In order to be your best self, you need to consider the many dimensions of wellness that contribute to holistic health. We often think of our “wellness” just in terms of physical health. If your body is healthy, then you’re well. But thinking in this way limits you from reaching your full potential as a person.
While your physical health is essential, wellness is about so much more. In fact, there are seven commonly accepted dimensions of wellness in the health community. Let’s explore each dimension and how you can improve on them.
Your physical wellness is essential, make no mistake. If your physical health is less than optimal, your happiness, performance and overall well-being will suffer. It’s all too easy to neglect physical wellness in the pursuit of your goals, thinking of your body as just a machine whose output you can maximize.
But in reality, your body does not work like this. You can push it for a bit, sure, but eventually it will break, resulting in lost productivity due to illness. Therefore, we recommend that you make your physical wellness a priority, never sacrificing it to get work done.
To maintain a high level of physical wellness, you should make sure to do the following:
Eat a Balanced Diet
Proper nutrition is key to physical wellness. We know it’s tempting to live on a diet of processed carbs and caffeine when you’re rushing to finish a big project, but this isn’t a sustainable way to operate. Your specific diet will depend on your dietary preferences and amount of physical activity. But in general, we recommend eating a diet composed of whole foods, especially vegetables and fruits. Also, drink plenty of water, as it’s easy to get dehydrated without realizing it. Carry a water bottle with you to make this easy.
Perform Daily Physical Activity
We prefer “physical activity” to “exercise,” as the idea of exercising can conjure up images of running on a treadmill or lifting weights for many. While these are fine forms of physical activity, you don’t have to limit yourself to them. Do something that you actually enjoy, whether it’s dancing, bike riding, kayaking or just taking walks outside. The goal is to stay active on a daily basis — the details matter less than you think.
Get Regular Medical Checkups
No one likes going to the doctor, but going to annual checkups is a good practice to get into, even if you feel perfectly healthy. Find a doctor you can talk with openly, discussing any health concerns or questions you have.
Get Enough High Quality Sleep
Sleep is perhaps the easiest area of the dimensions of wellness to neglect. The less you sleep, the more time you have to get work done, right? Wrong. While sleeping less will give you more total time to work, the quality of your work will start to suffer if you’re not sleeping enough.
Furthermore, not getting enough sleep can wreak havoc on your immune system and physical recovery, resulting in illness that slows you down even further. Therefore, you need to prioritize sleep, planning to get at least seven to eight hours per night — more if you’re doing a demanding exercise routine.
You should also ensure that the sleep you do get is high quality. Don’t lie in your bed with your phone or computer until you drift off to sleep. Rather, give yourself time to unplug and relax before bed. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try making your room darker and make sure you aren’t drinking caffeine or alcohol too close to when you go to bed.
Moving on to the next dimension, we have emotional wellness. This aspect of dimensions of wellness is one that people discuss fairly often, but it still doesn’t get as much attention as physical wellness.
This is a shame, because your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Whether you’re struggling with everyday issues such as stress or something more serious such as chronic depression, neglecting your emotional wellness can make it difficult for you to do your best work.
Here are some things to keep in mind to boost your emotional wellness:
Talking to someone else about how you feel can be difficult, but it’s often the first step to improving your mental health. It’s easy to keep how you feel bottled up inside, not realizing what you’re struggling with until you discuss it aloud with someone else.
Monitor Your Self-Esteem
Self-esteem is crucial as an entrepreneur. You have to believe in yourself in order to provide a strong foundation for your business activities. Therefore, you should keep an eye on your self-esteem. Watch out for negative self-talk. Everyone doubts themselves at times — that’s natural. But you can’t let it stop you from getting out there and doing your best work.
People often associate the term “spiritual” with religion, but the two are not the same thing. You can be spiritual without being religious. The spiritual dimension of your life may involve a religious faith, but it can also just be the values and principles that guide your life and work. When you have high spiritual well-being, it means that your daily actions are in line with your larger beliefs, religious or not.
To keep your spiritual wellness up along with the other dimensions of wellness, here’s what we recommend:
Regular self-reflection will help you monitor whether your daily actions are in line with your larger beliefs. You can do a variety of activities, but the one we most strongly recommend is keeping a journal. Daily journaling will help you track patterns in your thoughts and feelings, as well as clarifying and reaffirming what your beliefs are.
You may associate meditation with religions such as Buddhism, but meditation can benefit you no matter what your religious beliefs are. It doesn’t have to be long or elaborate, either. Just taking a few minutes each day to sit still in silence and clear your mind will give you a greater sense of peace and a higher degree of focus. To learn more about how meditation can benefit you and how to get started, check out our meditation guide.
Social wellness acknowledges that humans are not solitary creatures by nature. Even if you’re more on the introverted side, you still need to connect with other people in order to maintain your well-being. When your social wellness is high, you have a series of strong relationships with family members, friends, coworkers and your broader community. You have a network of people you can depend on in times of adversity, knowing that you don’t have to go it alone.
Here are some things you can do to nurture your social wellness:
Maintain Healthy Relationships
Healthy relationships are built on trust, respect and kindness. They’re the relationships that build you up, not tear you down. And they’re balanced. If one relationship is consuming your time at the expense of other relationships, it’s definitely not healthy.
Make Time for People
It’s easy to get so focused on your work that you don’t spend time with your family, never go out with your friends and isolate yourself from your community. We’re all about being focused on your business, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your relationships. This sort of sacrifice will only hurt you in the long-run; there’s no point being successful if it makes you lonely and isolated.
Just like muscles get weak if you don’t use them, your mind can atrophy if you don’t keep it engaged. If you find yourself bored all the time, then it can be a sign that your intellectual wellness is low.
To keep your intellectual wellness high, we recommend these things:
Do Stimulating Mental Activities
Keeping your mind engaged is just a matter of finding the right activities. You can do classic activities like logic puzzles, crosswords or sudoku. But you can also have conversations with people who challenge you intellectually or read books that offer you new ideas.
Always Keep Learning
Lifelong learning is essential for intellectual wellness. It doesn’t matter so much what you learn — just pick something that interests you. It could be reading about a subject that you want to learn more about or teaching yourself a new skill. Learning something new engages your brain like nothing else, forming new connections as your knowledge grows.
Environmental wellness means maintaining a harmonious relationship with the earth. It’s an acknowledgement that humans do not exist separately from nature; we are part of a larger ecological system. Environmental wellness ties into spiritual, emotional, and physical wellness, for you can’t have the others at a truly high level if you’re isolated from the environment.
To maintain environmental wellness, here’s what we suggest:
Being out in nature can help you feel more at peace, not to mention boosting your mood. Sunshine and fresh air do wonders for your mental health, and being outside is also a chance to bring some physical activity into your day. You don’t even have to get outside of the city to experience the benefits of the outdoors. Just walking around in a local park will work as well.
Sustainable living means being aware of how the things you do and the products you consume affect the earth. It can start with activities such as recycling and extend into reducing your overall resource consumption. For example, you might bring your own reusable bags to the store or replace your paper towels with cloth ones.
Finally, we have occupational wellness. This final category of the dimensions of wellness relates to how your career fits into your overall life. When you have a high degree of occupational wellness, your work is not disconnected from your life, and it doesn’t conflict with your values. Rather, it fits into your larger vision for your life, supporting the things you want to achieve.
Of course, the need to make money can sometimes be more urgent that finding the most fulfilling career possible. Therefore, we suggest viewing occupational wellness as something to aspire towards, especially when starting your own business.
That being said, it’s still possible to maintain occupational wellness even in a job that isn’t the most exciting or fulfilling. Here are some strategies we suggest:
Have a Plan for Your Career
It’s impossible to plan your career from start to finish, as you never know where life will take you. But having a general vision for your career can help you make sure that you don’t get stuck in an unfulfilling job that you’re only doing for the money. Furthermore, having a larger vision will help you maintain motivation if you are in a job you dislike, knowing that you’re working toward a future occupation that’s more in line with what you want to do.
Think Beyond Money
You deserve to be paid well for the excellent work you do, but you should also make sure that you don’t let money blind you to the other aspects of your job that matter more for life satisfaction. If you’re doing a job that doesn’t align with your values, is boring, or is excessively stressful, it will start to wear on you after a while.
It’s possible to put up with a bad job in exchange for a large paycheck, but we don’t recommend it. Over the long term, it will harm other dimensions of wellness, particularly your emotional, spiritual and physical wellness.
Be Well in All Dimensions of Wellness
We hope you now understand that dimensions of wellness are about so much more than just diet and exercise. It extends into a variety of areas of your life, all of which are interdependent. To live a happy life and fulfill your potential, all the dimensions of wellness must be in balance. Keeping them in balance is a lifelong journey, but you should now have the information you need to take the first steps.