Most ancient cultures understood that the connection between body, mind, and spirit exists and that each composes a part of the whole. Wellness is the pursuit of continuous development and balance, a full integration of us as physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual beings. Many people think about “wellness” in terms of just physical health, and the word typically invokes thoughts of nutrition, exercise, weight management, and healthcare. The truth is that it is much more than physical health. It is a complex interaction with multiple dimensions, leading to a better quality of life. Every aspect affects and overlaps the other. At times one may be more significant, and the neglect of any one dimension will most certainly have spillover effects on the others.
In my work and experience, I make it a point to prioritize all six dimensions that make up an individual:
I have seen how all of these aspects interact with one another. They are interwoven. We are multifaceted beings who show different faces to the world and feel different within ourselves, depending on which of these aspects is asserting itself most at the moment. As people develop, they create a unique understanding of themselves, others, and life. Based on their experiences, and the meaning they attach to those experiences, they create a world view that is entirely unique, stemming from the interplay between all these factors. They learn from direct interactions with their family, friends, teachers, culture, environment, animals, and nature. We are all shaped by our internal and external environments.
Like our outer priorities that guide us in our decision-making, expectations, and goals, we have inner priorities, too. Our inner priorities are the ideals that we live by and they guide us in how we execute our outer priorities and the areas of our lives to which we devote time.
Each of these dimensions have the ability to influence and change one another. Each one can disturb and interfere or nurture and support one another. The truth is, you are an incredible, amazing, ever-changing, dynamic being, constantly in flux!
Here is a breakdown of these dimensions:
Our physical body is our foundation in life. It is what everything else is built upon. Physical wellness comprises a variety of healthy behaviors, like adequate exercise, good nutrition, and abstaining from harmful habits. We need to establish our own individual health, fitness, and wellness goals. Developing healthy habits today will not only add years to your life but will maximize the quality of those years. Our body is the most precious gift we have and without it, we can’t exist. Health is much more than just the absence of disease, true health stems from our ability to find and create harmony between all the other dimensions.
Being emotionally well is normally defined as the ability to feel and express human emotions such as happiness, sadness, and anger. It is the ability to love and be loved and achieving a sense of fulfillment in life. Emotional wellness can look like optimism, good self-esteem, self-acceptance, and the ability to share your true feelings.
Your emotions are experienced along a continuum ranging from very mild to very intense. They can fluctuate between being very positive, like love and joy, to being very negative and highly painful, such as shame or hatred. Whenever we experience something, we attach meaning to the experience. This generates emotions that are associated with past similar experiences and serves as a precursor that shapes our future experiences too. Don’t take your emotions for granted. We often have more power than we realize, once we learn how to channel them in healthy and constructive ways.
Financial wellness is a feeling of satisfaction with your financial situation. This aspect of a balanced person cannot be ignored – it makes up our material needs, including food, shelter, healthcare, and other essential components to living a healthy and dignified life.
For most people, this means having a career that not only supports your material well-being, but also your psychological well-being. Finances and money can be a common stressor for people, and being able to reduce worry about this aspect of your life can enhance your overall wellness. Financial stress is repeatedly found to be a common source of stress, anxiety, and fear for people. Tracking your expenses, making a budget, and sticking to it are important skills to have. They may not sound glamorous, but they are essential if you want to be financially responsible and independent. Learning how to maximize your financial wellness now will help prepare you to handle potentially stressful financial situations in the future.
Our relational dimension refers to our ability to interact successfully in our global community and manage the expectations and demands of our personal roles. The single most important relationship you can have, or do have, is with yourself. That’s of vital importance, simply because what occurs within yourself is what determines the quality of relationships you encounter outside as you go through life. What we attract, engage in and experience as we go through life is determined by our thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions about life, which in turn determines our relationship to life.
The human relationships we engage in, whether love relationships, work relationships, family relationships, or casual friend relationships are experienced as a result of our individual choices. The diverse range of experiences we go through can also serve to guide us toward the desired changes we need to make in order to attract or create attracting and creating more of the kind of the relationships that we consciously desire to experience.
The spiritual body is your connection to energy. To be in a state of harmony between each of the layers of our being, we need to develop our intuition and spirituality as much as we do our mind, emotions, and body to create a solid physical foundation. Our spiritual dimension comes from our set of guiding beliefs, principles, or values that help give us direction. It encompasses a high level of faith, hope, and commitment to your individual beliefs that provide a sense of meaning and purpose. It is the willingness to seek meaning and purpose in human existence, to question everything, and to appreciate that which cannot always be explained or understood.
Your environment is essentially made up of your micro-environment (the places where you live, work, learn etc.) and your macro-environment (your community, country, and the planet). All of these environments have the potential to positively or negatively impact your health and well-being. Your environment can influence whether you feel more or less focused and productive, it can affect your access to things like clean water and air, or healthy whole foods. Environmental wellness impacts whether you feel physically safe in your surroundings. With the right help, you can help create living and working spaces that promote wellness, productivity, creativity, and relaxation.
I have realized that by focusing too much on just one dimension, we can run the risk of neglecting another. I presented the 6 dimensions of human beings that make up an individual person, and it is a combination of these elements that make each one of us unique. There is no end to our ability to grow and evolve further as we continue to develop these crucial aspects of our being.