Wellness has become a cliché word in recent years and has taken on a myriad of shapes and forms. Wellness, however, is a crucial part of our well-being and should be an integral part of life.
"Maintaining an optimal level of wellness is absolutely crucial to live a higher quality of life. Wellness matters. Wellness matters because everything we do and every emotion we feel relates to our well-being. In turn, our well-being directly affects our actions and emotions. It’s an ongoing circle. Therefore, it is important for everyone to achieve optimal wellness in order to subdue stress, reduce the risk of illness and ensure positive interactions."2
When we think of wellness, we normally only consider physical and emotional wellbeing, which includes lifestyle such as exercise, nutrition and meditation. However, did you know, there are actually 7 (some say 8) dimensions of wellness?
Before we get into the different aspects of wellness, we must first understand how wellness is defined.
Wellness is a fluid process of continuous improvement. The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as:
"a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential."
So, what are the seven dimensions of wellness and how do we achieve them?
PHYSICAL WELLNESS is caring for your body in order to stay healthy now and also in the future. Physical wellness includes the ability to sustain a healthy quality of life. It involves a variety of healthy behaviors such as proper nutrition, exercise, and refraining from harmful habits (drugs, alcohol and substance abuse).
Achieving physical wellness: Physical wellness could mean getting regular checkups and learning about symptoms of disease in order help identify them. To achieve optimal physical wellness we suggest to:
- Get enough sleep and rest
- Exercise: the recommendation is at least 30 mins of physical activity 6 days/week
- Learn to recognize early signs of disease
- Proper nutrition. Eat a variety of healthy foods and control your portions.
- Lifestyle adjustments, such as quitting smoking and protecting yourself against second-hand smoke.
- Use safety equipment such as helmets and seat belts.
Establishing these healthy habits will not only add years to your life but will also improve the quality of those years.
EMOTIONAL WELLNESS encompasses optimism, self-esteem, self-acceptance and the ability to share feelings. 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.1
Achieving emotional wellness: Emotional wellness is appreciating the feelings of others, understanding your own feelings, values and attitudes, managing your emotions in a constructive way and feeling positive about your life. Some tips to achieve optimal emotional wellness:
- Practice stress management techniques, like prayer and meditation.
- Learn time management skills
- Develop an optimistic attitude
- Tune-in to your own thoughts and feeling
INTELLECTUAL WELLNESS is being creative, and encouraging stimulating mental activities. Our minds need to be continually exercised just as our bodies do. An intellectually well person is not one who is “smart” but a person who uses their resources to expand one’s knowledge and improve skills. People who possess a high level of intellectual wellness are continuously seeking knowledge and have an active mind.
Achieving intellectual wellness: Intellectual wellness can consist of keeping up with the news and current events. Some ideas to achieve this dimension of wellness are as follows:
- Seek out people who challenge you intellectually
- Take a course or register for a workshop. Each city has many free seminars and workshops in all fields, from medicine to gardening.
- Learn (or perfect) a foreign language
SOCIAL WELLNESS is our ability to interact successfully in our global community and to live up to the expectations and demands of our personal roles.1 What this translates to is learning good communication skills, creating a support network of friends and family members, and developing intimacy with others.
Achieving social wellness: Social wellness encompasses having healthy relationships, developing friendships, caring about others and also (very important) letting others care about you. This dimension also encourages contributing in a meaningful way to your local community, whether it’s your faith organization, local government, or child’s school. This builds a sense of belonging, which everyone needs for emotional wellness too. Some suggestions for optimal social wellness are:
- Get involved!
- Contribute to your community
- Communicate your thoughts, feelings and ideas
- Share your talents and skills
- Develop healthy relationships
SPIRITUAL WELLNESS is possessing a set of guiding beliefs, principles, or values that help give direction to one's life. This dimension encompasses a high level of faith, hope and commitment to your individual beliefs that provide a sense of meaning and purpose.1
Achieving spiritual wellness: Spiritual wellness requires participating in activities that are consistent with your beliefs and values. Some suggestions for optimal spiritual wellness are:
- Mindfulness: be fully present in everything you do
- Spend time alone/meditate regularly. Prayer is a wonderful form of meditation.
- Live by your principles
- Be inquisitive and curious
- Allow yourself and those around you the freedom to be who they are
- See opportunities for growth in the challenges life brings you. This is important, because life doesn’t always go as planned. Learning from our experiences helps us grow and mature spiritually.
ENVIRONMENTAL WELLNESS is understanding how your social, natural, and built environments affect your health and well-being. This dimension also involves being aware of the unstable state of the earth and the effects your daily habits have on the physical environment. It involves maintaining a lifestyle that minimizes harm to the environment. Environmental wellness necessitates being involved in socially responsible activities to protect the environment.
Achieving environmental wellness: Spiritual wellness includes demonstrating commitment to a healthy planet. Suggestions for optimal environmental wellness:
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We have one earth and it is being overrun by plastic and waste.
- Conserve water and other resources
- Minimize chemical use, in household, food and beauty products alike.
- Stop your junk mail
- Get involved in local community initiatives
VOCATIONAL WELLNESS is making use of your gifts, skills, and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness, and enrichment in your life and the lives of others. The development of occupational wellness and satisfaction is interconnected with your attitude about your work.
Achieving vocational wellness: Occupational (vocational) wellness means successfully integrating a commitment to your occupation into a total lifestyle that is satisfying and rewarding.1 This dimension allows you to maintain a positive attitude and experience satisfaction/pleasure in your employment. Suggestions for optimal vocational wellness include:
- Choose a career that suits your personality, interests and talents
- Be open to change and learn new skills
- Create a vision for your future
- Explore a variety of career options
In reality it is unlikely that any of us focus on all seven wellness dimensions at the same time. Our time limitations, where we are in our life, priorities, and other commitments and responsibilities most likely dictate which dimensions we focus on at any given time. It important to strive for a balanced life, and trying to improve our general “wellness” is a great place to begin.