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- See also Wellness (medicine)
Wellness is generally used to mean a healthy balance of the mind-body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being. It has been used in the context of alternative medicine since Halbert Dunn began using the phrase high level wellness in the fifties, based on a series of lectures at a Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington, Virginia, in the United States. The modern concept of wellness did not, however, become popular until the 1970's.
The term has been defined by the Singapore-based National Wellness Association as an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence. This is consistent with a shift in focus away from illness in viewing human health, typical of contexts where the term wellness is used. In other words, wellness is a view of health that emphasizes the state of the entire being and its ongoing development.
The phrase can also be seen as an analogue to the medical term "homeostasis".
Alternative approaches to wellness are often denoted by the use of two difference phrases: health and wellness, and wellness programs. These kind of wellness programs offer complementary and alternative medicine techniques to improve wellness. Whether these techniques actually improve physical health is controversial and a subject of much debate. James Randi and the James Randi Educational Foundation are outspoken critics of this alternative new age concept of wellness. The behaviors in the pursuit of wellness often include many health related practices, such as natural therapies.
Wellness, as a luxury pursuit, is found obviously in the more affluent societies because it involves managing the body state after the basic needs of food, shelter and basic medical care have already been met. Many of the practices applied in the pursuit of wellness, in fact, are aimed at controlling the side effects of affluence, such as obesity and inactivity. Wellness grew as a popular concept starting in the 19th century, just as the middle class began emerging in the industrialized world, and a time when a newly prosperous public had the time and the resources to pursue wellness and other forms of self-improvement.
Definitions of wellness vary depending upon who is promoting it. These wellness promoters try to facilitate a healthier population and a higher quality of life. Wellness can be defined as the pursuit of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Wellness, as an alternative concept, is generally thought to mean more than the mere absence of disease; rather it is an optimal state of health. Wellness is pursued by people interested in recovering from ill health or specific health conditions or by those interested in optimizing their already good state of health.
Supporters of these programs believe that many factors contribute to wellness: living in a clean environment, eating organic food, regularly engaging in physical exercise, balance in career; family; and relationships, and developing religious faith. But, there are two basic widely different approaches to wellness. The original faith-based wellness programs offer a spiritual approach which is in opposition to the more recent secular wellness promoters.
Secular-based wellness programs
The aging population participates in wellness programs in order to feel better and have more energy. Wellness programs allows individuals to take increased responsibility for their health behaviors. People often enroll in a private wellness program in order to improve fitness, stop smoking, or to learn how to manage their weight.
Workplace wellness programs are recognized by more and more companies for their value in improving health and well-being of their employees. They are part of a company's health and safety program. These wellness programs are design to improve employee morale, loyalty, and productivity. They could consist of as little as a gym full of exercise equipment that is available to their employees on company property during the workday. But they may also cover smoking cessation programs, nutrition; weight; or stress management training, health risk assessments, and health screenings.
Faith-based wellness programs
Faith organizations often provide an array of services to residents in need, such as food, shelter, clothing, childcare and senior services in the community. Faith based wellness ministries are simply wellness programs sponsored by the faith-based community which are similar to those offered by the business community, but generally also offer information on the quasi-spiritual, New Age and quasi-religious aspects of wellness. Here, wellness is viewed as a quest for spiritual wholeness. Robert Schuller's be happy Beatitudes. for example, expounds upon the New Testament and presents eight positive principles for fulfillment. These types of conferences offer themes like: Faith, Hope and Health. New Age guru Deepak Chopra, author of more than 40 books on spirituality and health, offers an alternative and New Age spirituality perspective to wellness.
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- Secular-based wellness programs
- Faith-based wellness programs
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