You count grams of fat and fiber, eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, drink green tea, and jog four times a week. However, you spend most of your time at a high stress job, have few close relationships, and feel that your life lacks meaning. The good things that you do for your body may help increase your resistance to stress and illness, but they only reflect part of a much larger picture.
Health is more than having a body that works properly. It includes physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, and even occupational/vocational dimensions. When these dimensions are working in harmony, they contribute to a sense of well-being and satisfaction.
How do you take care of your whole self? The National Wellness Institute embraces the Six Dimensional Model of Wellness developed in 1979 by Dr. Bill Hettler. The chart below, based on Hettler’s model, can provide you with some guidance.
Physical —Achieving personal fitness and health goals through nutrition, physical activity, safety, and self-care
Emotional —Maintaining good mental health, a positive attitude, and high self-esteem; responding with resiliency to emotional states and everyday life
Spiritual —Getting in touch with your deeper self and the spiritual dimension of your life, developing faith in something larger than yourself, finding meaning and purpose
Intellectual —Having curiosity and a strong desire to learn; solving problems; thinking independently, creatively, and critically
Occupational/vocational —Engaging in or preparing for work in which you will find personal satisfaction and enrichment
Who has the time to address all these dimensions? Many wellness experts suggest numerous opportunities to find more balance. Strategies may include:
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.
Take time to know the deepest purposes for which you live, and use them to set goals and make decisions. For example, you may find that you would prefer more time with your family rather than a bigger paycheck. Do not wait for a crisis to show what really matters to you.
Using your values and the Six Dimensional Model of Wellness, identify your current wellness deficits and develop goals that will help you find more balance.
Perfect balance in all dimensions is not possible in an ever-changing world. There will be times when you are overextended, lonely, angry, and tired. Over the years, you will need to make adjustments until you find a balance that enhances your quality of life.
Mental Health America
National Wellness Institute
Canadian Mental Health Association
Mental Health Canada
Physical activity guidelines for Americans. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 9, 2013. Accessed February 4, 2014.
Seaward BL. Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc; 1997.
Six dimensions of wellness. National Wellness Institute website. Available at: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.nationalwellness.org/resource/resmgr/docs/sixdimensionsfactsheet.pdf. Accessed February 4, 2014.
Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 2/4/2014