In the past, the term well has largely been used to describe our physical health - how well the body is functioning and how well we physically feel. For example a common enquiry or greeting of, “How are you?” may receive the response, “I’m well thank you,” or ‘Not very well,” without a thought about anything other than how we're feeling in our physical body at that time.
Often, the way our physical body is feeling precipitates a decision to visit a doctor or other type of health practitioner. We may have the flu, infection, pulled a muscle, or something more serious causing dis-ease in our bodies, so we decide that it’s time to make that appointment.
Recently there has been a shift in our thinking and wellness has become a fairly common term, which has grown to encompass a much broader state of health and wellbeing. Practitioners are using the term wellness to describe a person’s state of ‘being’, which still includes the physical, but also the emotional, psychological, plus more commonly now too, the spiritual health, of a person. We are far more likely to see a person as much more than just their physical body. This is not saying that the physical body is of less importance, it’s just that we now recognise that wellness comes from the integrated healthiness of the ‘whole’ person.
The physical body is a wonderful reflection of our thoughts, feelings and experiences. For example when I was a busy teacher, I would push myself to meet the deadlines of lesson planning, assessments and reporting, while also doing my absolute best to be an inspiring, compassionate educator for the students. Each school term was mentally and emotionally demanding, but somehow I always got through it. However when it came to the holiday break, I always got sick. My body seemed to just give in during the holidays. It would shut up shop, and say, “I need to rest and recharge. Whatever you had planned can wait until I’ve restored.” This is a common occurrence for teachers, and I’m sure for many other professions too.
The physical body is usually the final place to reflect how well we really are, because often times we’ve been thinking, feeling and behaving in ways in which our wellness is being compromised long before the physical symptoms appear. So it’s important that we stay ‘tuned in’ to our overall wellbeing and the most simple way to do this is to take a little time every day to check in with you. Ask yourself, ‘How are you today?’ Remember to include your emotional, mental, spiritual and physical self, in your enquiry. Use this time to discover what’s going on with the whole you and if you find you’re picking something up during your enquiry, for example, ‘I’m feeling really anxious about whether I can meet that deadline at work,’ or ‘I feel emotionally drained by how busy my life is.’ It’s important to firstly acknowledge the thought/feeling, then ask, ‘How can I support, improve, help ....this?’
And here is where many fall down by not ‘listening’ for the answer, or if they do get an answer, they don’t trust it. So it’s really important to listen and trust in you. Perhaps your answer will be, to meet with the boss to discuss your deadline, or maybe you need to schedule some time out for a massage or a weekend break away. No matter what it is, take it seriously and follow through because it is important to your wellness.
Your body is definitely one amazing communicator, but so are the other facets that make up the 'whole' of you.
Just remember the messages regarding your wellness are readily available.