- What exactly does physical or mental ‘wellbeing’ mean, and what does it feel like? A ‘wellness wheel’ could provide the answers.
- There are 7 dimensions to the wellness wheel. It’s a self-evaluation activity that helps you to understand in which areas you are thriving, or struggling.
- Wellness is a journey, not a destination, and a wellness wheel enables you to check in with yourself regularly and evaluate your personal wellbeing.
The Oxford English Dictionary definition for wellbeing is as follows:
“The state of being or doing well in life; happy, healthy, or prosperous condition; moral or physical welfare.”
But, what exactly does it mean to be or do well?
Most people often associate wellbeing with physical and mental wellness. However, there is more wellbeing than our physical and mental state.
Dr. Bill Hettler understood this, which is why he founded the National Wellness Institute (NWI) and created the first wellness wheel.
What Is the Wellness Wheel?
The first iteration of the wellness wheel, created by Dr. Hettler, was an interdependent model for the six dimensions of wellness.
Since its conception, the wellness wheel has evolved, and most experts agree now that there are 7 key dimensions to wellness. These dimensions are interconnected and all contribute to healthy living.
The wellness wheel is a holistic model that can help individuals enrich their lives by enabling them to become aware of and make choices that will lead to a more successful existence.
According to the NWI, the wellness wheel can help explain:
- How a person contributes to their environment and community
- How to build better living spaces and social networks
- The enrichment of life through work, and its interconnectedness to living and playing
- The development of belief systems, values, and creating a world-view
- The benefits of regular physical activity, healthy eating habits, strength and vitality as well as personal responsibility, self-care and when to seek medical attention
- Self-esteem, self-control, and determination as a sense of direction
- Creative and stimulating mental activities, and sharing your gifts with others.
How Does It Work?
The wellness wheel makes it easy for individuals to identify areas of their lives in which they are thriving, as well as those in which they are struggling by encouraging them to reflect on each of the dimensions of wellness.
The core principle behind the wheel of wellness is that balance is key to achieve a state of wellbeing. Since all dimensions of wellness are interconnected, an imbalance in one area can prevent you from living life to the fullest and maintaining a state of wellbeing.
Since it is a visual aid, the wellness wheel can help you clearly identify areas of wellness in your life that are probably neglected or that have been left unchecked for some time. If this is the case, you might be feeling unstable, stressed, anxious, or simply unwell.
Keep in mind that life is not static. Neither is your wellness.
The wheel of wellness is a tool that you can use periodically to evaluate how you are doing over time and how your wellbeing has changed and is impacting your goals and life.
The 7 Dimensions of the Wellness Wheel
While the original wellness wheel included six dimensions, most models today include 7. Here are the 7 dimensions of wellness that make up the wheel:
The physical dimension of wellness is about supporting your physical body, its health and safety. This area of wellness is concerned with elements like physical activity, nutrition, sleep/rest, flexibility, strength, and getting medical care when needed.
Below are some questions and statements that can help you gauge how you are doing in the physical dimension. It’s a short wellness wheel activity.
- Do I engage in physical activity regularly?
- Do I get the amount of sleep that I need? Do I wake up feeling rested?
- I practice good hygiene habits.
- I eat a balanced diet that helps me feel energized.
- Am I at a healthy weight for my height?
- I do not consume alcohol / I only consume alcohol in moderation.
- I avoid unhealthy substances (drugs, tobacco, alcohol).
- Do I get regular physical exams?
Spiritual wellness is about finding purpose and meaning in your life. This is done through your values and beliefs, and how your actions are shaped by and aligned with them. Many also see spiritual wellness as an opportunity to connect with something greater than themselves; though for many this may be a religious affiliation, others find it by practicing mindfulness or meditation and being curious about the world/environment that surrounds them.
Below are some questions and statements that can help you gauge how you are doing in the spiritual dimension.
- Do I feel a sense of peace and wellbeing in my life?
- What are my values and beliefs? Do my actions reflect them?
- I believe my life is meaningful.
- I feel connected to something larger than myself.
- Do I engage in any type of growth practice?
- I take time to think about what’s important in my life, where I want to go, and where I fit in.
The intellectual dimension is about recognizing your own creative and stimulating mental activities. This dimension of wellness focuses on expanding your knowledge and sharing it with others. Some elements concerned with intellectual wellness include: creativity, problem solving, learning, curiosity, and critical thinking.
Below are some questions and statements that can help you gauge how you are doing in the intellectual dimension.
- Do I listen and consider the perspectives of others?
- Am I a curious person and seek out opportunities to learn or develop a new skill?
- I regularly search for stimulating mental activities.
- Do I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others?
- I like seeking out new challenges.
- I engage in self-development activities.
- I am a lifelong learner.
The environment and your surroundings play a key role in your overall wellbeing. Therefore, environmental wellness is about how you interact with your environment, how you understand it, and how it impacts you. While the natural environment is part of this, environmental wellness is concerned with the environment that you immerse yourself in your day to day activities, like your home, your workspace, your car, etc.
A safe, clean, and clutter-free environment can work wonders for your wellbeing.
Below are some questions and statements that can help you gauge how you are doing in the environmental dimension.
- Do I care and respect my environment and surroundings?
- Have I created a living and working space that supports my wellbeing and is conducive to positive emotions?
- I enjoy taking care of my environment.
- Am I aware of the risks that exist within my environment? Do I act accordingly?
- I educate myself and am aware of global environmental issues and recognize the impact of my actions on the environment.
- I consider myself an environmentally conscious individual.
Financial / Occupational Wellness
Often addressed together, this dimension concerns itself with finding fulfilment in your work. Part of this fulfillment is oftentimes influenced by your financial stability and how it impacts your life. To evaluate your financial and occupational wellness you need to think about your job satisfaction, your finances, and your career ambitions.
Below are some questions and statements that can help you gauge how you are doing in the financial and occupational dimension.
- Do I have a financial plan for my future?
- I have created a budget and I stick to it.
- Do I have enough money to manage my day to day expenses?
- I enjoy my work and feel fulfilled by it.
- I look for opportunities to use and share my talents and skills.
- My workload is manageable.
- I am able to effectively manage work related stress and responsibilities.
The social dimension of the wellness wheel is all about the quality of your relationships and how you interact with others, whether they are family, friends, strangers, or colleagues. Having a strong network of people that support us plays an important role in our wellbeing and in some cases can help prevent a variety of problems, like feelings of isolation, loneliness, and stress.
Below are some questions and statements that can help you gauge how you are doing in the social dimension.
- I find and nurture healthy relationships with friends, family, and colleagues.
- I have a strong network of people that support me.
- Do I effectively communicate with others? Can others effectively communicate with me?
- Do I regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures?
- The people who are close to me respect my wants, needs, choices, and beliefs.
- I am not a selfish person.
- I participate in various social activities.
- I aim to form new relationships.
Emotional wellness is all about your feelings and emotions. Are you able to understand your feelings? Are you able to express them? How do you take care of and manage your feelings? This dimension of wellness highlights the importance of recognizing your emotions and accepting them as they come. Having strong emotional wellness can help you better adapt to change and cope with stress.
Below are some questions and statements that can help you gauge how you are doing in the emotional dimension.
- I recognize my feelings and am able to express them appropriately.
- Can I recognize stressors in my life and know how to deal with them?
- I am able to comfort myself when I am feeling troubled or stressed.
- Do I consider myself to be an emotionally stable person?
- Do I engage in relaxation and stress management techniques?
- I am able to adapt or adjust to change without stress or worry.
Understanding Your Wellness Wheel
Once you’ve gone through all seven dimensions and evaluated how you are doing in each, it’s time to take a deeper look at what could be impacting your overall wellness.
Were you able to identify areas in which you are struggling or feel that you can improve on? If so, which ones?
A good question to ask yourself as you seek to understand your wellness wheel is: why. Why is a particular area of wellness less full than others? Why is this imbalance happening? Why have you prioritized other areas but not this one?
Once you’ve answered your why, you will be better equipped to create an action plan that will help you balance your wheel of wellness.
Think about what actions you can take and what resources you can take advantage of to boost your wellbeing and find balance in all dimensions.
Wellness is a journey, not a destination. So consider doing a wellness wheel activity every now and then; afterall, an important part of wellbeing is checking in with yourself regularly. You might find that certain circumstances change your priorities and affect different areas of your wellbeing at different times.
The goal of creating a wellness wheel and evaluating how you are doing is to identify if there are any imbalances that are preventing you from leading a plentiful, happy life so that you can take the necessary steps to change that.