WELLNESS

The 7 Dimensions of Wellness

Defining Wellness

When we think of wellness, it's not uncommon that the first thoughts that pop into our minds are based on physical health. Yes, eating a balanced diet, staying active throughout the week, and maintaining a specific weight are all incredibly important to wellness, but they're not the only goals to focus on. Physical health is only one of the seven dimensions of wellness.

The term wellness is often confused with words such as health, wellbeing, and happiness. But they're not interchangeable. While there are similarities and overlapping concepts between them, wellness isn't a static state. Wellness is more than just feeling happy, having good health, or being in a state of wellbeing. Wellness is more holistic. It's often defined as a continuous and active process of becoming aware of your habits, thoughts, and actions in order to make better choices2. Your self-awareness leads you to make more aligned decisions to optimize your health and wellbeing.

Wellness is a multidimensional, personal approach to finding a balance that allows you to live a fulfilled life based on your values, circumstances, and vision. Every one of us is different. It's important to find a balance between the dimensions that work for you.

The seven dimensions of wellness are: Physical, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational, financial and environmental.

The number of dimensions of wellness varies from organization, institution, and ways of thought.

Physical Dimension

The physical dimension helps maintain a healthy body, most notably through exercise, nutrition, and sleep. It recognizes the need to take care of your body to stay healthy for the present and future.

Examples of positive physical habits:

  • Exercise and maintain an active lifestyle
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Stay hydrated
  • Schedule regular check-ups with health professionals (i.e., doctors, dentists)
  • Limit or eliminate alcohol and tobacco use

Emotional Dimension

The emotional dimension of wellness is about understanding and appreciating yourself and others. It's accepting and exploring who you are while engaging with the world with curiosity. It includes the ability to process and express feelings and cope with life's challenges and stresses effectively.

Examples of positive emotional habits:

  • Accept yourself
  • Create healthy relationships (friends, family, partners)
  • Don't hide your feelings
  • Manage emotions constructively
  • Ask for help when you need it
  • Find strategies to manage stress
  • Take care of yourself
  • Attempt to have a positive outlook on life

Social Dimension

The social dimension of wellness involves connecting and interacting with people and contributing to our communities. It's all about maintaining healthy relationships to develop a sense of belonging. This dimension focuses on finding your support system.

Remember: It's great to care about others, but just as important to let others care about you too.

Examples of positive social habits:

  • Self-confidence
  • Create healthy relationships (friends, family, partners)
  • Don't hide your feelings
  • Manage emotions constructively
  • Ask for help when you need it
  • Find strategies to manage stress
  • Take care of yourself
  • Attempt to have a positive outlook on life

Spiritual Dimension

Spiritual wellness does not have to be found in religion (though fine if it is!). In short, spiritual wellness is what gives your life meaning. It's about finding your purpose, understanding your values, and creating a life that aligns with your beliefs.

Examples of positive spiritual habits:

  • Understand your personal set of values
  • Find peace in and with yourself
  • Feeling part of a larger community
  • Recognize that spirituality is a personal experience
  • Respect the values and beliefs of others

Vocational Dimension

Your career, mission, or purpose.

The vocational dimension of wellness focuses on enriching yourself by expanding your knowledge, challenging your mind, and sharing your skills and talents. For many, it's finding a career or a job that is personally meaningful and rewarding.

Examples of positive vocational habits:

  • Value lifelong learning
  • Cultivate a growth mindset
  • Contribute your skills, and talents
  • Seek out opportunities
  • Be open to new experiences
  • Ask questions
  • Set goals
  • Find a support system
  • Learn from failures

Financial Dimension

The financial dimension of wellness focuses on being aware of your financial situation and managing it. Everyone has different financial values and needs based on their own life circumstances. Being satisfied with your own and hitting your future financial goals along the way may help keep stress away.

Examples of positive financial habits:

  • Live within your means
  • Educate yourself on financial manners
  • Set realistic financial goals
  • Track your spending
  • Budget effectively
  • Open a savings account
  • Limit or eliminate overspending
  • Manage resources effectively

Environmental Dimension

The environmental dimension of wellness is about understanding how the natural environment and your built environments (including social) correlate and affect your overall health and wellbeing. It considers where you spend your time, how much of your time is spent there, and how it makes you feel (physically and emotionally).

Creating safe, supportive, and inclusive environments is key to finding balance in this wellness dimension. It's also important to be aware of how your environments shape your habits!

Examples of positive environmental habits:

  • Self-awareness
  • Understand how you feel in different environments
  • Occupy environments that support wellbeing
  • Be kind and respectful to others
  • Be aware of the impact of your decisions
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Spend time improving your environments

All seven of the wellness dimensions are needed to create a happy and fulfilled lifestyle. But the balance doesn't have to be perfect. It's more of a mix-and-match situation. The goal is to find which dimensions you need more or less of to create that personal sweet spot for you to flourish. It takes effort to reach it, but with the proper outlook, self-awareness, and commitment to the wellness framework, you can find success and fulfillment in your decisions.

Sources:

3. Stoewen, Debbie. (2017). Dimensions of wellness: Change your habits, change your life. Canadian Veterinary Journal. 58. 861-862.

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