Definition of Wellness
Wellness is 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.
“…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – The World Health Organization
“…a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.” – The National Wellness Institute
Why Wellness Matters
Maintaining an optimal level of wellness is absolutely crucial to live a higher quality life. Wellness matters to our lives because everything we do and every emotion we feel relates to our well-being. In turn, our well-being directly affects our actions and emotions. It’s an ongoing circle. Therefore, it is important for everyone to achieve optimal wellness in order to subdue stress, reduce the risk of illness and ensure positive interactions. You need to strive to continually balance all of your wellness dimensions as they all tie together for a well-balanced life.
Emotional wellness inspires self-care, relaxation, stress reduction and the development of inner strength. It is important to be attentive to both positive and negative feelings and be able to understand how to handle these emotions. Emotional wellness also includes the ability to learn and grow from experiences. Emotional well-being encourages autonomy and proper decision making skills. It is an important part of overall wellness.
Why is Emotional Wellness Important? Emotional wellness allows you to accept how you are feeling. Once you accept your feelings, you can begin to understand why you are feeling that way, and decide how you would like to act in response to those feelings. Being emotionally well grants you the power to express feelings without any constraints. In turn, you will be able to enjoy emotional expression and be capable of forming supportive and interdependent relationships with others.
The Route to Emotional Wellness. In order to begin the route to emotional wellness you must always remember to be optimistic. Optimism allows you to greet all emotions—both positive and negative—with a confident attitude that allows you to learn from your mistakes. Once you have mastered emotional wellness, you will experience life a little differently. Your life will be more balanced and you will develop a deep sense of awareness. Below are some strategies for you to practice in order to boost your emotional wellness.
- Remind yourself to stay positive, always.
- Seek or accept help and support from others when needed.
- Employ gratitude to your life in order to strengthen relationships with family and friends.
- Practice being mindful and increase your awareness. This can be done through various forms of meditation.
- Accept mistakes and learn from them for next time. Mistakes are not terrible experiences; they are learning experiences.
- Balance your other dimensions of Wellness.
Environmental Wellness is the ability to recognize our own responsibility for the quality of the air, the water and the land that surrounds us. The ability to make a positive impact on the quality of our environment whether in our homes, our communities or our planet contributes to our Environmental Wellness. We may not think about Environmental Wellness as part of an overall wellness plan, but our environment and how we feel about it can have a huge impact on the way we feel overall.
Why is Environmental Wellness Important? Environmental well-being includes trying to live in harmony with the Earth by understanding the impact of your interaction with nature and your personal environment, and taking action to protect the world around you. Protecting yourself from environmental hazards and minimizing the negative impact of your behavior on the environment are also central elements. Leading a lifestyle that is respectful to our environment and minimizes any harm done to it is a critical part of environmental wellness. Examples of environmental threats include air pollution, ultraviolet radiation in the sunlight, chemicals, noise, water pollution, and second-hand smoke.
The Route to Environmental Wellness. Environmental wellness involves a number of different aspects of personal and societal responsibilities, including:
- Being aware of the earth’s natural resources and their respective limits
- Living a life accountable to environmental needs, both in the present and in the long-term
- Realizing the effects of their daily habits on the world around them
Are you engaged in the process of environmental wellness?
- Do I recycle?
- If I see a safety hazard, do I take the steps to fix the problem?
- Do I volunteer time to worthy causes?
- Am I aware of my surroundings at all times?
If you answered “No” to any of the above questions, it may indicate an area where you need to improve the state of your environmental wellness.
Financial Wellness involves the process of learning how to successfully manage financial expenses. Money plays a critical role in our lives and not having enough of it impacts health as well as academic performance. Financial stress is repeatedly found to be a common source of stress, anxiety and fear for people. Keeping track of expenses, making a budget, and sticking to it are important skills to have in order to be finacially responsible and independent. Learning how to maximize your financial wellness now will help you feel prepared to handle potentially stressful financial situations in the future.
Why is Financial Wellness Important? The thing about money is that people often look at it in many different ways. Depending on their upbringing and personality, some people pinch pennies, others like to spend money as fast as they get it, and others manage their money to provide for themselves and their families.
People are often subject to significant financial distress. Debt could become a looming challenge, especially with the rising costs of higher education, housing, bills, food, taking care of other dependents, and other basic expenses. Keeping up with these financial responsibilities can quickly become overwhelming, but ignoring them will only increase feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear. With so many things to juggle within your busy schedule, adding in some time every day to seek ways to improve financial wellness will help you feel less stress. Developing financially smart habits is a valuable investment to achieve your future goals.
The Route to Financial Wellness. Rest assured that you are not the only one in the process of learning how to manage finances more efficiently. Everyone’s financial situation is different, so it is up to you to select the proper mix of resources that work best according to your needs. The most important point to remember is that maximizing financial wellness is a process that does not occur immediately. Understanding good money management skills is very important. How someone works with money can affect many parts of their life. To be successful with financial skills, one must learn and use good money management. Money management is the skill of handling money through thoughtful spending, budgeting, saving, and investing.
Financial Wellness Tips:
- Don’t put it off – identify and address any financial problems before they start.
- Keep organized records of your finances.
- Take advantage of coupons and discounts.
- Having a monthly budget and exercising control over spending; Plan ahead and set budget goals.
- Making wise financial decisions and planning for the future.
- Developing good credit.
- Saving and contributing to an emergency fund.
- Balance your other dimensions of Wellness; they all tie in to financial wellness as well.
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. As intellectual wellness develops, you are able to develop personal resources that work together with the other realms of wellness in order to achieve a more balanced life.
Why is Intellectual Wellness Important? Intellectual wellness encourages learning. It is important to explore new ideas and understandings in order to become more mindful and better-rounded. Having an optimal level of intellectual wellness inspires exploration. Intellectual wellness also stimulates curiosity. Curiosity is important because it motivates you to try new things and develop an understanding of how you see the relationship between yourself, others and the environment.
The Route to Intellectual Wellness. In order to begin the route to intellectual wellness, you must remember to be open-minded. Be open to new ideas, new cultures, new knowledge, new skills and new environments. When you have an open mind, the world is truly yours. This allows you to explore issues relating to problem solving, critical thinking, learning and creativity. Below is a list of suggestions for you to adopt in order to enhance your intellectual wellness.
- Be open-minded.
- Listen. When you participate in active listening you are able to fully comprehend the information that is being given to you.
- Pick up a hobby. Hobbies are great ways to increase your skill set. They can also be fun!
- Travel. The best way to gain knowledge as well as an appreciation for another culture is to experience it yourself.
- Express your creative side by exploring different avenues of creativity and artistic expressions.
Occupational wellness inspires us to prepare for work in which we will gain personal satisfaction and find enrichment in our life. Your attitude about work is a crucial influence for occupational development. Occupational wellness allows you to explore various career options and encourages you to pursue the opportunities you enjoy the most. This dimension of wellness recognizes the importance of satisfaction, enrichment and meaning through work.
Why is Occupational Wellness Important? Developing occupational satisfaction will allow you to communicate your values through involvement in occupational activities that are gratifying for you. It is also important to identify workplace stress in order to practice conflict management. Conflict management is one of the keys to achieving an optimal level of occupational wellness. Working takes up a majority of your time during the week, so the way you feel about your work contributes to your overall well-being.
The Route to Occupational Wellness. Maintaining occupational wellness allows you to develop unique skills and talents that are both personally and professionally rewarding. Below are some suggestions to begin your journey to occupational wellness.
- Reflect on yourself and your occupational needs. What occupational tasks do you enjoy? What occupational tasks do you find burdensome?
- Explore both paid and un-paid work and volunteer opportunities that interest you.
- Practice open communication and proper conflict management with your colleagues.
- Set realistic career goals for yourself and constantly work towards accomplishing these goals.
Physical wellness promotes proper care of our bodies for optimal health and functioning. There are many elements of physical wellness that all must be cared for together. Overall physical wellness encourages the balance of physical activity, nutrition and mental well-being to keep your body in top condition. Obtaining an optimal level of physical wellness allows you to nurture personal responsibility for your own health. As you become conscious of your physical health, you are able to identify elements you are successful in as well as elements you would like to improve.
Why is Physical Wellness Important? Physical Wellness encourages us to care for our bodies through physical activity, proper nutrition, and a strong mind.
- Physical Activity – Being physically active is crucial to keeping your body in its top condition. A few proven benefits of physical activity are strengthened bones and muscles, reduced risk of disease and stroke, and more energy.
- Nutrition – It is important to nurture your body by eating a well-balanced diet. Filling yourself with a variety of nutrients and vitamins will not only help prevent illness, but will also keep your body functioning at its best.
- Mental Well-Being – Having optimal levels of physical activity and maintaining proper nutrition is a key to improving your overall emotional wellness. Not only will you sharpen your thinking and learning abilities, you will also enhance your sense of self-esteem and self-control.
The Route to Physical Wellness. Understanding the relationship between your body’s physical health and mental health is crucial in order to develop a balanced physical wellness. When you take the route to physical wellness you will learn to understand how your body performs physically and will be able to connect it to how you feel mentally. Physical wellness encourages principles of good health and knowledge, which affect behavior patterns that lead to a healthy lifestyle. Below are a few suggestions for you to practice to maintain an optimal level of physical wellness.
- Engage in physical activity every day for 30 minutes. You may break up your daily 30 minutes into 10 minutes bouts.
- Use stairs instead of the elevator or escalator and walk whenever possible.
- Learn to recognize warning signs when your body begins feeling ill.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods and control your meal portions.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule and get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Social wellness refers to the relationships we have and how we interact with others. Our relationships can offer support during difficult times. Social wellness involves building healthy, nurturing and supportive relationships as well as fostering a genuine connection with those around you. Conscious actions are important in learning how to balance your social life with your academic and professional lives. Social wellness also includes balancing the unique needs of romantic relationships with other parts of your life.
Why is Social Wellness Important? Maintaining an optimal level of social wellness allows you to build healthy relationships with others. Having a supportive social network allows you to develop assertive skills and become comfortable with who you are in social situations. Surrounding yourself with a positive social network increases your self-esteem. Social wellness enables you to create boundaries that encourage communication, trust and conflict management. Having good social wellness is critical to building emotional resilience.
The Route to Social Wellness. As you begin your route to social wellness, you will discover that you have the power to enhance your personal relationships. Maintaining social wellness allows you to practice empathy and active listening. There are many ways you can begin your journey on the route to social wellness. Below are some suggestions on how to enhance your social wellness.
- Reflect on yourself and your social needs. What aspects of your social life do you enjoy? What parts would you like to improve?
- Make an effort to keep in touch with supportive friends and family.
- Practice self-disclosure.
- Participate in group discussions and practice active listening.
- Join a club or organization.
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. Spiritual wellness can be defined through various factors including religious faith, values, ethics and morals. Regardless of whether you believe in a particular religious faith, there is always something to be learned about how you see yourself in the world.
Why is Spiritual Wellness Important? Spiritual wellness not only allows you to seek meaning and purpose in human existence, but it also allows you to appreciate your life experiences for what they are. When you find meaning in your life experiences, you will be able to develop a harmony with your inner self and the outside world. In simpler terms, spiritual wellness grants you balance.
The Route to Spiritual Wellness. The route to spiritual wellness is something you must learn to master on your own. Spiritual wellness strongly emphasizes the importance of building inner resources and inner thoughts in order to give meaning to experience. Spiritual wellness can be slightly complicated to understand and achieve. It is important to know that spiritual wellness does not mandate you to pick up a religious practice. However, religion may be one route you may take to boost your spiritual wellness. Below are some recommendations for you to practice in order to maintain an optimal level of spiritual wellness.
- Explore your inner self. Take time to think about who you are.
- If you experience a life-changing event, take a few minutes to think about what series of events led to this.
- Spend time meditating or practicing mindful relaxation.
- Practice acceptance.
- Be curious. If something happens that makes you even the slightest bit curious, take a moment to explore the experience a little deeper.
- Look for a religious faith that you agree with.
Some of the information for this article was gleaned from the Six Dimensions of Wellness Model by Bill Hettler, M.D.