of wellness, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, seen which area was lacking in his life and made small changes first, he would have kept his family and gotten rid of the nagging feeling. To quote a common cliché: happiness begins within.
Many of us midlifers (me included) go through a sort of metamorphosis for a variety of reasons. In my case, this metamorphosis started because of family breakdown which lead me to reevaluate my life and set my own priorities of what is important. Unfortunately, I did not notice that something was missing for complete wellness before my life situation changed.
What had been missing for me? Emotional fitness. I had never before thought to define priorities in this area and therefore did not ask loved ones for what I needed. My emotions were left to be controlled by daily situations, and the behavior of my husband (who was having his own “midlife crisis”) and child. I was on “autopilot” and feeling that my life was without love. It wasn’t until my physical body started to show signs of my emotional pain, that I was able to see that there was something wrong in my approach to my life. Hence, my metamorphosis began…and continues! An active process…The message here for fitness enthusiasts is that working out and eating right is only one part of what makes us healthy. If the balance is not there in the other areas of our lives, and we are not taking care of our emotional selves – our bodies will show the signs sooner or later.