Health & Wellness

The Wellness Model

By Michelle Jungbauer, RN, MBA, CCM, MSCN and Jeanne Ott, RN, AAS, MSCN
For many years, disease has been perceived as the opposite of wellness, as if the two are mutually exclusive conditions. However, such thinking is beginning to change. Wellness is a holistic way of viewing health that includes body, mind and spirit. It has been defined in various ways. The National Wellness Institute defines it as “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices towards, a more successful existence.” Carolyn Chambers Clark, an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner and founder of the Wellness Institute, defined wellness as “a positive striving that is unique to the individual, in which a person can be ill and still have…a deep appreciation for the joy of living.”
In the Wellness Model, the concept of wellness moves beyond the absence of illness and instead focuses on pursuing optimal well-being in all aspects of one’s life, even if illness is present.
Various stressors in life can affect some or all areas of personal wellness. To enjoy a state of wellness, despite having a chronic condition, there are three categories of intervening factors that can alter the stress response in our body. (Remember the equation in the previous article: Stressors + Intervening Factors = The Stress Response.) Three key intervening factors, drawn from the Wellness Model, are: Self-awareness, Self-responsibility and Empowerment.
Self-awareness is an intervening factor in the stress process, and involves the following actions:
  • Naming your stressors
  • Identifying your triggers
  • Recognizing your response

Once you become more aware of the stressors and triggers in your life, and your body’s individual stress response, you can begin to creatively formulate options to intervene in the stress process, thereby affecting your health and wellness. Developing this self-awareness leads to taking responsibility and acting upon these intervention options.
Taking responsibility for yourself, or self-responsibility, takes practice, but it does get easier. Self-responsibility moves us away from the victim mentality toward a mindset of greater control over our life. Many of us have deeply ingrained ways of responding to life’s stressors (i.e., habits) that can sabotage our own wellness and sense of well-being. The following actions are just a few of the many ways we can change the intervening factors in our stress response:
• Reframe situations (look at them in a different, more positive light), be realistic, and change what you can. For example, the in-laws are coming to dinner. You are feeling stressed out and fatigued. Do you really need to vacuum prior to their arrival and bake a pie for dessert? Probably not!
• Choose a healthy lifestyle with adequate rest and exercise. Avoid substance abuse. In reality, cigarettes, alcohol and other substances exacerbate stress. Seek help, if needed, to stop using them.
Prioritize activities and set realistic goals.
• Take the time to plan ahead for your needs.
• Share your feelings and communicate honestly.
Practice humor – laugh often. Laughter actually reduces the stress hormones and triggers endorphin release.
What actions can you take to empower yourself, to gain strength to face life’s many stressors? Having a sense of power within yourself can help to decrease the impact of stress and the production of stress chemicals within your body during a stressful event.
Here are some ways to empower yourself:
Deep breathing
• Biofeedback
• Prayer
Exercise, Yoga, T’ai Chi
• Communing with nature
• Creative expression (drawing, journaling)
Massage Therapy
• Imagery and relaxation, aromatherapy
• Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Positive thinking
Find what works for you. Be creative as you explore options to empower yourself on the path to changing your stress response equation! 
Remember:  Stressor + Intervening Factors = Your Stress Response. Change the stress equation and you change the outcome!         
(Last reviewed 7/2009)