This blog is part two of a three-part series describing the six dimensions of wellness: physical, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and vocational and how they work together to form whole-person wellness.

Understanding each dimension will help you determine if you have a balanced ‘wellness wheel’, i.e., is each wellness dimension carrying it’s share of the load towards a balanced life?

Last month, I outlined the physical and social dimension of wellness. The physical dimension refers to how you physically interact with the world – everything from exercise, to medical check-ups, to safety habits.

It’s not about physical perfection but instead uplifts physical competence – how well you maximize your physical abilities regardless of the challenges you face.

The social dimension brings balance through healthy relationships with others and having respect for yourself and others. It’s not about just being around other people. It’s about genuine feelings of connection and belonging.

Emotional Dimension – Emotional Agility

The emotional dimension of wellness isn’t about being happy all the time. It refers to your ability to navigate the emotional highs and lows of life in a healthy, pro-active way. I call it emotional agility and it includes:

  • the healthy expression of feelings
  • positive stress management skills
  • recognizing your own abilities
  • problem-solving skills
  • access to resilience.

Resilience is the ability to overcome challenges and keep moving forward. It helps you avoid getting ‘stuck’ in resentment and regret.

The building blocks of resilience play an important role in emotional well-being and include gratitude and optimism, confidence and mastery, self-esteem, engagement and social support, meaning and purpose.

Some people seem blessed with an extraordinary reservoir of resilience – the people facing severe disabilities and huge barriers in life that manage to live fully and joyously in spite of it all. But you don’t have to be born a resilience super star!

Knowing the building blocks of resilience will help you start building it piece by piece. And, quite frankly, even if you don’t consider yourself a “resilient type of person,” none of us get to be 60+ years of age without overcoming challenges and demonstrating resilience in our lives!

Everyone has different ways of filling up their emotional dimension: music that fills your soul, giving/helping, immersion in nature – the list is endless. The key is becoming consciously aware of what supports and what diminishes your emotional well-being and then creating a deliberate plan.

Spiritual Dimension – Connection with Something Greater

The spiritual dimension of wellness may or may not be religion-based. For some people, it is connection to a specific religion, for others, it may simply be a connection to something greater than ‘self’ – a higher power. Many people refer to having a spiritual connection to nature.

An important component to spiritual well-being is having meaning and purpose in life. Again, this means different things to different people but often relates to the basic human need to give as well as receive and be of value to others.

The Whole Is Greater Than the Parts

Separately defining the dimensions of wellness is just a first step to understanding whole-person health. And, as you can see, the dimensions don’t exist separately. They’re inter-related and inter-dependent.

Drawing a wellness wheel with each one as a spoke on the wheel is simply a visual representation to help ensure each dimension exists in your life.

As you start listing things you do on a regular basis to ‘fill’ each aspect of the wheel, you’ll quickly realize that one activity can support multiple dimensions of wellness.

For example, in my life, horseback riding in the mountains supports my spiritual, physical and social dimensions of wellness.

The stunning beauty and endless expanse of the mountains, the physical demands of riding mountain trails, the connection with my horses and the comradery with my close group of riding friends fill more than one dimension on my wheel.

What fills your emotional dimension of wellness? What fills your spiritual dimension of wellness? Is there one thing you would like to add to your life that would support one or both of these dimensions? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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