Health Is the Whole…Body, Mind, and Soul
by Amy Scholten, MPH
You count grams of fat and fiber, eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, drink green tea, and jog 4 times a week. However, you spend most of your time at a high stress job, have few close relationships, and feel that your life lacks meaning. The good things that you do for your body may help increase your resistance to stress and illness, but they only reflect part of a much larger picture.
Health is more than having a body that works properly. It includes physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, and even occupational/vocational dimensions. When these dimensions are working in harmony, they contribute to a sense of well-being and satisfaction.
The Six Dimensional Model of Wellness TOP
How do you take care of your whole self? The National Wellness Institute embraces the Six Dimensional Model of Wellness developed in 1979 by Dr. Bill Hettler. The chart below, based on Hettler’s model, can provide you with some guidance.
Finding Balance in an Unbalanced World TOP
Who has the time to address all these dimensions? Many wellness experts suggest numerous opportunities to find more balance. Strategies may include:
Finding Activities That Meet Multiple Wellness Needs
For example, taking a daily walk with your spouse and children can fulfill needs for physical activity and emotional bonding. If you use the time to discuss ideas and career aspirations, your family walk could also contribute to intellectual and occupational needs.
Clarifying Your Values and Priorities
Take time to know the deepest purposes for which you live, and use them to set goals and make decisions. For example, you may find that you would prefer more time with your family rather than a bigger paycheck. Do not wait for a crisis to show what really matters to you.
Identifying Areas Where You Want More Balance TOP
Using your values and the Six Dimensional Model of Wellness, identify your current wellness deficits and develop goals that will help you find more balance.
Being Realistic and Flexible TOP
Perfect balance in all dimensions is not possible in an ever-changing world. There will be times when you are overextended, lonely, angry, and tired. Over the years, you will need to make adjustments until you find a balance that enhances your quality of life.
Mental Health America
National Wellness Institute
Canadian Mental Health Association
Mental Health Canada
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Updated January 9, 2013. Accessed December 7, 2015.
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Six dimensions of wellness. National Wellness Institute website. Available at:
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Accessed December 7, 2015.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
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