SAMHSA Wellness Wheel with 8 Dimensions of Wellness with Text Overlay: Wellness for Every Body

Wellness for Every Body

What do you think of when you think of wellness? Do you think of a healthy body? Good mental health? Maybe you think of it as not having any illnesses or pain. You may have even given up on wellness. Whatever the state of your health right now, there are small things you can do to improve your wellness. Wellness is for every body, not just those so-called “perfect” ones we see online, on TV, and in magazines.

The terms wellness and health are often used interchangeably, but there are some subtle differences. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” (1)

Not many of us can even hope to attain complete physical, mental or social well-being, can we?

That’s where wellness comes in.

Wellness is more inclusive and active. Where our health, at times, just “is what it is” due to illness or injury, our wellness is something that’s more dynamic. Wellness is active; it’s actually the efforts and choices we make toward improving our health. Let’s take a look at what wellness actually encompasses.

What is Wellness?

According to UCDavis, “wellness is the process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth.” (2) The National Wellness Institute adds that “wellness is multidimensional and holistic, encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment.” (3)

An easy way to visualize all that wellness encompasses is to use one of the many wellness wheels that include all the dimensions of wellness.

Let’s take a look at one of them:

Wellness Wheel from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration which includes 8 Dimensions of Wellness overlapping: Emotional, Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, Environmental, Financial, Occupational, and Social

There are a lot of different ‘wellness wheels’ with varying numbers of dimensions of wellness included. I chose this one from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration because of its overlapping of the dimensions. The dimensions of wellness don’t exist in a vacuum; when one area is off-balance, it affects other areas as well. This is how the SAMHSA defines each of the dimensions:

Emotional: Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships

Environmental: Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being

Financial:  Satisfaction with current and future financial situations

Intellectual: Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills

Occupational: Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work

Physical: Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods and sleep

Social: Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system

Spiritual: Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life

This is only one model. As I mentioned, there are many out there, with varying numbers of dimensions included. The beauty of it is that we get to decide what a “fulfilling life” is,  and what dimensions need to be included for us to have that.

Wellness is for every body.

Even if one dimension of our wellness ‘wheel’ is a little flat, that doesn’t mean the whole thing is useless.

In fact, even if the whole thing is a little flat right now, we can start with one small action to get that wheel rolling again.

No matter where we are right now, we can start taking small steps to improve our overall wellness. Whether we’re already healthy or we’re at the point where we’re just trying to get through the day without collapsing, we can start the “process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.

Wellness really is for every body.

How does the concept of wellness being a process impact your thoughts about your own wellness? Please share!



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Wellness Wheel with Text Overlay:
Wellness for Every Body






  1. Absolutely, everyone can be included in this and can make steps towards improving or boosting their wellness in some way(s). I love seeing wellness covered like this with the circles and breaking down the different aspects of it. Sometimes you can forget the other areas of your life, especially so focused on physical health, and we neglect the varied parts of ourselves and our life that we can be building on and enhancing and investing time in. xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! I like the idea of looking at wellness as interconnected circles as well. I think looking at it that way is especially helpful for those of us who live with chronic illness, because we realize that even though we may not be able to be completely healthy again, there ARE things we can do to make our lives better and improve our overall wellness. Like you often say, we can concentrate on what we CAN do, not what we can’t do. Sending hugs your way sweet friend!

    1. Thanks so much for the suggestion Melinda! I decided to stick with my original blog name because I thought it would speak to people who may have given up on wellness. I want to help them reclaim the hope that they CAN do things to improve wellness, no matter where they are now. Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Sending hugs!

      1. Wendi, I’m so sorry! Somehow a couple of your comments ended up in my spam folder. I was in my admin today and saw them. Thank you so much – I’m glad you like the name!

  2. Terri, I will definitely be sharing this with my new group! It’s such an important distinction and one I missed early in my journey. I remember going to wellness fairs and feeling self-conscious about my weight and chronic illness. Then I realized it was filled with people just like myself, who were also turning to these ideas for many of the same reasons. It doesn’t need to be intimidating at all. We’re really all just trying to do our best.

    1. Thank you so much Mykie! My favorite clients were always the people who told me, “I never thought I’d step foot in a gym.” It was wonderful to watch them blossom from someone who was fearful just walking through the door to someone who confidently believed in themselves. It wasn’t dependent on anything external; it was the internal changes they made. As you said, “we’re really all just trying to do our best.” Blessings to you sweet friend!

  3. I agree Terri that wellness is a process, but that’s where the difficulty begins… Some days I can manage the process but other days I can’t.
    And that’s where “Wellness is more inclusive and active” starts to derail.

    But you’re helping me see that my Wellness has to be “active” to my specific needs or level, not to any other expectation “it’s actually the efforts and choices we make toward improving our health.”

    1. Thank you so much Marie! Wellness is a process, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a linear process, especially for those of us with chronic conditions. Sometimes there will be roadblocks or side paths, but we just get back to it when we can. You make such an outstanding point about wellness needing to be active to our individual needs or levels. Thank you for pointing that out! Sending hugs your way sweet friend!

      1. I agree Terri, we are no strangers to handling roadblocks and travelling down side paths! Keep sharing, educating and motivating us!

    1. Again, I’m sorry I’m late responding…. This is another one that ended up in my spam folder…. I’m so glad you’re excited about the changes. I’m feeling pretty excited myself. Sending hugs your way sweet friend!

  4. I love how you covered multiple aspects of wellness. It tends to be one-sided mostly on social media. And you are right, one thing not being in the best shape does not make the others invalid. In fact, I think it can be simpler to focus on one and keep going instead of trying to go full speed at everything. It can be overwhelming, don’t you think?

    1. Thank you so much Markus + Micah! I agree that trying to address all the dimensions of wellness at one time can be quite overwhelming! I much prefer taking small steps, one at a time. Blessings to you two!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I use many of the resources I have access to as a Health Coach to inform my posts. Thanks also for following. I look forward to getting to know you!

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