Is the Concept of Wellness Biblical?

by Lincoln Gifford

When God breathed life into Adam in Genesis 2:7 he did more than simply provide a “spark” to animate Adam’s body. The ancients viewed the nature of man as holistic and did not tend to divide life into the separate parts of body, mind, and spirit. God intended for Adam to live in the most complete way possible, which involved a full and prosperous life with the ability to completely exercise his potential. It includes life as a whole, not just health or prosperity for example, but rather an overarching sense of well-being, health, peace, eternity, and connection with God.

This Biblical concept of the life God intended for Adam, and everyone else, ties completely to all the most recent research supporting the effectiveness of wellness approaches to mental health. Wellness is a framework that modern counselors use to holistically help their clients, leveraging their natural strengths, to treat not only their presenting concerns but also to improve their overall life satisfaction. It involves a systemic perspective including client family relationships, profession, intergenerational attachments, and community. It also involves a holistic view of the individual including physical health, spirituality, and emotional connection with others. To address health issues, the counselor should ask specific questions around eating habits, exercise, sleeping patterns, and physical intimacy. For example, a client may come to counseling presenting with strong anxiety symptoms. If the clinician takes a wellness approach, she may discover the client is an excellent swimmer, loves it, but has gotten away from it in recent years. Simply encouraging the client to consistently leverage her strength of swimming could go a long way in helping her with her anxiety symptoms and also improve her overall sense of well-being.

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