Dimensions of Wellbeing
Heidi Zwart
dimensions of wellbeing

How would you define wellbeing? And how would you evaluate your own wellbeing? You might find these questions simple to answer or feel stumped as you sift through the complexity. The dimensions of wellbeing often need to be explored individually to thoroughly answer those questions. 

Webster’s dictionary defines wellbeing as “the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous.” This definition sounds simple, yet feels incomplete. It doesn’t tell us what creates the experience of happiness, health or prosperity or how to go about achieving it. Human beings are complex, so arriving at this state of wellbeing can be both challenging and individualistic. No singular experience can create it or take it away. Instead, we have to consider how the many dimensions of wellbeing interact with each other to achieve a state of wellness. 

While discrepancy exists on how many dimensions of wellbeing impact our happiness, health, and prosperity, each model agrees that wellbeing goes beyond physical or mental wellbeing. Often included among the many dimensions of wellbeing are the following areas: 

Physical wellbeing

Gallup defines physical wellbeing as “having good health and enough energy to get things done on a daily basis.” Similarly, The National Institute for Health (NIH) describes physical wellbeing as “caring for your body to stay healthy now and in the future.” Wellbeing discussions often start with this dimension of health. 

Emotional wellbeing

Emotional wellbeing and managing your emotions in a healthy way is one of the trending dimensions of wellbeing as a result of the pandemic. NIH adds that it’s important to feel good about life and practice self-regulation, it’s equally important to respect and acknowledge the feelings of others, too.  

Social or relational wellbeing

The University of California Davis defines relational wellbeing as: “The relationships and connections we have and how we interact with others… It involves building healthy, nurturing and supportive relationships as well as fostering a genuine connection with those around you.” This area took on new significance as one of the most critical dimensions of wellbeing in 2020 as many of us were coping with languishing.   

Financial wellbeing

Another of the dimensions of wellbeing significantly impacted by the pandemic was financial wellbeing. Gallup reports that financial wellbeing requires “effectively managing your economic life,” which became a challenge for many during job loss and business closures. 

Occupational or career wellbeing

Liking what you do every day is a dimension of wellbeing often referred to as occupational or career wellbeing. Feeling like you’re contributing in a meaningful way, being recognized for your work, and contributing your unique gifts, skills, and talents in your workplace. 

Spiritual wellbeing

Having a sense of purpose or meaning is vital to many who nourish this spiritual dimension of wellbeing. For some, this does not include a particular religion but rather a feeling of purpose, value, and meaning in life. Living in alignment with your beliefs often brings a sense of spiritual wellbeing to your life.

Other dimensions of wellbeing often included in the discussion are community wellbeing, environmental wellbeing, and intellectual wellbeing, among others. Take time to think to evaluate your own wellbeing by assessing which areas you are doing well in and which areas might need some attention. Choose one dimension to focus on in the days ahead and see how it impacts your happiness, health, or prosperity! 

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