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Achieving balance with the seven dimensions of wellness

by Emma Edwards on Friday 1 December 2017


Wellness means something different to all of us. For some, it’s a morning Vinyasa flow. For others, it’s marathon running. For many of us, wellness is lost among desperately trying to fit into skinny jeans and keeping up with society.

Whatever wellness means to you, balance should be a main focus. 

In practice, true wellness has been identified by research fellows at The National Institute of Complementary Medicines in Sydney as ‘the whole person, not the parts’. We’re being encouraged by experts to take a more holistic look at our well-being, rather than focusing on simply lowering cholesterol, dropping a dress size or meditating for hours on end. 

The Seven Dimensions of Wellness have emerged in recent years, following on from work by Dr Bill Hettler in 1976. The original model incorporated 6 dimensions – physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and social health– but environmental health is now regarded as the 7th.  

So, how can you use these dimensions to achieve balance in your life?

Physical wellness
Physical wellness is often what many of us think of when we’re considering health. Essentially, physical wellness is all about moving your body and nourishing it with all the good stuff – veggies, fruits, lean proteins, that sort of thing. Get your heart rate up a few times a week, get those micronutrients in and shoot for the all-important 7-8 hours sleep.

Emotional wellness
This slice of the wellness pie is all about your mental state. Mental health is of huge concern in Australia nowadays – stress is quite literally keeping us up at night. The problem is, when we’re stressed and on-the-go, we put pressure on our adrenal glands. Our cortisol levels shoot up, our focus goes down; all in all, it’s a cycle that’s hard to escape. Check-in with your routine – try and create calm in areas of your life that are causing you worry. If your emotional wellness is of greater concern, consulting a mental health professional may help you manage things. Don’t be afraid, there’s support out there.

Intellectual wellness
“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” Oscar Wilde wasn’t wrong. We’re all living longer, so nurturing our minds is more important than ever. Try something new every month; soak up new cultures, take on new challenges – your health will thank you for it. 

Spiritual wellness
Don’t worry, we’re not going to suggest you join a new faith or start reading tarot cards – though if that’s your thing, great! Spiritual wellness doesn’t need to be attached to religion or belief. It’s all about gratitude, presence, and connectedness – those yoga buffs are onto something, you know. Try to spend some time each day or each week with your thoughts and your breath. Think about what you’re grateful for, and connect to moments that matter – these free resources from the Meditation Society of Australia may help.  

Occupational wellness
Positivity in our roles is incredibly important to our overall wellness. Remaining present, engaged and involved with our professional roles and our social roles – be that as a mother, father, partner, etc. – can foster a heightened sense of satisfaction. There will be times when work grinds your gears – we get that. But focus on the things you love about your responsibilities at home and at work.

Social wellness
Meaningful relationships help us lead meaningful lives. But, long desk hours, distance and the ease of chatting on the phone actually means we’re less connected than ever. Challenge yourself to ditch your phone convos and meet up in person. Try scheduling in a regular family dinner, a date night with your partner or time with good friends. Social connections have been linked to greater levels of happiness, as well as healthy knock-on effects on other areas of our lives. 

Environmental wellness
Get outdoors! Australia is filled with beautiful outdoor spaces just waiting to be discovered. The introduction of technology means we’re spending less and less time outside, but studies have shown getting out in the fresh air can help you collect your thoughts and stimulate vitality. Whether you can squeeze in a 5-minute walk on your lunch break while gossiping to a colleague, or you’re trying your hand at weekend hiking, do what you can to soak up a bit of nature.

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