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Posted on: August 4, 2022

Understanding Wellness 101: a message from Michelle Gifford

Wellness LIFE mantra Live It Fully Everyday

August is National Wellness Month and Senior Wellness Coordinator Michelle Gifford breaks down what wellness actually means. This is my favorite time of year! Besides it being my birthday month, August is also National Wellness Month – bet you didn’t know that! I want to start by explaining what wellness is. 

Most of you know our wellness program is called Connect4Health (C4H). It offers a lot of neat programs (e.g. Couch to 5K, weight loss programs, meditation classes, Airrosti, etc.). But what does wellness really mean? How does this apply to our life and how can we invest time in some of the wellness offerings we have? 

When I ask people what wellness means, I often get physical health responses – nutrition, exercise, weight management, etc. It is SO much more than those elements. Wellness, by definition, is a “holistic integration of physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing; fueling the body, engaging the mind and nurturing the spirit.” (1) 

Employee Wellness indicatorAlthough striving for good health is always a component, wellness is really about quality of life, living your life to the fullest! It’s “a lifestyle and personal approach to living life in a way that allows you to become the best kind of person that your potential, circumstances and fate will allow.” (2) 

I love the term “self-stewardship.” We often refer to being good stewards of ourselves when explaining how our SERVE values match and support holistic wellness. Wellness necessitates good self-stewardship for ourselves and those we care about. Working with public and internal customers, we have a responsibility to serve them well. Our health and wellbeing is essential to providing quality service to all. 

The concept of wellness has eight mutually-dependent dimensions, which are the foundation of Plano’s wellness program: physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, occupational, environmental and financial. If one element is neglected, the others (health, wellbeing, quality of life) are adversely affected eventually. For wellness, we should strive for natural harmony – reaching your optimal level in each dimension. Wellness 8 dimensions poster

Making positive changes and good choices for your health and wellbeing can be challenging. However, I must remind myself (and each of YOU) that wellness is a journey, not a destination. We should continuously work it and always improve! 

Note: Michelle Gifford is Plano’s senior wellness coordinator; reach her at 972-941-7227.


  1. 8 Dimensions of Wellness, (UMD) University of Maryland’s Your Guide to Living Well.  
  2. Ardell DB. Definition of Wellness. Ardell Wellness Report. 1999; 18:1–5. [Google Scholar]

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