The six dimensions of wellness model (see figure 16.1) was developed by Dr. Bill Hettler, cofounder and president of the board of directors of the National Wellness Institute, which is an organization formed to provide health promotion and wellness resources to health professionals and individuals. The model demonstrates that all six types of wellness-physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and occupational-must be present for a person to attain overall wellness (National Wellness Institute 2007). Efforts to attain wellness now will become a foundation for your life later.
Physical wellness-the wellness of the physical body-is important to overall health and wellness because when the body is sick or injured, it’s harder to do physical and mental tasks well. You can’t focus in class or complete homework assignments, for example. In the workforce, being physically ill may have a negative impact on your work productivity, ultimately affecting your career. Finally, if you continue being physically fit into your later years, you’ll be able to maintain your independence and continue with your activities of daily life such as bathing, carrying groceries, and playing with your grandchildren.
You can do many things to maintain physical wellness, including getting regular physical activity. There are 1,440 minutes in a day; use at least 30 of them to do something active that you enjoy. Finding activities you enjoy will ensure that you continue participating in them. For instance, if you’re a competitive person, you might want to join an intramural sport team.
Another important step you can take to being physically well is to have good eating habits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), you should eat food from the grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat and beans food groups (USDA 2008).
- At least half the grains you eat should be whole grains.
- Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark green and orange veggies. Next time you’re eating a salad, try to replace the iceberg lettuce with some spinach.
- Eat a variety of fruits. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. Beware, though: Fruit juices often add extra sugar, which adds calories.
- Dairy products should be low fat or fat free. If you’re lactose intolerant, try eating lactose-free products and get your calcium from sources such as salmon, broccoli, or spinach.
- When choosing meat products, go lean. The best ways to prepare meat are to bake, broil, or grill it. Try to vary your choices in this food group. You can try fish and even nuts.
- The USDA food pyramid recommends eating sweets only in moderation. Every food fits, but in moderation.
Other things you can do to maintain physical fitness include not using tobacco products and illegal drugs such as marijuana or cocaine. Also, if you use alcohol, be sure to drink responsibly.
Remember these two tenets of physical wellness:
- It is better to consume foods and beverages that enhance good health than those that impair it.
- It is better to be physically fit than out of shape.
Intellectual wellness addresses creative and mental activities and your openness to new ideas (National Wellness Institute 2007). People who are intellectually well continually try to expand their knowledge and skills, and they’re willing to share their knowledge and skills with others. You can achieve intellectual wellness by engaging in lifelong learning through both formal education and informal life experiences. If you’re intellectually well, you’ll welcome lifelong intellectual growth and stimulation and you’ll look for interaction with the world around you. Intellectual wellness helps keep your mind sharp as you age.
Being enrolled in college is a step you’re already taking to achieve intellectual wellness. As a college student, you are being exposed to a variety of ideas in both formal settings, such as the classroom, and informal settings, such as your dormitory or fraternity or sorority. Reading is another great way to stay well intellectually. If you don’t like to read, you can watch or listen to programs with educational value. You can find a variety of educational television programming on the Discovery Channel, History Channel, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and so on. You can also learn new skills or pick up new hobbies throughout your life to help maintain intellectual wellness.
Remember these tenets of intellectual wellness:
- It is better to stretch and challenge your mind with intellectual and creative pursuits than to become self-satisfied and unproductive.
- It is better to identify potential problems and choose appropriate courses of action based on available information than to wait, worry, and contend with major concerns later.
Emotional wellness gives you the ability to get through the rigors of life (National Wellness Institute 2007). Some aspects of emotional wellness include self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-control, and trust. Emotional wellness involves the ability to deal with stress, the ability to be flexible, and your attitude toward yourself and life in general. Emotional wellness will help you have a better outlook on life so that you enjoy it to its fullest.
You can do several things to help improve your emotional wellness. One of the most important is to develop a good social support network. In other words, make friends! Friends provide a sounding board, and their support helps you reduce stress and manage negative emotions. Even with a busy and sometimes chaotic schedule, make time to nurture relationships so you have a solid support system in times of need and in times of joy.
Another important step you can take to maintain emotional wellness is to build confidence. Each person has unique abilities and weaknesses. Accepting your strengths and weaknesses and doing the best with what you have can help build self-confidence.
Finding the optimal balance between work and personal life is another important step to maintaining emotional wellness. Try to schedule time to pursue activities that interest you, such as reading, exercising, or going to the movies. Finding a balance between schoolwork and the rest of your life will help you not only in school but as you enter the workforce and raise a family.
Remember these tenets of emotional wellness:
- It is better to be aware of and accept your feelings than to deny them.
- It is better to be optimistic in your approach to life than pessimistic.
This is an excerpt from Health and Wellness for Life, edited by Human Kinetics.