Exploring the 12 Dimensions of Wellness
Your health and wellbeing don’t just revolve around what you eat and how you exercise. There are many more aspects that go into your overall wellness than you might expect. Each one of us lives uniquely, with different ways to take care of ourselves and different experiences that ultimately make us who we are. Each of these individual pieces of life plays a fundamental role in our well-being.
The many aspects that go into creating your overall personal wellness are also oftentimes referred to as dimensions. Many dimensions go into your wellness, but experts in the field have identified 12 general dimensions of wellness. These pieces of your wellbeing make up the fundamental life processes that all interact with and affect each other too. Each of these dimensions and processes is unique to each person, resulting in an individualized wellbeing experience.
What Are the 12 Basic Dimensions of Wellness?
1. Self-Responsibility and Self-Love
Both self-responsibility and self-love are major aspects of our well-being. They are the foundations for how we treat ourselves and others, as well as serving as a reflection of who we are on the inside. Extending compassion to yourself is one aspect of health that is often forgotten.
Self-responsibility, also sometimes referred to as self-regulation, is a primary piece of our lives that revolves around how we are able to control and direct ourselves regarding our thoughts. Being able to control emotions and impulses is an important part of life, as we cannot just simply do everything we want.
Many people also struggle with putting others’ needs in front of their own. Because of this, they often forget to take care of themselves as much as they should. Taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally, is just as important as helping others. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first.
Self-love is a fundamental contributor to how we treat ourselves and the people around us. Lack of self-love often flows into other areas of our lives, such as creating low self-confidence and self-image as well. When we don’t love ourselves, we often project our animosity on others around us. By loving ourselves and extending ourselves the compassion we deserve, we can use that energy to also love and take care of others in our lives.
While it may seem simple, many people forget the impact of this everyday life process. Practicing mindful breathing promotes more than just relaxation and has a plethora of benefits when it comes to your wellbeing. Mindful breathing is the simple process of focusing your thoughts on your breath, and only your breath. Feeling the natural rhythm of your breaths and how each inhale and exhale is different, mindful breathing will help you fall into a state of relaxation, comfort, and calmness. From here, you can focus on what is important to you with a lessened set of distractions.
In the world we live in today, our senses are constantly overloaded. The world is busy, hectic, and loud. Seeing, feeling, listening, and tasting all sometimes become too automated and we forget to actually acknowledge these senses as we experience them. Take time to be mindful of your senses. Don’t let one sense become overloaded, giving each a break when they need one. Cook your favorite meal to focus on how much you love the taste or go for a walk in the woods and take time to stop and see the trees. Sense all of the individual pieces of the world around you.
Eating is one of the more popular dimensions of wellness that many people recognize. In fact, many people think that eating is one of the only aspects of wellness besides exercise. This is because eating plays a primary role in your overall well-being. What you eat largely impacts how you are able to live your life in all areas. Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet is important to maintaining energy and a healthy mind and body. Today, there is so much processed food surrounding us that it is sometimes impossible to avoid. But, understanding the idea of everything in moderation, including food, is the key to enjoying your food while still eating consciously.
Moving is something we do constantly, many times without thinking twice about it. It is an automatic function of our body that we learn at a young age. Moving is an essential part of our everyday lives and overall wellness. When we don’t move enough, our bodies can feel the difference. Making sure that we are active is a major component of feeling like our best selves. Whether you run, do yoga, swim, or dance, engaging your body in any sort of physical activity will greatly impact your health and wellbeing in a positive way. But, it is also important to remember to maintain a balance between activity and rest, too. Remember, everything in moderation is the key.
Now, this might seem quite straightforward, but there are a lot of small pieces that go into your emotions and why you feel them the way you do. Not just feeling, but expressing your feelings, is key to feeling like your best self. Oftentimes we repress our emotions or even get mad at ourselves for feeling a certain way. Instead, we have to allow ourselves to feel these emotions the way they present themselves. Repressing feelings has never done anyone much good. Becoming more in touch with your feelings will help you in the long run. Recognize your emotions and validate them, as they are another important part of the human experience.
Your thoughts are separate entities from your feelings. But, your thoughts have just as much power as your feelings do. Our thoughts have the power to affect both our physical and mental health, as well as how we live our lives. Being mindful of our thoughts is a great way to try and combat things like negative thoughts we may have about ourselves or others. By recognizing these toxic thoughts, acknowledging them, and then understanding that they are negative, we are being mindful and can hopefully try and reduce these types of thoughts. Positive thoughts can work similarly. If you use positive affirmations and reassure yourself constantly, you will feel a change in the way you feel too, mostly for the better. Validating yourself and saying positive affirmations are great ways to acknowledge your thoughts and make yourself feel better.
8. Work and Play
Work can often take over our lives. Finding and maintaining a balance between work and play is immensely important to both your physical and mental health.
Maintaining a job is an important part of your life as well as other dimensions of wellness, such as self-responsibility. Being able to organize yourself and stay on task, while also finding balance with your outside life plays into your overall wellness greatly.
Nowadays, most people spend the majority of their lives at work. Because of this, it’s becoming harder and harder for many to find any sort of time for themselves. Setting aside time to allow yourself to hang out with friends and family, doing activities you love, and resting, are all important in maintaining a healthy balance between your work and outside life. The word ‘play’ in this regard just means an enjoyable escape from your work life. This allows you to take a break from thinking about work and recharge. This often gives you the vigor to go back to work too.
Communication is another fundamental process of our lives. Communicating our thoughts and feelings throughout all relationships in our lives is such an important part to creating and maintaining healthy connections with our loved ones. Communication helps us convey our thoughts, feelings, and experiences in our own ways. Understand that communicating your feelings is not a burden, but a benefit to both of those in the conversation who would not have known this information otherwise.
Listening to what others have to say is half of the process of communication. Oftentimes we get so distracted by what we may need or want or what we are trying to say, that we stop hearing the other side of the situation at hand. Listening to what your friends and family are trying to say to you is 50% of the communication process. There is no communication if you are not able to listen to others.
Intimacy covers a wide range of relationships. While it can be with your partner, intimacy actually plays a role in more relationships in your life than you might think. There are multiple different dimensions within intimacy, but it generally regards close-knit bonds with other people in your life. You can have intimacy in your friendships, with your family members, and with your partner.
One of the biggest pieces of intimacy is trust. Being able to trust someone is an incredibly important part of a relationship. Learning to trust, appreciate, and respect others helps increase intimacy and overall well being.
11. Finding Meaning
While seemingly broad, this dimension of our wellness plays a role in each of our individual lives differently. It seems that every person reaches a time in their life when they begin to contemplate reason and existence. We begin to ponder questions like “Why am I here?” or “What is my purpose?” By living mindfully, you can search for and find meaning in almost every aspect of your life. Feeling deeply is part of the human experience. Allow yourself to search for meaning in new areas. Allow yourself to wonder.
Now, you might be wondering why the final dimension of wellness is transcending and what transcending even means. Transcending can be defined as the act of being mindful always, of everything in your life. Some refer to this aspect of wellbeing as being “awake” toward the different pieces and experiences in your life. This dimension is all about observing and feeling the world around you. Being mindful of all different areas of your life helps you become more aware of your world.
Working Toward Your Best Self
Ultimately, you have the greatest power in changing your own life. By focusing on what makes you happy, what you find meaning in, what you are grateful for and the other important dimensions of wellness, you will continue to take steps in the right direction. Remember that life is a journey, and you are here to experience all of it.