Wellness (alternative medicine)
Wellness, as defined by conventional medicine, is no different from “health” or the absence of disease. In alternative medical circles, however, wellness involves not only health and the absence of disease, but represents what is best defined as “optimal health”. Those participating in wellness programs are practicing a form of self-improvement involving all areas of their life and well-being.
Wellness programs are not “New Age” nor are they particularly new. The concept was developed in the 19th century and programs were practiced by the wealthy who endeavored to become as healthy as possible. Participation in a wellness program was considered to be a symbol of status. After diminishing in popularity in the first half of the 20th century, the concept of wellness and wellness programs was made popular again in the 1970s by a number of best-selling authors.
Balancing health and life
According to those who participate in wellness programs, achieving wellness means to balance all areas of an individual’s health and life. The focus is on eating only organic foods, living in a toxin-free environment, balancing all aspects of work, home and family along with developing a connection with one’s spiritual self.
Originally, wellness programs were faith-based and many of these still exist. While all previously discussed areas of focus are important, the primary goal of faith-based wellness programs is the development of deeper spirituality. Both Christian, nondenominational and “New Age”-based wellness programs exist.
Secular wellness programs have been of particular interest to the aging population where there is a general shift toward thoughts of one’s health. Corporations, too, use wellness programs to help strengthen the health, morale and productivity of their employees.
While most people are satisfied with being healthy, those who strive for “optimal health” or wellness have a wide variety of programs and ideations to choose from.