A recurring column exploring various
statistics related to sexual wellness,
mental health, and substance use at
Colorado College, brought to you in
collaboration with the Wellness Resource Center.
By SUSANNA PENFIELD
What Is Wellness?
Some people throw the word “wellness” around without explanation. Even in this column, which proclaims wellness to be the titular focus, its core meaning is often obfuscated by all the shifting components that constitute it. For simplicity’s sake, wellness is routinely presumed to be a fixed category. Many think of it as an established state of “good health,” one which presents through physically fit appearances, sound mental decisions, and overall success.
However, “wellness” is far from monolithic. Rather than being a state one achieves, it is the active process of continuing to identify and achieve goals that will lead each individual to their own version of a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle. There is no singular measure of what it means to be well, and no uniform presentation of what positive mental or physical health looks like.
A successful wellness model must be one that reflects the complex lives we lead. It must account for the nuances of struggle and various areas of fulfillment and success. In order to represent such wholeness, the Wellness Resource Center uses a model that focuses on the connections and intersections between multiple “Domains of Wellness.” The domains are defined as follows:
• Intellectual: lifelong learning; connecting curricular and co-curricular; creativity; critical thinking; supporting academic engagement and success.
• Socio-Cultural: multi-cultural respect and competence; healthy, respectful interpersonal relationships; values of acceptance, fairness and justice; recognition of the contribution of the community to individual wellness, and vice versa.
• Spiritual: belief system which contributes to a sense of purpose; hope and optimism; sense of belonging.
• Physical: physical fitness; healthy nutrition; medical awareness and disease prevention; injury prevention; healthy sleep habits.
• Environmental: awareness of and connection to surroundings; safety enhancement; understanding the impact of personal choices; stewardship of resources.
• Career/Financial: purposeful and rewarding career; financial stability and planning; household management skills.
Regardless of their respective forms or importance they hold for you individually, these domains represent themes that are pervasive in human life. A holistic understanding of wellness measures fulfillment in each category, encouraging individuals to achieve a balance between all. Only when an individual feels supported enough to understand their own needs and potential for growth is their community given the space and resources to sustain that environment for all.
Attention to individual wellness will ensure overall community health. In order for a community to truly thrive, harm must be prevented and not simply dealt with. Caring for the whole self is the first step in preventing modes of trauma which threaten to pervade entire communities.