7 Dimensions of Wellness to Enhance Your Life and Thrive
Health vs Wellness
Eat this, not that. Move more. Watch your diet. Does this sound familiar?
Our “health” seems to always be focused around weight management, exercise, or nutrition, but it’s arguably more that that.
The World Health Organization has defined it as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.”
It’s obvious that health encompasses more than the physical body.
Holistic health integrates the wellness of the body, mind, and environment.
- Jade Marmalade
Improving and maintaining your health begins with your conscious behaviors and your mindful lifestyle choices—and in fact, it depends on wellness.
Health and wellness are often interchanged, but health lacks the comprehensive nature of wellness. Wellness requires a holistic approach that aims to enhance your well-being and uplifts you to be the best, most intentional version of you.
The National Wellness Institute describes wellness as:
A conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving one’s full potential
Multidimensional and holistic—encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment
Positive and affirming
Where do you even begin?
It begins with choice—the choice to do what’s optimal to grow and sustain your physical, mental, and social well-being within your environment.
Then comes reflection.
You must reflect on your choices, or habits, and decide whether they are contributing to the balance of your health or taking away from it.
You might have noticed by now that optimal health comes with wellness, so I’m here to take the guesswork out and help you break down the Seven Dimensions of Wellness that interact and contribute to your quality of life.
Wellness is Multidimensional
When you mindfully focus on your wellness, it builds resilience and enables you to thrive amidst life’s challenges.
The idea of thriving sounds so ideal - I know. How do you get there?
It starts with breaking down and analyzing the Seven Dimensions of Wellness which include: emotional, environmental, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual wellness.
Wellness is like communication in the sense that the most powerful communication integrates body language, tone of voice, and words. That said, the Seven Dimensions of Wellness are also interdependent, and neglecting any one component may hinder you from functioning at your greatest potential.
Ready to dive in?
In a hurry? Here’s a quick cheat sheet of this information + a wellness checklist!
Seven Dimensions of Wellness
Emotional wellness is your ability to recognize and accept your feelings, positive or negative, rather than denying them. Being emotionally well enables you to tackle obstacles with a healthy, optimistic mindset. It focuses on self-esteem, self acceptance, and effectively sharing those feelings. Processing and managing your feelings and related behaviors while being realistic about your limitations will also allow you to effectively cope with life’s stressors. You create satisfying, supportive relationships and seek help when needed as well.
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- Tune-in to your feelings through talk therapy, guided meditation, or journaling.
- When facing emotional difficulty, reach out to someone in your social support network (friends or family) or a therapist.
- Not ready to share your thoughts out loud? Journaling can help you navigate and process your feelings.
- Manage negative self talk and forgive yourself rather than dwell on mistakes.
- Congratulate yourself and celebrate your achievements daily.
- Write positive affirmations down and repeat to yourself as necessary.
- Practice relaxation methods and find mindfulness resources in your community (e.g. yoga, meditation, or books).
Environmental wellness is your interaction with your natural and built environments. Practicing environmental wellness means maximizing harmony with the Earth and minimizing harm on your surroundings. By caring for and respecting your natural and built environments, they can better support your health, well-being, and safety. When you also live in in a way that reduces waste and harmful toxins and avoid the depletion of natural resources, you protect your natural environment and in return, your health.
- Keep your workspace clutter-free.
- Select products (cleaners, shampoos, etc.) made from plant-based materials, such as citrus, seed, vegetable, or pine oils.
- Make your own household cleaning products using natural ingredients such as baking soda, lemon, vinegar, etc.
- Avoid fragrance and look for unscented and natural dyes in products to avoid potential allergic reactions.
- Avoid chemicals like parabens, sodium laureth sulfate, and oxybenzone.
- Use fewer personal care products or use them less frequently to reduce exposures.
- Reuse glass jars for drinks or to store food.
- Refuse plastic straws and cutlery when ordering take-out.
Intellectual wellness is pursuing life-long learning and continuous engagement of your mind. You recognize the power of your knowledge and creative abilities but still strive to challenge your mind through creative and stimulating endeavors. Expanding your knowledge and skills all while sharing it with others demonstrates intellectual wellness. You also strengthen it by exploring those personal interests that uplift you while keeping up-to-date on current issues and ideas.
- Engage with people who challenge you and expose yourself to people who oppose your viewpoints.
- Go out of comfort zone by doing the opposite of what you normally do.
- Explore different avenues of creativity and artistic expressions.
- Write in a journal. It could be your task manager, sketchbook, diary, and/or idea catcher.
- Regularly schedule excursions that interest you (museums, hiking, retreats, social events, etc.).
- Learn a new skill (painting, photography, baking, etc.).
- Read a book (and sign up for a library card) or listen to podcasts.
- Take continuing education classes through a local community college or university.
Occupational wellness is your ability to integrate a commitment to your career that is gratifying and rewarding. In simple terms, what you love is what you do. When you find a workspace that fits your values and unique gifts, or even create one, you cultivate a career that embodies your passion. As important is finding balance between work and leisure time.
- Explore your dream jobs—start with taking a workshop or course on the skills needed for the job.
- Set career goals, don’t settle, and work towards what you desire.
- Increase your skills and knowledge to advance your occupational goals (attend a webinar, try Skillshare, join a mastermind group, etc.).
- Find the benefits and positives in your current job.
- Create connections with your co-workers and network outside of work via LinkedIn, Facebook groups, conferences, Meetup groups, etc.
- Avoid over working yourself by tracking your time, taking breaks, and practicing deep work.
- Break down big tasks and develop effective time management practices (Pomodoro Technique).
Physical wellness is knowing your body, caring for it, and nourishing it for optimal functioning. Being physically well means respecting and supporting your body because it always works hard for you. You protect yourself from harm and improve how your body functions by practicing mindful, healthy and sustainable exercise and eating habits. Equally important is making time for self-care—whether that’s treating and fueling your body well, getting adequate sleep, practicing sound hygiene, unwinding and taking a breather, or all the above!
- Make movement an hourly priority.
- Drink adequate amounts of good-quality, filtered water.
- Engage in an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity (>150 minutes of moderate-intensity for substantial health benefits).
- Eat a balanced diet that is based on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains (meet with a RD or nutritionist for a more individualized plan).
- Dispel the “one diet or workout fits all” idea.
- Get regular physical exams and learn to monitor your vitals to recognize early signs of illness.
- Incorporate a relaxing, night routine (meditation, yoga, turning on calming music, reducing screen time, or avoiding blue light before bed).
Social wellness is your ability to develop positive relationships with your community. Developing intimacy with others and valuing the interdependency between others and nature is essential to social wellness. You create meaningful and supportive relationships that respect and acknowledge your personal demands and expectations. And if they begin to falter and take away from your well-being, you have the courage to resolve conflict or let go.
- Communicate your thoughts, feelings and ideas with others while also prioritizing listening.
- Listen to others without judgement and disagree with them respectfully.
- Know where your boundaries lie with others and have the courage to say no when necessary.
- Get involved with your community through social networks like Facebook groups, Meetup groups, community events, or volunteering events.
- Prioritize regular interactions with friends and family.
- Nurture relationships with people who are respectful, positive and supportive.
Spiritual wellness begins with recognizing a foundation of values and principles that give your life purpose and direction. You are in tune with the expanse of life and the forces that exist around you, but it doesn’t need a specific religion or belief system. Spirituality encompasses many forms and how you choose to strengthen it lies in how you seek harmony. When you align your actions with your intentions and establish consistency of those beliefs and values, you will gain a “world view”—your individual formula for life that grounds and influences how you perceive, think, know, and do.
- Know thyself—explore and define who you are, your purpose, and your values.
- Reflect on your values and actions daily to keep your “world view” in focus.
- Write in a journal. Writing regularly can help you maintain a focused mind and keep you accountable to the goals you’ve set.
- Devote time to connecting with yourself (spend time in solitude, meditate, reflect, or pray).
- Spend time in nature utilizing all of your senses.
- Allow yourself and those around you the freedom to be who they are.
- Be curious and seek opportunities for growth in every challenge.
If this is too much to read, grab your Quick Guide to Living Well & Thriving + Wellness Checklist, which summarizes everything that’s been said in this resource so it’s simple and functional for you!
World Health Organization. (1947). Constitution of the World Health Organization. Chronicle of the World Health Organization, 1(1-2), 29-43.
National Wellness Institute. (n.d.). The Six Dimensions of Wellness. Retrieved from http://www.nationalwellness.org/?page=SixDimensions
University of California, Riverside. (n.d.). Seven Dimensions of Wellness. Retrieved from https://wellness.ucr.edu/sevendimensions.html
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Boston University. (n.d.). Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Retrieved from https://cpr.bu.edu/living-well/eight-dimensions-of-wellness/
Grand Rapids Community College. (n.d.). Seven Dimensions of Wellness. Retrieved from https://www.grcc.edu/humanresources/wellness/sevendimensionsofwellness