What is "Wellness", and do you have it?

November 24, 2016

How do you know when you’re really well? Today I start talking about the seven dimensions of wellness. With Christmas just around the corner and the spectre of New Years Resolutions lurking, take my quiz to reflect on just how "well" you are in all areas of your life.



What does being “well” mean to you?

Usually, when we think of being “well”, the first image that pops into mind is something to do with our bodies, right? We tend to think of fitness, healthy eating, or just not being unwell. This is in part due to our Western scientific and philosophical heritage, that influences us to see ourselves as purely physical machines – and therefore when something goes wrong, we go see the appropriate medical/ healthcare professional/ personal trainer to get ourselves back in tune.



But are we just biological machines?

Previously I’ve talked about how we are biological and psychological creatures, embedded in a web of relationships, with an eye to life’s big questions about meaning and purpose. If we just focus on keeping the biological machine in tune and neglect these other parts of ourselves, those other aspects of our lives fragment and break apart. And then, because all these parts of ourselves overlap and interact, our physical wellness gets affected anyway!



So what is wellness?

Wellness is what happens when our physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects are all acknowledged and thriving. Each of these areas act and interact in a way that contributes to our own quality of life. In 1976, Dr Bill Hettler started developing the Dimensions of Wellness model to help us frame our thinking and conversations about wellness:


So today, I’m going to give you a little quiz so you can see how you’re faring in the areas of social, emotional and occupational wellness. Next time I’ll cover physical, spiritual, environmental and intellectual wellness.



Social Wellness

Social wellness is what happens when we relate to and connect with other people in our world.


To be socially well, we have positive, mutually reliant relationships with others, and use a variety of helpful, appropriate social behaviours. To do this, we need good listening and communication skills, respectful and meaningful connections with others, and a stable support network of friends and family.


  • Do you make time to be with family and friends?

  • Do you enjoy spending time with others?

  • Are your relationships with others satisfying and nourishing for them and yourself?

  • Do you have positive interactions with people of other cultures, backgrounds and beliefs?


If you answered "No" to any of these questions, it may indicate an area where you could improve your social wellbeing.



Emotional Wellness

Emotional wellness occurs when we understand ourselves, empathise with others, and cope with life’s challenges and stresses.


To be emotionally well, we need to be aware of and accept a wide range of feelings, thoughts and sensations in ourselves and others, rather than denying, suppressing or avoiding them (because that actually only makes them worse). We pull together our ideas, feelings, and values to make good choices and decisions. We manage our lives in personally meaningful ways, and take responsibility for our actions. We live and work independently, being willing to take on challenges and risks. Our relationships are characterised by trust, loyalty and respect, and a willingness to do conflict because it can help things improve.


  • Do you balance work, family, friends and other obligations?

  • Do you let yourself experience the full range/intensity of emotion?

  • Are you able to make decisions with a minimum of stress and worry?

  • Are you able to set priorities?


If you answered "No" to any of these questions, it may indicate an area where you could improve your emotional wellbeing.



Occupational Wellness

Occupational wellness happens when we deal with workplace stresses and issues, build relationships with co-workers and colleagues, and find fulfilment in our jobs/career.


It means that we are able to contribute our unique gifts, skills, and abilities to work that is personally meaningful and rewarding. We have and pursue opportunities to develop functional, transferable skills. Occupational wellness also means having good levels of engagement: where we have lots of energy and mental resilience; we’re willing to invest ourselves in the job and push through difficulties; we feel inspired, enthusiastic, satisfied and challenged; and we’re able to fully concentrate on and be absorbed in the work.


  • Do you enjoy going to work most days?

  • Do you have a manageable workload at work?

  • Are you performing near your peak ability?

  • Do you feel that you can talk to your boss and co-workers when problems arise?


If you answered "No" to any of these questions, it may indicate an area where you could improve your occupational wellbeing.



So, if you have answered "no" to any of these questions, or you've had an "A Ha!" moment, I'd love to journey with you as you process it. Contact me or drop me a line on Facebook and we can have a chat. Otherwise, please come back next time to check your other wellness levels. 


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