The Nine Dimensions of Wellness

A framework for understanding how mental health & well-being interconnect

A comprehensive understanding of mental health & well-being

The Nine Dimensions of Wellness provides a valuable framework for understanding mental health by recognizing the interconnected aspects of well-being. Mental health is influenced by multiple dimensions of wellness, and by considering these dimensions, individuals can gain a holistic understanding of mental health. The Dimensions of Wellness Model highlights the importance of addressing various aspects of life to support mental health and encourages a comprehensive approach to self-care and seeking support when needed.

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The Nine Dimensions of Wellness

  1. Physical Wellness
    Refers to taking care of one’s body through regular exercise, balanced nutrition, sufficient sleep, and going to regular doctor’s appointments. It involves maintaining overall physical health and functioning.
  2. Emotional Wellness
    Focuses on understanding and managing one’s emotions effectively. It involves developing healthy coping strategies, building resilience, maintaining positive relationships, and seeking support when needed.
  3. Intellectual Wellness
    Emphasizes engaging in lifelong learning, expanding knowledge, and stimulating intellectual curiosity. It involves pursuing personal interests, critical thinking, problem-solving, and continuous mental growth.
  4. Social Wellness
    Highlights the importance of meaningful connections and positive relationships with others. It involves effective communication, empathy, healthy boundaries, and fostering a sense of belonging and support within communities.
  5. Occupational Wellness
    Relates to finding satisfaction and fulfillment in one’s work or career . It involves aligning personal values and interests with career goals, maintaining work-life balance, and fostering a positive work environment.
  6. Spiritual Wellness
    Encompasses finding meaning, purpose, and connection to something greater than oneself. It involves exploring personal beliefs, values, and practices, and nurturing a sense of inner peace, harmony, and compassion.
  7. Environmental Wellness
    Emphasizes living in a healthy and sustainable environment. It involves being mindful of one’s impact on the surroundings, promoting conservation, and engaging in practices that support the well-being of the planet.
  8. Financial Wellness
    Focuses on managing one’s financial resources effectively and responsibly. It involves budgeting, saving, minimizing debt, and making informed financial decisions to achieve stability and reduce stress.
  9. Cultural Wellness
    Focuses on understanding, respecting, and embracing diverse cultural identities. It involves creating inclusive environments, valuing traditions, and fostering intercultural communication. By appreciating and celebrating cultural differences, individuals contribute to their own well-being and a harmonious society.

Dimensional Intersectionality

The various dimensions of wellness are interconnected and often influence one another. For instance, your financial well-being might impact your ability to enhance your physical wellness, such as the affordability of a gym membership. Similarly, your social wellness can directly influence your occupational well-being, like having positive relationships with co-workers.

This being said, it’s crucial to recognize that each dimension of wellness can uniquely impact your mental health. Additionally, multiple dimensions of wellness can simultaneously contribute either positively or negatively to your mental well-being at the same time.

For example, your physical wellness, emotional wellness and environment could all be impacting your mental health in a different way. Alternatively, your mental health may also impact these dimensions of wellness.

Common Questions from Youth and Young Adults

Dimensions of Wellness

Emotional wellness involves managing one’s emotions, as well as the ability to perceive, interpret, and respond appropriately to the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to a specific set of skills and competencies related to the understanding, management, and effective use of emotions, both in oneself and in others. Being emotionally intelligent allows you to increase your personal emotional wellness. Many activities that can help increase your emotional intelligence are also good practices to maintain emotional wellbeing like journaling, mindfulness meditation and talking to others about feelings and emotions.

Emotional wellness focuses on understanding and managing emotions, while mental health encompasses a broader spectrum of psychological well-being. Emotional wellness is one component of mental health, highlighting the importance of managing emotions for overall mental well-being.

Spiritual wellness involves finding meaning and purpose in life. Students can explore their beliefs, engage in mindfulness practices, or join groups that align with their spiritual values. Embracing diversity allows for a richer spiritual experience.

Intellectual wellness involves engaging in activities that stimulate the mind. You can promote intellectual wellness by pursuing hobbies, staying curious, and challenging yourself academically. Grades are only one of many metrics used to measure intellectual wellness. Keeping up your grades is important, but grades do not determine the entirety of your intellectual well-being. Other questions to consider around intellectual wellness are: am I interested in what I am learning in school, why or why not? Are the classes I am taking too easy or too hard for me? Is there a new skill I want to learn, and if so how would I go about learning it? Intellectual wellness stays relevant long after you graduate school, as you will continue to learn new skills, ideas and ways of thinking outside of the classroom.

Yes, and it can matter in a variety of ways while you are still in school, namely while managing jobs and internships as a student and while planning for your future career. Ways to assess your occupational wellness if you currently have a job or internship would be asking yourself if you feel safe at work, if you work well with your coworkers, and you feel that you are set up for success in your role. When thinking about future careers, occupational wellness can involve discerning what you would like to do for a future career, developing skills like resume and cover letter writing, practicing interviewing skills, and finding mentors in your field to help prepare you for your future career.

Financial wellness involves managing money responsibly and learning how to do so. You can create budgets, save, invest and make informed financial decisions. It is crucial for your overall well-being as financial stability reduces stress and provides a sense of security. Financial literacy refers to the ability to understand and use various financial skills, including personal financial management, budgeting, and investing. A financially literate individual possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed and effective decisions about money matters.

Environmental wellness refers to any environment you may find yourself in. This can include your bedroom, your home, your school, your workplace, and of course, the great outdoors. Environmental wellness begs the question, “how is my current space either contributing to or hindering my current wellbeing?” There are steps you can take to make any environment a healthier one, something as small as clearing your room or as large scale as decreasing your carbon footprint can all impact the different environments you operate in.

Social wellness involves building and maintaining healthy relationships of all types. The number of friends you have does not determine your social wellness. Actually, different people want different amounts of friends depending on a variety of life factors. Some people like only having only a few friends, while others flourish while maintaining multiple friendships with a variety of people. However, it is important to note that friendships are only one type of relationship. Social wellness also includes having healthy relationships with your family, peers, significant others, teammates, neighbors, etc. Social wellness can be fostered by learning how to engage with an array of different people, set healthy boundaries, and communicate effectively.

We live in a diverse world, where people have a variety of experiences and backgrounds. If you are having trouble fostering diversity in your current community, first consider thinking about culture more broadly: what are differences in the culture of different families? Are there different cultures within different organizations or activities at your school? Then try to reach broadly by reading about different cultures, watching videos by people who have different perspectives and experiences than you do, and, if you are able, travel to another place and take note of the differences you see and how these contrasts change your understanding of not only that culture but also your own.

Reflection Questions for Your Dimensions of Wellness

Download our worksheet to help you reflect on those intersecting factors that are impacting your wellness as you start to advocate for your own mental health, your peers mental health, and get involved in institutional and systems-level mental health advocacy.

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