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Eight Pillars of Wellness:  The Secret to a Happy, Healthy Life

Think my statement that the eight pillars of wellness are the secret to a happy, healthy life is a bold claimYeah, I get it.  I used to think that too.

Of course, it is a bold statement. But also a true one. Allow me to explain, and I suspect you’ll agree.

Let’s start by defining wellness.  The National Wellness Institute says, “Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.”

According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness is “the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.”

Wellness isn’t just about physical and mental health or the absence of disease. Although this may be how many of us have thought of wellness, it isn’t the full picture. Not even close.

Instead, wellness is about pursuing fulfillment and balance in all areas of our lives.  It’s about transitioning to living your life in a more conscious, mindful way.  And making healthy, balanced choices to improve your health, happiness, and well-being.

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The Pillars of a Balanced Life

Zen balanced stones stack in water
The eight pillars of wellness can lead to a balanced life.

First, we have to understand that wellness isn’t one-dimensional. To improve our wellness we need to hone in on eight specific areas.  You guessed it!  Those are the 8 wellness pillars. 

In fact, they’re sometimes called the eight dimensions of wellness, the 8 pillars of life, or the 8 pillars of health.

These pillars of health and wellness represent eight areas that contribute to our wellness.   When we intentionally focus on these areas, we can start creating a balance between them. 

That balance can contribute to our overall wellness.  And that’s the secret to a happier, healthier life.

In this blog post, we’ll touch upon the 8 wellness pillars.  I’ll share how I used these pillars when I began my wellness journey. 

And I’ll give you some tips to incorporate each wellness pillar into your daily routine. 

By the end of this post, I hope you’ll agree that the 8 wellness pillars are the secret sauce to a happy, healthy life.

The Eight Pillars of Health and Wellness

I first learned about the eight pillars of wellness accidentally. 

Here’s how it happened. Several years back, I struggled with the effects of three autoimmune diseases.  Yep, 3.  Not fun.  

Anyway, I was determined to avoid all the medications (and their side effects!).  So I began investigating ways to heal myself. 

I signed up for a 6-week course to learn strategies to reverse my autoimmune diseases.

It focused on a protocol called the Autoimmune Protocol, or AIP. I thought it was all about food.

But it turns out it is a complete healing protocol. It focused on the pillars of holistic health and several dimensions of self-care.

As it turns out, many of the eight pillars of wellness were part of that healing protocol! This is a great reference book that I used during my healing process.

That’s also when I learned about the power of this wellness wheel exercise. 

As I incorporated these pillars of health and wellness into my lifestyle, I began to notice some very positive changes.  

Honestly, before that, I had no idea that some of these areas of my life had any connection to my health and wellness.  

Maybe that sounds naive to you.  Or maybe you can totally relate because that’s where you find yourself today. 

Either way, it’s OK.  The good news is, that I learned how to use the 8 pillars of wellness to create a more balanced, happy life.  And you can, too!

Grab my free Eight Pillars of Wellness PDF. It includes a wellness wheel template, a blank wellness wheel, and a journaling page to track and improve your balance. Get it here:

Wellness wheel and journaling pages freebie

Grab your free wellness wheel template, blank wellness wheel, and journaling page to track and improve your balance.

What Are the Eight Pillars of Wellness

eight pillars of wellness diagram, lists all 8 pillars
A Diagram of the 8 Pillars of Holistic Wellness

You can find wellness wheels comprised of different pillars.

You may see one that includes pillars of financial wellness and emotional wellness but doesn’t have a nutritional wellness pillar. 

Or one with a nutritional wellness pillar, but no mental wellness pillar.

There are some wellness wheels with just 5 pillars of health and wellness. There’s even a book with 4 pillars of wellness

You may even find a wellness wheel that looks exactly like the one in the diagram above, but maybe it’s called something like “The 8 Pillars of Self-Care.”

My point in telling you this is to let you know that there really is no one-size-fits-all.

So when you do the wellness wheel exercise and journaling activity, YOU get to decide what works best for you.

You can use the same wellness wheel I use, or use the blank wellness wheel.

Both are included in the free download. That way you can customize it to whatever works best for you.

In this post, we will be exploring some of the most common wellness pillars. These are the areas I prioritize to balance my wellness. 

These eight pillars of wellness are:  Emotional, Environmental, Intellectual, Mental, Nutritional, Physical, Social, and Spiritual.  Ready?  Let’s dive in!

What Is Emotional Wellness?

woman meditating on bed
Meditation, mindfulness & deep breathing are part of emotional wellness.

Emotional Wellness has to do with how you manage your feelings. 

This includes how well you recognize, process, and express your emotions.  How you handle stress is another component of this pillar.

 As we all know, life doesn’t always follow a predictable path.  Am I right?

Coping with stress and navigating all the different emotions that come up on this journey is key. 

This is why emotional wellness is one of the 8 wellness pillars.

Helpful Emotional Wellness Activities 

  • Journaling
  • Gratitude journaling
  • Mindfulness
  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation- here are two great apps, Calm and Balance
  • Exercise to help release pent-up emotions
  • Seek therapy when needed

What Is Environmental Wellness?

hand holding a heart tree with butterflies
The environmental pillar is about a healthy and sustainable environment.

You may have never thought of the Environmental Pillar as part of wellness.  This pillar focuses on creating an environment that is healthy and sustainable. 

This includes the 3 R’s: Reducing, Reusing, Recycling, and choosing sustainable products.  It relates to your home, community, and work environments.

For me, a huge part of this pillar is about reducing toxins in my living and working environments. 

This means I’m careful about the products I bring into my home. 

I try my best to choose non-toxic household and personal care products.  We also try to avoid pesticide use. 

Tips for Environmental Wellness

What Is Intellectual Wellness?

two people doing a jigsaw puzzle
Stimulating your brain through puzzles or brain teasers can balance the intellectual pillar.

The Intellectual Wellness Pillar involves stimulating your mind.

It involves finding areas where you’d like to expand your knowledge or learn a new skill.  This might look like starting a new hobby or creative pursuit.

Or stimulating your brain through puzzles or brain teasers

I like Sudoku (my fave free app here), logic problems, and jigsaw puzzles. My new favorite word games on my phone are Quordle and Quordle Sequence.

Some Intellectual Wellness Activities

  • Become a life-long-learner
  • Journal about things that interest you to find an area you’d like to pursue
  • Team up with a friend and share your results of different games or puzzles
  • Start a jigsaw puzzle
  • Learn a second language (Duolingo is a fun app for this)
  • Read different genres
  • Take an adult education course
  • Do paper and pencil puzzles and brain teasers

What Is Mental Wellness?

woman showing her journal about positive mindset
Journaling, a growth mindset, and gratitude can be part of the mental wellness pillar.

Although the Mental Wellness Pillar is related to the emotional pillar, it is actually different. 

This pillar pertains to mindset and a positive outlook (although not toxic positivity). 

Finding balance here requires resiliency when faced with difficult or stressful situations. This is where a growth mindset is extremely helpful.

Positive Habits for Mental Health and Wellness

What Is Nutritional Wellness?

woman cutting fruits and vegetables

Nutrition is one of the first pillars that may come to mind when considering wellness. 

This pillar includes maintaining a healthy body through a healthy and balanced diet.  A balanced diet includes nutrient-dense foods from various food groups. 

It also involves avoiding processed foods.  A key component of this pillar is proper hydration.  

Tips to Improve Nutritional Wellness

  • Try to stick to Clean Eating.
  • Avoid as many processed foods as possible. 
  • Try to choose whole foods that are as close to the way they grow in nature.
  • Focus on “eating the rainbow”–choosing fruits and vegetables of different colors
  • Drink adequate water for your weight and lifestyle.
  • Focus on portion control
  • Try to balance the PFC of your meals (Protein, Fat, Carbohydrates)
  • Consider avoiding gluten if you have autoimmune diseases

What Is Physical Wellness?

woman doing yoga

The Physical Wellness Pillar is another one we likely all think of when thinking of wellness.  Not surprisingly, this pillar includes maintaining a healthy body through movement and exercise. 

For those of us with autoimmune diseases, gentle movement can often be a better choice than cardio or higher-impact activities.

It’s really important to pay attention to your body when deciding the level of physical activity to incorporate each day.

In my experience, pushing too hard can cause a flare-up which does more harm than good.

Also included in this pillar are proper hygiene, and getting adequate sleep and rest.

How to Improve Physical Wellness 

  • Focus on your HRV to decide on your level of activity each day
  • Daily movement, but be sure it’s appropriate for the needs of your body
  • Some daily movement examples:
    • Yoga
    • Pilates
    • Swimming
    • Walking
    • Cycling
    • Running
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once
  • Be sure to prioritize your sleep

What Is Social Wellness?

two women socializing over coffee

The Social Wellness Pillar is all about your relationships. 

The focus is on healthy connections with others and with nature.  Balancing this pillar will look different for each person. 

If you’re an introvert, you may choose to address this pillar in a different way than someone who is an extrovert.  And that’s totally ok. 

How to Improve Your Social Wellness 

  • Keep in touch with old (and new) friends
  • Join an in-person or virtual book club
  • Join an in-person or virtual community of like-minded people (Join my free Facebook group for fun events and to learn easy ways to transition to Clean Beauty)
  • Reduce contact with anyone you find to be “toxic”
  • Volunteer (you can volunteer at a pet shelter if you don’t particularly enjoy people)
  • Volunteer to be a baby cuddler at a local hospital

What Is Spiritual Wellness?

woman in nature raising her hands towards the sunlight

The Spiritual Wellness Pillar has to do with finding purpose and inner peace.

It involves developing your beliefs and values.  It often includes connecting with a higher power.  For me, my faith in God is very important and falls into this pillar.

Each morning I try to start my day with a short guided meditation, quiet time, and a short devotional. I also try to read a chapter in the Bible.

When the weather is nicer, I enjoy doing these activities outdoors, which can also enhance my spiritual wellness.

How to Improve Spiritual Wellness 

The Importance of Leading a Balanced Life

woman balancing on slackline

We all understand the benefits of a balanced life. 

To have a balanced life, we need to focus on creating a balance between all eight pillars of wellness. 

To be clear, that doesn’t mean you’re aiming for every pillar to have the same score.  Or that you’re expecting to hit a “10” in each pillar of wellness every day.  

That’s unattainable and will just cause stress.

I try to think of my wellness wheel as a “self-care wheel.”  I remind myself that ALL of the areas are important if I want balance and to take good care of myself.  

Here’s how to use the wellness wheel template and journal PDF.

  1. Before making any lifestyle changes, take a baseline by completing your first wheel.  Date it and shade the wheel to reflect your level of satisfaction with each of the eight areas. 
  2. This helps you to see where you’re falling short of balance.  
  3. Next, brainstorm ways to improve in those areas in the upcoming week.  List those as a “brain dump” on the back of the wellness wheel.  
  4. Then, select one or two activities from each list to intentionally incorporate into the week.  
  5. Finally, at the end of the week, reassess.  To do this, shade in a new wheel and compare it to the old one to see your progress.  

The goal is not perfection. Instead, it’s about making small bits of progress each week. 

It doesn’t take long to complete this exercise each week. And it can give you such valuable insight.

Multi-Purpose Activities to Boost Several Wellness Pillars at Once

backyard vegetable gardens

After doing this for the first time, it became clear to me that there were some “multi-purpose” activities.  These are activities that give a boost in more than one area of the wellness wheel. 

Here are three examples from my experience:

  1. Starting an organic backyard garden boosted 5 pillars of health and wellness at once!
    • Intellectual: I had to learn all the things!  
    • Mental: I needed a growth mindset to stick with it when things didn’t go as expected.
    • Physical: building the garden, preparing the soil, planting, weeding, harvesting, etc.
    • Nutritional: garden-fresh, organic vegetables to nourish my body!  Nothing like it!
    • Spiritual: being in nature and seeing the amazing growth process.  If you ever wondered if God was real, seeing a huge tomato plant grow from a teeny, tiny seed will help you decide!
  2. Starting a gratitude practice increased my satisfaction in three pillars simultaneously:
    • Mental
    • Emotional
    • Spiritual
  3. Beginning a walking and run-walk-run routine outdoors simultaneously improved 4 pillars of health and wellness!
    • Physical
    • Emotional
    • Spiritual
    • Bonus:  listening to an educational podcast boosted my intellectual wellness too.  Four-in-one!

I stayed intentional about choosing weekly activities to support the eight wellness pillars.  And I began to notice that I was happier and healthier!

Truth-bomb time.  While writing this blog post, I came to realize just how far I’ve strayed from this intentional way of living recently. I guess in the craziness of life, I stopped prioritizing the eight pillars of wellness.

And as a result, my anxiety has increased.  And I haven’t been managing my emotions or stress levels like I was before.

But that’s OK! I know what I can do to fix it. I’m going to download my printable wellness wheel and start prioritizing my wellness again.  How about you?  

Your Turn

In this post, we’ve explored the definition of wellness and the 8 Wellness Pillars.

I’ve shared my experience with these pillars and how they helped me get back to wellness.  (And how I plan to incorporate them again to find a better balance.)

We’ve explored the importance of incorporating the pillars into your daily life.  And I’ve shared some tips to do that. 

I’d love to know whether you agree now that the eight wellness pillars are the secret sauce to a happy, healthy life!

Use my free printable Eight Pillars of Wellness pdf and printable wellness wheels. They are great for tracking and balancing your wellness wheel and activities. Drop your name and email below and I’ll send it right to your inbox!

Wellness wheel and journaling pages freebie

Grab your free wellness wheel template, blank wellness wheel, and journaling page to track and improve your balance.

Don’t forget to pin this for later and share it with a friend!

Pin it for later! ⤵️

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Eight pillars of wellness: pinterest pin, woman meditating, free printables
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Hi, I'm Tina!

A precancer diagnosis, the resulting surgery, and autoimmune diseases sparked my journey to a toxin-free life.

Through countless hours of research and trial and error, I learned about toxins, clean beauty, and the power of small consistent choices.

Now, I’m here to guide you on your path to wellness and clean beauty.

LET’S REWRITE YOUR STORY TOGETHER! LET’S CHAT and see how we can work together to move you forward.

11 Responses

    1. I’m glad this approach resonates with you. I’ve found it to be so helpful in my own life. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  1. I love how you break down the areas by pillars. I tend to focus on only wellness and spiritual but these are so much better. I like how you pillars for both nutrition and physical and also have social. Pinned this to read later when reassessing annual goals! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad this post resonated with you! I appreciate you taking the time to comment and pin! 🙂

  2. This is a great, detailed post and such a good reminder of all the ways to take care of ourselves! I’m definitely pinning this post so I can refer back to it later.

    1. I’m so glad this resonated with you! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and pin!

  3. What a great, detailed, informative post! I didn’t know about environmental wellness. I really like how you broke each pillar down with specific examples. Thank you so much Tina! Xoxo
    I also pinned it, so I can review it when making plans for the new year.

    1. I’m so glad this resonated with you! I really appreciate your feedback. Thanks for commenting and pinning! 🙂

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