What is Wellness and Why is it Important?

Wellness is primarily about making lifestyle choices that support good physical and mental health. Because mental health and physical health are so closely linked, problems in one area can impact the other and your overall wellness can be affected. But there are many other dimensions of wellness that are equally important so we are going to answer the questions, “What is wellness and why is it important?”

a happy fulfilled middle-aged woman with short blonde hair sits on a sofa smiling at the camera pondering the question what is wellness and why is it important
What is Wellness and Why is it Important?

Related Article: 21+ Ways to Practice Emotional Self Care and Wellness

What is Wellness?

We are going to look at the definition of wellness from a couple different sources because it’s a broad term that is used in different contexts.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reports that “Wellness is a holistic integration of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, fueling the body, engaging the mind, and nurturing the spirit.”

The idea includes striving for your best overall health as well as living life to the fullest extent possible. Wellness encompasses a lifestyle that you choose to live that allows you to become the best version of yourself.

This definition of wellness says that there are 8 mutually interdependent dimensions that are all important for personal harmony and life satisfaction:

  • spiritual wellness
  • emotional wellness
  • physical wellness
  • intellectual wellness
  • environmental wellness
  • social wellness
  • vocational wellness
  • financial wellness

Dimensions of Wellness

💜 The spiritual dimension of wellness includes finding purpose and value in your life, and participating in activities that are consistent with your values and beliefs.

💜 The emotional dimension of wellness includes managing, respecting, and appreciating your feelings and those of others. It also means you feel positive and enthusiastic about life.

💜 The physical dimension of wellness means caring for your body so you stay healthy now and in the future.

💜 The intellectual dimension of wellness means maintaining your curiosity about life and valuing the process of lifelong learning so you can expand your knowledge and grow through life.

💜 The environmental dimension of wellness means understanding and demonstrating commitment to your immediate physical environment — inside and out — as well as the planet.

💜 The social dimension of wellness includes maintaining healthy relationships and contributing to your community.

💜 The vocational dimension of wellness is about contributing your unique gifts, skills, and talents to work that is personally meaningful and rewarding to you, both in your personal and work life. These aspects of wellness are also sometimes called occupational wellness.

💜 And finally, the financial dimension of wellness is (of course) related to managing your financial resources responsibility.

a sign with WELLNESS in the center written in blue and other associated words written around it in different shades of blue and green
There are many dimensions of wellness — and many things you can do to support your personal wellness.

More Wellness Definitions

The World Health Organization (WHO) definition of wellness is somewhat less complex… “Wellness is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

In this sense, wellness is considered an active process of working toward living a healthy and happy life by making good choices. It’s an overall good condition of existence characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity. The WHO definition of wellness does not go into the dimensions of wellness but it focuses on the expectation that wellness includes living a healthy lifestyle.

The National Wellness Institute identifies Six Dimensions of Wellness — emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. The institute suggests that addressing all six dimensions of wellness in our lives builds a holistic sense of wellness and fulfillment.

So as you can see, the definition of wellness is not exactly simple. But the overall concept of wellness speaks to a state of successful existence in which you strive to meet your fullest potential and accept responsibility for your personal health and wellness.

Wellness is doable for everyone whether you have perfect health or you’re struggling with chronic illness. It’s a matter of doing your best to seek an optimal quality of life and taking personal responsibility for a system of values that supports a healthy way of life.

Now it’s becoming more apparent why wellness is important, but let’s take a closer look.

a female hand holds a white lotus flower the symbol of wellness against a pale pink and peach skyline
The lotus is often a symbol of strength, resilience, and rebirth. 

Why is Wellness Important?

Choosing a wellness lifestyle helps improve your life and lowers the risks of health problems such as cancer and heart disease. If you have a wellness mindset, you generally take positive wellness initiatives that support an optimal quality of life and overall wellness. These are some examples of those wellness initiatives:

  • your diet consists of good nutrition
  • you enjoy a healthy balance of physical activity
  • you try new things and learn new things to promote your intellectual wellness
  • you reduce your risk factors such as smoking and drinking alcohol that cause disease
  • you manage your emotional health by going to therapy or counseling, when necessary
  • you participate in wellness activities such as volunteerism and hobbies
  • you practice good communication skills that support your social life
  • you connect with your inner self to develop your spiritual wellness
  • you embrace new ideas that promote better health
  • your spiritual practices help enhance your life
  • you explore wellness programs in your community to promote your overall health and wellbeing
  • you go to your appointments regularly for doctors to monitor your medical health
  • you accept different people into your social circles to enhance your social wellness
  • you practice personal growth habits such as journaling, meditation, and affirmations
  • you explore a holistic approach to complement traditional medicine
  • you avoid substance abuse
  • you address all areas of wellness in your self-care plan
  • you seek to grow in your career
  • you monitor your blood pressure to reduce risk of illness
  • you encourage your friends to get gym memberships and share the love of physical fitness
  • you explore various career options for personal and professional growth

Living with a wellness mindset and choosing behaviors that support your health and wellness will lead you on a path of happiness, fulfillment, and prosperity. Do you see the many benefits of living a wellness lifestyle now?

The Difference Between Health and Wellness

For clarification, let’s make sure we all understand the difference between health and wellness.

While you cannot always choose the state of your health, you can consciously choose wellness practices that help you live your life responsibly and take proactive steps to avoid health problems.

“Health is a state of body. Wellness is a state of being.”

~ J Stanford

Health includes the diagnoses of diseases and illnesses, a predisposition to certain diseases, and unexpected injuries. Sometimes there is very little you can do about these things. Optimal health is not always possible.

As you’ve read, wellness is the active process of growth and lifestyle changes that 1) reduce risk factors that are harmful to your health and 2) increase happiness, productivity, and harmony.

The primary difference between health and wellness is that you can’t always control your health, but you can actively address the different dimensions of wellness with your lifestyle choices.

If you tend to your individual needs, maintain a positive attitude, eliminate harmful habits, and avoid a sedentary lifestyle, you’re on your way to living a lifestyle that promotes your health and wellness!

a young woman ponders what is wellness and why is it important as she relaxes on a massage table with her chin resting on her hands and a pink lotus flower in front of her
Taking care of yourself is a great form of wellness.

Final Thoughts: What is Wellness?

A major component of wellness is lifestyle — do you live your life in a way that promotes good health, happiness, and harmony? Is healthy living a priority for you?

You should be addressing the various dimensions of wellness in your everyday life since they are interdependent. Together they promote your wellness and the wellness of those around you.

The Global Wellness Institute is a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower wellness worldwide by educating the public and private sectors about preventative health and wellness. If you would like to learn more about “What is Wellness and Why is it Important?” I encourage you to visit their website.

Here’s an awesome inspirational quote to close with:

“Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind, and spirit — the realization that everything we do, think, feel, and believe has an effect on our state of wellbeing.”

~ Greg Anderson

You may also enjoy these articles about wellness:

Love to ALL! ~ Susan

How Do You Take Care of Your Overall Wellness?

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