When we think of wellness, we often think of our physical health. But wellness expands beyond our bodies to encompass the mind, the spirit, and other facets of well-being. Wellness is a lifelong pursuit that is unique to each and every individual. Just as there is no person on earth that is perfect, there is no person on earth who has achieved perfect wellness. Instead, wellness is a journey. It’s an everyday, mindful approach towards overall health grounded in the desire for self-improvement. The key is to honor the various aspects of wellness holistically and in balance with each other to the extent that we are able.
There are eight dimensions of wellness worth highlighting that are all interconnected and interdependent. For example, it is well understood that stress, primarily considered an emotional condition, increases risks of physical conditions such as heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, IBS, Alzheimer’s and premature aging. Similarly, loneliness, primarily considered a social condition, is inextricably linked to emotional and mental well-being.
Developing a sense of self-awareness on your relative strengths and opportunities within each wellness segment can help move you along the path of ever-improved wellness. Honoring your present position constructively without criticism will help you have the most positive and rewarding experience. Small, manageable steps can help move you along your path and reduce the chance that you’ll give up.
1 – Physical Wellness
Physical wellness is the obvious one. It’s how we respect our bodies. It’s behaving in ways that will minimize avoidable illnesses. Each and every day, getting healthy nutrition, regular sleep, regular exercise and maintaining proper self-care help promote physical wellness. Avoiding physically destructive behaviors, you know – excessive alcohol, sugar, smoking, sun exposure – helps pave the way to optimal physical wellness.
2 – Emotional Wellness
Emotional wellness is the ability to acknowledge and express all your feelings in a productive way. Emotional wellness is not about being in a happy mood all the time. In fact, a key part of emotional wellness is accepting that you won’t feel happy all the time. Recognizing and expressing feelings of anger, fear, sadness, helplessness, stress and grief are just as important to your emotional well-being as recognizing and expressing feelings of happiness, courage, joy, hope and love. When you are able to acknowledge your feelings, work through them, and get help when coping on your own becomes too difficult, you will be taking great steps to improve your emotional wellness.
3 – Spiritual Wellness
Spiritual wellness is striving to align your actions with your values and a greater sense of purpose. A healthy spiritual sense benevolently connects you to others and the world around you. Developing spiritual wellness moves you from apathy about the value of your life to deeply yet humbly recognizing your significance. While religion and beliefs play a role in spirituality, true spiritual wellness serves to unite and respect all of humankind without raising fear or hatred of those who uphold differing beliefs. As we know all too well, a lack of spiritual balance can lead to fanaticism, extremism, intolerance, and loss of life.
4 – Intellectual Wellness
Intellectual wellness is the desire to seek new challenges in pursuit of lifelong learning. It is intentionally striving to stimulate, engage and exercise your brain to gain knowledge, discover wisdom or learn a new skill. It is cultivating your curiosity by participating in challenging activities that interest you. Staying open to new ideas, opportunities, interests and wisdom helps to enrich the mind, keep the brain healthy and support neural pliability. Seeking out cerebral stimulation without this active, intentional consideration can lead to passive, habitual, time- wasting activities like scrolling through social media or mindlessly watching hours of television. Never have I ever, am I right?
5 – Social Wellness
Social wellness is the ability to establish and maintain positive relationships with family, friends, partners and colleagues. Social support is a real fundamental human need. Building bonds, engaging in conversations, and sharing meaningful experiences with others enriches your life and the lives of others. Fostering close relationships every day gives you a sense of belonging and helps love grow. Relationships that are not balanced, functional, or altruistic, however, are draining and can seriously detract from your well-being. Being able to identify, address and correct the unhealthy aspects within your relationships is by no means easy, but it is important for your overall well-being. Letting go of toxic relationships and welcoming in nurturing ones allows your energy to flow more naturally and healthfully.
6 – Occupational Wellness
Occupational wellness is the desire to contribute and be productive in your work so you can make a positive impact on society as a whole. Self-reliance, dependability, skill progression, and stakeholder interconnectivity all play roles in contributing to occupational wellness for yourself and those with whom you work closely. Wellness in the workplace enables employees to perform at their highest potential. Having the ability and empowerment to improve impacting factors such as work-life balance, tools, resources, office atmosphere and skill acquisition all weigh into positive gains in occupational wellness.
7 – Environmental Wellness
Environmental wellness is the ability to make a positive impact on your environment, be it in your home, your neighborhood, your city, or the planet. The spaces where you live, work and dwell are an expression of energy, state of mind and values. Taking steps to clean, organize, brighten, maintain and nurture your surroundings are ways to enhance environmental wellness for yourself and those who share all your spaces. Supporting organizations that act to reduce pollution and facilitate natural health contribute greatly to promoting environmental wellness on a larger scale.
8 – Financial Wellness
Financial wellness is the ability to understand money, your financial situation, and your preparedness for changes that can impact your finances. On one hand, it is recognizing that you have a responsibility to earn enough money to support your lifestyle and save sufficiently for future needs. On the other hand, it is recognizing that money isn’t everything, that accumulating monetary wealth at the expense of others leads to various other ills. The biggest cause of stress in America today is concern over finances. Far too many people don’t earn enough money to survive. And far too few are hoarding the world’s money. Until we find sustainable solutions to these inequities, we must do what we can to maintain individual states of financial wellness by detaching money from ego. Recognizing that money is a tool for survival and comfort, we will have true financial wellness when we refuse to equate net worth with self-worth.
With complete kindness to yourself, assess where you are in each of these wellness areas. Where are your strengths? Celebrate them! Where are your weaknesses? Think about your opportunities. What might you need to support your improvement? When you are honest in your assessment and can identify key areas for growth, you’ll be that much more well-balanced in the long run.