According to the National Wellness Institute, “Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” This definition describes a shift from unconscious living – where you do not think about your health until you have a problem or experience symptoms – to conscious living – where you are actively making healthy choices to promote your success and wellbeing.
Wellness Is Multidimensional & Holistic
Wellness is multidimensional in that there are several different areas of life considered to be a part of overall wellness, as shown in the Wellness Wheel above. Wellness is not just about physical activity and good nutrition. It includes positive choices and a sense of fulfillment spiritually, occupationally, psychologically, physically, environmentally and socially.
Wellness is holistic in that it encompasses the total person and explores the relationship between various dimensions of wellness. Instead of simply directly treating symptoms, such as poor nutrition, our approach to wellness involves understanding how the various dimensions are interrelated and may be affecting one another. If you are not psychologically well, for instance, it is likely that your success in other areas of life will be impacted as well.
National College Health Assessments have shown year after year that college students experience high rates of stress during their time in school. Depression and anxiety, family and financial troubles, and other factors outside of a student’s control can also come into play. As a medical student in a rigorous six-year program, you are even more susceptible to stress, and uncontrollable life circumstances are likely to take a greater toll on your success and wellbeing.
You are entering a career field in which the lives of others will be in your hands. If you are “impaired,” then you will be unable to reach your full potential and will only be able to provide sub-optimal care. This puts both your license and the lives of others at risk.
As a physician-in-training, you are setting an example for others and should treat yourself as your own first patient. This includes regular checkups and other behaviors that promote a healthy and successful life.