How does overall wellness affect you? Can it affect you as an individual? Is it important to you? If not, should it be? Wellness begins with an understanding of how it is related to us on a physical, environmental, and cultural level. This allows a deeper look into why some of us will experience overall wellness, and why others will never have the opportunity to enjoy overall wellness in their lifetime.
Physical Health and Our Genes
Biology plays a unique role in our livelihood and can affect our health and wellness. Our individual genealogy may allow us to be predisposed to certain ailments or illnesses that are completely out of our control. How does this affect us emotionally? How can we feel safe in this world when our own bodies may betray us at any given moment? What can be done to prevent these types of predispositions? In reality, not a single person has control over their own biological inheritance.
This can feel scary and can allow fear to creep in. However, certain steps can be taken in prevention and becoming more knowledgeable about our own bodies. Genetic testing and sequencing are key tools that can tell us a lot about ourselves. In addition, taking a thorough family history and understanding our own ancestry can provide a clear history of who we are and where we come from.1 These tests can also provide us with the tools we may need to practice preventative habits, and allow for lifestyle changes that will improve our odds of living a healthy life.
Impacts of the Environment
You may be wondering how the environment affects the wellness of the population, or if it even matters. The environment can, in fact, impact us all in either positive or negative ways.
Depending on where we live, our world can either break us or make us when it comes to our health. Factors such as having fresh water or having enough food have a direct impact on whether we are and will remain physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy. 2 In addition, the effects of climate change and natural disasters, such as hurricanes, can have severe impacts on the population. These events have been known to cause destruction and heartache to all who are in its path. As a result, events such as these can have negative impacts on a person’s overall wellness and it is possible they may never fully recover. On the other hand, pleasant weather patterns and a suitable climate allow us to live safely and helps to boost our moods. If we feel safe in our environment, there is a greater chance of being well and embracing life on pleasant terms.
Influence of Culture
How does culture influence us? There is speculation regarding how different cultural groups perceive and define wellness.3 Moral values and certain preferences and behaviors of a cultural group shape who we are and who we will become. The influence of media, friends, and family can have direct impacts on our lives and can influence our own wellness. Certain behaviors may be portrayed by those around us that entice us into engaging in certain activities. Eating habits, drinking, and smoking are all examples of behaviors that have the power to influence us. For example, someone may be more apt to engage in eating a healthy diet if they were brought up in a home where healthy eating was valued. However, if someone grew up in a home where smoking and excessive drinking was tolerated, these behaviors may be repeated and may result in harmful consequences. There is much knowledge to be gained from understanding how our cultures shape us. And with this knowledge comes the power to make changes that will positively impact the overall wellness of our entire world.
Melissa Wolfenberger is currently a student enrolled at American College of Healthcare Sciences pursuing a degree in Holistic Nutrition. Melissa enjoys all things holistic and natural and is excited to have the opportunity to take her education to the next level. She looks forward to what the future has to hold and the opportunities to assist others in their own holistic journeys.
1Smart, A. (1970, January 1). Health and genetic ancestry testing: time to bridge the gap. Retrieved November 10, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5223458/
2Environmental Health | Healthy People 2020. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2018, from
3Mayhew, M. (2018, March). How Culture Influences Health | Culture & Health | |Caring for Kids New to Canada. Retrieved November 10, 2018, from https://www.kidsnewtocanada.ca/culture/influence
Laberge, A. M. (2004). Genetics and Public Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018, from
Image credits via Unsplash: 1- Meditation by Caleb Frith, 2- Child by Joseph Gonzalez, 3- Windfarm by RawFilm, Going Different Ways by Iwoji Iwata