Admittedly, a good massage or a relaxing weekend spent at a lovely spa hotel or a thermal bath probably never did anyone any harm. However, the fact that people tend to see wellness merely in such terms testifies to the fact that the concept is fundamentally misunderstood and vastly underrated in its significance.
The most common misconception that has circulated for around three decades now is the notion that wellness is merely a portmanteau word coined from wellbeing and fitness. In fact, the term wellness was first used in English as early as the 17th century, although it largely fell into disuse for a very long time. In fact, it was not until the 1960s that its usage took off again as it became a catchword to describe a health movement triggered by talks and publications of the famous US public health physician, Dr Halbert Dunn. Dr Dunn promoted the concept of an individual capable to function at a high level thanks not just to his or her own efforts but also as a result of a supportive environment. This concept has provided the springboard for many different models and programmes developed by scientists and health experts during subsequent years and which are still used to this day in wellness centres.
What all genuine wellness concepts and offerings have in common:
The essential contributory factors are mental attitude (or mindset) and a corresponding lifestyle
Wellness is always understood in terms of an interacting relationship between the individual and its environment
Skills play a key role as they enable you to achieve high-level wellness in different life phases, enabling you to lead a productive, meaningful and fulfilled existence
The German Wellness Association has now produced its own model to help people gain a proper understanding of the term. Its starting point is mindset, as wellness always begins in the mind. The key features of a healthy wellness mentality are:
Being in charge of your own life while also sharing responsibility for the rich and varied life on this planet
Learning many new skills to make the most of your potential throughout the different phases of your life
Being primarily guided by common sense, reason and science
Using your freedom as best you can to shape your life in accordance with your personal needs and preferences
Embodying ethical values such as decency and integrity, being honest, friendly, kind, fair, respectful, tolerant and unprejudiced
Contributing to the wellbeing of the world and leading a productive, meaningful and contented life
This basic set of practices and behaviours provides the guiding light for a person’s everyday approach to life. They mould an individual’s lifestyle. Two of the five different lifestyle areas of the wellness model specifically recommended by the German Wellness Association are included below.
Be guided by reason when reflecting, planning, taking decisions and solving problems
Have a thorough understanding of science and always orientate yourself towards it
Avoid self-deception, cognitive distortion and thinking biases
Develop a realistic sense of your internal locus of control and perceived self-efficacy
Hone your skills when it comes to controlling yourself and regulating your emotions
Daily physical exercise: to improve stamina, strength, agility, and co-ordination
An optimum diet: one based on our needs and which is, as far as possible, vegetarian, as natural as possible, and easily digestible
A healthy stress balance: one that avoids mental overload or underload, develops methods and strategies for overcoming negative stress and encourages a sense of coherence, resilience, and personal development
Effective regeneration: optimise sleeping patterns, learn and adopt relaxation techniques, cultivate breaks and activities for the purposes of regeneration
Informed health expertise: evidence-based knowledge for restoring, retaining and promoting good health
The extent to which a wellness mindset and lifestyle succeed largely depends on your environment. Your environment supports, ignores or hinders you on your path to high-level wellness. It is essential to create a favourable environment if you are to promote wellness properly. By the same virtue, a person’s mindset and lifestyle also impact his or her environment. Wellness is realised in the constant interaction that occurs between a person and his or her environment.
This model not only helps you to understand wellness properly, it also makes it easier to implement its methods in a productive and effective manner. It clarifies why massages, cosmetics and visits to thermal baths, saunas and spas are all very well but, nevertheless, still only a small piece of the whole jigsaw. The model provided by the German Wellness Association helps promote understanding of the different wellness offers out there while also revealing the great untapped potential that still exists in this sphere.