Health is not a destination. It’s a balancing act.

HVVMG Health Vs Wellness


In this time of year, where resolutions frequently get broken before we even say goodbye to January, it’s worth looking deeper to gain insight into what most of us want when we make resolutions:

True and lasting life change in areas like our health, our finances, and our relationships.  

To start out on the right foot, it helps to prioritize.

Put on your own oxygen mask first…

If you’ve ever flown on a commercial airline, you know the drill: once you get aboard and settled, you can expect the emergency instructions from the crew. It’s so important, that for every single flight, the crews are required to provide it to the passengers.

In order to make sure you are better able to help those that need you, take care of yourself first.

The same is true for you as a person both internally and externally, which comprises a lot more than you may have considered when you made your resolutions.

The 6 Dimensions of Wellness

Co-founder of the National Wellness Institute, Dr. Bill Hettler, was instrumental in the concept of the 6 Dimensions of Wellness that define what makes us, well… Dr. Hettler and his colleagues recognized that we are the sum of our many internal and external parts.

They also realized a lot of us don’t even know what those parts actually are, how they work together in a healthy or unhealthy way, and what defines the parts themselves.

The 6 Dimensions of Wellness are added together to form a complete person: Social, Intellectual, Spiritual, Financial/Occupational, Physical and Emotional domains.

Neglect in any of these areas causes us to fall out of balance with other parts of ourselves.

Figure out your balance

Ever known someone that was a gym rat but couldn’t maintain a relationship? Most likely, they were out of balance on his Social domain while his Physical domain was right on target.

Remember that pastor or social worker you knew as a young person that was a close cousin to Mother Teresa but they couldn’t rub two pennies together? Yep, you guessed it…his Spiritual domain was robust but the Financial domain was out of alignment.

So, the concept behind the science based research at the National Wellness Institute is that if we can get the 6 pieces of the dimensional puzzle aligned, then (and only then) can we achieve the true wellness that we want. The principles of the 6 Dimensions works because it has been tested scientifically….it’s not just another of the 1000’s of self-help ideas out on the market with no merit.

So there really is more to health than avoiding the Krispy Kreme shop and putting on our spandex before workout class.

Being Well vs. Being Healthy

This is how defines wellness:

  1. The quality or state of being healthy, esp. as the result of deliberate effort; health.
  2. An approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and  prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing or treating diseases.

I like the word “wellness” as opposed to “health”.

Too many times, we think of health as a pinnacle to be reached on a destination, a place where you stay and hang out.

I get a mental image of athletic looking people hanging out at the “health café” located on the top of “wellness mountain”… but that isn’t reality.  

We have to consider that, due to both controllable and uncontrollable factors, we slide closer or farther away from our optimal health.

Imagine an Olympic ice dancer moving around, back and forth, closer and farther away. That’s how we move around our stages of wellness.
Someone with breast cancer can be “well”. They can be balanced in all 6 Dimensions of their life as much as they can be in that time and in their present condition.

One thing we know with absolute certainty:

We all end up at the same place and in the same condition at the end of our lives. So the question becomes much wider than just “how do we live long lives?”

It helps to frame it this way: “how do we live better, healthier lives based on principles proven to work?”

The 6 dimensions of wellness answers that question.

Do what matters. Forget the rest.”

My daughter has this saying posted in her office and it rings true here.

If we can’t hit the gym 5 times a week, or fit into a size 6, we can still live a life that is healthy and well. Our old “healthy vs. unhealthy” concepts fall away when we think about wellness as a continuum rather than a destination.

So considering this is another new beginning of yet another new year, how will you navigate your 2017?

How will you improve personal balance in your 6 wellness dimensions?

If you really want to know where you are starting from, just ask your banker, your spouse and kids, your workout partner, your pastor, your teacher or your best friend. Ask them to be brutally honest with how balanced you are in your life.

Check back here for more information on the 6 Dimensions if you find out you need some guidance to get there.

Until next time, be well.

For more information on the 6 Dimensions of Wellness, click here.

This is part 1 of the series “Your Life, 2017 Edition”

Rebekah Curtis R.N. is the Health Education nurse at Heritage. She is also a mother of two high school students and one college graduate. As a registered nurse and member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, Rebekah conducts regular training and classes. She is available for one-on-one consultations in a private setting for any other condition not provided by training or classes. Read her full bio here.