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The 8 Dimensions of Wellness

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

The key to improving your overall health

We all want to improve our health and wellness, but what exactly does it mean to be “healthy” and when does wellness come into play? Aren’t health and wellness essentially the same thing?


Well… based up definition, health and wellness have slightly different meanings.


The definition of wellness is a bit more complex than the definition of health; but for the sake of simplifying things for your health and wellness journey, wellness can be defined as the actions you take to maintain good health. While health is defined as being without disease, illness or injury.


To recognize the difference between the two, let’s say that your “health” was a tree. Being in a state of good health would mean that your tree is vibrant, constantly growing, and flowing with energy. The actions you take to maintain your tree would then be your wellness, which in this scenario would be the nutrients you use to nurture your tree.

To know how to properly nurture your tree, you need to know that your wellness is multidimensional. It is broken down into subcategories to help you further identify with yourself and make decisions that would best improve your overall health.


The most common model of wellness contains 8 dimensions. Some models suggest that there are 6, 9, or even 12 dimensions. In my professional opinion, the 8-dimension model of wellness seems to be the most complete.


#1 Physical Wellness: focuses on exercise, having healthy eating habits and practicing good sleep hygiene. Do you exercise regularly? Do you smoke, use drugs, or drink alcohol? What decisions do you make regularly to avoid illness/injuries? How do you manage your chronic health conditions?


#2 Mental/Intellectual Wellness: involves your desire to expand your knowledge and skills and ability to embrace your curiosity and/or creativity. Are you open-minded? What are your hobbies?


#3 Emotional Wellness: represents your ability to be aware of, manage and understand your feelings as well as the feelings of others. How do you manage your stress? Do you practice self-care? Are you empathetic?


#4 Social Wellness: includes your involvement with the environment and community. What is your place in society? What relationships are the most important to you?


#5 Spiritual Wellness: involves your desire to have purpose in life and search for meaning. What are your values, ethics, and morals? What are your religious beliefs?


#6 Environmental Wellness: encourages us to live a toxic-free lifestyle and have respect for the Earth and all of our surroundings. Are you environmentally conscious?


#7 Occupational/Vocational Wellness: emphasizes the importance of personal satisfaction by having a rewarding career and finding purpose in completing certain tasks. Are you passionate about what you do? What motivates you? Do you desire to share your gifts or talents with others?


#8 Financial Wellness: involves your financial stability and financial habits. How do you manage your finances? Are you responsible? Do you follow a budget?


The common theme amongst the 8 dimensions of wellness is self-awareness.


Understanding who you are and where you want to be is crucial to your success in your journey toward better health and balanced wellness.


Who are you? How would you describe yourself to others? How would others describe you? What are your future plans? What goals do you have? What steps will you take to turn your goals into reality?


Having a good grasp of your answers to these questions will put you in the best position to unlock your full potential and achieve your health and wellness goals.

“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” -Nathaniel Branden
“Awareness is a key ingredient in success. If you have it, teach it, if you lack it, seek it.” -Michael B. Kitson

Now that you know the different categories that make up your wellness, what steps will you take to improve your overall health?


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References

  • Stoewen D. L. (2017). Dimensions of wellness: Change your habits, change your life. The Canadian veterinary journal = La revue veterinaire canadienne, 58(8), 861–862.

  • What is Wellness? (2019, May 14). https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/what-is-wellness/.

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