What does wellness mean on a personal level? How do you know when you are well and how can you promote the wellness for others? These questions are even more important in a retirement community where the goal is to ensure that every resident is able to maintain a pleasant state of wellness in a community that is supportive of one another.
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The best definition of wellness we have today was developed by Dr Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute. Because wellness can mean different things in different contexts, the model includes six unique dimensions of wellness that together make someone's life happy and healthy.
The 6 Dimensions of Wellness
- Occupational or Financial
Physical wellness is one of the easiest for most people to understand, as it is the difference between experiencing illnesses and living a healthy life. This is the first form of the six dimensions because without physical wellness, it's difficult (but not impossible) to enjoy anything else. Eating right, getting enough exercise, and keeping up with your hygiene rituals are all important parts of maintaining your physical wellness.
Social wellness is how happy you are with your interactions with others. There is not a single profile for someone being socially well, as everyone has different personal preferences for number of friends, and amount of time spent alone versus with company. Introverts may be socially well with one or two close friends they see a few times a week, while socialites may have trouble staying socially satisfied without actively talking to at least thirty people a week. You can also be conflicted on social wellness, happy with your day to day but missing a particular person or type of interaction that is currently unavailable.
To be emotionally well, you need to be both integrated with your feelings and be satisfied with the life you lead. Some people have trouble with emotional wellness due to an internal imbalance, while others have an easy time being satisfied almost anywhere. To maintain emotional wellness, keeping a journal and talking your feelings out with a friend are the best ways to figure out how you feel and make plans to feel better.
Intellectual wellness is another complex one. On one hand, it can be seen as a measure of sanity, whether or not you can track concepts through a conversation or think things that make sense. On the other hand, intellectual wellness can relate to satisfaction with mental stimulation. Someone with a very pleasant lifestyle may still be unhappy if they're not getting enough intellectual activity, like engaging conversation, interesting books to read, or problems to solve.
Occupational and Financial Wellness
We've all known at least one person who can't be happy without something to do. These constantly busy individuals have a high need for occupational wellness. They love to work and feel satisfied in life when they have good work to do. Of course, occupational wellness can also translate to financial concern. Even for those who aren't primarily motivated by work, feeling secure about your finances is a good sign of occupational and financial well being.
Spiritual wellness is our final category because in a way, it gathers up the 'everything else'. This is often measured by whether or not you feel you have a purpose in life, are happy in your current circumstances, and are happy with your general life outlook. You don't have to be religious to have spiritual wellness, just be at peace with yourself and your surroundings.
Though wellness can be defined in many different ways, using the six dimension structure, it becomes possible to assess if any particular person is overall living well or unwell. If someone is physically healthy, socially fulfilled, emotionally satisfied, intellectually stimulated, at ease with their finances, and at peace with their surroundings, they are most likely a happy person who can be considered 'well'.