Wellness: What is it?

We’ve all heard about wellness and self-care. So many companies are using these words as buzzwords, advertising slogans that draw people in. But the real truth of wellness is something that no one can put a price tag on. 

It is a whole body, whole person approach to living your best life, and includes multiple dimensions. It is also frequently misunderstood, and confused with a variety of other terms. So what is wellness?

What Exactly is Wellness?

Wellness is the process of making healthier life choices by increasing your awareness of your life as a whole. It is a process of growth and change that never stops, from the time that we’re born until the time that we move on from Earth. 

The World Health Organization even recognizes the importance of wellness, calling it “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” It is a full-body, holistic approach to helping yourself feel better in all aspects of your life. 

Many people use health and wellness interchangeably. While health is a major part of wellness, wellness encompasses multiple dimensions. 

Wellness has become so important to how we function, not only as individuals but also as a community, that there are entire institutes that are dedicated to helping increase awareness to the cause. 

The Eight Dimensions of Wellness

There are eight different dimensions to wellness, each equally but differently important - emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual. 

Each of them are interrelated, as well. You can’t have full wellness if any one of these dimensions are “off.”

  • Emotional Wellness - The emotional dimension of wellness refers to how you understand your own feelings and cope with stress. Emotional wellness is self-care, stress reduction, relaxation, and developing the inner resources that you need to both learn and grow from all the experiences you go through in life.
  • Environmental Wellness - Approaching wellness from the environmental dimension means that you live your life while being respectful of your surroundings. When you’re paying attention to environmental wellness, you’re living in harmony with the planet while working to protect it. You’re more at one with and aware of nature.
  • Financial Wellness - The financial dimension of wellness and well-being isn’t about how much money you have, but how successfully you are able to manage it. Financial stress is often cited as being one of the leading causes of stress most people experience. Focusing on financial wellness is taking control of your money and living within your means. 
  • Intellectual Wellness - Intellectual wellness isn’t about how smart you are, but how much your mind is open to new ideas. It’s also about the desire to expand your knowledge, culturally, scholastically, and in the community. 
  • Occupational Wellness - Occupational wellness is focusing on the work that you do for a living. The goal is to look for a job that allows you personal satisfaction, that enriches your life, and that appreciates the contributions that you make. We spend so much of our time at work that having a satisfying job that you don’t dread going to every day is incredibly important to our overall wellness.
  • Physical Wellness - The physical dimension is what many people think of first when they think of the word “wellness.” It refers to maintaining a healthy body and getting medical attention when you’re not feeling well. This includes things like regular exercise, a healthy diet, and plenty of sleep.
  • Social Wellness - Social wellness is being able to maintain a healthy social life and creating a supportive network of friends and loved ones around you. This dimension of wellness is a way of encouraging relationships that are healthy and enrich your life from all angles - friends, lovers, coworkers, family, etc. 
  • Spiritual Wellness - Spiritual wellness doesn’t have to mean religious wellness. Spirituality refers to seeking meaning and purpose, and provides an additional way to help cope with the stressors of life. 

What Are Wellness Practices?

Wellness practices are anything that you do to increase the well-being of any of the above dimensions. Wellness practices are essentially the same as good self-care practices. They should always be something that you do that makes your life better, that you enjoy doing, and that makes you a healthier, happier person overall.

For instance, taking a bath. Lighting a candle for positive vibes, pampering yourself regularly with a beauty or skin care routine, curling up under a plush blanket on the couch, and just generally taking the time out for yourself helps increase your well-being in a few different dimensions.

These multidimensional approaches to wellness are often the best way to increase overall wellness, but if you’re struggling with one aspect in particular, it’s okay to focus specifically on that as well. All of that is self care at the end of the day.

Other ways to practice wellness and self care may include:

  • Revamping your diet to include more whole foods and less processed foods
  • Take a yoga class 
  • Go for a long walk with a friend
  • Attend religious services
  • Take a multivitamin
  • Work on your resume 
  • Make a list of the ways you wish you could change your life
  • Try to be more social
  • Get enough sleep

It’s important to think of wellness practices as not just a one off thing. When we practice wellness in our own lives, whether that is physical, emotional, occupation, social, etc. we also set ourselves up for future success as well. 

Taking a close look at where you’re at now, and where you’d like to be, can really help. 

Questions To Ask Yourself

If you’re interested in getting to know yourself better, and focusing more on how you can increase your own wellness, here are a few questions from each dimension that you can ask yourself. 

Each is designed to better help you understand where you may need assistance and what you can do to help increase your wellness.

  • Emotional - Do you feel grateful? Do you notice yourself having big mood swings or long periods of anxiety or depression? What do I worry about the most?
  • Environmental - Does your wellness seem to change with the seasons? What do you connect with the most in nature? How much time are you spending outside?
  • Financial - Are you okay with your current financial situation? Have you noticed any financial patterns in your life? Do you have any financial goals? How would you describe financial stability?
  • Intellectual - When was the last time I learned something new? Is there anything I’m interested in learning more about? How satisfied do I feel with my brain power? 
  • Occupation - How satisfied are you with your current job on a scale of 1 to 10? Does your job align with who you are? Is there something else you want to do? How easy do you find it to maintain a healthy work-life balance?
  • Physical - Where do you feel like your physical health is right now on a scale of 1 to 10? What do you like to do for exercise? How much sleep do you need to feel your best? How healthy do you think your diet is?
  • Social - Are you happy with your social life? How would you rate it on a scale of 1 to 10? Name the three people you are closest to. What do they add to your life? How do you balance your social life with time spent alone?
  • Spiritual - How satisfied do I feel with my spirituality? Do I wish I was more spiritual? Do I feel like I’m fulfilling my meaning and purpose?

Use the answers to these questions to formulate a plan about what you can do to feel better. It can sometimes help to involve other people in your plans as well, which also helps increase your social and emotional wellness! 

While wellness is an individual thing, it is also communal. Who we choose to surround ourselves with, and the way that we impact the community around us, is another big part of how we approach the world and ourselves.

Why Wellness Matters

Wellness matters because you matter! Living your best life, both physically and mentally, is the literal definition of self care. 

Your well-being directly relates to how you experience the world. It impacts your emotions and moods, which also impact your physical body. It’s an on-going circle, and everything is connected. Increasing your personal wellness can help you lower your stress level, boost your immune system, and help improve your relationship not only with yourself but with the people around you.

So often we get dragged down into feeling like we don’t matter, and that focusing on bettering ourselves is a selfish thing. Your first step toward your wellness plan should be to set that aside. 

It is not selfish, it is self care. Those two things are incredibly different.


Wellness is more than just a self care buzzword. It refers to multiple different elements that make up who we are as humans. 

Wellness also gives us a guideline to better focus on what we can do to feel better, both physically and mentally. 

You’re worth spending time on yourself, and making yourself whole!