Wellness is the pursuit of continued growth and balance in the seven dimensions of wellness. Many people think about “wellness” in terms of physical health only. The word invokes thoughts of nutrition, exercise, weight management, blood pressure, etc. Wellness, however, is much more than physical health. Wellness is a full integration of physical, mental and spiritual well-being. It is a complex interaction that leads to quality of life.
Wellness is commonly viewed as having seven dimensions. Each dimension contributes to our own sense of wellness or quality of life, and each affects and overlaps the others. At times one may be more prominent than others, but neglect of any one dimension for any length of time has adverse effects on overall health.
The Eight Dimensions of Wellness
Physical wellness encompasses a variety of healthy behaviors including adequate exercise, proper nutrition and abstaining from harmful habits such as drug use and alcohol abuse. It means learning about and identifying symptoms of disease, getting regular medical checkups, and protecting yourself from injuries and harm. Developing such healthy habits today will not only add years to your life but will enhance the enjoyment and quality of those years.
Tips for optimal physical wellness:
- Exercise daily
- Get adequate rest
- Use seat belts, helmets, and other protective equipment
- Learn to recognize early signs of illness
- Eat a variety of healthy foods
- Control your meal portions
- Stop smoking and protect yourself against second-hand smoke
- Use alcohol in moderation, if at all
Emotional wellness is a dynamic state that fluctuates frequently with your other six dimensions of wellness. Being emotionally well is typically defined as possessing the ability to feel and express human emotions such as happiness, sadness and anger. It means having the ability to love and be loved and achieving a sense of fulfillment in life. Emotional wellness encompasses optimism, self-esteem, self-acceptance and the ability to share feelings.
Tips for optimal emotional wellness:
- Tune-in to your thoughts and feelings
- Cultivate an optimistic attitude
- Seek and provide support
- Learn time management skills
- Practice stress management techniques
- Accept and forgive yourself
The intellectual dimension encourages creative, stimulating mental activities. Our minds need to be continually inspired and exercised just as our bodies do. People who possess a high level of intellectual wellness have an active mind and continue to learn. An intellectually well person uses the resources available to expand one’s knowledge and improve skills. Keeping up-to-date on current events and participating in activities that arouse our minds are also important.
Tips and suggestions for optimal intellectual wellness include:
- Take a course or workshop
- Learn (or perfect) a foreign language
- Seek out people who challenge you intellectually
- Learn to appreciate art
Social wellness refers to our ability to interact successfully in our global community and to live up to the expectations and demands of our personal roles. This means learning good communication skills, developing intimacy with others, and creating a support network of friends and family members.
Social wellness includes showing respect for others and yourself. Contributing to your community and to the world builds a sense of belonging.
Tips and suggestions for optimal social wellness include:
- Cultivate healthy relationships
- Get involved
- Contribute to your community
- Share your talents and skills
- Communicate your thoughts, feelings and ideas
Spiritual wellness involves possessing a set of guiding beliefs, principles, or values that help give direction to one’s life. It encompasses a high level of faith, hope and commitment to your individual beliefs that provide a sense of meaning and purpose. It is willingness to seek meaning and purpose in human existence, to question everything and to appreciate the things which cannot be readily explained or understood.
A spiritually well person seeks harmony between what lies within as well as the forces outside.
Tips and suggestions for optimal spiritual wellness:
- Explore your spiritual core
- Spend time alone/meditate regularly
- Be inquisitive and curious
- Be fully present in everything you do
- Listen with your heart and live by your principles
- Allow yourself and those around you the freedom to be who they are
- See opportunities for growth in the challenges life brings you
Environmental wellness is an awareness of the unstable state of the earth and the effects of your daily habits on the physical environment. It consists of maintaining a way of life that maximizes harmony with the earth and minimizes harm to the environment. It includes being involved in socially responsible activities to protect the environment.
Tips and suggestions for optimal environmental wellness:
- Stop your junk mail
- Conserve water and other resources
- Minimize chemical use
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
- Renew your relationship with the earth
Financial wellness is a feeling of satisfaction about your financial situation. Finances are a common stressor for people, so being able to minimize worry about this aspect of your life can enhance your overall wellness.
- having a household budget
- starting a savings account and adding to it every month even if it is just a small amount
- saving some of your income in an emergency account
- cutting back or limiting unnecessary expenses
- avoiding credit card debt
- donating to a meaningful charity
- shopping at thrift stores
- utilizing the library for free books and DVDs
- cooking your own meals instead of dining out
Try tracking your spending for a month to see where your money is going and set goals based on what you find.
Occupational/Vocational wellness involves preparing and making use of your gifts, skills, and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness, and enrichment in your life. The development of occupational satisfaction and wellness is related to your attitude about your work. Achieving optimal occupational wellness allows you to maintain a positive attitude and experience satisfaction/pleasure in your employment. Occupational wellness means successfully integrating a commitment to your occupation into a total lifestyle that is satisfying and rewarding.
Tips and suggestions for optimal occupational wellness include:
- Explore a variety of career options
- Create a vision for your future
- Choose a career that suits your personality, interests and talents
- Be open to change and learn new skills