6 Dimensions of Wellness: How to Balance Your Life 

6 Dimensions of Wellness, woman meditating, flourish with nichole

What are the 6 Dimensions of Wellness?

 

The 6 Dimensions of Wellness are:

  1. Physical 
  2. Social
  3. Environmental
  4. Intellectual
  5. Emotional
  6. Spiritual

The 6 Dimensions of Wellness is a holistic way to look at health and wellness. To reach optimal health and life balance we need to spend time and energy moving forward in each dimension. 

This wellness model was developed by Dr. Bill Hettler of the National Wellness Institute (NWI) in 1976. NWI states that “By applying the model, a person becomes aware of the interconnectedness of each dimension and how they contribute to healthy living.”

Let’s get started by taking a look at each dimension and what you can do to optimize that area of your life.

Balance and optimal wellness really are obtainable goals!

Physical Dimension of Wellness

When we think of physical  wellness, most of us probably think of diet and exercise. But besides these obvious components, we can also include safety, sleep, general health, touch and intimacy. 

Here’s some general health information and  a brief summary of some trustable websites:

Nutrition

Harvard Healthy Eating Plate recommends that you aim for a diet of unprocessed (or minimally processed) whole foods, lean proteins, adequate fiber, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables and plenty of water. 

Nutrition & Weight Status discusses the benefits of a healthful diet and maintaining a healthy body weight. It also addresses the physical and social determinants of weight, which are often overlooked when examining weight status.

Movement 

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and depression. You can check out the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans which recommends 150 minutes of exercise a week for adults, which should be a combination of cardio and weight training. 

Sleep

Like nutrition and physical activity, sleep is a critical determinant of health and well-being. The Overview of Sleep Health explains that adequate sleep is necessary for proper immune, endocrine, and neurological functioning. Lack of sleep is also linked to traffic accidents, work errors, and decreased productivity. 

Check out these links for more information on sleep:

  1. Sleep Disorders
  2. Sleep and Chronic Disease
  3. Sleep Hygiene

Physical Wellness Tips:

Find physical activities that you enjoy and incorporate them into your daily routine.   For example:

  • Combine your movement time with getting outside. Go for mindful walks. Do this by clearing your mind and then controlling your mind. Don’t get caught up in worrying or thinking as you walk. Focus on your breath and the flora and fauna around you, soaking in every detail.
  • Take time to prepare nourishing healthy foods for you and your family. What you prepare can be as important as how you prepare it. Stay mindful as you cook, thinking about where the ingredients came from and thanking the elements and people involved. Intentionally send love, caring and healing into what you’re making, thinking fondly of who will eat your meal creation. Try not to prepare food when you are angry.
  • Take mindful showers or baths. Don’t get hung up on thoughts while you are in the shower, instead focus on the warm water and aromas of natural soaps, the feel of your hands on your body. Often we take this pleasurable moment for granted by losing ourselves in our to-do lists.
  • Take naps! There’s nothing shameful about giving your body the extra rest it needs. Find time in your day to close your eyes and give your senses a short break. 
  • Enjoy the touch of others: Hug family and friends often. Treat yourself to a massage, facial, or getting your nails done.
group of women running in ocean practicing self care in water on beach

Social Dimension of Wellness

Sometimes it’s hard to admit to ourselves, but we are social beings. We thrive on human connection, both deep and casual. We are wired to socialize, and we have a basic need to belong to a tribe. We need to feel needed, and that we have a common bond with others.

The social connection that we all need has a direct link to our health and well-being. There are mass studies and research on the relationship between a strong support network and the positive effects that support has on both our physical and mental health. On the contrary, social isolation can have serious adverse effects on our health. 

Here are some tips to activate your social life:

  1.  Pick a hobby and join a group to practice together
  2. Walk with a friend
  3. Take your computer to a coffee shop to work
  4. Plan a dinner party
  5. Identify a passion/cause and volunteer
  6. Take a class/course
  7. Join an exercise group/class
  8. Visit a nursing home or elderly friend
  9. Join a book club
  10.  Start playing music again (with a group)
  11. Visit with a neighbor
  12. Date night

Environmental Dimension of Wellness

Besides connecting with others, there’s another very important connection that our bodies and souls crave (most of us at least). Have you guessed it?

Yes, it’s our connection with nature. As humans, we have an innate desire to be in nature. Feel the sun on our skin, the fresh air blowing around us, filling our lungs, the green and silence easing our senses in every way. 

There’s endless health and wellness benefits to spending time in nature:

  1. Physical activity/ movement
  2. Lowers depression
  3. Lowers stress and stress hormones
  4. Increases sleep quality
  5. Improves immunity
  6. Improves mental/ emotional health
  7. Lowers our blood pressure and heart rate
  8. Increases our connection with mother earth

Here are some tips for connecting with nature:

  • Grab a green spot whether it’s your yard, terrace, park or forest and visit as often as you can
  • Do what you enjoy in your green space, let yourself de-stress
  • Make it a habit for you and your family to get outside
  • Seek out local hiking trails, parks or nature reserves to visit
  • Plan day trips to green spots, take a picnic
  • Consider a camping trip, staying in a cabin, backpacking
woman sitting on side of road with bicycle, 6 dimensions of wellness

Intellectual Dimension of Wellness

The intellectual dimension of wellness is a space dedicated to stimulating and challenging your brain, continuing learning and increasing creativity. Here are some tips to wake up your brain:

  1. Read! Choose books, magazines and articles that challenge your mind. Look up new words and write down their meanings. Better yet, join a book club. Look for opportunities for stimulating conversation.
  2. Start playing music or return to your favorite musical instrument. Reading and playing music is a great way to stimulate the brain.
  3. Look for new hobbies that can expand your mind. What have you always wanted to learn more about?
  4.  Consider taking a class or returning to the university for a higher degree. It’s never too late and studying when you are older is extremely fulfilling.  
  5. Learn a foreign language. Studying a new language is stimulating and challenging, and it opens up doors to travel, new friends and empathy. 
  6. Volunteer. Look for an opportunity to help others while learning something new. What’s your favorite cause that you’ve always wanted to get involved with? Now is the time!
  7. There are tons of online games to get your mind in gear. Think of a game you enjoy, and most likely there’s an online version where you can play alone or with others online. Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit and Rummy are great for getting the brain moving.

Emotional Dimension of Wellness

The emotional dimension of wellness is being aware of and maintaining our emotional health. We can recognize when our physical needs aren’t being met, but taking stock of our emotional health is much more difficult. How to do this? Prioritize our psychological health and pay attention to emotional pain.

Quicklist on how to handle strong emotions:

  1. Name the emotion
  2. Connect with physical sensations it is causing
  3. Breathe—Inhale, hold, exhale
  4. Experience the emotion, sit with it awhile
  5. Thank the emotion for its lesson
  6.  Bid it farewell, let it go

Ways to cultivate emotional wellness:

  • Identify and accept emotions, positive and negative
  • Become aware of feelings without judgment
  • Acknowledge and release negative emotions such as fear, hurt, resentment
  • Look at lessons that can be learned from your emotions
  •  Practice self-compassion, treat yourself as you would treat a good friend
  •  Cultivate healthy relationships
  • Share and talk to others about emotions in a positive way
  • Keep up your general self-care. If you are taking regular care of yourself, you are much more likely to be able to handle negative emotions in a positive way
woman on rooftop doing yoga

Spiritual Dimension of Wellness

We’re all on our own personal spiritual journeys in life. If we can change our mindset and look at our spiritual journey as a gift, a chance to connect with something greater than ourselves, then this journey can be seen as exciting instead of confusing or overwhelming.

Our life’s purpose is so clear to some of us and some of us are still searching. If we take time to look inside and identify our values and beliefs, where our passions and connections lie, what really gets our engines revving, we can get one step closer to finding and achieving our life’s purpose. 

Here are a few spiritual exploration practices that may allow you to take your spirituality to the next level:

Meditation

Meditation is the ancient practice of taking a few moments out of the day to calm our “monkey brains.” It takes practice and perseverance, but its benefits are endless: reduces stress, lowers high blood pressure, helps manage chronic pain, depression and anxiety and helps smoking cessation to name a few. WOW!

To learn more about the mental and physical health benefits of meditation from a scientific and medical point of view, check out this informative website by the National Institutes of Health.

Gratitude

Taking time to give thanks for the many blessings you have in your life is gratitude. You’ve probably heard of a gratitude journal where you take time to write down what you are grateful for, but you can take it to the next level. 

Try this exercise called “3 Good Things”:

  1. In the evening, write down 3 good things that happened in your day. 
  2. Next, the important part is to write down what YOU did to make these things happen, or what part you played in these good things.
  3. Finally, let it sink in that you are a good person and are doing your best to make the world a better place.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a state of being where you are present in the moment, aware of all your senses, without judgment. It takes practice, power over your mind and presence. Its benefits are similar to the benefits of meditation. 

You can bring mindfulness into any aspect of your daily life: walking, eating, and showering, to name a few. Tune out all the mind chatter. Focus on your senses and what you are doing, right here and now.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is the modern-day father of mindfulness. You can explore the concepts of mindfulness as well as access free videos and meditations on his website.

Universal Love/ Being Kind to Others

Make it a habit to do simple acts of kindness to make others’ days a little easier. These can be little acts such as pulling in your neighbor’s garbage can or offering to shop for an elderly friend. It’s amazing how these little acts of kindness can snowball and make everyone involved feel good. 

Some days it’s more challenging than others to look outside of our own needs and lives, but it’s always worth it. What can you do to spread kindness?

Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is treating yourself like you’d treat a good friend. What? Is that even possible? With awareness and compassion, it truly is. 

Dr. Kristin Neff is the psychologist that leads in self-compassion research. You can learn more by taking a self-compassion quiz and access some amazing guided meditations at her website. 

Holistic Wellness

In conclusion, by giving each wellness dimension in our life some time and energy, we can create a balanced life and achieve optimal health and wellness. It’s perfectly normal to have some areas of your life going well and some that need to be improved. 

How to improve the dimensions of wellness? 

  1. Pick one dimension to work on at a time
  2. Create small steps for improving this area of your life
  3. Chose activities that you enjoy and set reasonable goals for yourself
  4. When you’ve made some progress on one dimension, move to another and start the process again

A Health and Wellness Coach is the perfect companion on this journey. If you need some guidance, please check out my website: Flourish with Nichole. 

Until next time, Be Well! 

 

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