Article by Christine Zellers, Assistant Professor/Educator Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, Department of Family and Community Health Sciences published February 22, 2023
Wellness is a word that is used in various ways in the United States, it may sometimes describe physical or mental health. However, wellness is a combination of balance in a person’s life that supports a healthy lifestyle and healthy habits in all areas of life. As early as 1947, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified wellness as “physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease”. Understanding the 8 dimensions of wellness and how they act to counterbalance one another can assist with attaining wellness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) identifies the 8 dimensions of wellness as physical, emotional, social, professional, intellectual, spiritual, environment and financial. Recognizing happiness in all these areas might not always be possible but striving to balance and seek mindful habits in these parts could greatly contribute to overall wellness.
Taking small steps toward each of the 8 areas of wellness will make them more achievable and less overwhelming. To create physical wellness, recognize the need for physical activity, quality sleep, and a nutrient dense diet. Rather than tackling all three of these areas at once, try to get more physical activity then think about adding nutritious eating and sleep. Concentrating on one item at a time can be less overwhelming and make it easier to achieve goals. Mental and emotional health much like physical health needs to be attended to when things are not quite right but also maintained when things are going well. Realizing personal strengths and using them in a positive way will reinforce emotional health. Social interaction will assist you in maintaining wellness, to do this keep in contact and socialize with supportive family, friends, and coworkers. Make at least one connection each day by calling, e-mailing, or visiting someone. Join a club, social group, or volunteer to be connected to something you enjoy for social interaction. When practicing wellness, professional satisfaction and enrichment from work and hobbies will create a sense of fulfillment. Make sure to take breaks like meal breaks or even a walk break to clear your head and help focus at work. If work isn’t giving you all that you want or if you don’t work, try a hobby that is rewarding. People generally know their intellectual abilities, expand on that, and learn new things to feel engaged. Reading or taking part in an activity that expands your mind can develop your intellect. Take time for spiritual practices and connections too. This may include religion, meditation, yoga, or another activity that creates a sense of spiritual connection. Practice being kind to others for spirituality and remember to be kind to yourself too! Environmental wellness can mean the environment itself but that is something that is very overreaching and hard to control. Conversely, our direct environment is something we can control therefore think of personal surroundings. Organize work and home spaces for a balanced personal environmental by reducing clutter. Make time to enjoy the outdoor environment regularly and notice the sound of birds or a cool breeze to assist with being in the present and calming the mind. Financial wellness means finding a sense of satisfaction from not only your current finances but future finances. Make sure to find ways to spend your money and budget creatively by setting financial goals.
The 8 dimensions of wellness are a framework for achieving personal satisfaction and overall wellness. If you feel unbalanced in one area, take time to focus on improving that area. For instance, if socially you feel isolated then take some time to expand social relationships for support. Being physically active has been shown to improve mental health and that can create a balance not only in the physical area but in the emotional area too. Keep these all 8 of these dimensions in mind to achieve personal wellness.