What Are the 8 Dimensions of Wellness?

Medically reviewed by Mark Hrymoc, MD

What are the 8 dimensions of wellness?

Wellness is often mistaken for not being physically sick. Some think being unwell means having the flu, headaches, diabetes, cancer, or other conditions. However, the physical aspects are just one element of overall wellness. The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as the “active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to holistic health. 

In total, there are eight dimensions of wellness, sometimes referred to as the circle of wellness. Below are details of each dimension and how to improve them. You don’t need to try for complete balance in each area. Life doesn’t work that way. Focus on the areas needing the most attention.

1. Physical Wellness

Since this is the first area that most think of when it comes to wellness, starting with physical wellness makes sense. It refers to how you care for your physical self, your body. Think of the foods and drinks you consume. Do they promote good health, or are they an easy option when you are too tired to cook at home? Do you consume healthy portions or overindulge in foods and drinks that can harm the body?

How do you take care of yourself? Your answer should include the following:

  • Getting good sleep nightly
  • Practicing good hygiene
  • Eating nutritious foods
  • Being physically active

2. Emotional Wellness

Everyone encounters stressors at home, work, school, and socially. How well you handle the stressors shows whether you are emotionally well. Emotionally healthy people are resilient and can bounce back from hard times. Although everyone gets knocked down emotionally, some struggle more than others to get back up and keep fighting.

If emotional wellness is not a priority, you may see increased mental health symptoms. To improve emotional health, practice stress reduction daily. Listen to your body and mind; they will tell you which areas need attention most. 

If you feel more anxious or depressed, seek counseling from a mental health treatment center. Professionals can help you increase self-esteem, regulate emotions, and talk through challenging experiences to boost emotional wellness. Also, connect more with friends and family who make you laugh and have fun. 

3. Social Wellness

Think about the relationships in your life. How do you interact with others? The health of those relationships determines social wellness. If someone bullies you, calls you names, or abuses you, the social health of that relationship is poor. You do not benefit in any way from unhealthy relationships.

Social wellness consists of relationships that make both members feel good. You receive and can give respect, encouragement, and support despite your diversity, background, or other differences. Positive relationships make you want to connect at the community level, also, giving back when you can.

4. Occupational Wellness

You have talents and skills others don’t, and finding a career where you can utilize them is an integral part of occupational wellness. Finding a dream job is not always possible, but you can search for work that aligns with your abilities and what you enjoy. If you hate your job, start looking for something new. Search for one that matches your interests, skills, and desires for growth.

Another aspect of occupational wellness is finding a good balance between work and home life. If you spend more time on one than the other, you may create an unhealthy balance. Working with a mental health therapist to determine your career happiness and the possibility of trying something new is recommended.

5. Intellectual Wellness

Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate from high school or college. That time is a starting point for continued learning experiences that are creative, challenging, and stimulating. Intellectual wellness does not imply being smarter than others. It has more to do with your desire to keep learning to continue improving your knowledge base and skill set.

Tips for improving intellectual wellness include the following:

  • Learn new hobbies and skills
  • Attend conferences and workshops
  • Take online courses
  • Listen to podcasts by leaders in your industry
  • Share what you learn with others

6. Financial Wellness

You have a relationship with money, everyone does, and it can be healthy or unhealthy. Poor financial relationships consist of impulsive spending, being unaware of what is in your bank account, and owing money to credit cards with high-interest rates. Any of these will bring added stress to your life.

Being debt-free is the ultimate goal but not everyone can achieve that status, and that’s okay. Your goal for financial wellness is to control your finances and not the other way around. You want to gain financial skills that help you reach personal goals while living within your means and paying bills on time.

7. Environmental Wellness

What you encounter in your daily life affects your physical and mental health. Environmental wellness is based on all the spaces you occupy throughout your day. The environment also refers to the people and relationships that fill that space. If you wake up in a home with mold due to water leaks, you will experience negative physical and mental health symptoms. Other environmental factors can have the same effect, such as

  • Living in an abusive household
  • Living in a high-crime neighborhood
  • Working with co-workers with negative attitudes
  • Living around pollution containing heavy metals

Analyze your home, school, work, social, and community environments and make changes to the ones that aren’t beneficial.

8. Spiritual Wellness

Finding a purpose and feeling like you belong is part of spiritual wellness. Your ethics, morals, values, and beliefs help you find purpose and meaning, connect with others, and give back. Most importantly, it involves connecting with something greater than yourself and spending time in prayer, meditation, or reflection to help you improve overall wellness.

Start Your Wellness Journey

If you are ready to examine the eight dimensions of wellness in your life, reach out to a therapist at the Mental Health Center. They can help you understand which areas of your life are lacking and which are thriving. Then, they can help you create a plan to make improvements to give you better overall health.