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Health Is the Whole…Body, Mind, and Soul

You count grams of fat and fiber. You add plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and drink green tea. You make sure to jog at least 4 times a week. Then, you spend most of your time at a high stress job. You have few close relationships and feel that your life lacks meaning. A healthy body may help you resist stress and illness, but they are only part of a much larger picture.

Health is more than having a body that works well. It includes six other factors or dimensions. When these dimensions are all cared for, you can build a true sense of well-being.

The Six Dimensional Model of Wellness

How do you take care of your whole self? The National Wellness Institute embraces the Six Dimensional Model of Wellness. The chart below explains the six parts of the model.

Dimension Steps to Meet

Physical —Fitness and health goals through food choices, physical activity, safety, and self-care.

  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • If you smoke, find ways to quit.
  • Know early signs of illness.
  • Get enough rest and sleep.
  • If you drink alcohol, use in moderation. This is 2 or fewer drinks per day for men and 1 or fewer drinks per day for women.
  • Stay safe. For example:
  • See your doctor as recommended.

Emotional —Good mental health, a positive attitude, and high self-esteem. Also, respond with resiliency to problems and everyday life

  • Spend time with friends and family. Share personal concerns and give and get support.
  • Look for ways for personal growth. Examples include self-esteem workshops or support group.
  • Read a self-help book that interests you.
  • Try positive thinking.

Spiritual —Get in touch with your deeper self and the spiritual life. Developing faith in something larger than yourself and finding meaning and purpose.

  • Start by asking yourself questions, such as:
    • Who am I?
    • What is the purpose of my life?
  • Look for inspiration. It may come from books, movies, TV, spiritual gatherings, soothing music, nature, beauty, meditation, or prayer.
  • Spend quiet time alone on a regular basis.
  • Practice being fully present in the moment.
  • Practice acceptance of self, others, and life.
  • Look for deeper meanings to problems in your life.
  • Allow yourself to deeply feel grief and pain.
  • Practice appreciating the depth and expanse of life and the universe.
  • Identify your values and beliefs.

Intellectual —Having curiosity and a strong desire to learn. Solve problems; think independently, be creative and critical.

  • Take a class or workshop that interests you.
  • Look for new experiences. Try new foods. Travel to new places. Learn about new cultures.
  • Read things that help you learn. Watch educational TV.
  • Get involved in a creative project. Use your creativity to solve problems.
  • Work on puzzles and intellectual games, such as Scrabble and chess.

Occupational/vocational —Engage in or prepare for work in which you will find satisfaction.

  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Know your likes and dislikes.
  • Set a personal mission and goals.
  • Find ways to learn new skills.
  • Look for new occupational or vocational interests.
  • Find ways to use your strengths in work or hobbies.

Social —being part of the world around you.

  • Build closer relationships with circle of friends.
  • Get involved with community events.
  • Encourage healthy living in community around you.
  • Improve communication skills with others.

Finding Balance in an Unbalanced World

It may seem like a hard task to meet all 6 but many overlap. One step may help you meet more than one goal. Examples may include:

Find Ways To Meet Multiple Wellness Needs

For example, taking a daily walk with your spouse and children can fulfill needs for physical activity and emotional bonding. If you use the time to discuss ideas and career aspirations, your family walk could also contribute to intellectual and occupational needs.

Make Your Values and Priorities Clear

Take time to know the deepest purposes for which you live. Use them to set goals and make choices. For example, you may find that you want more time with your family than a bigger paycheck. Do not wait for a crisis to show what really matters to you.

Find Areas Where You Want More Balance

Look for gaps in your overall wellness using your values and the model above. Make goals that will help you find more balance.

Being Realistic and Flexible

Perfect balance in all dimensions is not possible. There will be times when you are overextended, lonely, angry, and tired. You will need to make changes over the year. Adjust your goals and plans until you find a balance.
RESOURCES:

Mental Health America
http://www.nmha.org

National Wellness Institute
http://www.nationalwellness.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Mental Health Association
http://ontario.cmha.ca

Mental Health Canada
http://www.mentalhealthcanada.com

REFERENCES:

Physical activity guidelines for Americans. Health.gov—Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion website. Available at: https://health.gov/paguidelines/. Accessed June 8, 2020.

Six dimensions of wellness. National Wellness Institute website. Available at: https://www.nationalwellness.org/page/six_dimensions#:~:text=The National Wellness Institute promotes,sense of wellness and fulfillment. Accessed June 8, 2020.

Last reviewed June 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP  Last Updated: 6/8/2020