8 Dimensions of Wellness

Each dimension of wellness can affect overall quality of life. The eight dimensions of wellness take into account not only an individual's physical health, but all the factors that contribute to a person's overall wellness.

 8 Dimensions of Wellness

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Physical Wellness

What is it? 
Physical wellness promotes proper care of our bodies for optimal health and functioning. There are many elements of physical wellness that all must be cared for together. Overall physical wellness encourages the balance of physical activity, nutrition and mental well-being to keep your body in top condition. Obtaining an optimal level of physical wellness allows you to nurture personal responsibility for your own health. As you become conscious of your physical health, you are able to identify elements you are successful in as well as elements you would like to improve.

  • Physical Activity: Being physically active is crucial to keeping your body in its top condition. A few proven benefits of physical activity are strengthened bones and muscles, reduced risk of disease and stroke, and more energy. Learn more about physical activity.
  • Mental Well-Being: Having optimal levels of physical activity and maintaining proper nutrition is key to improving your overall emotional wellness. Not only will you sharpen your thinking and learning abilities, you will also enhance your sense of self-esteem and self-control.
  • Nutrition: It is important to nurture your body by eating a well-balanced diet. Filling yourself with a variety of nutrients and vitamins will not only help prevent illness, but will also keep your body functioning at its best. Find healthy eating resources on campus.

The route to physical wellness:

  • Engage in physical activity everyday for 30 minutes.
  • Learn to recognize warning signs when your body begins feeling ill.
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule and get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods and control your meal portions.


Emotional Wellness

What is it?
Emotional wellness inspires self-care, relaxation, stress reduction and the development of inner strength. It is important to be attentive to both positive and negative feelings and be able to understand how to handle these emotions. Emotional wellness also includes the ability to learn and grow from experiences. Emotional well-being encourages autonomy and proper decision making skills. It is an important part of overall wellness.

The route to emotional wellness:

  • Smile
  • Remind yourself to stay positive
  • Seek or accept help and support from others when needed.
  • Accept mistakes and learn from them for next time. Mistakes are not terrible experiences; they are learning experiences.
  • Employ gratitude to your life in order to strengthen relationships with family and friends.
  • Practice being mindful and increase your awareness. This can be done through various forms of meditation.

Social Wellness

What is it?
Social wellness refers to the relationships we have and how we interact with others. Our relationships can offer support during difficult times. Social wellness involves building healthy, nurturing and supportive relationships as well as fostering a genuine connection with those around you. Conscious actions are important in learning how to balance your social life with your academic and professional lives. Social wellness also includes balancing the unique needs of romantic relationships with other parts of your life.

The route to social wellness:

  • Reflect on yourself and your social needs. What aspects of your social life do you enjoy? What parts would you like to improve?
  • Practice self-disclosure
  • Make an effort to keep in touch with supportive friends and family.
  • Join a club or organization.
  • Participate in group discussions and practice active listening.

Spiritual Wellness

What is it?

Spiritual wellness allows us to be in tune with our spiritual selves. This realm of wellness is the process by which we find meaning and purpose. Spiritual wellness can be defined through various factors including religious faith, values, ethics and morals. Spiritual wellness may manifest in our relationships to self, others, creation, and the transcendent.

From a Catholic Jesuit perspective Spiritual Wellness refers to our being aware of and open to God’s divine love active in our lives.  God is active in our world, loving it into being – and this includes us!  Each of us is made in God’s image, loved by God, and invited by God into an ever-deepening relationship of love.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, in his Spiritual Exercises calls this the “First Principle and Foundation.”  A contemporary reading of this “First Principle” teaches that:

The goal of our life is to live with God forever.  God, who loves us, gave us life.  Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit.

(St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, (David Fleming SJ, trans.)


Thus, we see that this kind of wellness is not necessarily about following rules or praying correctly.  Rather, this is about being open to the experience of God’s divine love in all aspects of our lives.  As we open ourselves to this love, spiritual wellness allows us to be in tune with our whole selves, helping us to find meaning in the moments of our lives – great and small.  And, spiritual wellness can help us understand or discern our vocation – who we are called to be and how we are called to love in the world. Within our own faith communities, traditions, or experiences, we can always grow deeper into this experience of holy love.


The route to spiritual wellness can include:

Intellectual Wellness

What is it?
Intellectual wellness encourages us to engage in creative and mentally-stimulating activities. These activities should expand your knowledge and skills while allowing you to share your knowledge and skills with others. Intellectual wellness can be developed through academics, cultural involvement, community involvement and personal hobbies. As intellectual wellness develops, you are able to develop personal resources that work together with the other realms of wellness in order to be achieve a more balanced life.

The route to intellectual wellness:

  • Be open-minded.
  • Listen. When you participate in active listening you are able to fully comprehend the information that is being given to you.
  • Express your creative side by exploring different avenues of creativity and artistic expressions.
  • Pick up a hobby. Hobbies are great ways to increase your skill set. 
  • Travel. The best way to gain knowledge as well as an appreciation for another culture is to experience it yourself.

Financial Wellness

What is it?

Financial Wellness involves the process of learning how to successfully manage financial expenses. Money plays a critical role in our lives and not having enough of it impacts health as well as academic performance. Financial stress is repeatedly found to be a common source of stress, anxiety and fear for college students. Keeping track of expenses, making a budget, and sticking to it are important skills to have in order to be finically responsible and independent. Learning how to maximize your financial wellness now will help you feel prepared to handle potentially stressful financial situations in the future.

Financial Wellness in College

College students are often subject to significant financial distress. Student debt can be a looming challenge, especially with the rising costs of higher education, housing, bills, food, taking care of other dependents, and other basic expenses. Keeping up with these financial responsibilities can quickly become overwhelming, but ignoring them will only increase feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear. With so many things to juggle within a busy academic schedule, adding in some time every day to seek ways to improve financial wellness will help you feel less stress. Developing financially smart habits during college is a valuable investment to achieve your future goals.

The route to financial wellness:

  • Plan ahead and set budget goals.
  • Take advantage of student discounts.
  • Don’t put it off - identify and address any financial problems before they start.
  • Keep organized records of your finances.

Environmental Wellness

Environmental wellness inspires us to live a lifestyle that is respectful of our surroundings. This realm encourages us to live in harmony with the Earth by taking action to protect it. Environmental well-being promotes interaction with nature and your personal environment. Everyone can have a strong environmental conscious simply by raising their awareness. 

The route to environmental wellness:

  • Recycle
  • Volunteer with environmental organizations.
  • Conserve energy
  • Spend time outdoors and boost your vitamin D at the same time

Occupational Wellness

What is it?

Occupational wellness inspires us to prepare for work in which we will gain personal satisfaction and find enrichment in our life. Your attitude about work is a crucial influence for occupational development. Occupational wellness allows you to explore various career options and encourages you to pursue the opportunities you enjoy the most. This dimension of wellness recognizes the importance of satisfaction, enrichment and meaning through work.

The route to occupational wellness: 

  • Reflect on yourself and your occupational needs. What occupational tasks do you enjoy? What occupational tasks do you find burdensome?
  • Explore both paid and un-paid work and volunteer opportunities that interest you.
  • Set realistic career goals for yourself and constantly work towards accomplishing these goals.


All dimensions of wellness need our attention for us to truly flourish. There doesn't have to be a balance among all dimensions. The goal is to find a personal harmony with the dimensions that is most authentic to you. 

Learn more...

Our Wellness Peer Educators are here to help. Learn more about Peer Wellness Coaching and request a free session.