The 8 Pillars of Wellness: How to Create a Balanced Life

8 dimensions of wellness puzzle pieces in circle


You want to be balanced. 

You want to be healthy. 

You want to be your best self. 

That’s why you’re here, and that’s what I’m going to help you with.

The Importance of Balance

Health is defined as the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit and free from disease, pain, or illness.

Each of the pillars or dimensions of wellness depends on each other. They are interdependent. They are connected. One influences the other both positively and negatively. Neglecting one will adversely affect the other pillars over time. All of these dimensions are important.

Each of these dimensions will require a different amount of awareness, work, and time. The goal is to strive for personal balance and harmony. What this looks like for you will be different from other people. You don’t have to work on each of these dimensions equally. One may require more attention than the rest.

Physical Wellness

  • Includes good physical health habits such as nutrition, exercise, sleep, and appropriate healthcare.
  • Also involves practicing safe sex, avoiding injuries, and any drug use (legal or illegal).

Here’s How You Can Work on It:

  • Adding things that are good for you and cutting back on things that aren’t.
  • Recognize symptoms of disease and take proper actions to address any concerns.
  • Get regular checkups.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Exercise and reduce sedentary time.

Emotional (Psychological, Mental) Wellness

  • Includes the ability to understand and express feelings, adjust to emotional challenges, cope with stressors, and enjoy life.
  • Also refers to the extent to which we can function optimally in the face of challenges (stress, interpersonal conflicts, difficult emotions) whether or not we have a mental illness. And to learn and grow from such experiences.
  • As well as recognizing all of your emotions, this pillar focuses on promoting your optimism, trust, self-esteem, self-acceptance, and self-confidence.
  • Being emotionally healthy helps yourself and your relationships. It encourages autonomy and proper decision-making.

Here’s How You Can Work on It:

  • Practice gratitude and mindfulness.
  • Accept your feelings without judgment. Once you can accept a feeling, you can begin to understand why you’re feeling that way and take action if necessary.
  • Look at challenges as opportunities for growth. 
  • Taking responsibility for your actions.
  • Recognize your triggers.
  • Join support groups. 
  • Journal or talk to friends when you’re in need.
  • Welcome and cultivate positive, empowering thoughts and emotions.

Intellectual Wellness

  • Includes expanding your knowledge and skills while sharing them with others. Your openness to new ideas. Broadening your perspective.
  • It also involves your capacity to question, think critically, having a sense of humor, creativity, and curiosity.

Here’s How You Can Work on It:

  • Engage in creative and mentally stimulating activities.
  • Develop through academics, cultural involvement, personal hobbies, or community involvement.
  • Be curious.
  • Volunteering
  • Reading, listening, playing brain games, traveling, going to a lecture, a performance, or a play.

Interpersonal/Social Wellness

  • Involves having healthy relationships with friends, family, your community, and your significant other. It encourages communication, trust, intimacy, and conflict management.
  • This is how you establish and maintain satisfying relationships. It’s your ability to cultivate a support system of friends and family.
  • Cultural Wellness (let’s include this here since they go hand in hand)
  • Involves creating relationships with those that are different than you. 
  • Maintaining and valuing your own cultural identity.
  • Avoid stereotyping based on race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation.
  • Acknowledging, accepting, and respecting diversity.

Here’s How You Can Work on It:

  • Practice empathy and active listening.
  • Have an interest and concern in the needs of others.
  • Establish boundaries.
  • Developing effective communication skills.
  • Join support groups, go on dates with friends, participate in social activities, keep in touch with people, or meet new people.

Spiritual Wellness

  • Is one’s personal beliefs and values. Involves having meaning and purpose, a sense of balance and peace. It can be defined through religion, values, ethics, or morals.
  • Associated with effective coping skills and overall higher levels of wellness.
  • It’s your capacity for love, compassion, forgiveness, altruism, joy, fulfillment, caring for others, sense of meaning and purpose, and belonging to something greater than yourself.
  • Finding meaning in your life experiences helps you find harmony within yourself and the outer world.

Here’s How You Can Work on It:

  • Spirituality is very personal, and there are many different ways to develop it. Choose activities meaningful to you.
  • Practice acceptance. Explore your inner self, who you are. Spend time alone with your thoughts and feelings.
  • Be curious.
  • Developing values that help you seek meaning and purpose.
  • Know which resources to help you cope. A resource to cope for one problem, might not work for a different problem.
  • Developing appreciation for life and the natural forces that exist in the universe.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Notice art, architecture, music.
  • Engage in activities you enjoy that allow you to express your creative side.
  • Engage in a personal spiritual practice such as prayer, meditation, or yoga.
  • Get involved in the community, groups, or organizations.
  • Reach out to others. Share writings that inspire you.
  • Practice small acts of personal kindness for people you know and strangers.

Environmental Wellness

  • Promotes interaction with nature and your environment. Being respectful of your surroundings. Feeling and being safe.
  • Having abundant, clean, natural resources (air, food, water).

Here’s How You Can Work on It:

  • Maintaining sustainable development, preserving areas we live in, recycling when possible, reducing pollution and waste. 
  • Checking car emissions, turning off water and lights when not in use.
  • Occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support our wellbeing.
  • Having your room and space make you happy and pleasing to the eye.
  • Spend time outdoors.
  • Have your house clutter-free and organized. 

Financial Wellness

  • This is being satisfied with your current financial situation or successfully managing your expenses. (we all want to be rich enough to never have to work again. But, unfortunately, we have to be realistic)
  • Hopefully, we all have a basic understanding of how money works.
  • Financial stress, anxiety, and fear are huge.

Here’s How You Can Work on It:

  • Identify and address any problems before they start.
  • Attend workshops and programs to help financial success (some banks will offer free education). 
  • Create a budget and stick to it. Look at your bank statements.
  • Live within your means. Try to avoid debt, especially for unnecessary items. If you do have debt, make a plan to pay it down in a manageable way or get help.
  • Save for the future and for emergencies. Bring your savings in line with your goals.

Occupational Wellness

  • Involves participating in activities and employment that provide meaning and purpose. They reflect your personal values, interests, and beliefs.
  • Feeling accomplished and satisfied. Feeling valued by your manager or boss.
  • Enjoying what you do (for the most part).

Here’s How You Can Work on It:

  • Maintain work-life balance. Use your PTO, schedule time for breaks.
  • Reflect on your needs and make changes if necessary.
  • Set realistic career goals.
  • Build satisfying relationships with coworkers.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to learn and be challenged.

Putting the Pieces Together

Each of these types of wellness is important for overall wellbeing. Ignoring one will cause a decline over time.

They are all intertwined and a part of each other.

Which areas do you find yourself struggling in or lacking? Take a few moments right now to reflect on this. Which areas are doing well? 

The first step is to observe which area feels full and satisfied. What are you doing to contribute to that area’s well-being? Pat yourself on the back.

Then, notice and acknowledge what you would like to improve. Develop a plan. Determine different actions you can take to improve that area of wellness. Once you have your ideas, set a specific day or time aside to put energy and time into that area. 

If you try one thing to improve an area and it’s not working for you, try something else! There are so many ways we can take care of ourselves.

Don’t get discouraged. These things take time. These are areas we constantly have to work on throughout our lives. You can’t work on them once and then be done with it. It doesn’t work like that, unfortunately.

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