Wellness is defined as the condition of good physical, mental and emotional health, especially when maintained by an appropriate diet, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications. But more importantly, Wellness is a multi-dimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.
Wellness is not merely the absence of disease. It is not a passive or static state but rather a dynamic and conscious development of the whole self. Wellness is associated with intentions, choices, and actions leading toward an optimal state of well-being so that instead of surviving, you’re thriving. Wellness is commonly viewed as having seven dimensions: mental, physical, social, financial, spiritual, environmental, and vocational.
These dimensions are interdependent and influence each other. When one dimension of our well-being is out of balance, the other dimensions are affected. To strive for wellness is to take a proactive approach by learning how to be well in each dimension and taking action to build wellness-affirming habits, routines, and coping strategies.
People often think about wellness in terms of physical health — nutrition, exercise, weight management, etc., but it is so much more. Wellness is a holistic integration of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, fueling the body, engaging the mind, and nurturing the spirit. Although it always includes striving for health, it’s more about living life fully, and is “a lifestyle and a personalized approach to living life in a way that… allows you to become the best kind of person that your potentials, circumstances, and fate will allow”.
Wellness necessitates good self-stewardship, for us and for those we care about and who care about us. For those in the helping professions, such as us in veterinary medicine, wellness is a professional as well as personal responsibility. To ensure high-quality patient and client services, we have an ethical obligation to attend to our own health and well-being.
Wellness encompasses 7 mutually interdependent dimensions: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational, financial, and environmental. Attention must be given to all the dimensions, as neglect of any one over time will adversely affect the others, and ultimately one’s health, well-being, and quality of life. However, they do not have to be equally balanced. We should aim, instead, to strive for a “personal harmony” that feels most authentic to us. We naturally have our own priorities, approaches, and aspirations, including our own views of what it means to live life fully.
Making the right choices for health and well-being can be challenging. Although we know what is good for us and how we can do — and be — better, we may not act on it, or if we do, we may, in due course, slide back to familiar ways. Human behavior — what we do, how we do it, and whether we will succeed — is influenced by many factors, 2 of which are of relevance when it comes to wellness: self-regulation and habits.
Be warned though: Wellness is not a destination. There is no end point. Once you begin seeking out ways to be well. It will only be the first step to what hopefully will become a lifestyle of healthy exploration and happy longevity!
Now that you have a glimpse into overall total wellness, let’s look at the seven dimensions. The first is the physical dimension.
This dimension is Caring for your body to stay healthy now and in the future
Physical wellness encompasses a variety of healthy behaviors including adequate exercise, proper nutrition and abstaining from harmful habits such as drug use and alcohol abuse. It means learning about and identifying symptoms of disease, getting regular medical checkups, and protecting yourself from injuries and harm. Developing such healthy habits today will not only add years to your life but will enhance the enjoyment and quality of those years.
The second dimension is the emotional dimension.
This dimension is Understanding and respecting your feelings, values, and attitudes, Appreciating the feelings of others, managing your emotions in a constructive way, Feeling positive and enthusiastic about your life
Emotional wellness is a dynamic state that fluctuates frequently with your other six dimensions of wellness. Being emotionally well is typically defined as possessing the ability to feel and express human emotions such as happiness, sadness, and anger. It means having the ability to love and be loved and achieving a sense of fulfillment in life. Emotional wellness encompasses optimism, self-esteem, self-acceptance, and the ability to share feelings.
The third dimension is the intellectual dimension.
This dimension of Growing intellectually, maintaining curiosity about all there is to learn, valuing lifelong learning, and responding positively to intellectual challenges and Expanding knowledge and skills while discovering the potential for sharing your gifts with others
The intellectual dimension encourages creative, stimulating mental activities. Our minds need to be continually inspired and exercised just as our bodies do. People who possess a high level of intellectual wellness have an active mind and continue to learn. An intellectually well person uses the resources available to expand one’s knowledge and improve skills. Keeping up to date on current events and participating in activities that arouse our minds are also important.
The fourth dimension is the spiritual dimension.
This dimension is about Finding purpose, value, and meaning in your life with or without organized religion and participating in activities that are consistent with your beliefs and values
Spiritual wellness involves possessing a set of guiding beliefs, principles, or values that help give direction to one’s life. It encompasses a high level of faith, hope and commitment to your individual beliefs that provide a sense of meaning and purpose. It is willingness to seek meaning and purpose in human existence, to question everything and to appreciate the things which cannot be readily explained or understood.
A spiritually well person seeks harmony between what lies within as well as the forces outside.
The fifth dimension is the environmental dimension
This dimension is about Understanding how your social, natural, and built environments affect your health and well-being, Being aware of the unstable state of the earth and the effects of your daily habits on the physical environment and Demonstrating commitment to a healthy planet
Environmental wellness is an awareness of the unstable state of the earth and the effects of your daily habits on the physical environment. It consists of maintaining a way of life that maximizes harmony with the earth and minimizes harm to the environment. It includes being involved in socially responsible activities to protect the environment.
The sixth dimension is social dimension.
This dimension is about Maintaining healthy relationships, enjoying being with others, developing friendships and intimate relations, caring about others, and letting others care about you and Contributing to your community
Social wellness refers to our ability to interact successfully in our global community and to live up to the expectations and demands of our personal roles. This means learning good communication skills, developing intimacy with others, and creating a support network of friends and family members.
Social wellness includes showing respect for others and yourself. Contributing to your community and to the world builds a sense of belonging.
And the seventh dimension is the occupational dimension.
This dimension is about Preparing for and participating in work that provides personal satisfaction and life enrichment that is consistent with your values, goals, and lifestyle, and contributing your unique gifts, skills, and talents to work that is personally meaningful and rewarding
Occupational/Vocational wellness involves preparing and making use of your gifts, skills, and talents to gain purpose, happiness, and enrichment in your life. The development of occupational satisfaction and wellness is related to your attitude about your work. Achieving optimal occupational wellness allows you to maintain a positive attitude and experience satisfaction/pleasure in your employment. Occupational wellness means successfully integrating a commitment to your occupation into a total lifestyle that is satisfying and rewarding.
Now you have an overview of each of the dimensions. I will add that some include financial wellness with occupational because some feel having balance with finances balances the fears of missing out and the wants and needs of life. I personally don’t include financial wellness because that is between your soul and human desires, financial wellness is something I achieved when I bought my home, my car, and other tangible belongings. This doesn’t define my happiness so I will only touch on this 8th dimension at the end of the season for those who seek a connection with this dimension.