“A tree uses what comes its way to nurture itself. By sinking its roots deeply into the earth, by accepting the rain that flows toward it, by reaching out to the sun, the tree perfects its character and becomes great.” –Deng Ming-Dao
Duke University advocates through DuWell that an individual's overall Wellness is an integration of many aspects of life. DuWell’s model of wellness is represented by the image of a tree, which includes the roots of a person, the trunk of self-care, and the branches representing the dimensions of wellness. All parts of the model are interactive and interdependent. The graphic depicts the parts that are involved in keeping the tree (person) alive and healthy. Each dimension of wellness is essential in maintaining harmony and balance in our lives.
The model of a wellness tree is applicable to any person who wants to focus on health and wellness in her or his life, no matter what the current state of health is. Each tree (person) is different and requires different levels of care in order to maintain optimal health.
The Root System
The system of values, choices and opportunities, support and feed the tree.
Values. We generally establish values based on our family, culture, religion, tradition and life experiences. Values help us make decisions in life. The first step in wellness is to identify and name what we value in life.
Choices. Choices take our values and convert them into action. We make decisions about our wellness self-care goals based on our values and our choices.
Identity. Each person has different possibilities in life that can impact personal wellness based on country of origin, culture, family, SES and many other factors. Identity impacts wellness.
Optimal growth and wellness occur, when values, choices and identity are aligned. Contradictions between values and choices and identity may lead to discontent.
The Trunk and Self Care
We are the primary agents in our health and wellness. The most important actions and behaviors that contribute to wellness happen outside of health care providers’ offices. Self care includes our lifestyles and how we relate to others and our world. When values, choices and opportunities are aligned, we practice self care. This allows for our optimal growth, flourishing and wellness.
There are times in our pursuit of wellness that professional care providers can serve as catalysts and support, educate, treat, reassure or assist us. The type of care is dependent on the wellness dimension being addressed.
In summary, when we as community members are actively caring for ourselves, the community becomes strong and healthy. There is no “right way” of wellness that can be applied to all people. But, there are common elements in each wellness “branch”. The goal is for the Duke community to be one that encourages caring for each of our members.
(Adapted from the Duke Integrative Medicine Model, 2010)