Wellness, the act of maintaining wellbeing through healthy habits and routine, can be very vague for some, while very specific for others. The thing is that wellbeing is not just about green juices and exercise, and it’s not all about candles and relaxation music either. It’s a lifestyle and as with every lifestyle, it requires deliberate efforts to reach a state of complete wellbeing.
Wellness and holistic health are closely related.
So, let’s get to the core of the topic: the pillars of wellness. This sounds like a very serious and very theoretical topic.
Fun fact: when I started my research for this article, I found that there were either 5 or 8, but I also read about 6, 7 and even 9 pillars!
In the end, 5, 8 or 33, the concepts and ideas behind them matter more than the figures.
The online course I took about holistic wellness introduced 8 dimensions, and these are the ones I will introduce you to:
2. Mental wellbeing
3. Emotional wellbeing
4. Spiritual wellbeing
5. Social wellbeing
6. Environmental wellbeing
7. Financial wellbeing
8. Occupational wellbeing
I will present each of them, sharing some important aspects of promoting a state of wellness. I will let you come up with small change ideas, baby steps, that can have a great impact in the long run.
The 8 pillars of the wellness
1. Physical wellness
Let’s start with the most obvious one, but hopefully not the most boring. We all have a certain idea of what physical health is, mostly conveyed by media (green smoothies, detox, morning run, yoga, etc. you name it).
Physical wellness revolves around the idea of taking care of your body, mainly through a healthy diet and regular physical activity. Both help to maintain good health and prevent illness.
You should be aware of the impact of what you eat and drink, and how you take care of your body; knowing its needs and ensuring to fulfill them.
I like thinking of the human body as a machine, and the human being at its service. Then I start thinking about slavery 😀 . To sum it up, in order to function properly, your body needs healthy food, regular exercise and quality sleep. This helps to ensure a good quality of life.
2. Mental wellness
Mental wellness comes in the second position because the physical and mental wellbeing are interdependent.
The mental refers to the way of thinking. Generally, do you have more positive than negative thoughts? I’m very happy for you if this is the case!
Unfortunately, most of us first need to be aware of our own thought patterns, before making any conscious changes.
We should be mindful about our mind! It’s been shown that having a strong positive mind helps our physical body to recover faster when ill.
Being mentally well can be expressed in various ways: our everyday curiosity toward others and our environment, our ability to focus and engage ourselves in activities, etc. When we feel well, we feel a sense of inner peace and calm. If you feel anxious and depressed, press pause and observe. What do your main thoughts look like?
If we pay attention to your mental and ensure a state of wellness, by having feel good and empowering thougths, we automatically reduce our stress and anxiety levels.
3. Emotional wellness
Being a very emotional person, this dimension is very important to me. When I get engulfed by my emotions, I quickly lose clarity of mind. Knowing myself more and more, I now wait for the wave to settle before making any decisions.
Since thoughts trigger emotions, we can control our emotions by controlling our thoughts.
Have you ever tried to convince yourself that everything was okay when feeling down? Did you manage to actually feel it? If you haven’t, try it now. Choose a positive statement and feel the emotion linked to it. I recommend choosing an affirmation associated to an emotion that is slightly better than how you feel now. If the emotional discrepancy is too big, it won’t work.
See? Well, looking now at the bigger picture, when we master our emotions we can ensure balance in our mind and automatically in our body.
Being more confident about ourselves, we develop a healthy level of self-respect that helps us to be grounded. Knowing who we are, our worth, we can remain more balanced despite our environments and outside events.
Emotional wellness is also ensured when we are able to name our feelings and express them can help to clarify any misunderstandings and to avoid resentments. I really start to believe that trapped emotions affect our physical body in the long run.
It’s that simple (I haven’t said easy). Whenever you feel a negative emotion, don’t ignore it, but don’t focus on it either. Let it pass through you, acknowledge the message it conveys, and quickly establish balance again by gaining back control of your thoughts.
4. Spiritual wellness
First things first, in this context, spiritual wellness refers to the spirit and not the practice of spiritual life. A synonym would be the mindset. It’s associated with the level of satisfaction with our life, how content we are.
If we feel stressed and frustrated, there is something in our life that should change to ensure wellness.
The wellness of our spirit is the result of our physical, mental and emotional wellness. It depends on our actions, our thoughts, and our emotions. It’s like moving up on the scale. If one of those three areas isn’t balanced, this fourth dimension will be imbalanced too.
To ensure spiritual wellness, we should listen to ourselves and take appropriate action that would make us happy.
I know, this is the theory. However, in the real-life, we shouldn’t rush if the action required generates stress and discomfort. We should take time to consider our options, maybe even set up a plan, where we can move toward that direction while still maintaining balance.
5. Social wellness
Now that we’ve looked at the wellness dimensions that are related to the inside, it’s time to look at the outward dimensions, our interaction with our environment, and our connections as human beings.
As social beings, our social wellness depends on our sense of belonging: how we feel about ourselves, our life, and our existence.
While our society promotes individualism, there is a real need for feeling part of a group or a community.
For example, when feeling down, having a great support system, from friends and family will make a whole difference in how we will cope with a certain situation. In a healthy and fulfilling relationship, our desires will find their place, allowing us to be ourselves.
6. Environmental wellness
Besides being connected to others, we are also influenced by our environment. Your home, your neighborhood, your workplace play an important role in how you feel throughout the day.
Light, fresh air and contact with nature are all important factors that makes us feel good. Feeling good will impact your productivity at work, help your recharge at home and make you feel safe in your neighborhood.
7. Financial wellness
This dimension is one of the first causes of stress and is at the origin of many fears. Easier said than done, we must avoid this stress as much as possible.
Financial wellbeing is a topic I’m particularly fascinated about. There are many articles and books about developing financial intelligence, but what I can share briefly here is a basic rule of thumb: make sure that your expenses are lower than your incomes.
Of course, if we want to live beyond our current means (and there is nothing wrong with that), we should then find other sources of income or a way to increase our current ones.
Taking a closer look at our spendings and differentiating what’s necessary from what’s not is are two important steps toward financial wellness. We can also take our time to plan and budget our month in order to know what we can afford to avoid stress.
8. Occupational wellness
Last but not least, here we go with the classic life/work balance 😉
We tend to differentiate the time spent at work from our personal, more leisure-oriented time. Usually, one can be a great source of stress, while the other is seen as relaxing and recharging. Here again, this is our responsibility to ensure wellbeing at work.
One of the first things that comes to my mind is the easy dropped idea that if we’re not happy with our job, we should change. Period. Well, before taking a big plunge (unless you know what job would fulfill you), let’s take a closer look at the current job itself.
We should ask ourselves some questions to know exactly what we don’t like about it. And to balance it out, what we do like and appreciate. Unless this is purgatory, I’m sure there are some positive aspects to it too.
The 8 dimensions of wellbeing in a nutshell
All of the 8 dimensions described, individually but taken together as well contribute and promote a better quality of life. As you probably realize it, most of those dimensions are interrelated, and acting upon one will have ripple effects (and positive ones!).
As usual, if you desire to find more balance into your life, take a step back, first observe, and then take appropriate action. Baby steps!
Also, don’t forget to leave a comment about your own experience or to share any tips you may have. It doesn’t have to be personal if you don’t wish to share it on that level. One thing for sure, I’m looking forward to reading you!