What is wellness? It’s a concept that changes how we think about and approach health. Many people and treatment programs view health and well-being as the management of disease. While this approach can be useful in removing harmful behaviors and treating illness, it doesn’t provide a framework for wellness once the initial issues have been resolved.
Embracing wellness means shifting your mindset to prevention and employing proactive strategies to thrive, rather than just survive. Wellness is a conscious and self-directed process with the goal of achieving your full potential. It can be broken down into seven dimensions, all of which overlap and interact in everyday life. What are the seven dimensions of wellness? Familiarizing yourself with each dimension and working to bring them all together will empower you to live your life to the fullest.
The 7 Dimensions of Wellness are:
- Social Wellness
- Emotional Wellness
- Spiritual Wellness
- Environmental Wellness
- Occupational Wellness
- Intellucutaional Wellness
- Physical Wellness
1. What Is Social Wellness?
Humans are by nature a social species. Our social needs are just as essential as biological needs from a wellness perspective. Our need for a sense of personal significance comes in large part from our place in social and support networks. When we participate in and feel we belong to a social system, we become more resilient. That socially-derived resilience can completely change the way we react to disappointment, loss and other negative situations that come our way. The definition of social wellness is the ability to do these three things within a community:
- Communicate: A strong social community shares information, thoughts and feelings to build support for all its members. Whether you’re a fan of long heart-to-hearts or just appreciate a thoughtful text every now and then, communication is key to social wellness.
- Contribute: Social systems offer the chance to contribute to a community, and the ability to recognize the contributions of other members. This give-and-take relationship strengthens bonds and solidifies your sense of support.
- Connect: Perhaps the most important element of social wellness is the ability to forge strong connections with others based on shared experiences and goals.
There are multiple levels on which social wellness impacts your life. There’s your immediate and extended family, good friends and new acquaintances, and the social element at your workplace. Keeping all these social circles in balance is a key part of social wellness, but it’s not always easy to juggle.
Keeping your social wellness in focus often means setting aside time to check in with friends and family, and maximizing the quality time you spend with them. It often feels like everything in life is specifically designed to make human connection harder. Everything from constant screen time to busy schedules can set limits on the quantity of your social experiences, but making social wellness a priority helps ensure the quality of your relationships doesn’t suffer.
2. What Is Emotional Wellness?
The definition of emotional wellness is the ability to be aware of and manage your emotions. It also means you have a realistic view of yourself and your circumstances. An emotionally strong individual is equipped and confident to deal with the unpredictability and stressors in life without feeling overwhelmed or helpless. Stress — both chronic and acute — is one big red flag that your emotional state needs some attention.
This dimension of wellness is often the one the general population struggles with most. About 44 percent of adults in the United States report frequently feeling stressed. Four in 10 adults say they don’t have enough time to do everything they want in a day, and the majority of people probably don’t consider emotional wellness something they need to work on anyway.
Every event that occurs in your life is passed through the lens of your feelings. If you’re emotionally unbalanced and stressed, life begins to feel darker and more hopeless than it actually is. Here are three tips for maintaining your emotional wellness:
- Practice optimism: This doesn’t mean forcing yourself to put on a happy face — it just means shifting your view and perspective of your circumstances. Negative situations happen and negative feelings arise, but they don’t define you, and they are not permanent.
- Practice mindfulness: It’s easy to get swept away in a tide of negative emotions and stress. Mindfulness helps you zero in on what’s happening right now rather than worrying about the future or getting absorbed by the past.
- Practice reframing: Powerful negative emotions are often influenced by your perspective. If you’re feeling socially anxious about interacting with a bunch of new people at a party, you might instead pivot to thinking about how you’ll see your best friend there and get to eat some killer appetizers.
Emotional health touches every aspect of your life, and actively cultivating emotional wellness is essential to a healthy lifestyle.
3. What Is Spiritual Wellness?
Spirituality regards the internal life we lead, as opposed to the life we live through work, recreation and socialization. Many people conflate spirituality with religion. While the two concepts are intrinsically linked for some, spirituality does not have to have a religious component. The definition of spiritual wellness concerns your ability to find meaning in life and your personal values. Here are some of the most common ways people address their spiritual wellness:
- Connection with nature
- Religious affiliation
- Yoga and Tai-Chi
Spiritual wellness is closely related to emotional wellness. It involves aligning the mind and body with your purpose in life. Any activity that promotes alignment and brings your purpose into clearer focus will help develop your spiritual wellness.
4. What Is Environmental Wellness?
Our relationship to the world around us informs our environmental wellness. It is an understanding that everything we do as humans impacts the quality of our surroundings and the health of our planet. Environmental wellness empowers you to make decisions that have a positive impact on the world around you. Some of the hallmarks of environmental wellness are:
- Awareness of Earth’s limited natural resources
- Conservation of energy
- Recycling where possible
- Enjoying and appreciating time spent outdoors
Educating yourself and taking small steps to reduce your environmental impact helps you develop a sense of your place in the world. Things like shutting off lights that aren’t in use, snipping six-pack rings and not leaving the tap running while washing dishes are all ways to build your environmental wellness. The definition of environmental wellness is bringing yourself into better alignment with the needs of the environment, and it’s a crucial part of overall well-being.
5. What Is Occupational Wellness?
Work is a central part of most people’s lives, and an astonishing portion of them do not love their positions. About 53 percent of Americans report being unhappy at work. We can’t all land our dream jobs, but there are specific actions and attitudes anyone can adopt to improve their occupational wellness:
- Create connections: You don’t need to be best friends with your coworkers, but it’s wise to recognize that you’re going to spend about a third of your work week with these people. Building rapport with coworkers enhances your sense of belonging at work, which is critical to occupational wellness.
- Build your skills: It’s easy to start stagnating in your work, especially if you don’t feel like you’re getting enough recognition. Reframing your focus to building skills rather than gaining recognition helps develop a sense of pride in your work.
- Engage your learning style: Everyone learns in different ways, and if you’re not feeling motivated to learn and grow in your position, it may be due to an ineffective form of teaching. Take the time to investigate what learning methods are most effective for you, and see how you can implement them into learning experiences at work.
The definition of occupational wellness is doing what you can to make your job more fulfilling and less stressful. It can be tough to take the initiative and change how you think about certain aspects of your job, but the payoff is worth it. Signs of occupational wellness include:
- More consistent engagement and motivation
- Better work-life balance
- Improved relationships with coworkers
Even if you’re not in love with your job, viewing your work through the lens of occupational wellness will still improve your experience and teach you to find fulfillment in at least some aspects of your work.
6. What Is Intellectual Wellness?
The definition of intellectual wellness is pursuing the cultivation of your mental and cognitive resources. In other words, being intellectually well means feeding your mind and sense of creativity. It can often feel like you have no extra time to put on your scholar or artist’s hat, especially if you are just getting started in Recovery. However, maintaining intellectual wellness is a critical component of re-training your brain for sobriety. Here are three things you can do to support your intellectual health:
- Read: Reading is one of the easiest ways to keep mentally fit. Your brain works much like a muscle, and reading helps to train it. Picking up a good story or non-fiction book can even reduce your stress by around 68 percent.
- Explore: Our minds crave a change of scenery quite frequently. Interacting with the world around you can stimulate your mind and improve your sense of curiosity. Take a walk somewhere new or take the long way home sometimes. Giving your mind some refreshing new stimuli to chew on helps it stay healthy.
- Create: Even people who insist they’re not creative usually have some instinct to create. Whether it’s building a birdhouse or designing a plan to keep better track of your mental states, creativity can expand your intellectual horizons by a significant margin.
Maintaining intellectual wellness doesn’t necessarily mean becoming an expert in a whole new field or creating masterpieces regularly. It just requires a little effort and willingness to build a love of learning over time. If you ever get stuck in a mental rut, picking up a new hobby can re-start your intellectual engine.
When possible, engaging in mental pursuits in a social setting can increase the impact of the activity. Things like learning a new language with a friend, or even just discussing a recent book or podcast every now and again, are all good ways to pepper intellectual wellness into your everyday life.
7. What Is Physical Wellness?
This is the dimension of wellness almost everyone is familiar with. The definition of physical wellness refers to the body’s ability to function well and participate in a variety of activities without becoming too fatigued. Physical wellness is a central part of addiction Recovery because addiction comes with damaging physical effects. Physical wellness is one of the easiest to grasp and find resources for. These three elements form the core of physical wellness:
- Exercise: Just over 53 percent of adults over 18 meet the benchmarks for physical activity guidelines, according to the CDC. Exercise is known to increase energy levels, maintain brain health and keep your heart in top shape. Physical activity has psychological benefits too, with people who exercise reporting less depression.
- Nutrition: For your body to function at its full potential, you need to feed it a balanced diet. Consuming adequate amounts of protein, fiber and vitamins is essential to keeping your body and mind healthy.
- Sleep: Americans have a troubled relationship with sleep. More than a third of adults don’t get enough sleep, and it translates to issues like heart disease, diabetes and mental health problems. Your body needs adequate sleep to perform well.
Integrating healthy habits into your everyday life can take significant motivation. If you try to implement many physical wellness strategies all at once, you’re more likely to give up. Promoting your own physical wellness means consistently adding healthy habits to your life.
Want to get more exercise but hate the gym? You can try going on hikes or long walks instead. If you’re trying to improve your diet, start by planning one or two meals per week around your nutritional goals. Sleep is often the most elusive element of physical wellness. You may not be able to snap your fingers and drift away on command, but you can set up your environment and schedule to better facilitate sleep. For example, avoid bright lights, screen time and eating for at least an hour before bed each night.
The 7 Dimensions at 7 Summit Pathways
Each dimension of wellness exists in relation to the others. If your physical wellness is suffering, you may find your emotional wellness in decline as well. It works the other way around, too — if you are maintaining your emotional wellness effectively, you’re likely to see improvements in the intellectual and occupational dimensions.
At 7 Summit Pathways, we understand that all seven dimensions of wellness are interconnected — and we base our treatment on this fact. By combining evidence-based medical treatment with a suite of individualized holistic therapies, we treat the whole person. Our 5-to-1 care model ensures that each individual receives personalized care and access to plenty of examples of the seven dimensions of wellness.
If you’re ready to learn more about the seven dimensions of wellness and how our treatment programs encompass them, reach out to 7 Summit Pathways via our contact form or call us at (800) 719-8115. We’re prepared to answer all your questions and help you reach the peak of your wellness potential.