The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Current ideas of wellness like diet culture, productivity at the expense of personal time, and the grouping of wellness with worth continue to persist. The effects of misogynistic beauty standards, inequitable access to healthcare, and misinformation surrounding aspects of health all contribute to a culture where wellness can feel unreachable for many women. So the question remains: how can women prioritize their health and well-being in a system that seems built to undermine us? This question may have different answers depending on what aspects of wellness individuals want to focus on in their lives, but to start, let’s explore what the concept of wellness really means.
What is wellness?
You have probably heard the phrase “health and wellness” many times throughout your life. Pfizer defines wellness as, “the act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes, so that instead of just surviving, you’re thriving.”
While working towards understanding what wellness means for your body, mind, and environment, be sure to give yourself grace throughout the process. Understand that there is not a “finish line” in your health journey. It is an ever-evolving process that you have the ability to change and re-think at will.
Why is wellness important?
Wellness affects almost everything that we as humans do. The effects of physical, mental, spiritual, or other kinds of health concerns can dictate our emotions, pain levels, and so much more. Finding what makes you feel happy and healthy is an easy first step to understanding what aspects of wellness will be most important to prioritize in your life. I highly recommend crafting a wellness routine — whether that be incorporating time for meditation and mindfulness into your schedule, making nutritious foods that fill you with energy, consulting with a professional about health questions, or any form of time you can set aside to take care of your health.
What is Holistic Health?
For many women who feel misunderstood or uncomfortable in the modern healthcare system, holistic health is an alternative approach to wellness that avoids a one-size-fits-all perspective of care. According to Western Connecticut State University’s Institute for Holistic Health Studies, “Holistic health is an approach to life that considers multidimensional aspects of wellness. It encourages individuals to recognize the whole person: physical, mental, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual.”
At its core, holistic health focuses on examining the multitude of factors that make up human health. Instead of promoting the typical universal approach to healthcare, it emphasizes the unique nature of individuals and examines how different categories of health connect to inform treatment procedures.
Holistic health treatments involve comprehensive treatment processes that examine how being unwell in one area of health can affect other dimensions of well-being, as well as a person’s greater state of health. According to Dignity Health, “doctors who take a holistic approach to health don’t just ask you about your symptoms. They ask about you — your overall health and your life — so they can make personalized recommendations to improve your wellness.” This approach can be particularly beneficial for women who feel dismissed or degraded by popular health avenues and providers.
Although there are a multitude of benefits that stem from modern developments in healthcare, it is important to recognize the effects of societal inequalities and biases on portions of the population like women. The ideas of health and wellness that women are presented with by the media can be rooted in harmful stereotypes that are not truly conducive to overall wellness.
In the busyness of everyday life, making wellness a priority can feel daunting. Starting slow by recognizing what you want to focus on in setting your health goals is an important step. When you feel ready, you can start examining what methods work and which don’t, and eventually prioritizing wellness will be an enjoyable habit of everyday life.
Remember, what wellness is for you will likely look different for others, and that’s completely normal! Strive to have fun developing a wellness routine and exploring how you can live your best life feeling well.