What is Wellness?

The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health. As part of this definition, it is important to note that wellness is not a state that can be achieved: there is no end goal here. Instead, wellness is an active process that involves changing lifestyle habits and behaviors to promote improvement and growth in overall wellbeing and health.

Wellness is more than just physical health. Most models of wellness involve several categories, such as the following:

Image source: The Global Wellness Institute

Delving more into what these six factors are:

  • Physical health may be the most obvious, involving keeping your body healthy through physical exercise, proper nutrition, consistent sleep, etc.

  • Mental wellbeing often involves engaging with your surroundings through critical thinking and beyond.

  • Spiritual wellbeing will certainly look different for everyone: it represents our efforts to understand existence. Whether this means actively following and participating in a religion or meditating in the morning, spirituality is all-encompassing.

  • Building emotional wellness entails making an effort to be aware of not only your own emotions, but those of individuals around you. Are you comfortable expressing your emotions? Do you easily accept the emotions of others?

  • Social wellness is our efforts to connect with others and engage in the communities around us.

  • Environmental wellness requires us to keep our environments safe: stay free of hazards, avoid distractors, and take part in activities in the natural world around you.

General Pointers for Maintaining Wellness During MCAT Prep:

Remind yourself what you are here for: you want to become a physician. Being a healthcare professional is a large responsibility, part of which involves a career of lifelong learning. When you learn a piece of information for the MCAT, ask yourself why it matters to medicine. Why is it important that doctors know about important enzymes and metabolic pathways? What applications to medicine exist within the physical sciences? What can the critical thinking involved in CARS offer you as a physician? If you remind yourself why you are learning what your prep books are teaching you, it will help contextualize your efforts and motivate you to confidently achieve your vocational goals.

Maintaining all forms of wellness is crucial during your preparation for the MCAT. Make sure to keep an active support system around you to preserve your social wellness, take walks in a local park to maintain your environmental wellness, and practice mindfulness as a step towards building your spiritual wellness. Your physical and mental wellness will come from your active efforts to take care of your body and mind: incorporate exercise/physical activity into your daily routine and allow yourself to rest as needed. Engage in other forms of intellectual exploration: read books, keep up with the news in your local and national setting, watch TedTalks on subjects you are interested in, and listen to podcasts. Doing so will keep you from being overwhelmed by the content in your prep books, and once again, remind you to think about the big picture: a wonderful career of lifelong learning!

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