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What is wellness? The new mental and physical well-being

What is wellness? The new mental and physical well-being

June 23, 2024

It is well known that a problem can not be conceived as such until the concepts have been created to define and limit it. That is why, among other things, that our current conception of what welfare should be has been extended to encompass aspects of human life that decades ago would have been unimportant or even disregarded.

Today, however we speak not only of the importance of covering the basic needs of each one of us, but of a realm of potentialities much wider than the possibility of feeling well physically . This concept has been called wellness .

The wellness It is an idea with which more and more therapists and psychologists work, but also hotel organizations with spa and agencies that offer weekend experiences. What is wellness and what is its popularity?


Wellness: a new conception of well-being

What we understand today for wellness derives from the ideas of Halbert L. Dunn , an American statistician who is considered the father of Wellness Movement. In the 1950s, Dunn developed the idea of ​​wellness, understanding that human well-being had to go beyond what was previously included in the field of health. Thus, this concept had to include, in addition to the correct functioning of the organism, the ability to choose several ways of self realisation.

In this way, the wellness that Halbert L. Dunn spoke of can be understood as the dynamic and lifestyle through which human potential is taken to its maximum in the spheres of the physical, the mental and the spiritual . As the theorization of wellness includes the acceptance of the existence of a mental and spiritual as well as physical world, this concept is used especially in the circles of influence of alternative medicine and non-experimental psychology.


Since the 50s, and especially with the impulse that culture took New Age In the 70s, this idea of ​​health has been extended to spa centers, spas and wellness hotels, but also to travel programs and experiences that offer wellness weekends and long stays dedicated to the improvement of the standard of living.

A question eternally postponed

This new way of understanding well-being was not born by chance in the middle of the 20th century. There are reasons why today there are many wellness centers and a century ago this idea was not even raised. This is because changes in social conditions have made it possible to extend the philosophy of wellness and comprehensive health .

It is curious that, although the human societies of the West have assumed for many centuries the existence of a separation between the body and the soul, all their efforts in the sense of improving the quality of life of the people (that of the wealthy classes, in concrete) have focused only on the physical domain. The spiritual field, which is understood as linked to the divine and seems, therefore, much more important than the "simple carcass of flesh and bones", takes on a leading role in the practice of creating ideal living conditions.


A few chosen

The soul feeding was something that was reserved for very small elites and their environment, even if there was always a philosopher who, even having problems to survive, was determined to give an answer to this type of questions.

Of course, until not so long ago, it was difficult to try to respond to a repertoire of needs as difficult to define as those corresponding to the sphere of the spiritual, and less with the limited resources and limited technologies that were available. How could the ancient Romans have talked about wellness, for example, who depended on the denial of the human character of their slaves to maintain an acceptable standard of living and use their services with total freedom?

Today, however, talking about wellness is now possible . And it is, among other things, because we already have the resources and technology to not continue indefinitely postponing the fundamental question: What about the welfare of our mind?

Wellness in the welfare society

It is not surprising, therefore, that this notion of what wellness is practically coincides with the emergence of the welfare state, shortly after the WWII. As the basic needs of more and more social strata were being met through the redistribution of wealth, it was easier to push beyond the reach of all positive human values .

It is at this moment when it begins to talk more about the freedom, the autonomy to be able to choose a lifestyle adapted to the way of being and doing things.It is also at this time that the idea that wellbeing should attend to issues not dealt with so far begins to be propagated. Many professionals of psychology begin to focus their interventions towards the need not only to treat mental problems, but also to help lead patients towards happiness and self-realization. The needs of the spirit, reformulated as needs of the mind, become some of the main objectives.

In this way all the ideas related to health and fitness have been imbued with the notion of wellness: from plans to lose fat, lose weight and maintain a flat stomach, to treatment plans for sick patients or to help carry healthy diet plans .

The science of speech

As always with the concepts that appeal to a spiritual world that works by different logics to the realm of the physical, Wellness in its original definition is not something that is taken too much into account in scientific psychology or in conventional medicine . Research and intervention plans from these instances tend to focus on the study of subjective experience and the Placebo effect, but not in the consideration of areas of welfare detached from normal biological and physiological processes.

It is clear that plans to lose weight could work better if the idea of ​​wellness is internalized and assumed by patients, and that hotels can improve their economic results if they include a wellness center in their services, but that does not tell us much about an area of ​​human needs apart from other areas of physical health .

So, although many spas, hotels, travel agencies and alternative medicine organizations may find the idea of ​​wellness useful, this is not a universal truth.

Believing in wellness can open the doors to a new way of developing happiness and enjoying life, but not doing so does not make us remote from true well-being.


School-Link: Caring for the mental health needs of children and young people (June 2024).


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