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What Health and Wellness Mean to Me: A Personal Perspective

Illustration of Black woman nurse distributing vaccine to another Black woman

First officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976, Black History Month is celebrated in the United States each February.1 This year, 2022, amidst a global pandemic and uniquely confronted with glaring evidence of concerning health disparities in the Black community, the theme for Black History Month is Black Health and Wellness.

I enter this space as a cishet2 married Black woman and mother who holds a master’s degree in nursing and a “good government job.” My privilege allows me to write this blog while in my dining room of the house I own in Howard County, Maryland. My space allows me to consider what health and wellness means to me.

My definitions of health and wellness are highly personal, experienced from my place of privilege. To me, health means more than simply being free from disease. Health is multidimensional. From where I sit, health means a state in which a person’s physical, emotional, mental, financial, and spiritual goals have been reached.

For me, wellness is a journey to health. Wellness is my personal choice to take actions to honor my health needs in ways that are most sustainable and caring for me. Wellness incorporates finding balance and learning to trust my instincts and body. I make decisions each day that align with personal goals and needs, as an act of self-care and a great step toward better health. Some of those decisions include transitioning to a standing desk and taking more walks. I feel better when I focus on incorporating more rest and sleep. As a person who tends to be more introverted, finding the balance between social and alone time is of high value to me.

As a person with a family, my personal journey toward health and wellness includes ensuring those I care for and love are well-positioned to achieve their own definitions of health through daily wellness. In my home, we enjoy trying different foods. We spend much of our time in the warmer months outside in our community. We enjoy walking by our community lakes, swimming at the pool or the beach, yard work, etc. My sons and daughter each participate in team athletics, leaving my husband and I with many hours of practice time to focus on our own health. I often use this time to take long walks, enjoy nature, read a book, and generally take time for self-focus and reflection, or even time to enjoy music or podcasts.

As a registered nurse (RN), I feel it is my duty to work to improve the health and wellness of everyone I encounter. I spent my clinical career serving the Baltimore, Maryland, community as an emergency room nurse for many years. I witnessed numerous accounts of people struggling just to survive, never mind achieve health and wellness. There were problems with access to care, discrepancies in health literacy, repercussions of violence and substance misuse, and evidence of food access inequality. Even in those dire circumstances, I found that taking the time to gain an understanding of my patients’ concerns and the barriers they faced placed me in a unique position to help them in a way that would be beneficial in a truly meaningful way. Sometimes, it was as simple as giving them a list of pharmacies in their zip code or explaining why it was important to take medications at specific times of day. Other times, it involved a more complex approach. Whatever the approach, it was always important to validate what my patients needed and find an individual approach to assist.

Black History Month 2022 provides us with an opportunity to truly focus our lens on what health and wellness mean to us individually and as members of, or allies for, the Black community. We should each take the time to review evidence and determine actions that we can take daily to improve our health and wellness.

The National Institute of Minority Health Disparities has a wealth of public health information. When considering the COVID-19 pandemic, we can accompany loved ones needing to obtain a vaccine. We can each work to dispel the myths about the vaccine by providing resources such as the Addressing COVID-19 Misinformation Toolkit. Striving for a world in which everyone’s unique health needs and wellness journeys are possible is more than worth my focus and energy.


  2. see definition for “Cisgender”

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