What is Wellness?

When we think of wellness, we often think of the physical dimension: how we can get in better physical shape and how that will make us feel better. Wellness is so much more than that. It is the physical and mental components linked together that make us healthy and prosperous. Wellness is comprised of eight dimensions. Knowing how to recognize these dimensions, create strengths and goals can help put into perspective  wellness as a whole. The 8 dimensions are:

  • Emotional — Coping effectively with life. Creating healthy relationships

  • Environmental — Stimulating environments that lead to healthy well-being

  • Financial — Satisfaction with current and future financial situations

  • Intellectual — Finding ways to expand knowledge.

  • Occupational — Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work

  • Physical — Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep

  • Social — Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system

  • Spiritual — Expanding a sense of purpose (meaning in life)

The Exercise

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the eight dimensions, it’s time to explore them. This is a great way to explore all 8 dimensions and see which areas could use a little more dedication.

  1. On a sheet of paper, write down each key dimension. Use a separate sheet of paper for each dimension.

  2. On each paper, create two columns. One column should read “What I’m doing well”, while the other should read “What I would like to work on”.

  3. Fire away. Begin filling out these two columns. Limit yourself to four items for each column. Try to word your strengths and goals in a positive manner. For example, “I would like to create a nighttime routine for better sleep” versus “I need to get more sleep; I don’t sleep enough”.

  4. Re-read your responses. As you were reading your responses, did you feel like you were hard on yourself? On a separate sheet of paper, reflect on the process. Was it difficult? Were you able to think of four strengths and goals for each dimension?

  5. Make a plan to improve the “what I would like to work on” category. In this stage, goal setting is key. Choose one dimension and one thing you’d like to work on. Write a goal for ONE dimension. It’s more challenging to achieve our goals if we have several to choose from. Choose one and only one.

  6. Reflect. Isn’t it interesting when we sit down and evaluate ourselves? We’re often very hard on ourselves and easily find the negatives in ourselves versus the positives.

Why is this Important?

When I was working at a Mental Health Agency, I noticed that we were treating our client in one dimension: the physical. We often neglect to remember wellness is comprised of many facets. I did this exercise with several of my clients once I knew more dimensions existed. The response was astounding. What I learned from my clients is the inherent need to explore these dimensions to help overall mental health and self-esteem. Clients felt more accomplished and satisfied with their current life knowing that they were succeeding in other dimensions while they may be struggling in another. When we put these elements into perspective, we are often surprised with the outcome. We do not give ourselves enough credit for the great work we are doing. We should pat ourselves on the back more often!