Seven Dimensions of Wellness – What is Wellness?
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition of “complete physical, emotional and social well being” and not just the absence of sickness and disease. In many ways we measure our health by how we feel, what we eat, and how much we exercise. Many other definitions have also been used over the years for varying purposes. However, the most accurate definition is that of “the well being of the individual.” It therefore includes physical, emotional, and social aspects.
The three components of good health include physical wellness, emotional wellness, and social wellness. Physical wellness covers the ability to live a healthy life in terms of your body, mind, and spirit. Emotional wellness covers the ability to cope with stress and manage one’s emotions appropriately. And, social wellness includes the ability to relate to others, work well with others, and maintain positive relationships. In this article, I will discuss each component separately and then together to give a fuller picture of what this perspective means.
Physical Wellness One important indicator of good health is good physical well-being. People in developed countries typically have higher levels of physical well-being than those in developing countries. This may be due to differences in diet and the quality of the exercise one engages in. Poor nutrition and lack of exercise are associated with a variety of illnesses and diseases and can shorten life expectancy. Thus, it is important to develop a balanced combination of healthy lifestyle habits to optimize health and improve overall life expectancy.
Emotional Well-Being Two key elements to good health are emotional health and mental health. People in good health feel emotionally vibrant and physically relaxed. They are able to manage stress and deal with day-to-day challenges. Stress management, relaxation techniques, and meditation can diminish symptoms of stress and help maintain optimal mental health. Similarly, environmental factors that affect physical health can impact the emotional health.
Psychological Well-Being The third component of good health is the psychological well-being. People in good health tend to be happy, enthusiastic, and optimistic about life. They have high expectations and positive resources to seek out assistance when needed. They anticipate future success and try to plan for changes realistically. Conversely, people in poor psychological health are pessimistic, experience high levels of stress and anxiety, and engage in compensatory behaviors (i.e. they expect to receive care even though they don’t need it).
These are just seven dimensions of overall health and wellness. Although each of these aspects is important, there is a strong relationship between these seven dimensions and wellness. Overall, physical wellness is related to levels of physical pain and disability, emotional health is related to negative emotions, psychological well-being is related to positive emotions, and mental wellness relates to positive thoughts. By taking all these into account, you can see that improving your health is not as simple as losing weight or quitting smoking.