By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
Let’s explore the concept of a wellness wheel: a visual model for the various parts of your life, all of which, ultimately, are interconnected. You may have encountered a wellness wheel while reading about your health, happiness, and work-life balance, in which case you’ll know that there are a number of different published models. Here’s a seven-part wheel I happen to really like, which balances seven key aspects of your daily living. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to use this particular wheel as my guide, but there may be one that speaks to you and your personal needs more directly.
The wellness wheel I’ve chosen to highlight includes seven dimensions: emotional, intellectual, physical, social, environmental, financial, and spiritual. What do each of these mean to me (and to you)? Let’s explore them in a little more detail:
It sounds like common sense, but people forget that physical activity can reduce stress and anxiety. Pay attention to your physical wellness, and the rest will follow.
This is probably the most personal of the seven aspects of this wellness wheel, because spirituality means something different to everyone—and many people consider it a totally private matter.
It’s not hard to see how these seven parts of life affect each other. If you’re happy and productive at work, for example, you probably find that you’re feeling satisfied with your life (emotional health) and that you’re able to use your talents and knowledge in a positive way (intellectual health). Perhaps your consistently excellent performance on the job means you leave the office feeling valued, energized, and ready to hit the gym or Zumba class for a great workout (physical health), followed by dinner with good friends or a family member visiting from out of town (social health).
Furthermore, doing well at work means you’re able to earmark some of each paycheck for your retirement account (financial health) and pay the rent or mortgage on a place you’re proud to call home (environmental health). And because you’re killing it in all these aspects of your daily living, you’re able to donate your time, funds, or gently used goods to a cause you care deeply about, which means go to sleep each night with a grateful heart (spiritual health).
Of course, you can also see that, if there’s one area of your life that’s seriously lacking, it’ll drag you down in every other way. So what’s the best way to tackle those problems?
Wellness wheel activities can be a thoroughly positive use of your time because they cause you to really examine what’s going on in your life—and how improving one area can have a truly beautiful impact on all the others! If you’re a visual person and gain the most insight from hand-writing some of your thoughts, you may even find that you want to design your own wellness wheel worksheet or use this one as a model.
As you’re evaluating each key point, ask yourself where you feel you’re lacking, and then do some serious brainstorming on what choices you might make to improve your situation. For example, if you’re struggling with your emotional health on an everyday basis, you may want to check in with your doctor to ask if seeing a specialized mental health professional would be appropriate and beneficial. Check out some excellent evidence-based mental health advice if you think this might be the case for you.
Maybe you find that, in general, you’re a pretty happy camper, but that you lack energy in the morning, feel sluggish in the afternoon, and can’t sleep very well at night—or perhaps you just aren’t thrilled with how tight your favorite pants feel these days. In that case, paying more attention to your physical health will be highly beneficial, whether you embark on a 6-week challenge for weight loss or simply replace some of the sugary snacks in your diet with delicious mood-boosting foods and beverages, like eggs, fish, and green tea, that will keep you from wanting to take a mid-afternoon nap at your desk. And, of course, a little dietary and exercise self-care will improve other parts of your life, like your emotional wellness.
Now that you’re more familiar with the concept of a wellness wheel, it’s time to get to work. Take some time to scrutinize each of the seven points I’ve reviewed, and ask yourself where you see the most room for improvement. If you feel like the answer is “all of the above!” and don’t know where to begin, take some time to think about which parts of your life (pick two or three, tops, to begin) are giving you the most grief. It’s very likely that tackling one or two of those issues and making some definitive changes for the better will have a positive effect on many, if not all, of the other parts of the wheel. With a little creative brainstorming and some determination to commit to better choices, you’ll be on your way to living your best life in no time.