There is a wonderful shloka in Charaka Samhita, the Sanskrit text on Ayurveda that says…
सत्त्वमात्मा शरीरं च त्रयमेतन्त्त्रिदण्डत् |
लोकस्तिष्ठति संयोगात्तत्र सर्वं प्रतिष्ठितम् ||
स पुमांश्र्चेतनं तच्च तच्चाधिकरणं स्मृतम् |
वेदस्यास्य, तदर्थं हि वेदोअयं सम्प्रकाशितः ||
These words essentially mean that the body, mind and soul are the tripods of our lives. The entire world is sustained by their exquisite amalgamation.
Wellness is not a modern concept.
Ancient Indian scriptures show evidence of people understanding and catering to the wellness of the human body and mind since time immemorial.
The WHO defines wellness as the optimal state of health of individuals and groups. Although often used interchangeably, health and wellness both serve a separate purpose and go hand in hand for a prosperous and good life.
However, it’s not hard to see how, with the stresses of the modern world, health and wellness have become an afterthought for most people. Improper work-life balance, development of addicting mobile phone apps and games, and the advent of social media has created waves of unhealthy life-style choices that steer people away from good physical and mental health and wellbeing. Over time, people have seemingly moved on to other priorities than just living a healthy life.
Recent years, however, has seen a resurgence in people trying to stay healthy and focusing on good health in general.
Food for thought…
With all things said, what exactly is wellness and health?
Defining terms alone don’t tell us much unless we understand them. As said above, the two terms aren’t interchangeable even though they are often used as such. Wellness is a process of change. It involves actively pursuing activities and making lifestyle choices that ultimately allow you to reach your fullest health and wellbeing, leading to a happier life.
Moreover, wellness is multifaceted, and is about bettering more than just simple physical and mental health. Nourishing the body properly and keeping it fit and active through exercise, nutrition, proper sleep takes care of physical wellness.
But what about the rest?
There’s intellectual wellness, which is about engaging the world through learning, creativity, and challenging the mind through problem solving.
Emotional wellness is another facet, and is necessary to deal with the world at large.
Environmental wellness, achieved through fostering a positive relationship with the Earth and the environment automatically promotes wellness in all living beings.
Social circles and community are crucial to the overall well-being of a person. Hence, social wellness is also important.
Finally, there’s spiritual wellness, which involves the search of meaning, compassion, and purpose in life. While some look to religion and faith to achieve this, there are many other ways to achieve spirituality.
Balancing these six faces, or dimensions of wellness is what is necessary for good health and wellbeing. Our recent fight against Covid has really illustrated a need for maintaining a balance between health and wellness. It has shown that humans don’t just need healthcare, but also need to strive for a better lifestyle, since disbalance will plummet a person towards a state of illness of both the body and the mind.
Nowadays, there has been an ever-increasing spotlight on mental health and wellbeing. More and more people are realizing that work and striving for excellence alone, while is needed for survival, is not enough. We are all opening to the idea that maintaining good health and wellbeing requires effort and are willing to push for it.