When you think of wellness, what comes to mind? Possibly a serene picture of someone doing yoga on the shores of a serene beach? How about a social scene of friends around a table having a healthy meal and laughing. Maybe it’s a couple in the woods taking a hike or even someone getting a raise at a job.
The word “wellness” can be seen everywhere we look: commercials, magazines in social media, and even on food packaging. And while the word health is generally well understood, the word wellness is not.
Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth. “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – The World Health Organization
Maintaining an optimal level of wellness is absolutely crucial to live a higher quality 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.
8 dimensions of wellness
Emotional, Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, Environmental, Financial, Occupational, and Social.
Each dimension of wellness is interrelated with another. Each dimension is equally vital in the pursuit of optimum health. One can reach an optimal level of wellness by understanding how to maintain and optimize each of the dimensions of wellness.
Emotional wellness relates to understanding your feelings and coping effectively with stress. It is important to pay attention to self-care, relaxation, stress reduction and the development of inner resources so you can learn and grow from experiences. For instance:
- Being optimistic and focusing on the positive aspects of life
- Learning to accept your emotions, whether good, bad, or ugly
- Building and maintaining strong relationships
- Staying in the moment
- Practicing mindfulness
- Smiling as much as possible
- Maintaining a good work/life balance
- Getting enough sleep at night
- Seeking professional support when necessary
- Managing stress through positive coping methods
Environmental wellness inspires us to live a lifestyle that is respectful of our surroundings. This realm encourages us to live in harmony with the Earth by taking action to protect it. Environmental well-being promotes interaction with nature and your personal environment. Everyone can have a strong environmental conscious simply by raising their awareness.
- Recycling whenever possible
- Gardening and landscaping your home
- Turning off lights and electronic devices when not in use
- Limiting the use of heating and cooling systems
- Using reusable shopping bags and water bottles
- Electing to walk or bike to your destination of choice instead of driving
- Taking the time to enjoy the great outdoors through a walk, hike, or jog
- Conserving the use of water running
- Stopping the delivery of junk mail
- Cleaning with environmentally friendly products
Financial Wellness involves the process of learning how to successfully manage financial expenses. Money plays a critical role in our lives and not having enough of it impacts health as well as academic performance. Financial stress is repeatedly found to be a common source of stress, anxiety and fear for college students.
- Not spending more money than you have
- Paying off your credit cards each month
- Building up an emergency fund
- Creating and following a personal budget
- Setting short-term and long-term financial goals
- Managing your credit score
- Paying off your student loans
- Shopping for sales and purchasing off-brand products
- Investing in your retirement through tax-efficient investments
- Consulting with a financial professional to get your personal finances on track
Intellectual wellness involves having an open mind when you encounter new ideas and continuing to expand your knowledge. It encourages active participation in scholastic, cultural and community activities.
- Traveling the world to experience and learn about different cultures
- Trying out new hobbies
- Cultivating your own views, opinions, and ideas
- Being open-minded abut the views, opinions, and ideas of others
- Learning a foreign language
- Reading fiction and nonfiction books to spark your imagination
- Learning a musical instrument
- Exploring your creative side
- Mastering time management with to-do lists and priority systems
- Taking an online course on a subject of interest
Occupational wellness is about enjoying your occupational endeavors and appreciating your contributions. This dimension of wellness encourages personal satisfaction and enrichment in one’s life through work.
- Thinking about the types of work that brings you joy and satisfaction
- Shadowing or volunteering for professionals in various lines of work
- Roleplaying conflict management with friends or coworkers
- Establishing a good work/life balance to avoid burn out
- Building strong relationships with co-workers, colleagues, and executives in your industry
- Setting career goals that foster positive growth and professional development
- Focusing on the positive aspects of your career and find ways to minimize or remove the negative aspects
- Establishing strong workplace habits to maximize productivity
- Scheduling time for innovative thinking and professional development
- Attending industry conventions
Physical wellness relates to maintaining a healthy body and seeking care when needed. Physical health is attained through exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep and paying attention to the signs of illness and getting help when needed.
- Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day
- Consuming a well-balanced diet
- Practicing portion control
- Eating breakfast every day
- Practicing safe sex
- Scheduling routine physical exams with a medical provider
- Getting enough sleep at night
- Committing to a smoke-free lifestyle
- Limiting the consumption of unhealthy fats, sugar, salt, and alcohol
- Learning to listen to your body and recognize early signs of illness
Social wellness helps you perform social roles effectively and comfortably, and create a support network. This dimension of wellness allows you to not only develop encouraging relationships with peers, but also intimate relationships with romantic partners.
- Getting involved in your school, workplace, or community
- Scheduling time to be with family or friends
- Reaching out to friends you haven’t talked to in a while to see how they’re doing
- Practicing active listening when others are talking
- Being respectful in the way you communicate with others
- Practicing self-disclosure to those you trust
- Embracing laughter
- Making an effort to build new relationships
- Refraining from blaming, judging, or criticizing others
- Being confident in yourself in all social situations
Spiritual wellness allows you to develop a set of values that help you seek meaning and purpose. Spirituality can be represented in many ways, for example, through relaxation or religion. But being spiritually well means knowing which resources to use to cope with issues that come up in everyday life.
- Becoming a practicing member of an organized religion
- Performing daily positive affirmations
- Taking time to appreciate the natural forces of the universe
- Practicing yoga
- Forgiving and forgetting the actions of those who have wronged you
- Reflecting on the meaning of past events that occurred in your life
- Taking the time to think about who you are and exploring your inner self
- Digging deeper and exploring things you’re curious about
- Practicing acceptance
Overall, the word wellness may appear complex. I’m here to tell you it shouldn’t be. In a nutshell, you should think of wellness as a series of positive choices you make to live your life to the fullest!
Are you ready to get on the path to better wellness?
After reading this article, I hope your answer is YES! If you have any questions, feel free to contact Anna Genest at Anna@montanallamaguides.com. Also, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more information on how to live your life to the fullest!