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Wellness Spotlight: The Importance of Intellectual and Vocational Wellness in Life After 60

By Kay Van Norman November 16, 2018 Mindset

This is the last of a 3-part series describing the six dimensions of wellness: physical, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and vocational – and how they impact your life.

Part 2 outlined the emotional dimension of wellness as the ability to navigate life’s ups and downs with what I call “emotional agility.” It’s not about being happy all the time but about practicing healthy coping skills and activating resilience when faced with challenges.

It also described the spiritual dimension of wellness as a personal relationship with something greater than yourself. It may or may not be religion-based but often brings a sense of meaning and purpose to life.

Intellectual Dimension

The intellectual dimension of wellness doesn’t refer to your IQ or level of education. Instead, it’s related to your level of intellectual curiosity and willingness to explore new ideas and new things.

A robust intellectual dimension uplifts lifelong learning and deliberately engages cognitive challenges. As frustrating as technology can often be, it definitely challenges the brain!

The intellectual dimension of wellness also refers to taking regular steps to improve general brain health. Optimal brain health requires conscious effort: making healthy food choices (most of the time), managing stress, and getting adequate sleep.

The latest research also shows that what’s good for the body is good for the brain! When you’re physically active, your brain is bathed in oxygenated blood which directly supports brain health.

Your brain also loves novelty, so it’s important to consciously challenge your brain on a daily basis – even in little ways.

In a previous article, “4 Ways to Power Up Your Brain Health After 60,” I encouraged you to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand, take a new path to work or the market, and if you like dancing – go for it! Those are among the best physical activities for simultaneously activating the brain and body!

Vocational Dimension

The vocational dimension may have to do with a job if you’re in the work force but is also related to hobbies, skills, and interests outside of work. It’s really about pursuing things you enjoy – especially those that bring meaning and purpose to your life.

The vocational dimension also includes your ability to create personal and/or professional goals and an awareness of how you’re spending your time.

Do you have a bucket list, for example? What skills would you like to enhance? What new skills would you like to learn? Do you spend a good portion of your time doing things that matter to you or intrigue you? If not, why?

Consider if you can reclaim time spent elsewhere – on things that aren’t a priority. Take watching TV or on-line surfing, for example. These activities are seldom identified as a personal priority yet often fill many hours per day just out of habit.

Consider closely evaluating your daily life to determine if it is as full and diverse as you would like it to be. Before saying no to a new activity, determine if the “no” is well considered or more of an ‘automatic’ reaction to something new.

As you can see, intellectual curiosity goes hand-in-hand with vocational engagement!

Putting Together Your Wellness Wheel

Balancing the six dimensions of wellness isn’t an exact science and definitely isn’t about perfection in each dimension.

Physical competence supports optimizing your functional abilities, social engagement supports healthy relationships and genuine connections with others, emotional agility helps you activate the building blocks of resilience, spiritual connection embraces meaning and purpose, intellectual curiosity uplifts lifelong learning, and vocational engagement keeps you connected to things you care about.

Life constantly ebbs and flows so you’ll seldom have a completely balanced Wellness Wheel. The image of a wheel just helps you give conscious thought to choosing well-being in each dimension and helps you recognize if you’re completely ignoring one or more dimensions of well-being.

If you’re interested in drawing your own wellness wheel, my templates and worksheets are available for FREE as a Vitality Portfolio Tool-kit.

If you drew your Wellness Wheel to represent the last three months – what would it look like? How about the last 6-12 months? What’s the hardest dimension for you to ‘fill’? Do you have one or more dimensions that are really languishing? Can you make one ‘deposit’ into a dimension that’s not getting any attention? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

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The Author

Healthy aging expert Kay Van Norman is the President of Brilliant Aging. She serves on international boards, speaks and consults around the world, and has an extensive list of publications. Her Vitality Portfolio® model for lifelong health will be featured in a book by author Jack Canfield. Visit her at

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