By Jeanine Campbell, Contributing Writer
Editor’s Note: This is the introduction to an article series on the five pillars of wellness.
As the semester picks up speed, it is important for students to pause their busyness long enough to look inward and ask a simple question:
Am I taking care of myself?
Such a question is familiar and motherly, but many students have not grown out of it just yet. In fact, asking such a question might reveal how, in the midst of fresh independence, students still fall short as their own caretakers.
Some tend to think their well-being is completely out of their control, and others think they can neglect self-care in one area of their lives without affecting the rest. Regardless, it is time to trust that wholeness and wellness are worth taking seriously. The months ahead are bursting with potential, and making the most of them requires focusing in on this idea of well-being.
In his work at the Center for Counseling, Associate Dean of Wholeness and Wellness Kevin Bellew has found that many students do not have “a real sense that they can do anything to help themselves.” Working against the assumption that students have to “sit back and let life happen,” he wants them to be aware of their ability to make real positive changes in their habits.
“The closer we’re able to approximate wholeness, the more useful we are to the Kingdom.”
The National Wellness Institute supports Bellew’s view that students can be proactive towards fulfilling change in this way, defining wellness as a “self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.”
While he guides students towards their full potential, Bellew holds a multi-dimensional view of wellness that identifies five main pillars relevant to college students: physical, emotional, spiritual, relational and intellectual wellness. He understands these as the intricately connected parts of each person’s being that bring satisfaction and meaning to their lives. Distinction between these dimensions helps to manage overall wellness, but they also do not function independently of one another; our health in just one dimension of wellness affects our well-being overall.
The impact of their overall wellness extends beyond students themselves. Especially within a culture that prizes individualism, students often take their interdependence and interconnectedness for granted. However, those who have lived in a residence hall long enough have experienced how one individual’s well-being can impact an entire community.
Once students recognize that they can influence their own wellness and that their wellness has an impact on others’ wholeness as individuals and as a community, they can be grateful to live in an environment conducive to improving overall eudemonia. Countless resources and environments on campus are working together to create a healthy culture where we can wholly develop physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally and intellectually.
As stewards of the lives given to them by God, students have the responsibility to pursue wholeness in every aspect of their being. This perspective makes wellness more than self-care; it becomes part of their mission as witnesses. Cultivating each dimension of wellness in one’s life and investing in areas where there are deficits is an important part of becoming whole. Through embracing this process, students can hold on to hope and remember, as Bellew said, “the transition to wholeness is through increasingly seeing ourselves through the eyes of Christ,” and it is a lifelong journey.
Of course we are all broken, but “the closer we’re able to approximate wholeness,” Bellew said, “the more useful we are to the Kingdom.”