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A Quick Word on Wellness

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

Wellness is a buzzword, thrown around in what seems like every context. So what does the word really mean? It may be different than you think.

“Wellness” can take on multiple different meanings. To many, it is synonymous with achieving health, which is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” as defined by the World Health Organization. However, according to the National Institute of Wellness, wellness is defined as “ active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” So what exactly are the components that we must address to lead us to this more successful existence?

The Eight Dimensions of Wellness

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (also known as SAMHSA) provides a comprehensive model of wellness. According to SAMHSA there are eight dimensions of wellness that are inextricably linked:

  1. Emotional: Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships

  2. Environmental: Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulation environments that support well-being

  3. Financial: Satisfaction with current and future financial situations

  4. Intellectual: Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills

  5. Occupational: Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work

  6. Physical: Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep

  7. Social: Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system

  8. Spiritual: Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life

While different organizations and individuals may have alternative components of wellness, what is true is that there are many factors that impact our wellness, and all of those factors inevitably have an influence on one another. I’m sure you’ve noticed when you are unsatisfied with school or work, your emotional well-being takes a toll, or vice versa; or when you are on top of your physical health, your social interactions boost as well. Wellness consists of various factors being in sync, but we each experience them at different proportions to meet our personally optimized sense of wellness. My question for you is, what does wellness look like to you? Think about your answer to this question and actionable steps of how you can achieve it.

Disclaimer: This website is intended as an informational resource from the perspective of an occupational therapist and should not take the place of professional medical advice.


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