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Wellness in 8-D: Healthier Holistic Habits

Updated: Feb 1

- Teresa Jacobson, DBH, LPCC-S, NCC

December 21, 2021

At this time of high stress the world has seen in the last few years, and any personal stressors you also have; it couldn't be a better time to cultivate healthy habits. The dimensions of wellness are a natural place to start.

Wellness, Defined

"Wellness is a holistic integration of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being fueling the body, engaging the mind, and nurturing the spirit" (Stoewan, 2017). Although wellness includes working and striving towards health, it is much more accurate to explain it as "living life fully." Wellness is more of a lifestyle and a unique, personalized approach to living life in a way that your situation allows. In essence, becoming the best version of yourself.

The integration of wellness includes eight interdependent dimensions. Each of these dimensions will be introduced and described in this article with the hope of broadening and deepening interest in holistic health habits.

The Eight Dimensions of Wellness

Swarbrick and Yudof (2015) describe the eight dimensions model of wellness as an interconnected model of wellness. Each dimension of wellness "directly relates to how long we live (longevity) and how well we live (quality of life)". Wellness involves awareness of ourselves as whole, feeling a sense of balance and contentment.

Wellness does not mean we are free from illness or stress, but does promote the following: (a) purpose in life; (b) active involvement in satisfying work and play; (c) joyful relationships; (d) healthy body and living environment; and (e) happiness. But it may take hard work that leads to "sustainable shifts to behaviors, mindsets, and practices" (National Wellness Institute, 2021).

Wellness is intentional, it doesn't just happen. "Wellness is a conscious, deliberate process that requires being aware of and making choices for a more satisfying lifestyle" (Swarbrick, 2012). This lifestyle of wellness includes healthy habits like sleeping and resting, eating well, being productive, participating in meaningful activities, and being connected with others.

Swarbrick and Yudof describe the eight dimensions of wellness as: physical, spiritual, social, emotional, intellectual, occupational, environmental, and financial (2015). The specific dimensions and some healthy habits follow. It might be helpful to take note of an areas in the dimensions that feel out of balance so you can set goals.

Physical Wellness

This dimension includes the maintenance of a healthy body, good physical health habits, good nutrition and exercise, and obtaining appropriate health care. Healthy habits would include things like:

  • Obtaining 20-30 minutes of vigorous physical activity at least 3 times a week

  • Eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and very few sweets

  • Avoiding tobacco, nicotine, substance use, and sugary drinks, and limiting caffeine

  • Sleeping of 7-9 hours/night

  • Preventing illness by going to annual doctor and dental visits

  • Maintaining a reasonable weight for your age and height

  • Brushing teeth at least twice daily and flossing once

  • Using stress management techniques to keep one's body and mind calm and relaxed

Intellectual Wellness

Lifelong learning, application of knowledge learned, and sharing knowledge describes intellectual wellness. Healthy habits in this dimension can include:

  • Making an effort to learn new things, researching and asking questions

  • Keeping ones' self informed of local, national, and international affairs

  • Listening to lectures, plays and musical performances in person or online

  • Doing creative and stimulating mental activities/games

  • Reading daily

  • Practicing something each week to improve skills/talents

  • Seeing more than one side of an issue, especially for controversial things

  • Engaging in intellectual discussions

Environmental Wellness

Involves being and feeling physically safe, in safe and clean surroundings, and being able to access clean air, food and water. Healthy habits in this dimension can include:

  • cleaning my living and work environments regularly

  • making use of natural light, fresh air, and live plants

  • discarding garbage regularly and cleaning spoiled foods out of the refrigerator

  • staying on top top of any pet or other odors

  • preventing clutter and staying organized, and not littering, recycling when possible

  • conserving energy in my home, car and elsewhere

  • enjoying time in nature

Spiritual Wellness

Having meaning and purpose, and also a sense of balance and peace encompasses the dimension of spiritual wellness. Healthy habits in this dimension might involve:

  • Naming own personal values and describe beliefs in life

  • Making conscious choices about daily actions based on personal values

  • Drawing on beliefs and values to give direction when frustrated or depressed

  • Using meditation, and or prayer or quiet personal reflection regularly

  • Feeling a purpose in life or finding life to be meaningful

  • Learning about other's beliefs and values

  • Having a strong sense of optimism and faith in the future

  • Using thoughts and attitudes in life-affirming way

  • Appreciating natural forces existing in the universe

  • Feeling gratitude for good things in life

Social Wellness

Having relationships with friends, family, and the community, and having an interest and concern for the needs of others and humankind explains the dimension of social wellness. Healthy habits here would involve things like:

  • Having a network of friends and/or family

  • Contributing time and/or money to social and community projects or causes

  • Regularly spending time with people you like

  • Balancing one's needs with the needs of others

  • Helping others with compassion

  • Having a sense of belonging in the community

  • Feeling comfortable meeting new people

  • Giving and receiving compliments graciously

  • Communicating with and getting along with a wide variety of people

  • Being interested in others, including with those whose backgrounds are different

Emotional Wellness

The dimension of emotional wellness involves the ability to express feelings, enjoy life, adjust to emotional challenges, and cope with stress and traumatic life experiences. Healthy habits for emotions involve:

  • Accepting responsibility for one's actions and words

  • Seeing challenges and change as opportunities for growth

  • Believing and taking control over one's thoughts and actions

  • Feeling good about one's self

  • Coping appropriately with stress and tension and making time for leisure activities

  • Recognize personal shortcomings and learn from mistakes

  • Understanding and expressing one's feelings

  • Finding some moments to enjoy in each day

Financial Wellness

The ability to have financial resources to meet necessities, and a sense of control and knowledge about personal finances explains financial wellness. Healthy habits in this dimension include:

  • Having a good handle on financial status and the ability to meet expenses

  • Balancing saving and spending as well as balancing wants and needs

  • Verifying credit card statements and balancing accounts

  • Having funds or available credit to deal with moderate unexpected expenses

  • Paying bills and filing taxes on time

  • Checking credit reports once a year

  • Saving money for life goals

  • Having people to turn to for help with financial matters

Occupational Wellness

The dimension of occupational wellness includes participating in activities that provide meaning and purpose, including, but not limited to employment. Healthy habits in this dimension might include:

  • Being happy with career choice

  • Feeling productive on most days

  • Having responsibilities consistent with core values

  • Finding career advantageous or volunteering in a field consistent with your core values

  • Feeling happy with work/life balance

  • Experiencing satisfaction with autonomy or amount of control in productivity

  • Feeling personal satisfaction and intellectual stimulation

  • Experiencing happiness with professional and personal growth provided by job

  • Making a good use of your strengths in a job or volunteering

Progress, Not Perfection

While stress, trauma, loss, and disappointment can impact our wellness, living a life with healthy holistic habits can bring balance back and contribute to resilience. Making healthy choices for health and well-being can be challenging, and lifestyles and habits can be difficult to change. But it is not impossible.

With self-regulation and taking small realistic steps toward changing habits, you can create new routines. Don't aim for perfection here - it is very rare that a person hits all of these targets. Any effort you make. notice and be proud. Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you.


Teresa Jacobson is a Doctor of Behavioral Health and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Supervisor who is counseling Ohio and Kentucky adults of all ages and life experiences via secure Telehealth/Video visits. A strength-based, person-centered multi-cultural counselor, with an existential philosophy, Teresa can be reached by emailing, calling (513) 206-3026, or visiting



The National Wellness Institute (2021). Retrieved from

Stoewen, D.L. (2017). Dimensions of wellness: Change your habits, change your life. CVJ, 58(8):861-862.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), 2021. Welcome to wellness. Retrieved

Swarbrick, P., and Yudof, J. (2015). Wellness in eight dimensions. Collaborative Support Programs of NJ,


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