The 7 Dimensions of Wellness

For many of us trying to live a healthier life, setting wellness goals and figuring out how to achieve them can be a daily challenge. Building new healthier habits requires defining first what wellness means to you. So where do we start? In fact, there are 7 dimensions that play into the overall definition of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social, occupational, and environmental wellness. Let’s go over each one to help set our goals: 

1. Physical Wellness

Physical health is likely the first thing you associate with wellness, and truly so, getting adequate rest, exercising, proper nutrition, and limiting toxins – like tobacco and alcohol – are all important to physical wellness. The systems that make up your physical self (your digestive system, muscular system, nervous system, and circulatory system) all need proper support. Select one area that you would like to improve to set achievable goals, such as cardiac fitness, gut health or sleep. Overall balance is also important. One system is often left out of most research about wellness, the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is comprised of receptors throughout the body which are also the most abundant type of neurotransmitter receptor in the brain(1). They help the brain communicate with the other organs and regulate their functions in the body. New research is being conducted every day, and existing studies on CBD have shown promise in reducing anxiety, inflammation and the frequency and severity of seizures in epileptic patients, and much more (9).

2. Emotional Wellness

Our emotional wellness is just as important as our physical wellness. Emotional wellness is the ability to process and express our emotions. In addition, the ability to return to optimism, develop a sense of self-confidence or self-esteem, and to accept and forgive yourself play leading roles in emotional wellness. It can be challenging to nurture and fluctuates throughout the highs and lows of our lives. We can strengthen our emotional wellness with new habits such as working with a mental health professional, developing a meditation practice, taking time for self-care, journaling, or tapping into scholarly resources – like Brené Brown’s work on shame and guilt (4)– to learn more about ourselves.

3. Intellectual Wellness

Learning is not only important to overall mental health, but can even aid in preventing degenerative disorders of the brain like dementia (5). Challenging your mind can lead to self-improvement, learning new skills, honing an existing skill, or becoming the master of a trade. Being creative optimizes the way our brain works, by using the “Big 3” brain networks together, instead of utilizing just one at a time (7). The stress-relieving and confidence-boosting properties of learning or being creative can be practiced by taking a class, reading, learning a new skill through mentorship, trying a new artistic outlet, or learning a new language.

4. Spiritual Wellness

Spirituality is the sum of guiding moral pillars in your life, and it’s the commitment to those personal beliefs that also gives you a sense of purpose. Spirituality can hold great power for wellness and is even used in 12-step programs aimed at ending addiction by encouraging a relationship with a “higher power” (6). A spiritually well person allows themselves and those around them be exactly who they are and surrenders the need to control internal and external situations. Ways to tap into your spirituality include prayer, meditation, readings, seeking harmony in chaos, or spending time being mindful and inquisitive.

5. Social Wellness

Humans were made to be in community. Our social wellness lies in our ability to cultivate relationships with family, friends, or romantic partners and show respect for others and yourself. It’s important to balance the give and take – the ebb and flow – of the relationships you engage in. One way we do that is by setting healthy boundaries and managing our expectations of others. Contributing to your community can have a significant impact on overall wellbeing (8), and has the potential to reduce feelings of isolation or loneliness. Strengthen your social wellness by investing more time in existing healthy relationships, joining a club or group, participating in a support group, or volunteering.

6. Occupational Wellness

Your career doesn’t have to just be a paycheck or a way to build wealth. Someone who has occupational wellness has a positive outlook toward their role, employer, and has healthy relationships within their workplace. It may be time to create a vision for your future and take steps toward a new career. Finding a role that fits your talents, personality and purpose could be the difference between hating Mondays and having a job that doesn’t feel like one. At the same time, occupational wellness is not assigning all your worth to your job. If you haven’t found occupational wellness, set new goals, invest time in developing your skills, attend a class, get a certification, or explore new opportunities.

7. Environmental Wellness

Environmental wellness is the relationship we share with our planet and the ways in which we impact it. It can show up in many areas of our lives through our daily choices – from the products we buy to the food we eat. It’s our duty to protect the planet that we all share, and by participating in protecting it, we also benefit from its longevity and health. Enjoying nature is a simple way to relieve stress and create a sense of how great in size our planet really is. We can practice environmental wellbeing in many ways such as buying “green” products, reducing our carbon footprints, changing our preferences from mail to online, choosing locally sourced goods and services, and of course reducing, reusing, and recycling.

These 7 areas of wellness encompass the intricate web of our physical being with the ways in which we show up to the world, to our workplace, and to ourselves. There’s no scorecard or grade to achieve in wellness. Just the opportunity to better understand who we are and treat ourselves with a little more empathy along the way.


  1. Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System
  2. Endocannabinoid System Components: Overview and Tissue Distribution
  3. Brené Brown – Website
  4. Shame Resilience Theory: A Grounded Theory Study on Women and Shame
  5. Learning may provide neuroprotection against dementia
  6. Define Your “Higher Power” In Drug and Alcohol Rehab
  7. Your Brain on Creativity - Neuroscience research reveals creativity's "brainprint."
  8. Why Is Community Important To Mental Health?
  9. Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System