Wellbeing and cancer
Wellness can be defined in many ways but is a clear philosophy beyond the parameters of physical health. Some definitions include:
- Wellness is aspiring towards a life which expresses your full potential
- Wellness is positive and affirming
- Wellness is multidimensional and holistic
- Wellness is relationship building and integrative
Two wellness pioneers, Bill Hettler and Bob Allen reported that the best definition of wellness is ‘the one you actually use’!
When it comes to cancer, throughout the journey of prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, supportive care, recovery, recurrence, or palliative care, the wellness model can be used to make the best of what can be a very challenging scenario.
Jack Travis, an author and medical practitioner and a proponentuses of wellness, uses a continuum concept to explain how no matter what your physical health, you can face yourself in the direction of growth and innate wellbeing, including at the end of life.
Wellness is about making balanced choices, learning self-help strategies, accessing and strengthening inner resources, discovering supports and health information, developing a positive outlook, and managing the stresses of cancer and everyday life with grace and ease.
The wellness approach to cancer recovery is not a cure for cancer; however, it has many elements proven to enhance your sense of wellbeing, regardless of the prognosis of your diagnosed health issues.
When you take a wellness approach to cancer, you ultimately feel good. This is because you draw on your inner resources to take charge of the areas of life you have some control over, such as how you think, move and eat. The positive benefits of wellness flow to every part of your life, including your environment, health, food, state of mind, relationships and spiritual life.
Incorporating more of what helps you feel good may increase your resilience so that when stressors come in the form of health issues or other things, you have greater flexibility of response. Practices such as mindfulness focus in your ability to make conscious choices to respond rather than react to whatever life throws at you.
Bill Hettler concluded that applying a wellness approach can be useful in nearly every human endeavour. As a pathway to optimal living, wellness is being used to related fields, such as health promotion and holistic health, and has seen a growth in “helping professions” including counselling and medical arts and practices.
Jack Travis shares more suggestions on his version of wellness:
- ‘Wellness is the integration of body, mind and spirit – the appreciation that everything you do, and think, and feel, and believe has an impact on your state of health and the health of the world.’
- ‘Wellness is a choice – a decision you make to move toward optimal health.’
- ‘Wellness is a way of life – a lifestyle you design to achieve your highest potential for wellbeing.’
- ‘Wellness is a process – a developing awareness that there is no endpoint, but that health and happiness are possible in each moment, here and now.’
- ‘Wellness is a balanced channelling of energy – energy received from the environment, transformed within you, and returned to affect the world around you.’
- ‘Wellness is the loving acceptance of yourself.’