As my first self-guided ePort post for this class, I thought I should give an overview of what wellness really is. It seems like a simple concept to most, just working out and eating healthy, right? Contrary to the general belief, wellness is much more complex and is a quite interdisciplinary concept. In fact, the University of California Riverside outlines seven dimensions of wellness. There is social wellness, emotional wellness, spiritual wellness, environmental wellness, physical wellness, intellectual wellness, and occupational wellness. All of these aspects of our lives play a role in our wellness.
Social wellness encompasses our relationships with friends, family, etc. Humans are social creatures and need positive social interaction to thrive. Being able to connect with others is an important aspect of our wellness.
Emotional wellness focuses on our mental health, feelings, etc. Emotional intelligence helps us get through the ups and downs of life; we need to understand and find ways to deal with our emotions to find balance and happiness. Facing hardships in life is inevitable, so we need to develop skills to handle our emotions in order to achieve optimal wellness.
Spiritual wellness deals with our values and beliefs; it also helps us make meaning of our lives. This can be very different for different people. Personally I’m not religious, but I still have my own sort of spirituality and practices I follow to understand life and find peace and harmony within my own life. Other people might follow principles of an established religion to make meaning of their lives. No matter how you go about it, spiritual wellness is about finding peace, harmony, understanding and meaning in your life.
Environmental wellness can be a little more tricky to explain and might have a little bit of a different meaning to different people. For some, it might mean living in a space/area that feels like home or comforting to you. Things like candles/incense and having a clean room can literally improve your overall wellness. For others, it is more about connecting with the Earth and developing a positive relationship with it. This can include spending time in nature, or helping sustainability efforts. Our relationship with our surroundings is a piece of wellness we should keep in mind.
Occupational wellness has to do with our careers, jobs, etc. It is important to find a work-life balance while being able to support yourself/your family. If we’re overworked, we get overly stressed which can take a tole on our health. If we aren’t working, we may stress about getting the bills paid, or may even get stir-crazy and feel like we need something to do. It is also important to do work you find fulfilling. If you hate your job, you’re most likely going to be miserable, and will offset the balance of your wellness.
Intellectual wellness is about mental stimulation, creativity, learning, etc. Constantly learning new things, participating in creative activities, etc. can actually improve your wellness because you are exercising your brain. Intellectual stimulation is great for the human mind and overall wellness. We have insanely powerful brains… it’s important to use them!
Physical wellness is probably what you are most familiar with. Having optimal physical health helps us thrive not only in day to day activities but other things we might find interest in. It also keeps us healthy and prevents disease. Diet and exercise are without a doubt two of the most important aspects of our health, but they also improve our self-esteem, confidence, and overall happiness.
Overall, I think this basic overview is a key start to understanding what wellness really is and how it can be achieved. As this journey continues I will keep sharing healthy habits, tips, tricks, and some routines that work for me. Adopting a lifestyle that considers all aspects of wellness can improve your health and happiness. Plus… it feels good to treat yourself well.
“University of California, Riverside.” Wellness: Seven Dimensions of Wellness, wellness.ucr.edu/physical_wellness.html.