When I first went off to college I was majoring in Dietetics. After a semester and a half of taking my classes I realized that health is not solely about what a person eats. Although it is a huge part. Once I had this realization, I switched my major to Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) and loved every second of my classes (except human physiology... big yikes). The seven dimensions of wellness were the foundation of my major as Dietetics and HPW, they are the very first thing that the professors taught their students. It is the centerpoint of health and wellbeing.
If you have read my About Me page or my first post you would have seen that I mentioned the seven dimensions of wellness. Each dimension of wellness contributes to our own sense of quality of life and wellbeing. At times, one dimension may be practiced more than others, but neglecting a dimension for too long will have negative effects on optimal health. So, what are the seven dimensions of wellness?
The first thought that may come to most people’s minds when they hear spiritual wellness is that it is about religion and beliefs. That can be right for some but this dimension of wellness goes deeper. Spiritual wellness is about finding one’s meaning and purpose in life, searching for harmony and striving for consistent values we set for ourselves.
Below are opportunities to improve your spiritual wellness:
Be fully present in your daily activities
Explore your spiritual core
See challenges as opportunities for growth
The physical dimension of wellness is about taking care of your body through being active. Physical activity has been shown to prolong life, prevent diseases and improve mental health. This dimension of wellness is also about nourishing your body through a proper diet. Exercise and diet go hand-in-hand when striving for optimal wellbeing.
Below are opportunities to improve your physical wellness:
Get 7-8 hours of sleep
Eat a variety of healthy foods with proper portion control
Prevent injuries through taking proper precautions
ex: Wear a seatbelt!!!
Strive to reach and maintain a healthy weight
The emotional dimension is having awareness and acceptance of the emotions one portrays or feels such as happiness, sadness, hope, love, joy, anger and/or fear. It is learning how to acknowledge and manage your or another person’s emotions. It is better to be more accepting of one’s emotions than to hide them to have self-love and self-esteem.
Below are opportunities to improve your emotional wellness:
Tune in to your thoughts and feelings
Take responsibility for your actions
Seek and provide support
Discover your stressors and stress relievers
Accept and forgive yourself
The career dimension is about finding personal fulfilment through one’s work. Work could be anything from a 9-5 job, a stay-at-home parent, volunteering, etc. It is different for everyone. Contributing one’s skills and talents for a greater cause can bring personal satisfaction, happiness and purpose to life. To gain optimal career wellness one must enjoy the work that they do.
Below are opportunities to improve your career wellness:
Create a vision for your future
Look for opportunities to learn and grow
Examine different career paths
Always be looking to improve and gain new skills
Always be asking yourself how you can improve
Intellectual wellness is exercising the mind through creativity, challenges and stimulating activities. It is the ability to open one’s mind to new ideas, experiences and concepts. A person with optimal intellectual wellness is sharing their knowledge and ideas with others all while still challenging themselves.
Below are opportunities to improve your intellectual wellness:
Learn a new language
Attend orchestra concerts, museums and art galleries
Find people that challenge you
Environmental wellness is right away correlated with recycling. Now, recycling is an example of environmental wellness but there is so much more to it. This dimension of wellness is about caring for the earth and its resources through understanding how one’s daily activities affect the world.
Another part to this dimension of wellness that isn’t talked about enough is the environment people put themselves in. How are you surrounded? Do you have friends constantly putting you down? Do you have a car with engine problems? Do you live with someone that smokes? All of these examples contribute to a poor environmental wellness.
Below are opportunities to improve your environmental wellness:
Minimalize chemical use
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Stop junk mail
Have awareness for your surroundings
The last of the seven dimensions of wellness is the ability to make positive connections with other people. Humans are social beings that need interaction with each other to live to their fullest potential. Social wellness can be between a pen-pal, coworker, neighbor, spouse, friend etc. This dimension encourages people to make connections, challenge themselves, and enhance personal relationships. A negative relationship can greatly affect a person, that’s why showing respect for others and yourself can lead to optimal health.
Below are opportunities to improve your social wellness:
Strengthen current friendships, old friendships or new ones.
Get involved with your community
Understand social anxiety and how to manage it
Communicate thoughts, feelings and ideas.
As you may have noticed, the seven dimensions are like dominos.
Moving your body → eating healthier foods → better mental health → increased confidence → better social connections → improved environmental wellness…. And the list keeps going until all of the dimensions are practiced and optimal health is reached.
Everyone will have different approaches to their health and wellbeing and that is okay because everyone is different. What we can all do to help eachother grow on our wellness journey is support and encourage one another.
Image Source: University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point HPHD