By Carol Phillips
Do you hyper-focus on exercise or diet, stressing over how you need to be better at one or both of these vital components of good health? While both are important topics in which we need to prioritize for optimal health, overall health and wellness is more easily achieved by remembering that all areas of our lives affect our health and wellness. Making small, simple positive changes in each area can turn a seemingly daunting task into a new lifestyle that is much easier to embrace.
The Seven Dimensions of Wellness is a model used to describe overall wellness. I use it as part of the foundation for my health coaching to teach people that good health is more than diet and exercise. Every aspect of our lives falls under one or more of the seven dimensions. Becoming aware of this realization can give you a new outlook on the importance of your health and inspire you to prioritize YOU in ways you never imagined.
What is the difference between health and wellness?
Health is the absence of disease and being mentally sound. Wellness is making healthy lifestyle choices and having a sense of contentment in life.
Although some people may believe these two terms are interchangeable, you can see that people may be unhealthy (for example, living with cancer), yet live lives of wellness (being happy and taking care of themselves despite their diseases). Conversely, people may have “a clean bill of health,” yet they are not well because they make unhealthy lifestyle choices and are highly dissatisfied with their lives.
In this way, people typically fall into one of four categories:
- Healthy and Well
- Healthy but Not Well
- Well but Not Healthy
- Not Healthy and Not Well
What category describes you best?
I often refer to Plymouth State University’s OSSIPEE Model to describe the Seven Dimensions of Wellness. The seven dimensions and a brief question to describe each are as follows:
- Does your chosen profession bring fulfillment and a sense of purpose?
- Does your belief system regarding your life purpose, religion, soulfulness or higher power add value to your life?
- Do your relationships with other people help you feel connected and supported?
- Is your mind used to observe, think critically, be creative, and solve problems?
- Do you exercise regularly, eat healthy, and make good choices regarding self-care to avoid illness and injury?
- Do you handle well your feelings and emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, love, and frustration, including controlling stress?
- Do you feel connected to the planet, use its resources wisely, and avoid toxins?
Armed with this knowledge and combined with the capability to identify your strengths and weaknesses, the positive lifestyle and behavior changes you’ve been seeking become much more easily attainable. The seven dimensions of wellness is a model you can use as an effective tool in creating a happier and healthier lifestyle.
Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol. She helps companies significantly reduce costs and increase productivity through a new approach to wellness. Based in Manchester, N.H., she can be reached through her website at www.HealthDesignNH.com.