The meaning of wellness:
Wellness is a modern word to describe a holistic approach to health. A healthy lifestyle helps us to maintain both our health and wellbeing. Positive thoughts and emotions also promote both our health and happiness. There are many different wellness models and philosophies. They are all based on holistic principals. In recent years the term ‘wellness’ has become popular. There are many wellness activities which we can enjoy in our spare time. In addition many businesses have workplace wellbeing programs. The modern wellness movement began in the mid 20th century and has increased in popularity since that time.
The birth of the modern wellness movement
The World Health Organisation wrote a definition for health in 1948. It has not been amended since that time. It states that health is more than just the absence of illness:
‘Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’’
The World Health Organisation (2017)
Dr Halbert Dunn, M.D., Ph.D was inspired by the WHO definition for health. He gives a view of what wellness means in his journal article ‘High-Level Wellness for Man and Society’:
‘The state of being well is not a relatively flat, uninteresting area of ‘unsickness’ but rather a fascinating and ever-changing panorama of life itself, inviting exploration of its every dimension. ’
Dr Halbert Dunn, M.D., Ph.D (1959)
Dr Dunn published many other articles on wellness in the 1950’s. He also published a book called ‘High Level Wellness’ in 1961. Dr John Travis MD was influenced by this book and he went on to create the Illness-Wellness Continuum (Strohecker, J. 2006, 2015).
Moving towards wellness
The Illness/Wellness continuum suggests that the absence of illness is the midway point between illness and wellness. Dr Travis believed that to have a high level of wellness you need to also have awareness, education and growth (James Strohecker (2006, 2015). To have optimum wellness we need to be fulfilled in all aspects of our lives. This includes self awareness and the ability to reach our full potential.
The first wellness models
Dr Travis opened the Wellness Resource Centre in California in 1975. He also created a wellness model called the Wellness Inventory in the same year. The Wellness Inventory is a holistic model that has twelve different types of wellbeing. Included in the twelve are: eating, moving, thinking and feeling (Strohecker, J. 2006, 2015).
A simpler model was introduced by Bill Hettler MD. He created the Six Dimensions of Wellness model in 1976. The model has the following types of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, occupational, social and spiritual wellness (Hettler, B. 1976). It is a holistic model that includes having a healthy mind, body and spirit. In addition, this model also has having a fulfilling career as well as having a happy social life.
Environment and wellbeing
The Wellness Initiative is another model of wellness which was developed by the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. This model has all of the six types of wellbeing that are in Hetter’s model. In addition they have also added to their model environmental wellness. As a result their model has seven types of wellbeing (Wellness Initiative, 2016).
Environmental Wellness is ‘The recognition of interdependence with nature’ (Wellness Initiative, 2016). Living in a way that is kind to nature is essential for all of our longterm wellbeing. Spending time in nature helps us to understand how nature supports our health and survival. This can inspire people to live in a more sustainable way, which supports the wellbeing of everyone.
There is also another wellness model that has eight dimensions of wellbeing. This model adds financial wellbeing to the above seven dimensions of wellness (University of Maryland, 2009, East Carolina University, 2017). Financial wellbeing is about having the financial security to be able to live a healthy and happy life. In order to be healthy we must be able to have access to health care and good nutrition. We also need to live in a safe and comfortable home and community. It is also important to have the opportunity to do things that bring us joy and connect us to the people that we love.
Culture and wellbeing
The Harvey Mudd College have also created a wellness model with eight dimensions. Their model also includes the seven types of wellbeing listed by the Wellness Initiative. However instead of having financial wellness they have added multicultural wellness to their model. This is the awareness of your own cultural background. (Harvey Mudd College, n.d). The music, art and food of our culture are all a part of our self -identity. They are also connected to our individual and shared history. In particular, they remind us of happy times that we have spent with the people that we love.
Creativity and humour
Dr Patch Adams is famous for adding both humour and clowning in his health care practice. He has a unique wellness philosophy. It includes the following types of wellbeing: nutrition, exercise, emotional life, faith, nature, creativity, service and humour (Patch Adams et al, 2011). This model is close to my heart as it includes nature, creativity and humour. In my youth I studied clown and wore a red nose! My creative life is a source of joy in my life. Spending time in nature is also essential for my wellbeing. My favourite self-care activities are spending time in nature and listening to music.
Wellness is based on the holistic principles of health and wellbeing. As you can see there are many different wellness models. They all offer a unique point of view. You may have an affinity to one or more of the wellness models in this article. After reading this article you may also be more aware of what types of wellbeing are most important in your own life.
Wellness is not just about having good physical health. It includes having both health and happiness in all areas of our life. As a result wellness is connected to all areas of our human experience.
Wellness Coaching for Stress Management
Wellness Coaching helps you to learn ways to reduce stress and improve wellbeing. Ongoing coaching can assist you to include self care into your daily life. Improved health and wellbeing helps you to achieve both your personal and professional goals. A great way to experience wellness coaching is when you are surrounded by nature. My business offers coaching in the beautiful parks of Melbourne. Learn more about wellness coaching.
I also offer Workplace Wellbeing workshops in Melbourne to help people to reduce their stress at work. If you would like me to offer a wellness workshop in your workplace, please contact me for more information.
You are welcome to make an appointment for a wellness coaching session. This will help you to create an action plan to reduce stress and enhance wellbeing.
Special Offer: You will receive a $50 discount on your first session if you mention that you have read this article.
Robyn Frank from Essence of Life Coaching, Melbourne, Australia.
Diploma of Life Coaching & Diploma of Aromatherapy
Contact: 0412 737 309
About Robyn Frank from Essence of Life Coaching
My interest natural health care led me to study massage and aromatherapy . A few years later I opened my private practice. Next I began working as an Aromatherapy Consultant in Aged Care facilities in Melbourne.
In 1998 I was given the opportunity to work as an aromatherapy lecturer for the Australian College of Natural Medicine. It was here that I was awarded an Academic Blue Award for Excellence.
Next I completed qualifications in Life Coaching. As a result I have combined my wellness experience with my coaching skills. Essence of Life Coaching was established in 2005 and I offer life coaching and wellness coaching for stress management. I also offer career coaching and business coaching for wellness business owners.
In coaching sessions I help people make simple changes to achieve their goals and improve their quality of life.
Note from the author:
The article: The Story of Wellness by Robyn Frank is not a replacement for health care or therapy. It is important to seek individual health care if you have health problems. Talk to your doctor or a qualified health practitioner if you have problems with your health. It is important to seek individual professional assistance if you feel you are unable to cope with stress or are living with a mental illness. Talk to your doctor or a psychologist or counsellor if you feel that you need assistance.
Persons reading the article The Story of Wellness by Robyn Frank must be 18 years and over and they must be able to take responsibility for their own physical and mental health as well as their life choices.
According to the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (US) (2017):
Relaxation techniques are generally considered safe for healthy people, although there have been a few reports of negative experiences such as increased anxiety. People with serious physical or mental health problems should discuss relaxation techniques with their health care providers.
Patch Adams et al (2011). Fundamentals of complementary and alternative medicine, Chapter 14: Humour, United States: Saunders.
Dunn, H. (1959). High-Level Wellness for Man and Society, Am J Public Health Nations Health. 1959 Jun; 49(6): 786–792. Retrieved on 18th February 2018 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1372807/
East Carolina University (2017). 8 dimensions of wellness, Greenville: East Carolina University. Retrieved on 12th September from: http://www.ecu.edu/cs-studentaffairs/crw/8dw.cfm
Harvey Mudd College (n.d). The eight dimensions of wellness, Claremont: Harvey Mudd College. Retrieved on 12th September from:
Hettler, B. (1976). The six dimensions of wellness model, Stephens Point: National Wellness Institute Inc. Retrieved on 19.04.2017 from: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.nationalwellness.org/resource/resmgr/docs/sixdimensionsfactsheet.pdf
National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (US) (2017). Relaxation Techniques for Health, Bethesda: US Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from the internet on the 4th of January 2018 from: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stress/relaxation.htm
Strohecker, J. (2006, 2015). A brief History of Wellness, USA: Wellness Inventory. Retrieved on 12th September 2017 from:
University of Maryland, (2009). 8 dimensions of wellness, Maryland: University of Maryland. Retrieved on 12th September from: http://health.umd.edu/dimensions
World Health Organization (2017). Frequently asked questions, What is the WHO definition of health? Geneva: World Health Organization. Retrieved on 12th September 2017 from: http://www.who.int/suggestions/faq/en/
© Copyright Robyn Frank, 2018.
Image of Robyn Frank by Breeana Dunbar Photography