Understanding the Wellness Wheel: 7 Dimensions of Wellness

Published on: 25 Mar 2022
Clinically Reviewed by Kate Rosenblatt, MA, LPC, LMHC

The wellness wheel is a visual tool that shows each category of wellness on a wheel. It gives people the opportunity to hone in on their wellness by identifying areas in their life they may have neglected and seek to improve. Since all of the dimensions are interconnected, an imbalance in one area of the wellness wheel might restrict you from reaching peak wellbeing. The wellness wheel is not only important for your physical and mental health, but for all aspects of your life. By working through each area of the wellness wheel, you will be able to enhance your overall quality life, improve your health, and focus on reaching your full potential.

What is a Wellness Wheel?

The wellness wheel is a tool for self exploration that promotes the concept that balance is the key to wellbeing. When it was first conceived by Dr. Bill Hettler, he outlined six dimensions of wellness as markers to help individuals accomplish a well rounded, healthy lifestyle and live a life of value and meaning. 

Over time, the wheel has grown to include seven categories. Today, the dimensions on the wellness wheel include: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, social, and occupational wellness. These are all separate yet interconnected categories that contribute to reaching a balanced life. 

You can use the wellness wheel periodically to reflect on your progress over time, and it can help you understand what lifestyle changes you may want to start making. By honing in on each area, you will be able to improve the overall quality of your life, better your health, and work towards your full potential. Read on to learn more about each category of the wellness wheel.

1. Physical Wellness

The physical dimension of the wellness wheel refers to the physical health of your body. It involves all types of physical activities, nutrition and balanced diets, sleep, strength, and tending to your health with medical care when necessary.  

Staying on top of your yearly checkups, exercising regularly, and eating balanced meals are also part of your physical wellness. 

Talkspace therapist Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, LICSW, LCSW has some helpful tips for working on your physical wellness:

  1. Write down your goals — Planning for movement is just as important as planning that oil change. It’s easier to follow through when we have visual reminders. 
  2. Find a workout buddy — Not only will it encourage you to exercise, but you’ll catch up with a friend as an added bonus.
  3. Find an incentive  Having a goal can eliminate ambivalence and help increase motivation. These can be fluid and don’t have to be expensive. Sometimes, even just a fancy latte can help ignite a new routine!
  4. Start small — Remind yourself that a mile in any form is still one mile! Cumulative effort is more sustainable and impactful for long term commitment.
  5. Diversify Too much of anything influences us to lose steam but changing things up keeps things fun and light.

2. Emotional Wellness

Emotional Wellness refers to your feelings and emotions. What are your emotional reactions like? Are you in tune with your feelings so that you can understand and express them? With a strong foundation in emotional health, you leave yourself better equipped to adapt to any of life’s changes and cope with stress.

Take care of your emotional wellness by sleeping enough, speaking to a therapist when you can, asking for help when you’re in need, and regularly checking in with yourself to manage your overall stress.

Talkspace therapist Reshawna Chapple, PhD, LCSW has some helpful tips for working on your emotional wellness:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings — Check in with yourself and see how you’re really feeling. It is ok to take time and cry or to be sad. 
  2. Start a self-care routine — Use meditation, grounding activities, yoga, stretching, or breathing exercises to calm your body and your mind.  
  3. Be realistic when you are not feeling 100% — Certain times of the year may be more stressful than others (like holidays). It is important to prioritize your mental health especially when you are not feeling your best — even if that means saying no to some things. You deserve to take care of yourself.
  4. Reach out — If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out family and friends, a religious group, online support groups, or virtual events. 
  5. Learn to say no — Saying yes when you want to say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Having clear boundaries is a way to show yourself respect and care, and it can be a helpful way to prevent resentments from building.

3. Intellectual Wellness 

The intellectual wellness dimension focuses on lifelong learning, broadening your knowledge, and building skills. It encourages you to stay curious, learn, and take part in creative activities to ensure your mind stays healthy and active. 

Reading for pleasure, staying updated on social and political issues, or mentoring individuals are all things that would fall under intellectual wellness.

Talkspace therapist Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD (She/Her/Hers) has some helpful tips for prioritizing your intellectual wellness:

  1. Join a book club! — Book clubs are a great way to keep you accountable for reading while also taking part in a social group activity. If you don’t live near your fellow bookworm friends, make a recurring Zoom hangout.
  2. Create a list of topics that interest you — To help with your intellectual wellness, keep track of a list of interesting topics and spend some time each month researching the topic further.
  3. Get involved — See how you can contribute to your community by getting involved in a local political, educational, or social organization.
  4. Take time daily to write — Writing down your thoughts and ideas is a wonderful way to stimulate your intellectual mind.
  5. Practice problem solving — Keep your mind sharp by regularly practicing your problem solving skills, you can start with logic puzzles or games.

4. Spiritual Wellness

The spiritual wellness dimension refers to the beliefs, values, and ethics that guide you through life and inform your actions. It asks you to look inwards and explore your purpose and meaning in life through the spiritual lens to find peace. Spiritual wellness provides an opportunity for many to engage with a force greater than themselves and tap into communities, whether that be through a religion or by practicing mindfulness or meditation. 

Talkspace therapist Meaghan Rice, PsyD, LPC provides five helpful tips for prioritizing your spiritual wellness:

  1. Make spirituality part of your routine — Waking up 5-10 minutes earlier in the mornings to meditate could add a bit more of a spiritual, calm mindset into your day. 
  2. Connect with others — Be part of a community, either virtually or in-person, that shares the same spiritual beliefs.
  3. Find momentos — Have momentos that represent your spiritual journey and keep them where you will see them often.
  4. Design a vision board — Vision boards are a great way to keep track of your goals and encompass how far you have come in your spirituality.
  5. Celebrate — Significant milestones are meant to be celebrated, and it’s no different in our spiritual journey!

5. Environmental Wellness

The environmental wellness dimension refers to the role of your surroundings in your overall well being. From a micro level within your own home environment to a global scale, our physical environment impacts our mental health. It has a massive impact on our mood and how we live our lives. Environmental wellness is concerned with the way you interact with your environment such as your home, school, or workspace. 

Decluttering a room, recycling the trash, or emptying the dishwasher are all small ways we can contribute to promoting a clutter-free, cleaner, organized, and more productive living space and calm home environment. Staying environmentally conscious by educating yourself about global environmental issues, taking care of the environment, and creating spaces that are conducive to positive emotions are other ways to focus on your environmental wellness.

Talkspace therapist Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD (She/Her/Hers) provides five helpful tips for prioritizing your environmental wellness:

  1. Research clean alternatives — Find cleaner alternatives to some of your commonly used household supplies.
  2. Spend time outside — Time in the outdoors is healing in so many ways and can help bring us closer to nature. 
  3. Use natural light — When possible, use natural light to create a calmer and more productive environment. Benefits associated with natural light include its ability to ward off seasonal depression symptoms, improve sleep, and relieve stress. 
  4. Make the switch to reusable products — Start small, like opting to use your own coffee mug instead of getting a disposable one from your local coffee shop.
  5. Consider taking up gardening — Even if it’s only a couple of apartment-friendly house plants.

6. Social Wellness

The social wellness dimension of the wellness wheel refers to the quality of your relationships with others. Keeping a strong network of people that you feel connected to is key to your social wellness and can help fend off feelings of stress, isolation, loneliness, or even depression. 

Participating in group activities alongside family or friends, joining organizations, being open to new connections, and respecting and nourishing meaningful relationships is key to healthy social wellness.  

Talkspace therapist Reshawna Chapple, PhD, LCSW provides five helpful tips for prioritizing your social wellness:

  1. Set Boundaries — We live in a fast-paced world with many societal pressures. Sometimes we act based on the way we think others will perceive us and do things we might not actually want to do. Setting boundaries creates trust and builds healthy relationships. It also improves self-esteem. 
  2. Try to limit your consumption of news and social media — Too much news and social media can be overwhelming and have an impact on our stress levels. Consider removing notifications on your apps and muting or blocking anyone who causes you undo stress. 
  3. Process your own feelings — Allow yourself to be vulnerable and resist the urge to minimize your feelings. Even if your friends don’t understand what you’re going through, set time aside to reflect on your thoughts. Speak with a therapist, spiritual advisor or emotionally safe support systems. 
  4. Plan ahead — Schedule activities that you can look forward to. Set aside specific days for cooking, shopping, baking, chores, and connecting with friends and other activities. 
  5. Engage in activities that increase joy and reduce stress — Examples include: playing games, doing puzzles, watching movies, gardening, art, reading, exercising, or even taking a nap.

7. Occupational Wellness

Occupational wellness, also known as financial wellness, is the dimension that refers to the fulfillment you find in your work and how financial stability works itself into your life.  By considering your job satisfaction, finances, and career ambitions, you can evaluate your occupational wellness in this dimension. Budgeting, keeping financial health in mind, and finding the right job for you all fall under occupational wellness.  

Talkspace therapist Meaghan Rice, PsyD, LPC provides five helpful tips for prioritizing your occupational wellness:

  1. Separate work from home — Don’t let work responsibilities and your home life overlap too much. If you work from home, try to create a separate space for working hours, like a desk or workstation that you can leave when you want to unwind or spend time with loved ones.  
  2. Connect socially — It’s important to feel connected to your coworkers. A great way to socialize and get to know each other better is by catching up during breaks or having lunch together. 
  3. Ask for feedback Ask your supervisor to give you feedback on a regular basis, not just during a performance evaluation. 
  4. Take mental health days – Remember to check in with yourself in order to avoid burnout and talk to your boss about your mental health. A day off every once in a while can boost our productivity and allow us the time and space to focus on our mental health.  
  5. Communicate — Talk to your coworkers and supervisors about how you’re really doing at work, and don’t be afraid to ask for additional support when needed.

How to Set Wellness Goals & Create a Plan

If you’re serious about setting wellness goals, go back and consider all seven dimensions of wellness and reflect on how you relate to each in your life. What, if anything, could you be doing better in each respective section? Is there a certain area you’re struggling with more than others?  A good question to ask yourself is why. Why do you feel a certain imbalance in your wellness wheel? This practice will help you gain more clarity into the wellness aspects that you’ve prioritized and others that you might have overlooked. 

Once you’ve asked and answered your “why,” you will be better set to form an action plan and choose the practices you want to introduce into your daily routine. It’s best not to try to accomplish everything all at once; that can be too overwhelming. Start small and begin to make little adjustments in each category. Create a realistic plan that you can stick to in order to find balance in each area and boost your wellbeing.

When to Seek Professional Guidance

The goal of the wellness wheel is to check in with yourself, evaluate how you are doing, and highlight any imbalances that might be preventing you from living a happy and healthy life. The wellness wheel prompts introspection, self-reflection, and should lead to goal-setting. This work is hard and it can be beneficial to work alongside a counselor, life coach, or therapist to help you unpack any feelings that come up. 

Working with a therapist or counselor can help you with life adjustments, goal setting, and taking the necessary steps to accomplish any lifestyle changes you set out to achieve. A therapist can also help you process emotions and patterns that might be stopping you from reaching your full potential. Working with a professional to gain additional guidance is a huge benefit when it comes to our personal wellness journey. 

Wellness Wheel FAQs

What are the 7 Dimensions of Wellness?

The seven dimensions of wellness are: 

  • Spiritual
  • Social 
  • Environmental 
  • Occupational
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Intellectual wellness

Why the Wellness Wheel?

The wellness wheel is a self exploration tool constructed to support individuals in their wellness journey. It provides a visual representation of seven dimensions of wellness so that you can consider how you’re doing in each category.

How can I use a Wellness Wheel? 

You can use a wellness wheel by looking at the visual representation of the seven dimensions of wellness and considering how each part relates to your life. It is a good tool to revisit periodically as our lifestyles and habits might change over time. The goal of using the wellness wheel is to highlight ways you can adjust your life to reach a sense of balance.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

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