Dr. Sharman’s Musings

dimensions of wellness

Understanding the seven dimensions of wellness

When someone mentions “wellness”, what comes to mind?

For many, they think of wellness as simply one’s physical health. Most of my patients think about eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. While these are important, they are not the only aspects of wellness.

True wellness is a complex integration of components that all contribute to your total wellbeing. When one component is out of whack, it can affect how you feel both physically and mentally. Long-term, having a wellness component off-balance can impact your ability to thrive. As a chiropractic and wellness center, a holistic approach to wellness fits within our mission for our patients. The seven dimensions of “wellness” do a great job of articulating this approach – so let’s learn more about them.

Where the dimensions came from

The model of wellness was originally developed in 1976 by Dr. Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute in the US. Hettler’s model included six dimensions, with a seventh dimension (environmental) added by researchers later. Some models even include an eighth dimension, financial. Later, researchers embraced the idea of a “wellness wheel” for assessing your personal wellness. I actually filled one of these out in a workshop once.

Download your own Wellness Wheel

Seven dimensions of wellness defined

Here is a quick explanation for each dimension and some tips for what you can do to focus on that dimension of wellness.

Physical – encompassing all the behaviors to keep your body healthy….nutrition, rest, exercise but also abstaining from harmful habits and getting regular medical checkups

Some things you can do:

  • Get adequate sleep for a person of your age and feel rested the next day
  • Eat a varied, healthy diet including anti-inflammatory foods
  • Monitor and maintain a healthy weight for your age and height
  • Stay active and exercise frequently each week
  • Monitor health through regular doctor visits and proactively deal with any health issues

Emotional – being aware of and managing your emotions, maintaining a mostly positive view of yourself and others and feeling equipped to deal with life’s challenges

Some things you can do:

  • Both search out support for yourself and provide support to others
  • Gain perspective and manage your feelings during stressful times
  • Express your feelings honestly but appropriately
  • Seek the positive and find joy in everyday life
  • Be open to self-improvement and reflection

Spiritual – holding a guiding set of principles that provide a sense of purpose or direction to your life

Some things you can do:

  • Spend time alone to reflect, pray or meditate regularly
  • Seek an overall sense of peace and wellbeing
  • Listen with your heart and live by your principles
  • Allow yourself and others the freedom to be who they are
  • Forgive yourself and others and let bygones be bygones

Environmental – an awareness of your world, how you interact with it and your impact to it

Some things you can do:

  • Focus on what you can do to care for and show respect for the environment
  • Continually work towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle
  • Educate yourself on environmental issues so you can do more to impact them
  • Take on new ways to reduce, recycle and reuse
  • Connect with nature…and appreciate what it has to offer

Intellectual – using your mind, stimulating your brain, learning, being creative and actively seeking out new information daily

Some things you can do:

  • Pursue mentally stimulating interests or hobbies
  • Seek out people who challenge you and expand your thinking
  • Learn new things through reading, taking a course or participating in a workshop
  • Commit time to professional and self-development
  • Set intellectual goals for yourself

Occupational – making use of your skills and talents in a profession that provides satisfaction, rewards, purpose and happiness in your life

Some things you can do:

  • Explore a variety of career options until you find a good fit
  • Map out a career vision for yourself, setting goals along the way
  • Create a balance between work and other areas of your life
  • Be open to career changes and learning new skills
  • Seek a career that suits your personality as well as skills and talents

Social – having relationships that allow you to feel connected, developing intimacy and creating a support network of family and friends

Some things you can do:

  • Increase the amount of time you spend in social settings
  • Communicate your thoughts, feelings and ideas courageously
  • Get involved in activities that create social opportunities with people
  • Practice respect and cultivate new, healthy relationships
  • Join groups to create a sense of belonging and comradery

Final thoughts

Most of these dimensions interact with and even overlap with one another. Your job is to check in with yourself to assess how you are doing on each dimension from time to time. You won’t always be in balance across all seven – that’s ok! However, by reflecting on all dimensions, you’ll be able to identify ones that you need to give more attention to. Our wellness wheel should help.

So make true wellness your goal! Understanding these dimensions and monitoring your balance is the first step. As always, Dr. A, myself and the staff of Life Care Chiropractic and Wellness are here to help in whatever way we can.

Dr. Sharman

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