By Megan Bott
Wellness, as defined by University of Maine researcher Kelley Strout in 2016, is a holistic and multidimensional state of being that guides one to achieve their full potential by synthesizing crucial elements of life associated with positive cognitive and behavioral health. Though humans have been practicing comprehensive wellness for centuries, the more formal, codified understandings of wellness rose to popularity in the U.S. in the 1950s. During this time period, various physicians and scientists traveled the country encouraging medical care that incorporated different aspects of wellness. Dr. Halbert Dunn, one such traveling physician, became known as the “father of wellness.” He drew a distinction between “good health,” essentially not being ill, and “high-level wellness.” He defined high-level wellness as “an integrated method of functioning which is oriented toward maximizing the potential of which the individual is capable.” Today, high-level wellness is fundamental in leading a balanced, long, and healthy life.
Wellness in the U.S. is commonly broken down into separate dimensions which must be balanced in order to achieve high-level wellness. Six dimensions of wellness have been identified for the purposes of this article: environmental, spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual, and social. As Colorado College students join people all over the world practicing social responsibility by staying inside, unique challenges have arisen in maintaining high-level wellness.
Fortunately, humans are flexible and can adapt to situations fairly fluidly. Addressing the dimensions of wellness from the comfort of our homes may seem daunting, but as we move our whole lives inside and online, we must brainstorm seminal methods of tackling wellness.
The Center for Disease Control recommends taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Surrounding yourself with the panic of the pandemic can create a tense environment in your home, prohibiting your ability to practice wellness in other forms. Train yourself to take scheduled time away from screens, opting instead to read, write, draw, clean, go for a short walk, or talk to someone in your house.
As a senior who left campus before Colorado College had even announced moving classes online, I last saw my small blue home at the base of Pikes Peak thinking I would return in just two weeks. Instead, I missed impromptu champagne showers and final outdoor barbecues — and with in-person graduation indefinitely postponed, I am working to still bid this campus and its people farewell in a proper way.
One of the ways I balance this hurried valediction in the time of quarantine is by writing postcards or letters to loved ones on campus. These letters have given me an opportunity to reflect on relationships built at CC while helping me close this chapter of my life. I’m engaging the emotional, social, intellectual, environmental, and even spiritual dimensions of wellness in each letter by reserving part of my day to people who have pushed me to transform over the past four years.
Now more than ever it is important that we as students, educators, and community members commit to incorporating high-level wellness into our lives. As this pandemic reminds us of the fragility of humanity and the physical body, let us not forget the mind and all the ways CC has encouraged us to promote wellness in all aspects of our lives.
Are you using any specific methods to practice wellness during these difficult and confusing times? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for your practices to be featured in future articles.