“Health and wellness” – it’s such a familiar phrase that you may not think much about what it really means. But Dr. Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute, has thought about the meaning of health and wellness and what it takes to achieve it. Hettler defines wellness as a holistic and evolving process in which people make conscious choices about lifestyle, physical and mental well-being, and their environment to achieve their full potential. He identifies six interdependent dimensions of wellness, each of which is a vital part of mind/body/spirit well-being. According to Dr. Hettler, the six dimensions of wellness are:
Sometimes labeled Vocational, this dimension of wellness recognizes the importance of personally satisfying work. Such work, whether it’s paid employment, volunteer- or family-oriented, or the pursuit of a favorite hobby, allows you to share your gifts, skills and talents in a meaningful way. As educator and author Marsha Sinetar says, “In a vocational sense, when who we are fits what we do, we feel exuberant.” When you engage within this dimension of wellness, you explore different ways you can serve by developing skills and competence in areas that are personally gratifying. Fulfilling this dimension makes you feel purposeful and involved.
Joseph Pilates, inventor of the Pilates exercise method, expressed the fundamental importance of physical well-being when he said, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” Making choices that support your physical health is the focus of this dimension of wellness. That means choosing to be physically active, eat a balanced diet, and forgo the harmful habits that undermine your health, such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
“Personal relations are the important thing for ever and ever,” wrote British novelist E.M. Forster. The social dimension of wellness is the arena in which you make choices that foster your relationships with other individuals, your community and the environment. The focus is on building a harmonious social network and contributing to the common welfare which can, in turn, support your own sense of belonging and connection.
Your emotions can be like the weather – very real and ever-shifting. Emotional wellness calls for awareness of your emotional state and the acceptance of emotions (yours and other people’s) even if they’re unpleasant or uncomfortable. Making space for emotions allows you to respond more consciously to life and to make personal decisions from an emotionally grounded foundation. Emotional wellness fosters optimism, healthy relationships, effective handling of stress and the ability to take responsibility for your actions.
You support intellectual wellness by stretching your mind, pursuing your interests and following your curiosity. Intellectual growth through conversation and activities like reading, attending lectures, and taking classes supports an active, open mind and a more generous perspective. As author Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “Following that scavenger hunt of curiosity can lead you to amazing, unexpected places.”
The spiritual dimension of wellness recognizes the human need for meaning. You support spiritual well-being when you contemplate the meaning of life and the values by which you want to live. Spiritual wellness allows you to make the choice to live your values with integrity; it gives you a sense of connection with something greater than yourself; and it can sustain you as you explore difficult issues such as illness and death.
A Blueprint for Healthy Aging
Although the six dimensions of wellness create a foundation for optimal health in people of any age, they can be particularly beneficial for older adults. The wellness model encourages seniors to make conscious decisions that support healthy aging. In so doing, you reap the holistic health benefits of each dimension of wellness, and have a greater sense of agency and purpose as you proactively endeavor to satisfy each of the six categories.
Peak Living for Holistic Well-being at Aberdeen Ridge
The active older adults who choose senior living at Aberdeen Ridge, which opens in 2023, will find it easy to pursue a multidimensional approach to holistic wellness. Our Peak Living program will create opportunities for members of our community to enjoy activities, classes, cultural and historical exploration, entertainment, and dining experiences that support each of the six dimensions of wellness. From presentations on opera and dance, ethnic dinners, and excursions to the natural wonders of our beautiful Colorado setting, you’ll find your curiosity piqued, your social calendar brimming, and your sense of purpose and joy fully engaged. Contact us to find out more about our holistic approach to wellness.