What is Wellness?

We live in a world where we look for quick fixes for our ailments. Medication to soothe an upset stomach, shopping to calm a worried mind, alcohol to help with sleep, drugs to stop the headache, etc. These habits may soothe your symptoms, but they also distract you from finding the actual cure.

Wellness is the flip side of the quick fix. It is looking at the big picture. it is about developing the knowledge, self-awareness and skills to heal the root cause of problems. You need to explore your habits to discover which may lead you down the path of unwellness. What would the future look like if you changed directions? Is there just one small thing you could start with? What would your life become if you travel on the path of wellness?

Eva Migdal has broken up the process of achieving wellness into five simple steps:

  1. Gather Knowledge
  2. Be Self-Aware
  3. Get Motivated
  4. Explore Options

The upset stomach may need a change in diet. The worried mind may need the skills to self-calm, the tired person may need the skills of sleep, the headache may need the skills of assertiveness to speak your mind to others.


Dr. John Travis first described the idea of an Illness-Wellness Continuum in 1972.2 It showed illness and wellness as opposite poles of a continuum with many degrees of illness and wellness between, as well as the relationship of the medical treatment paradigm to the wellness paradigm.3

Over the course of a lifetime, you will be constantly moving between these two poles. Our medical treatment system is focused on the left half of the continuum, treating Illness to move right towards the Neutral Point. However, what is missing is the focus on moving further to the right, far beyond Neutral, towards greater wellness and self-fulfilment. Wellness is a process, that is about taking responsibility in your everyday choices (Lisako Jones, 2001).

Wellness is democratic. It is possible to achieve from anywhere on the continuum. Facing the right of the continuum brings a positive empowered mindset. Facing the left brings a negative disempowered mindset. Becoming aware of your habitual perspective, is the first step. Learning the skills of changing direction so you can move right, is the next.

Ilness Welness Continum

No matter your state of health, if you face right, you can increase your levels of wellness with three core skills: Awareness, Education and Growth. These will guide you to better understand your challenges, identify healing options, avoid the temptation of quick fixes and take steps towards new skills and
better habits.

The Habit Continuum

The reality is that at the very least, half of our illnesses are lifestyle related. At the core
of this is something quite simple — poor lifestyle habits. Whether it is packaged foods, too much time at a desk, the stress of demanding relationships, not enough sleep, no time for sunshine or nature.

It is the power of our habits that keep us stuck. Unless we understand how habits work
and the pathway to change habits, we may remain at the mercy of our unwanted or unconscious habits for a lifetime. And very possibly a shorter lifetime! Throughout the book, we bring self-awareness to your habits by using a simple idea based on the Illness-Wellness Continuum. We call this the Habit Continuum (see above).

We have created a series of continuums to help you think about the quality of your core habits. You will complete quizzes or consider where your own habits sit on these continuums. Then you may decide to take some small and simple steps to move towards the right.

The choice is yours.

Interested and want more? I can’t highly recommend Eva’s program enough. Check out wellhabitworld.com for more.

👋 Hi, I'm Ronnie Adamowicz

I specialise in somatic psychotherapy, as well as other evidence based treatments such as psychodynamic, existential, Emotion Focused Therapy, and person centred therapy. I look forward to having a heart to heart with you. Find out more about me here.

M.A. Psychotherapy & Counselling
Somatic Psychotherapy
Process Experiential Emotion Focused
Existential Psychotherapy
Person Centred Therapy

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