Being well means more than just having a temperature of 98.6 degrees F or the absence of fevers, chills, coughs or sniffles. Being well is a total body effort – all of our body’s systems work together, so it makes sense that they all have to be in sync for us to achieve wellness – from our emotions to our brain to our muscles.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that six of every 10 adults have a chronic disease in the United States and four in 10 adults suffer at least two or more diseases.
While these statistics are less than thrilling, we can take our health into our own hands.
If we have a chronic illness or just experience a general malaise on a daily basis, understanding the dimensions of wellness can help chart a mindful approach to a healthy lifestyle.
Wellness and Wellbeing
The term ‘wellness’ has taken on various meanings in recent years, and in some cases been co-opted by marketers of herbal supplements and various other products.
Due to this, we often prefer to use ‘well-being’ instead. However, in this context, ‘wellness’ is the more accepted term, and we find defining that beginning with a definition should prevent any a misunderstandings.
Wellness means making daily decisions and adopting a pattern of behavior that leads to overall better health and satisfying life.
Here, now, are the eight dimensions of wellness and how to take charge of your own health.
The Eight Dimensions of Wellness
A quick question:
What do you think of when you think about being healthy? The physical aspects of health –
- healthy eating,
- taking proper medications,
- going for a walk daily,
- you get the idea.
But wellness is so beyond that.
It means looking at
- your mind,
- your body,
- your heart, even
- your job.
Parts of the body work together to keep us humming along.
- amino acids
all working together so the big stuff – read systems throughout the body – can function properly.
And just as different parts of the body can affect physical health, what happens at work also can affect us
- emotionally, and
A typical workweek in the United States is 40 hours.
Demanding jobs can expand the workweek to between 60 and 100 hours.
All this means that if you’re sleeping a healthy seven hours a night, you’re spending nearly half of your day at work, not including the commute to and from your job.
With that much time devoted to your work routine, you should consider the aspect of “occupational health.”
Occupational health means finding personal satisfaction and enrichment through what you do.
It means you don’t just clock in and clock out and wait for the day to be done.
Instead, you seek to find purpose in your work – such as looking for opportunities to grow professionally.
Thus, your purpose begins with a little self-evaluation.
Examine your gifts, skills and talents.
- What can you bring to the table?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Where can you improve?
While examining the asset side of the self-evaluation ledger, take time to look at your weaknesses, then seek out opportunities to strengthen those occupational areas.
When you learn new occupational skills, your work becomes more meaningful, and you can begin to find fulfillment in that eight hours a day.
You’ll no longer wake up dreading the workday and dreaming of the weekend.
Instead, you jump out of bed, ready to tackle the challenge in front of you as you seek to grow.
What Occupational Wellness Looks Like?
When you are occupationally well, you take time to plan.
You create a vision for your career goals or you take a day to evaluate your career goals.
You discuss your talents and desires with an adviser or mentor, someone who can help you better align what you love to do with what you currently do.
With growing rates of anxiety in the United States, doctors and scientists have begun to focus more on mental health in recent years.
Specific and purposeful steps will improve your mental health and reduce anxiety overall.
Intellectual wellness is a subcategory of mental health.
Mental health, as a whole, consists of both the emotional and intellectual parts of the brain.
If you can stimulate intellectual wellness, you will see your mental health improve overall.
As one of the eight dimensions of wellness, intellectual health matters because we’re keeping our brains active, staving off dementia and brain fog (a typical occurrence during perimenopause) by exercising neurons.
Intellectual health means purposefully engaging in mental activities to fire those neurons by purposefully grow your brain cells using newly found information.
Sometimes intellectual wellness means having a creative and curious mind – you want to learn new things.
But remember, learning usually does not come easily or naturally.
It takes work, time and practice.
But with a mindset focused on growth – the belief in an ability to master a new skill regardless of age – you can learn new things and gain intellectual wellness.
Being intellectually fit also means being able to hone decision-making skills by taking time to think critically about life and issues.
What Does Intellectual Wellness Look Like?
Being intellectually well means staying current and aware of what’s going on around you.
Intellectual wellness also means asking questions if you don’t understand an idea or issue.
In other words, you’re focusing on becoming a lifelong learner.
People who are intellectually well tend to listen and read more than they talk because they’re constantly trying to learn a new skill or entertain a different point of view.
Why not seek out an activity that would stimulate your mind while learning something new, such as trying out a new hobby or reading a book outside of your comfort zone.
Usually, when people think about wellness, they tap into physical wellness.
Yet this is the one area that Americans struggle with the most.
Automation is removing even the simplest tasks that gave us exercise in the past.
So, what can you do to improve your physical wellness? Start by committing to 30 minutes of exercise. Daily.
Don’t have a daily regimen? A 30-minute daily walk will do you wonders.
Complementing exercise is diet. Focus on consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
When you eat this many fruits and vegetables, you likely won’t have room for the less healthy options that might regularly grace your plate.
Physical wellness means not only regularly exercising but also regularly eating.
When you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner regularly at roughly the same time, you maintain a steady blood sugar and energy level, and you boost your metabolic rate.
Physical wellness also means limiting alcohol intake and eliminating non-medically necessary drug use.
If you have difficulty in either of these areas, seek help through groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, your healthcare provider or your place of worship.
Input also includes the amount of shuteye you snag each night.
Focus on good sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning.
Make sure you have at least six to eight hours of sleep a night.
What Physical Wellness Looks Like
When you’re physically healthy, your day may seem a little boring and regular, but you feel so good that you just don’t care because you have a routine.
You wake up at approximately the same time every day, and you exercise every day.
You eat fresh, healthy foods at every meal.
Then you go to bed at the same time every day.
You also try to make regular appointments to check in with your healthcare provider either through or a telehealth program or in person if necessary, and you use technology to keep your health in check.
For example, if you’re in the stage of life where you’re beginning to experience perimenopausal symptoms, you can download a symptom tracing app – such as the mySysters app – that helps you stay on top of your symptoms.
Using an app to track perimenopausal symptoms can make your life easier.
As a bonus, you also won’t feel like you’re losing control completely because you’ll be looking at hard data that confirms your symptoms.
Social wellness means being aware of your surroundings – especially important during this time of social distancing and self-isolation – and interacting with people in social situations in a healthy manner.
To garner social wellness, focus on learning effective communication skills.
When you do this, you develop safe intimacy with people by knowing how much to share and when to share it.
As a result, your relationships strengthen and your experience personal growth as well.
You also begin to connect and contribute to your community.
You discover your social role and live up to the expectations of that role.
Your social wellness also can help you create a healthy support network with friends, colleagues and family members.
When you’re socially well, you show respect for yourself and others, and you have this sense of belonging to a group of people.
What Social Wellness Looks Like
Someone who is socially well intentionally seeks others out.
Even if you’re an introvert, you can still be socially well once you learn how to be involved.
People who are socially well contribute meaningfully to their community.
Those who are socially well also have a keen understanding of who they can trust and who their best friends are.
They also follow their instincts and walk away from unhealthy relationships.
Social wellness also has a sense of balance and restraint.
Those who are socially well understand their social life cannot take over other aspects of the wellness dimensions.
Emotional wellness and physical wellness combine to make up mental health.
Emotional wellness means you are aware of your feelings and conditions, and you accept those feelings and conditions.
When you’re emotionally well, coping with unhealthy emotions could be easier as can expressing your emotions in a healthier way.
Some experts say they think technology played a key part in the downward turn of emotional wellness.
When you’re emotionally well, you understand how to use technology responsibly – and not spending hours on end online, going down rabbit holes of lines of thought.
Also, following basic safety tips while online or otherwise using technology can help you in your quest for emotional wellness. (Hint: You don’t have to worry about your tech footprint or infecting your device.)
What Emotional Wellness Looks Like
Here are some tips for achieving emotional wellness.
Practice stress management techniques.
Try a five-minute meditation where you guide your brain to focus on just one thing. But remember, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or sad for a length of time, please see a healthcare provider.
Emotional wellness ties in with social wellness in that you have a circle of trusted people to whom you can reach out if you feel overwhelmed.
The eight dimensions of wellness are interwoven, so when you build up one dimension, you’re contributing to the development of others.
When you search for meaning and purpose in your life, you’re developing your spiritual wellness.
Those who are spiritually well will have a set of beliefs, principles or values they use as a reference point for their decisions and perspectives.
Spiritual wellness also means recognizing that some things in this world simply defy understanding even as you seek to appreciate the things that you do understand.
For example, you look at art, nature, music and religion, and note that while you may not fully understand aspects of art or literature or religion, you can appreciate them.
What Spiritual Wellness Looks Like
To garner spiritual wellness, start with finding a quiet place to spend time every day.
Spending just five minutes a day contemplating the meaning of your life will build up your spiritual wellness.
If you have a religion, then embrace it and practice it.
By the same token, if you’re not finding satisfaction with your religious community, consider other churches or religious denominations if you wish to search for a new spiritual home.
Commune with nature.
Take a nature walk.
When you explore nature, you begin to see the things you cannot control, and you appreciate them.
When you enjoy life by spending time in a pleasant and stimulating environment, you build up environmental wellness.
When you recognize how your actions affect nature, then take action to protect your environment, you’re contributing to your environmental wellness.
What Environmental Wellness Looks Like
Environmental wellness does not have to involve picket signs and demonstrations calling for change.
See a piece of trash on the ground? Pick it up.
You’re contributing to your environmental wellness.
You’re also contributing to this segment of the eight dimensions of wellness when you simply are aware of the earth’s limited resources and you use them purposefully.
When you do not let the water run while you’re brushing your teeth or when you use a reusable water bottle rather than a plastic one, you’re practicing environmental wellness.
Multicultural awareness means you understand your own cultural background and you seek to understand others’ cultural backgrounds as well.
‘Culture’ is a general term that encompasses everything from folk traditions to storytelling to ethnic foods to religious holidays.
When you’re sensitive to your neighbors’ cultural celebrations or participate in a multicultural day in the community, you’re practicing multicultural wellness.
What Multicultural Wellness Looks Like
To garner multicultural wellness, reach out.
Check your community calendar to get an idea about what’s available – libraries, community centers, cultural centers often offer culture-centric events for free or low cost.
Participate (when possible) in an online discussion about topics that aren’t geared to your culture specifically.
Another way to improve your multicultural wellness is to consider joining a club or discussion group focused on promoting multiculturalism.
In this age of social distancing, members can exchange views via teleconferencing, emailing materials to be discussed beforehand.
If you have neighbors with a different culture than yours, take some time to get to know them and learn about their lives and customs.
Stay Aware, Be Well
Understanding the eight dimensions of wellness will help to make you a fully healthy person.
Your total wellness relies on more than a single walk every day; it means being aware of your surroundings and seeking to learn about them and stimulate your whole being in the process.
mySysters is a free app for perimenopause and menopause. Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day named mySysters the Best App for Women in Perimenopause and a Must Have App for Women.