What Is Wellness?

Wellness is a term we hear more and more these days — but what exactly is it? While diet and exercise might be the first things that come to mind, wellness is actually so much more than that. Nutrition and physical activity are certainly a major component in staying fit, and they play a huge role in managing chronic conditions. But there are other areas often overlooked that greatly impact one’s overall health and well-being.

Woman on a beach

Occupational wellness relates to your personal satisfaction, self-expression, enjoyment, professional development and relaxation. How well can you achieve a balance between work and leisure? This is your level of occupational wellness.

Spiritual wellness has to do with your values and inspiration as well as your ability to develop a purpose in life. How much do you spend reflective time alone, practice forgiveness and compassion, and act according to a clear sense of right and wrong? This reflects your spiritual wellness. Your spirit is that innermost part of you that allows you to gain strength and hope.

Environmental wellness involves the space you live in, encouraging you to respect the delicate balance between the environment and yourself. When your personal surroundings are well cared for, clean and organized, you experience a greater sense of comfort and less anxiety. Environmental well-being also encompasses being aware of the earth's natural resources and understanding the impact of your actions on it. Being environmentally well enhances your personal health and helps ensure the future health of our communities and the world.

Social wellness involves relationships, social roles and a strong support network. You can increase your social wellness by learning and practicing healthy communication techniques, relating well to people in a variety of settings, addressing interpersonal conflicts in a respectful manner and embracing other cultures, backgrounds and beliefs.

Intellectual wellness consists of having an open mind and continuing to expand your knowledge. You can enrich your intellectual wellness through embracing new ideas and skills, thinking critically and creatively, and seeking out mentally stimulating activities. If you have intellectual wellness, you’re more likely to maintain good cognitive function as you age. 

Emotional wellness relates to coping effectively with stress and being attentive to your thoughts, feelings and behaviors — whether positive or negative. If you have emotional wellness, you can be aware of and accept your feelings rather than deny them. You have an optimistic approach to life and enjoy it despite its occasional disappointments and frustrations. To improve your emotional wellness, learn how to seek support and express emotions in a suitable manner. Practice setting priorities and try to accept mistakes and learn from them.

Denver Health Medical Plan Staff Writer