What Is The Wellness Wheel? How You Can Practice It For A Wholesome And Healthy Lifestyle
Sometimes you can be physically healthy but mentally disturbed. Or financially wealthy but socially disconnected. Being “healthy” isn’t just getting fit or climbing the corporate ladder to reach a six-figure salary. It’s much more than that.
The Origins of the Wellness Wheel
The idea of “wellness” began spreading in the second half of the 20th century when the Second Industrial Revolution experienced rapid growth. Bill Hettler developed the Wellness Wheel in 1976 to help people take better care of themselves.
Initially, the Wellness Wheel is comprised of six dimensions but over the years, a couple more have been added to accommodate society’s current needs namely financial and environmental wellness. All of the dimensions are interconnected and important for a balanced and wholesome lifestyle.
The 8 Dimensions of Wellness
If you often feel lost, stressed out or exhausted, there’s a high chance that you’re neglecting one or more areas of your wellbeing. Maybe you don’t even know which other areas of wellness to work on. So let’s go through this Wellness Wheel with eight dimensions that you can put into practice to help you feel better.
Physical wellness is probably the most well-understood of all other types of wellness. If you exercise or move your body regularly, eat well-balanced meals and sleep 7-8 hours a night, your physical health is most likely in tip-top shape. Another aspect of physical wellness is doing regular medical checkups including a sexual health screening. Your body acts as a vehicle in this life so be sure to take care of it properly.
One part of the body that’s often neglected is the brain. And even though we feel our emotions in our “heart”, it’s actually the brain that’s controlling how we feel. To take care of our brain and by extension, our emotional and mental wellbeing, we need to feed ourselves with nutritious brain foods that contain Omega-3. To reduce stress and develop mental clarity, practice meditation and breathwork daily.
Spiritual health is a thing, even if you’re not religious. Being spiritually healthy means that you’re connected to your core beliefs and values that will help you navigate through life. Meditation does help, but you also need to practice questioning existing beliefs and current thoughts to help strengthen your integrity.
Learning doesn’t stop after you graduate from school. Staying curious is important for your intellectual health. So even if you’re a working adult, find time to learn new things and keep stimulating your intellectual interests. Read for pleasure and share your opinions with your friends or join a book club. This is so that you’re not just passively learning but also actively engaging with the material.
Social health is all about having a strong social network and cultivating healthy relationships. You need people around you to support you when you’re feeling stressed out or just need a little encouragement along the way. It does help. We humans are social beings after all, and without a strong support system, it’s quite hard to get by in life.
Occupational wellness depends on how fulfilling your career is or whether you have a clear mission in life. We are very much purpose-driven creatures and if we’re not satisfied with our life, career or mission, it would be as if we’re wading through life like zombies.
When Bill Hettler created the Wellness Wheel, financial health wasn’t one of the six dimensions. It seems that it’s only gotten prominent in our lives in the 21st century. Financial health means managing finances that are suited to your current situation. The basic rules apply; live within your means and plan for your future financial health.
As climate change and environmental pollution has gotten worse over the years, environmental wellbeing has also become part of the Wellness Wheel. While this may be a huge task to carry out, environmental wellness actually starts at home. Look at your personal surroundings. Is it messy and cluttered? If so, practice regular decluttering and stop buying new things or things you don’t need. If you’re throwing away an item, ask yourself if it could be recycled, reused, or donated. Once your personal space is neat and tidy, you may go on to taking care of the global environment by doing activities like volunteering for beach or forest cleanups.
How to Put the Wellness Wheel into Practice
It’s all well and good to know what the 8 dimensions of wellness are but what’s the point if you can’t put them into practice? Working on them all at once could also make you feel more stressed and be counterproductive. So, how can you incorporate all of them into your daily life?
- Pick one area to focus on for one month at a time.
- Create habits to cater for each dimension.
- Find a harmonious balance.
1. Pick one area to focus on for one month at a time.
This means that you will work on the Wellness Wheel for at least 8 months. It sounds like a long time but this is indeed a long-term game. Wellness isn’t instant gratification. You need to put in the intention and effort to achieve desired results. Focusing on one area per month will ensure that you have plenty of time to understand what’s required of each dimension and put it to practice.
2. Create habits to cater for each dimension.
You would need a goal for each part of your wellness journey. And once you know the what, the how will take care of itself. The point is to create habits that cater to the goal for each dimension of wellness.
For example, if you want to improve your sleeping habit, you may set a daily reminder on your calendar to sleep at a certain time as well as an alarm for waking up. It would be difficult at first and you may have the itch to hit the snooze button or ignore it completely. But with daily practice, your mind will get accustomed to this new habit.
3. Find a harmonious balance.
Once you’re done with one dimension, you can move on to the next. But don’t abandon the previous dimension completely. Taking the example of working on your sleeping habit, you can continue that while working on building a meditation habit to improve your emotional wellness. You may also “attach” the new habit to the old by practising meditation before sleeping.
The idea is to create harmony with the different dimensions you’re working on so they become almost effortless.
Most importantly, trust the process. The fact that you’re reading this is a testament to self-love. You will make mistakes along the way but as long as you pick yourself back up, you’re still winning. Now, it’s time to put your knowledge into practice. Enjoy your wellness journey!