When thinking about wellness, often times it can be associated with disease or sickness. While this definition is valid, it lacks the comprehensiveness of a broader and more holistic approach that wellness truly is. Wellness depends on more factors than simply avoiding the flu each year. There are many factors that go into wellness, and today we are going to touch on the 8 pillars of wellness and what it truly means to be well.
This term often is associated with physical activity, and well that is both relevant and valid, there is more to physical wellness than just physical activity. Your body depends on more than just physical movement alone. Physical wellness also includes appropriate sleep, hygiene, and a healthy diet. These concepts are embedded in not only strengthening your overall physical wellness, but contribute to the bigger picture: You.
In order to determine the bigger picture of what it means to be physically well, focus on something small.
For example, sleep.
Sleep is a crucial part of physical wellness, as it is the pinpoint of how your body functions throughout the day. Barely any sleep during the night can contribute to your body reacting slower throughout the day, and that goes hand in hand with too much sleep. However, there is the perfect balance in between the two.
When thinking about the small concept of sleep and trying to connect it to the bigger picture of your overall physical wellness, ask yourself this: Are you getting enough quality sleep?
By acknowledging whether or not you are meeting this requirement each night can help to put in process the steps to achieving a good night sleep and improved physical wellness.
Though nutrition is intimately tied to physical health, it’s so important and must be represented by its own pillar. Remembering that every individual is different, proper nutrition is a key pillar in wellness and determining what it means to be well. However, it doesn’t work for everyone and that is OKAY!
Hand in hand with physical wellness comes the concept of a proper nutritious diet, that will help you acquire the necessary macronutrients for day-to-day energy, muscle growth and recovery, and the biggest one: Energy!
Nutritional improvements will help strengthen the other seven pillars of holistic health and wellness, but just like wellness itself, it is very versatile. Every individual is different, and that goes hand in hand with remembering that individuals do not have to eat the same foods in order to be well.
Wellness may be linked to nutrition, however, eating that donut might make you feel just as good as a plate of vegetables!
When thinking of wellness, emotional wellness is typically one of the first thoughts that come to mind. Emotional wellness encompasses the ability to navigate your feelings. This means identifying, assessing, and effectively sharing those feelings with others.
The ups and downs of life can take you on an emotional rollercoaster. But the better you understand, process, and manage those feelings, the smoother the ride will be. The ride is able to be smooth, you just have to work to make your emotional wellness one of your priorities in order to encompass that pillar in your life.
Social wellness is just as important a pillar in wellness as the rest of them! We are talking about creating authentic connections in your life, ones that will have a positive impact on how you go about your day. However, we do acknowledge that conflict is normal and that positive relationships with other individuals is not always possible.
Surrounding yourself with positive relationships is key to creating an atmosphere in your life that is both supportive and understanding. There is a common saying that says that you are who you surround yourself with, and although that is valid, who you surround yourself with is not you.
Conflict is a key asset in determining your social wellness, and although we do not strive to create conflict, it is a great learning tool to helping you deal with how to approach it best! Social relationships create support systems that can carry you through life’s struggles. With life struggles, often comes conflict.
Let’s unpack that.
Building and maintaining these networks take time and energy, but the work is worth the effort. And it will continue to serve you throughout your life. Dealing with arising conflicts is a great way to create the foundation for how you will go about solving these conflicts. Conflict is normal! How you choose to solve disputes and conflicts in your life allows you to surround yourself in a social setting that makes you happy, and thus, contributes to your social wellness.
The spiritual pillar will look different for everyone because it’s such a personal piece of overall wellness. It will play a stronger role in one person’s life more than another, depending on how each person defines it. We’re not talking about ghosts and haunted houses, but how you view having a purpose, direction, and meaning in your life. Without which, values can slip to the wayside, upending life’s balance.
Balance balance balance! It is such a fundamental steppingstone in your life that initially creates the foundation for how you choose to live your life. Maintaining your spiritual wellness will look different for everyone, and that is what makes us all individual!
Spiritual health is about personalizing your journey, and acknowledging that you have a purpose. Some might practice mindfulness as a way of checking in with their intentions, guiding their actions, and maintaining a values-based approach to life. How you choose to strengthen your spiritual health is up to you, for you are the creator of your own greatness!
Intellectual wellness is strengthened by continually engaging the mind. Doing so can help you build new skills and knowledge that inspire and challenge you, and help you grow.
You might choose different ways to keep your mind sharp, depending on your mood. Some may turn to mathematics, or writing. Both are completely valid! Even simply engaging in intellectually stimulating conversations and debates can strengthen this pillar. Whatever you choose to do, just know that those small acts are strengthening your overall intellectual wellness (maybe without you even knowing it!)
Professional wellness is far more than the money you make or the title you hold. Simply, there is more to life than both of those things! This pillar embodies your unique combination of gifts, abilities, passion, education, and life experience that makes you who you are. It is being fully yourself, both in a professional work environment and your personal environment.
This pillar is all about what you do, and how you make those actions of what you do meaningful in your everyday life.
As humans, we are designed to contribute, add value, and render service to the world around us. The truth is that we all have a unique contribution, and we are happiest when we are making our greatest contribution. This pillar is all about your contribution to the bigger picture: Your community!
Community wellness is concerned with your immediate personal surroundings and the larger community where you live and work. The effects of strengthening your environmental wellness can be felt personally, and by your larger local and global communities. The more you care for and respect your natural and built environments, the better they can support and sustain your daily life.
Food for Thought: Conclusion
These 8 pillars of wellness are key in determining your overall wellness. Keep in mind, they are very versatile and can be interchanged loosely! They are not set in stone, but simply advice guidelines to help you create a more meaning impact for yourself.
Wellness means different things to each individual. And being well gives each person the ability to reach their personal goals. After all, when your body, mind, and soul are cared for holistically, you’re able to pursue and meet your goals with less resistance.
To determine your personalized approach to wellness, reflect on the eight pillars of holistic health and wellness. Figure out which ones most require your attention. And remember, strengthening each one will provide a great foundation for living your best, healthiest life.
Click the link below to read a scholarly article on the 8 pillars of wellness in more depth!