I was running errands this past week. You know doing the household stuff that I can’t delegate to anyone else (currently).
My West Highland Terrier, Russell has allergies. These dogs are known for their allergies. Unlike humans, his allergies make his paws itchy. Then he licks them until they get raw and red. He looks so sad when that happens. Last year was a bad year for him. His whole under belly and paws all the way up his feet were affected.
With the amount of rain we have had in Chicago this year, a lot of people’s allergies- including Russell’s are kicking in early. Being the ‘attentive mom’ that I am, I decided to get a head start on the anti-histamine regimen that we had Russell on in the past.
I went to the local pharmacy. I sauntered down the aisles looking for Benadryl. I looked up to find where the anti-histamines were. And was taken aback when I noticed that the entire section for medications, supplements and personal care products was labeled ‘Wellbeing’.
Wow!! WELLBEING. Until recently this word was not really mainstream. But today, here was a pharmacy labeling an entire section ‘Wellbeing’.
And this got me thinking, as a coach how would I explain the difference between wellbeing and wellness?
When I was training as a life coach, my coaches were constantly reminding me to tend to my wellbeing.
At the time, I really didn't get why they were so concerned about my wellbeing. I mean I was used to a fast paced life as a physician. And felt that I was always on top of my game.
I did my residency training in internal medicine before the current regulations for residents. I was on call at least three times a week. Each shift blended into the next day. This meant we could work as long as 36 hours! In fact as residents, we wore the number of hours that we had been on call as a ‘badge of honor’.
Once I went into medical practice, my dream of work-life balance became elusive.
As you may imagine, I flunked at my wellbeing during my year of coach training. I reported my ‘wellbeing scores’ weekly to my coach. They sucked. Rarely was my score over 50%.
Well, being the high-octane woman that I am, I rarely flunk at anything. But here I was, flunking at my own wellbeing. On the surface, I was a picture of great health. I had taken up running. Completed several half marathons. I even trained for the Chicago marathon. And completed it. I ate healthy, etc.
Evidently, that's not what wellbeing was all about.
This got me intrigued about enhancing my wellbeing so that I could be a better person in the world.
So, what is wellbeing and how is this different from wellness?
A lot of times the two words are used interchangeably.
The wellness concept became popular in the 1970s. But in the 1950s a physician named Halbert L. Dunn began using the words ‘high level wellness’.
Wellness generally describes a healthy balance of mind, body and spirit.
Here are some other definitions I came across:
So the opposite of wellness, is ‘Illness or Disease’.
The diagram above shows just that. Illness and wellness are on the same continuum. Wellness is the midpoint. This is where you don’t have any signs or symptoms of any illness.
In my evaluation, the ‘high level wellness’ that Dr. Dunn and other thought leaders speak of is called wellbeing.
So what does it take to achieve a ‘high level of wellness’? We know that it’s not just being free of any medical illness.
I like to think of wellbeing as how well we are being in the world. Wellbeing is what helps us function at an optimal level.
Just as wellness has an opposite- illness, so does wellbeing. It’s called stress.
As a physician I am very familiar with the effects of stress on the body and mind.
Do you know that stress accounts for more than 50% of visits to a doctor?
Here is a partial list a few conditions that can be linked to stress-
More times than none, I found that once I drill down, there is a link to stress. Either being the cause of the illness or making the symptoms worse.
I cannot tell you how many of my patients became a shadow of their former selves because of the effects of stress. Sometimes, it almost seemed that one illness followed another.
Now we know that stress is inevitable. In fact, if anyone tried to sell you a way to completely get rid of stress, it’s all hype.
But, by improving our wellbeing however, we become better able to handle stress.
We become better in our physical health, our jobs, relationships, homes, and communities. And ultimately this helps to make the world a better place.
Does it mean that if you have a medical illness that you cannot achieve wellbeing? The answer is that now more than ever your wellbeing is most important.
As a physician, my focus has always been on preventing illness. I can see the other side of what chronic stress and chronic illness can do. And I am passionate about helping women like myself create more balanced lives.
INTRODUCING THE CREATING TOTAL WELLBEING COACHING PROGRAM
Just as I promised, this fall we will be starting some coaching programs in response to what our readers say they need.
A number of you are dealing with the stress of work, raising a family, taking care of elderly parents or dealing with some medical issues yourself. You’ve said how you feel pulled in all directions, burned out and overwhelmed.
The great news is that you don’t have to feel that way.
I will be hosting a free teleseminar entitled ‘How to Create Total Wellbeing’.
More information will be available shortly.
Questions or comments? Come over to my Facebook page?
To your Health & Wellbeing,