Wellness and health are often used interchangeable and may be considered synonymous, but they are not the same. Health is considered to be the absence of disease and is the physical domain which refers to the body. Wellness is about a lifestyle and how one maintains harmony and balance in their lives. Wellness encompasses seven dimensions, with each contributing to our own sense of wellbeing or quality of life, and each affects and overlaps the others. Although each domain may not be prioritized the same, we should not neglect any one dimension for any length of time to avoid adverse effects on our overall health.
Wellness has also been defined as “a conscious, self-directed, and evolving process of achieving full potential.” – The National Wellness Institute
Physical wellness includes healthy behaviors such as adequate sleep, regular exercise, proper nutrition, and abstaining from harmful habits such as drugs and alcohol. It means learning about and being able to identify symptoms of disease, get regular medical checkups, and protect yourself from injuries and harm.
Tips for optimal physical wellness:
- Exercise daily
- Get adequate rest
- Use seat belts, helmets, and other protective equipment
- Learn to recognize early signs of illness
- Eat a variety of healthy foods
- Control your meal portions
- Stop smoking and protect yourself against second-hand smoke
- Use alcohol in moderation, if at all
Spiritual wellness involves possessing a set of guiding beliefs, principles, or values that help give direction to one’s life. It encompasses a high level of faith, hope, and commitment to your individual beliefs that provide a sense of meaning and purpose. Spiritual wellness allows us to be in tune with our spiritual selves. This realm of wellness lets us find meaning in life events and define our individual purpose. People can express their meaning and purpose in life through nature, art, music, religion, meditation, or good deeds performed towards others.
Tips and suggestions for optimal spiritual wellness:
- Explore your spiritual core
- Spend time alone/meditate regularly
- Be inquisitive and curious
- Be fully present in everything you do
- Listen with your heart and live by your principles
- Allow yourself and those around you the freedom to be who they are
- See opportunities for growth in the challenges life brings you
Emotional wellness encompasses optimism, self-esteem, self-acceptance, and the ability to share feelings. Emotional wellness inspires self-care, relaxation, stress reduction and the development of inner strength. Emotional wellness also includes the ability to learn and grow from experiences. People who manage stress well and have a high level of emotional wellness have more time to enjoy life. Techniques for managing stress include: surrounding yourself with a positive support network, eating well, managing your time appropriately, and practicing relaxation techniques and exercising.
Tips for optimal emotional wellness:
- Tune-in to your thoughts and feelings
- Cultivate an optimistic attitude
- Seek and provide support
- Learn time management skills
- Practice stress management techniques
- Accept and forgive yourself
Social wellness refers to our ability to interact successfully in our global community and to live up to the expectations and demands of our personal roles. This means learning good communication skills, developing intimacy with others, and creating a support network of friends and family members. Our relationships can offer support during difficult times. Conscious actions are important in learning how to balance your social life with your academic and professional lives. Social wellness includes having personal connections and interaction with friends and others, and may include involvement in a group or organization, volunteering, and feeling at peace with your contributions with society as a whole.
Tips and suggestions for optimal social wellness include:
- Cultivate healthy relationships
- Get involved
- Contribute to your community
- Share your talents and skills
- Communicate your thoughts, feelings, and ideas
Intellectual wellness encourages us to engage in creative and mentally-stimulating activities. These activities should expand your knowledge and skills while allowing you to share your knowledge and skills with others. Intellectual wellness can be developed through academics, cultural involvement, community involvement and personal hobbies. It could include taking an enrichment or community course, learning a new language, staying up with current events, attending theatre or arts activities, or doing brain-simulating activities such as crossword puzzles.
Tips and suggestions for optimal intellectual wellness include:
- Take a course or workshop
- Learn (or perfect) a foreign language
- Seek out people who challenge you intellectually
- Learn to appreciate art
Occupational/Vocational wellness involves preparing and making use of your gifts, skills, and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness, and enrichment in your life. The development of occupational satisfaction and wellness is related to your attitude about your work. Occupational wellness is a journey that involves making use of your gifts, skills, and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness, and enrichment in your life. It also includes using resources at your place of employment and outside to enhance your growth. Broadening your occupational wellness might include: professional development opportunities, worksite wellness, purposeful training or reading, resume building, and conferences.
Tips and suggestions for optimal occupational wellness include:
- Explore a variety of career options
- Create a vision for your future
- Choose a career that suits your personality, interests, and talents
- Be open to change and learn new skills
Environmental wellness is an awareness of the unstable state of the earth and the effects of your daily habits on the physical environment. 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. It could involve reducing, reusing, recycling, and conservation practices. If everyone made individual adjustments in their life, the impact on the environment would be significant.
Tips and suggestions for optimal environmental wellness:
- Stop your junk mail
- Conserve water and other resources
- Minimize chemical use
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
- Renew your relationship with the earth
Grand Rapids Community College
University of California, Riverside
National Wellness Institute