What does “wellness” mean to you? Each individual’s journey toward well-being is unique. By taking the time to understand and nurture all parts of yourself, you can achieve a balanced life in a way that is tailored to your mind, body, and environment.
Today, we are delving into the 8 dimensions of wellness, including physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, occupational, social, and financial wellness. By exploring these dimensions and making positive changes in each area, you can create a healthier and happier lifestyle.
1. Physical Wellness
We encourage you to pause and reflect on your physical wellness. How is your body feeling at this very moment? Do you feel that your sleep routine, diet, and exercise habits are serving your health?
It’s common knowledge that physical wellness begins with caring for your body through movement, proper nutrition, and rest. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that our individual needs may differ. Part of physical wellness is listening to and nourishing our bodies in a way that best suits our needs (University of New Hampshire, n.d.). When we are in touch with our bodies, we can gain a better understanding of what we personally require to maintain our health.
2. Emotional Wellness
Emotional wellness revolves around being aware of your feelings, validating them, and responding in a healthy way. Acknowledging and honouring others’ emotions is equally as important (Stoewen, 2017). By observing your emotions and how they affect you, you can regulate them instead of reacting automatically. Developing your emotional literacy can help you become more conscious of how your emotions are informing your actions (Ninivaggi, 2022.)
To improve your emotional wellness, try starting off by:
- Using mindfulness techniques to stay in the present moment
- Identifying/naming emotions using this downloadable resource from Dr. Brene Brown
- Journaling about emotional experiences, for example, start by asking yourself “what is this emotion trying to tell me about my needs?”
- Avoiding suppressing your emotions. Simply notice them as they are happening
- Seek support when needed (NIH, 2022)
3. Intellectual Wellness
Appreciating your talents while aspiring to learn more is key to intellectual wellness (Northwestern University, n.d.). Working on your intellectual wellness can keep you engaged in everyday activities and promote a sense of fulfillment, especially in your work or academic life.
Stimulating your mind through continuous learning fosters intellectual wellness by creating new connections in your brain. Try a new creative hobby or honing skills you already have, learn a new language, or play games intended to sharpen brain functioning. Getting involved in your community and exposing yourself to diverse opinions and ways of thinking is another way to boost intellectual wellness.
4. Social Wellness
Maintaining meaningful relationships and fostering a sense of belonging is vital for human development and overall wellness. In her book Daring Greatly (2012), Professor Brené Brown references her research into what barriers prevent connection, and emphasizes the importance of being authentic in close relationships.
Developing strong friendships can have positive effects on your well-being by boosting self-esteem, reducing stress, and even decreasing the likelihood of certain illnesses (Mayo Clinic, 2022). Healthy relationships are a protective factor for our mental health; having others notice any changes in our wellbeing may be a catalyst to getting formal help. Having clear boundaries in our relationships creates a safe caring space for mutual support.
5. Spiritual Wellness
Spiritual wellness doesn’t solely refer to religious beliefs, but encompasses finding meaning and purpose in life. Researchers have discovered a connection between spirituality and mental health: spirituality can improve your mental wellness and even help individuals living with mental illness deal with challenges more effectively (Bożek et al., 2019).
Engaging in practices that align with your values and beliefs can provide a sense of inner peace and clarity. Consider what spiritual wellness means to you, whether it be in a religious or non-religious context.
6. Occupational Wellness
Well-being is greatly impacted by the environment in which you work and how your occupation makes you feel. How satisfied you are with your job may even affect your health, especially your mental wellness (Faragher et al., 2005).
Seeking a fulfilling career that aligns with your passions and personal values contributes to occupational wellness. Aside from choosing a career path that you enjoy, you can boost your occupational wellness by building relationships with your colleagues and focusing on what you like about your work (University of Nebraska Omaha, n.d.).
7. Environmental Wellness
Part of environmental wellness is connecting to nature, caring for the environment, and creating a sustainable lifestyle. Respecting the life around us, whether it’s humans or nature, is also a way of respecting ourselves. Exercising outdoors, reducing your ecological footprint, and supporting eco-friendly initiatives contribute to a healthier planet and personal well-being (UC Davis, 2019).
8. Financial Wellness
When you think of well-being, finances may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But your finances impact your wellness in many ways, from your stress levels to the choices you make day-to-day. Taking charge of your finances while planning for the future promotes financial wellness and helps provide a sense of stability (Northwestern University, n.d.). The benefits of budgeting, saving, and making informed financial decisions go beyond improving your financial situation. These practices can alleviate stress and enhance your quality of life.
By nurturing each of these 8 dimensions, you can achieve a state of well-being that encompasses every aspect of your existence. Remember that wellness is a lifelong journey, and investing time and effort into these dimensions can lead to a happier and healthier you. Start small, make gradual changes, and celebrate each step toward a more vibrant and meaningful life.
By Monique Zizzo
Bożek, A., Nowak, P. F., & Blukacz, M. (2019). The Relationship Between Spirituality, Health-Related Behavior, and Psychological Well-Being. Frontiers in Psychology, 11.
Brown, B. (2012). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.
Faragher, E. B., Cass, M., & Cooper, C. L. (2005). The relationship between job satisfaction and health: a meta-analysis. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 62(2), 105–112.
Mayo Clinic. (2022, January 12). Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health.
National Institutes of Health (NIH). (2022, August 8). Emotional Wellness Toolkit.
Ninivaggi, F., M. D. ,. F. A. P. A. (2022, September 6). Emotional Knowing and Emotional Literacy. Psychology Today.
Northwestern University. (n.d.). Eight Dimensions of Wellness Overview.
Stoewen, D. L. (2017). Dimensions of wellness: Change your habits, change your life. The
Canadian Veterinary Journal, 58(8), 861-862.
University of California, Davis. (2019, September 3). Eight dimensions of wellness.
University of Nebraska Omaha. (n.d.). Occupational Wellness: Learning & Contributing | Student Life.
University of New Hampshire. (n.d.). Physical wellness.