Many elements combine and complement each other to form your sense of well-being. You will be able to identify and address potential deficiencies by being aware of these dimensions. Assess and optimise each facet of wellness to live the vibrant, meaningful life that you deserve.
Your total wellness can be divided into the following components:
Let me clarify upfront that this framework of thinking is not my own invention. It is a recognised way of thinking about wellness optimisation in the context of mental and physical health. The grouping of these factors into internal and external and organising them around four key outcomes is my unique contribution to the best of my knowledge.
Each dimension of wellness is important and contributes to your quality of life. It is worth clarifying at the start, that a state of perfect balance and absolute satisfaction across all these is an extremely rare achieve. So, see this as a useful framework for designing a lifestyle of health, joy and fulfilment.
You may perceive some of these as more or less valuable. This is normal and you must not allow anyone to tell you what your priorities in life should be. This is far too important a decision to outsource to social pressure and well-meaning friends and relatives.
At different stages of your life, you will invest more of your energy and attention in different components. As you get to know yourself better your priorities may change. You may sometimes completely revise your order of importance following significant events.
Maximise your chances of designing and experiencing the best quality of life you can have by being aware of all dimensions of wellness.
Internal vs External
These dimensions can be divided into internal and external for ease of comprehension. Please note that this is not a rigid division and all factors interact and influence each other at all times.
The eight factors influencing your wellness can further be divided into four pairs. When each pair is seen in its totality and is optimised, it leads to the fulfilment of a desired outcome. Once again, this distinction is to be seen as a conceptualisation and not taken as set in stone.
Physical (INTERNAL > HEALTH)
This dimension is about the well-being of your physical body. It emphasises the importance of healthy food, enough rest and regular activity. When you feel well in general and are free of aches and pains your body is in a state of wellness.
Maintaining a healthy weight and general fitness are also important here. A healthy weight is essential for proper body functioning and chronic disease prevention. General fitness enables you to carry your daily duties and enjoy recreational activities.
You may be able to carry groceries and climb the stairs without difficulties. Do you also have the high level of energy required for peak performance at your profession? Do you have spare capacity to enjoy time with friends and family or meaningful pursuits after the end of the working day? These are the true hallmarks of physical wellness.
Essentials: be physically active, eat healthily, get enough rest and sleep, maintain appropriate hygiene, moderate sexual activity, do not ingest harmful or poisons substances, learn to listen and take care of your body.
Emotional (e-motion = energy in motion in your body) (INTERNAL > HAPPINESS)
This dimension refers to your feelings and moods. It is about having satisfying relationships and coping effectively with life. It includes the cultivation of more resourceful emotional responses. Seeking greater happiness and inner peace are critical. Having empathy and compassion for yourself and others are also essential. Your ability to identify and appropriately express your feelings is another key aspect.
Emotional wellness is what allows you to remain centred and seek self-awareness. It is about becoming a master of your emotions instead of being controlled by them. Emotional and mental wellness are related because emotions influence thoughts and vice versa.
Very often emotions are conditioned un- or subconscious responses to particular stimuli. Self-awareness can help you make them conscious. Mind training can help you re-programme new more resourceful responses.
Communicating with other people is usually the main source of emotions. Relationships provide an excellent opportunity to develop emotional mastery and wellness.
Essentials: cultivate self-awareness and self-acceptance, identify and express your emotions constructively, engage in effective relationships, practice self-control and self-esteem, be willing to work on your own flaws and defects, develop resilience, learn to cope effectively with challenging states, remain calm and centred, be responsible for your own actions, understand the impact of your emotional expressions on yourself and others.
Mental (Intellectual) (INTERNAL > WEALTH)
This dimension is about the well-being of your mind, brain and mental abilities. It includes you developing productive and positive ways of thinking. It is also about having a strong curiosity and desire to learn that helps you utilise your creative energy. Maintaining optimal focus, paying sustained attention and reliable memory are also important.
You need a strong mind to be able to pursue and optimise all other dimensions of wellness. I cannot overemphasise the importance of discipline, self-control, determination and will-power. You can develop these innate qualities of mind with regular practice.
The hallmarks of an unhealthy mind are depression, rumination, confusion, worry, fear, anxiety, aggression, anger, attention deficits, inconsistency, lack of motivation. A mind that is well has clarity, focus, determination, understanding, motivation, acceptance, confidence, inner peace, insights, ideas.
Essentials: know and use your creative abilities, grow your knowledge continually, expand your skills, be inspired by and share new ideas, train your focus concentration and memory, exercise and challenge your brain, think deeply and critically, be courageous and persevere when facing challenges, cultivate mental clarity and insight.
Spiritual (INTERNAL > HARMONY)
This dimension has many levels. It refers to the meaning and purpose that you assign to your life. It is also about aligning yourself with the higher purpose of your spirit. Discovering and living in accord with why you were born… Spiritual wellness is also about the set of written or unwritten values or principles guiding your behaviour. Being present and mindful and practising gratitude also nurture this dimension. It is about finding who, or rather, what you are.
You can recognise spiritual wellness through feeling peace and contentment. You feel that your life makes sense and you are on the right path. If things are not great right now you have the faith that they will be. Even when you experience significant challenges you see them as precious opportunities to learn and grow. Your life is free of resistance and contrived effort. You allow things to unfold and synchronicities become commonplace. You are free of negative thoughts and feelings and allow them to dissipate if they arise instead of feeding them.
Essentials: practice mindfulness and self-awareness (meditation, prayer, self-enquiry), seek meaning and purpose in your life, aim for a healthy level of happiness and satisfaction in your life, identify and embody your values and principles, practice continuous peace and calmness, have a zest for life, be present and make the most of each day, practice gratitude daily, realise your oneness with all life.
Environmental (EXTERNAL > HEALTH)
This dimension is about how you relate to your environment. In a narrower sense, it is about having clean and comfortable living conditions. In a wider sense, it is about using Earth’s resources in a sustainable and respectful way. In a more specific sense, it is about working in environments that support your creativity and promote your health.
Environmental wellness at home brings you a sense of peace and security. You feel content in your dwellings and comfortable with inviting others in. Mindful time in peaceful natural surroundings is an excellent way of boosting this dimension. Working in a place that is visually pleasing, free of stressful noise and designed with your posture and body in mind is also critical.
Essentials: spend as much enjoyable time as you can in nature, consume in an environmentally sustainable way, protect yourself from environmental hazards, live in a place that is comfortable and clean, work in a place that enhances your creativity and protects your body.
Social (EXTERNAL > HAPPINESS)
This dimension is about having a well-developed support system you trust and care about. It is also about feeling a belonging and developing a sense of connection. It also has to do with playing your social roles with comfort and effectiveness.
You can recognise social wellness by the positive relationships you’ve developed with loved ones and peers. It is all about the human connections that help you feel accepted and at ease. Relationships based on commitment, honesty, respect and trust contribute to our well-being. This is how social and emotional wellness link.
Essentials: build and maintain a sense of community, harmonise with your social circles in a mutually beneficial way, be there for others, allow others to treat or take care of you, develop a sense of belonging, feel supported and connected, relate with others honestly and respectfully, give and gain trust, contribute to the well-being and growth of the people you interact with.
Financial (EXTERNAL > WEALTH)
This dimension is about being satisfied with your current and future financial status. It is about how well you manage your finances. Managing your expenses according to your income is essential. Planning and budgeting at least 6 months ahead gives you some peace of mind. Taking steps to improve your financial situation while accepting the limitations and living within your means is key.
Financial insufficiencies are a major cause for stress worldwide. It is not accidental that the eradication of poverty has been a major goal of humanity for a long time. Not having enough money can have detrimental effects on most of the other dimensions of wellness. You may not be able to afford healthy food and leisure time. You may not be able to engage in the activities that elevate you mentally and emotionally.
You can develop your financial wellness by being aware of your income and expenses. Next, you can consider your aspirations and set yourself some goals. This would enable you to consider what steps you need to take to improve your financial situation.
Essentials: avoid financial stress at all costs, consider how you can improve your financial situation, manage your income and expenses, live within your means, save money regularly, have an emergency reserve for peace of mind, invest your surplus, minimise unnecessary expenditure, plan and budget ahead.
Occupational (EXTERNAL > HARMONY)
This dimension is all about career and job satisfaction. Most people spend a significant part of their waking hours working. This means that the quality of your occupation has a significant influence on your wellness. Having a balance between work and your other interests is essential. Forming healthy relationships with colleagues will also enhance your well-being.
Aspiring to do what you love, do well, find meaningful and gives you enough income is key to occupational wellness. These 4 criteria carry different weight for different people. They can fluctuate with your stage of life and your circumstances as well. In any case, it is good to know which of them you value the most and relate to your work accordingly. Finding your true calling will either help you address all four criteria or will maximise some and make the rest irrelevant.
Putting your undivided effort and focus to produce deep work will enhance your wellness regardless of what you do.
Essentials: do work that is right for you, be satisfied with the work you do, focus intently and aim to produce your best work whatever you do, harmonise between work and other meaningful pursuits, manage your work stress, design a healthy work environment, develop and nurture healthy relationships with co-workers.
If you want to optimise your well-being, you need to be aware of all the components that make it up. By assessing your level of satisfaction on each of them, you can identify which areas need the most urgent attention. This will then enable you, with the help of a coach, to decide what positive steps to take.
Which dimension of wellness do you struggle most with right now? How would your life improve if you were to make a change now? What makes now the best time to act?
Martin Stefanov Petkov
Master Superior Power