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Maintaining Wellness Throughout the Lifespan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

What does it mean to be well? How can we maintain wellness throughout the lifespan? This lesson will discuss wellness and will introduce different ways to maintain it throughout the lifespan.

What Is Wellness?

Joan is a 44 year old woman who exercises every day. She eats a balanced and nutritious diet made up of mostly fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Joan is a lawyer and hates her job. She feels depressed and dreads going to work each day. Is Joan well?

Carl is a 37 year old teacher who loves his work. He eats a lot of junk food and does not exercise. He drinks coffee throughout the day. He is extremely overweight. Is Carl well?

In both of these examples, we see one or two areas that are very strong and some that are not. What does this have to do with wellness? Wellness is indicative of overall health, but is not limited to physical health. Just as in the examples above, Joan's job-related depression is impacting her overall wellness while Carl's physical wellness is being disrupted.

The World Health Organization defines wellness as ''a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity''. Therefore, true wellness includes physical wellness, emotional wellness, intellectual wellness, social wellness, and occupational wellness. Balance in these five dimensions is indicative of wellness.

Now that we understand what wellness is, let's take a look at ways we can maintain it throughout the life span.

Ways To Maintain Wellness Throughout Life

What does it mean to be well as an infant, a child, an adolescent, or an adult? What kinds of things should we be doing to maintain wellness throughout these different stages of the lifespan?

Physical wellness

This type of wellness is demonstrated through a healthy body. Nutrition and exercise are paramount to physical health at every stage of life. This means that diets should be rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential for physical health.

Preventing illness is also important to maintain physical health. Infants, children, and older adults generally have weaker immune systems than teens and younger adults. Therefore, the use of vaccines to prevent disease is an example of a preventative measure toward maintaining physical wellness.

Emotional wellness

Emotional wellness occurs when we are able to effectively deal with our feelings and the stress that life brings. Infants and children are still in the process of learning to understand and regulate their emotions. Teens may experience hormonal changes that disrupt mood.

Stress is a given no matter your age. Therefore, emotional wellness depends on finding ways to moderate stress and deal with emotions. Meditation is one example that may help to maintain emotional wellness.

Intellectual wellness

Intellectual wellness is related to learning, thinking, and memory. Infants begin to make associations between images and words. Children advance their thinking and memory as their understanding of language improves. Teens begin to use advanced levels of thinking and problem solving. All of these are indicative of intellectual wellness. A child who cannot speak at age five would likely indicate a problem with intellectual wellness.

Some people believe that learning ends when we complete school. However, intellectual wellness is achieved through the constant pursuit of learning. This may actually help to stave off the declines we often see in memory as people age.

Social wellness

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