The Eight Dimensions of Wellness

Be Well. Do Well.

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Good health and wellness are critical to being successful during your college years and beyond. Wellness means overall well-being and there are eight dimensions of wellness to consider. Incorporating aspects of the eight dimensions of wellness daily, such as eating healthy foods, forming strong relationships, exercising often, and getting enough sleep can give you the capacity to excel at Oberlin. 

The eight dimensions of wellness are also intricately linked; for instance, good physical wellness improves emotional wellness. Poor financial wellness can have a negative impact on many of the other dimensions. It’s important to be intentional in addressing all of the dimensions and not to prioritize one over another.

The Eight Dimensions of Wellness are adapted in part from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Emotional wellness is the ability to cope effectively with life and build satisfying relationships with others. People with healthy emotional wellness feel confident, in control of their feelings and behaviors, and are able to handle life challenges.

Working through life's challenges can build resiliency as we learn that setbacks can be overcome. Emotional health can be maintained or improved by engaging in regular leisure and recreational activities.

Participate in activities that involve each of your senses; smell, taste, touch, sight, and sound. Listen to music, try different foods, watch movies, and enjoy time outdoors.

Environmental wellness is related to the surroundings you occupy. This dimension of health connects your overall well-being to the health of your environment. Your environment—both your social and natural surroundings—can greatly impact how you feel.

It can be hard to feel good if you are surrounded by clutter and disorganization, or if you feel uncomfortable in your environment. Pollution, violence, garbage buildup, and water conservation are some of the factors affecting environmental wellness.

Some ways to manage environmental wellness include creating neighborhood watches, recycling, planting a personal or community garden, purchasing products with minimal packaging, avoiding littering, and conserving energy and water by turning off lights and faucets when not in use.

Financial wellness is a feeling of satisfaction about your financial situation. Finances are a common stressor for people, so being able to minimize worry about this aspect of your life can enhance your overall wellness.

Options for managing financial wellness include having a household budget, starting a savings account and adding to it every month, saving some of your income in an emergency account, cutting back or limiting unnecessary expenses, avoiding credit card debt, shopping at thrift stores, using the library for free books and movies, and cooking your own meals instead of dining out.

Try tracking your spending for a month to see where your money is going and to set goals based on what you find.

Intellectual wellness is when you recognize your unique talents to be creative and you seek out ways to use your knowledge and skills. When you foster your intellectual wellness, you participate in activities that cultivate personal growth.

Reading, doing challenging puzzles such as crosswords or Sudoku, debating issues with others who have opposing viewpoints, learning a new language or musical instrument, trying a new hobby, or teaching and tutoring others are all ways to maintain or improve your intellectual wellness.

When you challenge yourself to learn a new skill, you are building your intellectual wellness. People who pay attention to their intellectual wellness often find that they have better concentration, improved memory, and better critical thinking skills.

Occupational wellness is a sense of satisfaction with your choice of employment. It involves balancing work and leisure time, building relationships with coworkers, and managing workplace stress.

An occupational wellness goal might include finding work that is meaningful and financially rewarding. Finding work that fits with your values, interests, and skills can help maintain occupational wellness.

Consider your office culture and determine how supported you feel; if you discover you feel a lack of support, seek out support from others close to you and be sure to engage in recreational activities that help balance out work stress.

Physical wellness is affected by physical activity, healthy nutrition, and adequate sleep. There are many examples of physical activity that range in levels of intensity from light to vigorous.

Maintaining your physical health can include yoga, bike riding, jumping rope, engaging in sports, running, walking, jogging, skiing, dancing, and gardening.

Many people use alcohol or drugs as a coping tool. Unfortunately, this method of coping can lead to a number of physical health problems, including heart disease and cancer, and can increase one’s chances of premature death.

Social wellness is a sense of feeling connected and belonging. The social dimension of wellness involves creating and maintaining a healthy support network.

Building a healthy social dimension might involve the following:

  • Asking a colleague or acquaintance out to lunch
  • Joining a club or organization
  • Setting healthy boundaries
  • Using good communication skills that are assertive rather than passive aggressive
  • Being genuine and authentic with others, and
  • Treating others with respect

Spiritual wellness is related to your values and beliefs that help you find meaning and purpose in your life. Spiritual wellness may come from activities such as volunteering, self-reflection, meditation, prayer, or spending time in nature.

Signs of strong spiritual wellness include having clear values, a sense of self-confidence, and a feeling of inner peace.

To improve your spiritual wellness, it can help to create a quiet space for solitude and contemplation or a place of curiosity and playfulness. Maintaining a playful, curious attitude can help you find experiences that offer hope, purpose, and meaning.