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The words health and wellness are marketed all over the place! And while the word health is generally well understood, the word wellness is not. In fact, if you do a quick google search, you’ll discover that wellness has a number of different dimensions, all that are all a little bit different depending on your source. In this article, I’m going to cover the truth about wellness, including what it is and why it’s important. I’m also going to review the dimensions of wellness that are most commonly recognized by experts in the field.
What is wellness?
Unfortunately, there is not a universally accepted definition of wellness. In fact, that is the one thing that all leading experts agree on. Why? Just look at the following definitions of wellness below.
- “The quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal.” – Merriam-Webster
- “The state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.” – Oxford Dictionaries
- “TDictionary.com as the
- “A multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.” – definitionofwellness.com
- “An active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” – National Wellness Institute
- “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.” – UC Davis
- “The condition of being healthy” – Cambridge Dictionary
As you can see, wellness is broadly defined. However, there are a number of similar components to each definition.
- Wellness is something that you choose to pursue. It’s a choice you make in life that requires constant effort to achieve.
- While associated with a healthy lifestyle, wellness goes beyond the confines of general health. It encompasses a positive outlook on your mind, body, and soul and is something we often have more control over than health.
- Wellness has various dimensions and can be viewed a quality, state, or process.
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!
What are the dimensions of wellness?
As I mentioned before, the dimensions of wellness are variable by source. In fact, experts can’t even agree how many dimensions of wellness there are. A quick google search illustrates that 5…6…7…8…9…even 10 dimensions of wellness are cited online. Sadly, this is probably why wellness isn’t as well defined or understood as heath.
For simplicity sake, think of the dimensions of wellness as categories wellness exists within. Below are the dimensions of wellness that are most recognized by experts in the field.
Emotional wellness has to do with your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It allows you to clearly recognize and accept your feelings, both positive or negative. This includes adapting to stress, life changes, and difficult times.
Ways to improve your emotional wellness include:
- 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
Spiritual wellness is the process by which you seek meaning and purpose in life. This can be achieved in a variety of ways including organized religion, prayer, meditation, yoga, as well as a careful assessment of your morals, values, and beliefs.
Ways to improve your spiritual wellness include:
- 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
Physical wellness has to do with keeping your body in optimal condition and health. It can be achieved through a well-balanced diet, various forms of exercise, and practicing self-control.
Ways to improve your physical wellness include:
- 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 is your ability to connect with others and maintain strong relationships. It can be achieved by surrounding yourself with positive people and being comfortable with who you are in social environments.
Ways to improve your social wellness include:
- 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
Intellectual wellness has to do with participating in mentally stimulating activities that challenge your overall knowledge and skill sets. It can be achieved by committing to lifelong learning and being open to trying new things.
Ways to improve your intellectual wellness include:
- Traveling the world to experience and learn about different cultures
- Trying out new hobbies
- Cultivating your own views, opinions, and ideas
- Being open-minded about 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
Environmental wellness is the way you feel about, respect, and protect the world around you. It can be achieved by going the extra mile to live an environmentally friendly life as well as conserving the world’s natural resources.
Ways to improve your environmental wellness include:
- 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
Occupational wellness has to do with maximizing your workplace happiness by focusing on work that brings you a sense of joy, satisfaction, and accomplishment. It can be achieved by exploring various careers pathways and successfully managing working place stressors.
Ways to improve your occupational wellness include:
- 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
Financial wellness is the processes of learning how to best manage your money. This includes things like your expenses, personal finances, and investments. In can be achieved by gaining a strong understanding of where your money comes from as well as how you spend, save, and invest it.
Ways to improve your financial wellness include:
- 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
Why is wellness important?
Wellness is important because it impacts so many areas of life. Honestly, everyone wants to live their life to the fullest potential. Unfortunately, this is not easy. Life often comes with challenges and things we can’t control. Fortunately for you, optimizing your overall well being is something you can. Upon doing so, you’ll notice significant benefits, both personally and professionally.
Personal wellness is important because it has to do with the choices you make to thrive in your personal life. In fact, balancing all that life has to offer is easier when you have a personal wellness plan. Doing so helps you best succeed in life as well as challenges you to grow into the best version of yourself!
On the other hand, professional wellness is important because it has to do with the choices you make to grow in your career. Employers that offer wellness programs find they’re able to improve the overall health and well being of their employees. This leads to happier employees that spend less money on healthcare and more time being productive in their careers.
Are you ready to get on the path to better wellness?
After reading this article, I hope your answer is YES!