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Wellness can mean different things to different people. For some, wellness is all about fitness goals—how fast to run, how strong to become, how far to bike. For others, physical activity alone does not reflect wellness unless it’s balanced by spiritual or emotional health.
In truth, many factors determine the state of our overall wellness. Our environment, social connections, what we eat, and how we spend our time all influence how healthy (or unhealthy) we are. You could say the quality of our wellness depends on the “whole” of our wellbeing.
One thing remains true for everyone: wellness is a conscious choice. Each individual must decide how and what elements to balance in order to achieve her own personal and optimum wellness.
To help you focus on the best wellness elements for your life, the nonprofit National Wellness Institute has identified six dimensions of wellness.* First formulated in 1976 by Dr. Bill Hettler, the six dimensions are interconnected to help create a well-rounded and overall healthier lifestyle.
•Physical Dimension. Exercise and eating well have become synonymous with wellness, and indeed they are vital to good health. The need for regular physical activity and the commitment to make sound nutrition choices are foundational to your wellness path.
•Emotional Dimension. Accepting one’s own feelings as well as the feelings of others is also vital to wellness. Emotional wellness includes the ability to cope with stress, maintain optimism, and develop independence and autonomy while balancing and enjoying satisfying relationships.
•Occupational Dimension. Deep personal satisfaction and enrichment can come from professional pursuits. When you take part in rewarding work that lets you use your unique skills and talents to make a positive contribution, you achieve occupational wellness.
•Social Dimension. Contributing to one’s environment and community are important wellness factors, too. Working to make the world a better, healthier place is reflected in this dimension. So is fostering positive relationships that result in positive health benefits. Recognizing the interdependence between others and nature and striving to live in harmony helps create social wellness.
•Intellectual Dimension. Participating in creative and stimulating mental activities can be just as critical to wellness as taking part in physical activities. Expand your knowledge, challenge your curiosity and tackle problem solving to develop and sustain your intellectual wellness.
•Spiritual Dimension. The search for meaning in life and finding purpose helps to establish a personal value system that can support your spiritual wellness. When you are spiritually well, you maintain inner peacefulness despite life’s disappointments and difficulties. You live each day in a way that is consistent with your values and beliefs while being tolerant of the beliefs of others.
As you aspire to each of the dimensions of wellness, keep this essential principle in mind: Wellness is a process, one that requires lovingly accepting yourself while you’re on the journey! Here’s to your wellness!
*National Wellness Institute.