Wellness is a very personal quest for balance. If one aspect of our being becomes, overemphasized, under-emphasized, neglected or injured, all other aspects or dimensions of our wellbeing are also affected. None of these dimensions are isolated, all are interdependent, and together they create a sort of web of wellbeing. It follows then, that there is a good deal of cross over when trying to define the dimensions of wellness, gray areas if you will, in which certain practices or behaviors could easily fit under the heading of several of the dimensions.
The following then is an attempt to categorize some these dimensions of wellness, and to link them with information and resources in order to offer students another way to navigate on their quest for balance and wellbeing. This is not an exhaustive list, but we hope that it is a helpful start…
The nurturing of our physical health is achieved though a variety of ways. Exercise, eating well, hygiene, regular checkups, and responsible decisions about drinking, drug use, sex etc. all impact our physical wellness.
The recognition that there are forces greater than ourselves. Whether it is God, or nature or a life force, is not necessarily the issue. Instead, it is the recognition, pursuit, and development of this very personal and self-evident aspect of our being. “Spiritual wellness involves the capacity for love, humility, compassion, forgiveness, altruism, joy, and fulfillment. With Spiritual Wellness comes the possession of a set of guiding principles, beliefs, and values. It is an antidote for cynicism, anger, fear, anxiety, self-absorption and pessimism.”
Humans are social creatures. We need other people in order to develop normally and to be truly well both physically and emotionally. We are all social to different degrees. Some may have many friends and acquaintances, some only one or two very close friends. Regardless of the degree of our social needs, we all must develop good communication skills, the capacity for intimacy, and the security of a caring support network of friends and family if we hope to be truly well. “Social wellness also requires participating in and contributing to your community and world.”
“Optimism, trust, self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-control, satisfying relationships, and an ability to share feelings are just some of the qualities and aspects of emotional wellness. Maintaining emotional wellness requires monitoring and exploring your thoughts and feelings, identifying obstacles to emotional well-being, and finding solutions to emotional problems, with the help of a therapist if necessary.”
“The hallmarks of intellectual health include and openness to new ideas, a capacity to question and think critically, and the motivation to master new skills, as well as a sense of humor, creativity, and curiosity. An active mind is essential to overall wellness; it detects problems, finds solutions, and directs behavior. People who enjoy intellectual wellness never stop learning. They seek out and relish new experiences and challenges.”
Increasingly, personal health depends on the health of the planet – from the safety of the food supply to the degree of violence in a society. Other examples of environmental threats to health are ultraviolet radiation in sunlight, air and water pollution, lead in old house paint, and second hand tobacco smoke in indoor air. Wellness requires learning about and protecting yourself against such hazards – and doing what you can to reduce or eliminate them, either on your own or with others.