Wellness. A catchword in the last two decades. But what does it really mean? When someone asks how we are, we quickly respond: ‘I am well, thank you.’ But, do we ever stop to think about what that statement actually means? Or, as you ask someone how they are, is it just the formality or a genuine inquiry into how they really are?
Food for thought, huh? The next time you throw the flippant response about how you are, take a moment or two after that to really ponder how you really and truly are.
But, maybe before you do, it is important that we understand what wellness is. 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.”
The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as “the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.”
Wellness is the cornerstone of quality of life. It is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. It is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth. The key thing to remember is that wellness is a lot more than not being plagued with a disease or infirmity – a lesson Smita, a widow, knows only too well.
Selina’s wellness journey was sparked by a tragedy – the death of her spouse. Left with three children, life suddenly took a nasty turn.
“I met Martha through a mutual friend,” Selina says. ‘She seemed to be doing quite well for herself, living in a nice neighborhood, able to afford to go out and eat often, living a life I longed to. Martha asked me questions, some really hard ones, that required me to be honest with myself.
She started taking steps to a wholesome life. You see, wellness is an individual pursuit—we each have self-responsibility for our own choices, behaviors and lifestyles—but it is also significantly influenced by the physical, social and cultural environments in which we live.
It determines how we ultimately look, feel, interact with others and thrive in life and work.
Immaculate who runs PamperZone Health & Beauty Spa says the essence of wellness is working from “the inside out”. Feed your inner person with good food, do exercise, watch what you read, watch, listen to.
For the most part in Uganda, wellness is still a relatively novice concept. However, there are people one can find help with.
Angela Nsimbi, a mental health expert, activist and mindset coach, who has herself battled mental health challenges says it is important to talk to a professional. It is from this place that healing begins, to process the pain/challenge.
“When you are ready to talk about it, especially in safe spaces, your healing can begin.”
Angela is big on support groups because as you hear other people’s experiences, you know you are not alone.
It is important to know what is good for you. Choose your circle of people close to you carefully.
Set boundaries on how you want to be treated; do not let yourself be used, leaving you drained. A ‘no’ every now and again is healthy.
A healthy mind is vital for a healthy body, Angela asserts.
Contact: 0752649942/Facebook/Angela Nsimbi
Gerry Opoka runs an outfit called Soul Fitness a space to exercise but also a chance to connect with people, talk through depression, stress and life’s challenges. In the words of the founder: “We are writing our journeys anew, stretching out of the confines we find ourselves in and redefining our destinies. All through exercise and love.
FitCliqueAfrica, run by Mildred Apenyo, a feminist, is a Ugandan social enterprise that aims to create safe spaces in which the mental health, wellbeing and physical safety of women and minorities is prioritized.
Environmental wellness is vital
A healthy physical environment is important, albeit a tough one this year – with the COVID-19 pandemic, but more in Uganda, with election season in high gear. Remember to stay safe, avoid areas with potential threat. When a security alert is issued, please follow the guidelines. Be aware of your surroundings at all time. Be smart. Be safe.
For Smita, her friends started to notice a difference in her countenance. She would get comments like ‘wow, you’re glowing’. One comment that really stuck with her ‘there’s life in your eyes again.’
That is the essence of pursuing wellness, that you live, truly live and not just exist.