Think my statement about the 8 wellness pillars being the secret to a happy, healthy life is a bold claim? Yeah, 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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Wellness Isn’t One-Dimensional
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.
These pillars, or dimensions, 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.
How I Stumbled Upon the 8 Wellness Pillars
I first learned about the Wellness Pillars 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 a protocol to reverse my autoimmune diseases. It’s called the Autoimmune Protocol, or AIP. I thought it was all about food. But it turns out it is a complete healing protocol. And many of the wellness pillars 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 the wellness wheel. As I incorporated the pillars 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 wellness pillars to create a more balanced, happy life. And you can, too!
Grab my free wellness wheel and journaling page printable to track and improve your balance here:
The 8 Wellness Pillars
You can find wellness wheels comprised of different pillars. You may see one that includes an occupational pillar but doesn’t have a nutritional pillar. Or one with a nutritional pillar, but no mental pillar. There are some wellness wheels with just 6 pillars. There’s even a book with 4 wellness pillars, that I’m enjoying reading right now. 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 and journaling activity, YOU decide what works best for you. You can use the same wheel I used, or use the blank wheel I’ve included. That way you can change it up however fits your needs.
In this post, we will be exploring some of the most common 8 Wellness Pillars. These are the areas I prioritized to balance my wellness. They are: Emotional, Environmental, Intellectual, Mental, Nutritional, Physical, Social, and Spiritual. Ready? Let’s dive in!
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? So, being able to cope with stress and navigate all the different emotions that come up on this journey is key. This is why emotional wellness is one of the 8 wellness pillars.
Tips to Incorporate Emotional Wellness Into Your Daily Routine
- Gratitude journaling
- Deep breathing
- Meditation- here are two great apps, Calm and Balance
- Exercise to help release pent-up emotions
- Seek therapy when needed
You may not have ever 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 that 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 to Incorporate Environmental Wellness Into Your Daily Routine
- Reduce toxins in your living environment
- Use an air purifier, this is the one I use in my home
- Replace BPA-filled shower curtains with safer options
- Choose safer skincare and beauty products
- Choose non-toxic cleaners, or make your own with vinegar
- Filter your water (this is the Berkey I have my eye on !)
- Use sustainable and refillable products, where possible
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle
- Grow your own organic food in a backyard garden
- Declutter your living areas (I’m working on this–the struggle is real!)
The Intellectual Wellness Pillar involves stimulating your mind. It involves finding areas in which 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, jigsaw puzzles, and my new favorite Quordle word games here and here.
Tips to Incorporate Intellectual Wellness Into Your Daily Routine
- 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
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.
Tips to Incorporate Mental Wellness Into Your Daily Routine
- Focus on your mindset
- Develop a growth mindset
- Incorporate daily, weekly, and monthly self-care practices
- Begin a gratitude practice
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 Incorporate Nutritional Wellness Into Your Daily Routine
- 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
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. Also included in this pillar are proper hygiene, and getting adequate sleep and rest.
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.
Tips to Incorporate Physical Wellness Into Your Daily Routine
- 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:
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once
- Be sure to prioritize your sleep
- Have a bedtime routine
- Avoid screen time at least an hour before bed
- Wear blue light-blocking glasses in the evening
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.
Tips to Incorporate Social Wellness Into Your Daily Routine
- 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 (click here to join my free Facebook 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
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.
Tips to Incorporate Spiritual Wellness Into Your Daily Routine
- Focus on mindfulness
- Use a daily devotional, I’m loving this one called God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart
- Read the Bible
- Connect with nature
- Focus on gratitude
Finding Balance Within the 8 Wellness Pillars
The goal is to focus on creating a balance between all 8 wellness pillars. 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 all pillars every day. That’s probably unattainable and will just cause stress.
Here’s how it worked for me.
Before I made any lifestyle changes, I took a baseline by completing my first wellness wheel. I dated it and shaded the wheel to reflect my level of satisfaction with each of the eight areas. This helped me to see where I was falling short of balance.
Next, I brainstormed ways to improve in those areas in the upcoming week. I listed those as a “brain dump” on the back of my wellness wheel. Then, I chose one or two activities from each list to intentionally incorporate into the week.
Finally, at the end of the week, I reassessed. To do this, I shaded in a new wheel and compared it to the old one to see my progress. The goal was not perfection. Instead, it was about making small bits of progress each week. It didn’t take long to complete this exercise each week, and it gave me such valuable insight.
Multi-Purpose Activities to Boost Several Wellness Pillars at Once
After a few weeks of doing this, it became clear 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:
- Starting an organic backyard garden boosted five areas 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!
- Spiritua: 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!
- Starting a gratitude practice increased my satisfaction in three pillars simultaneously:
- Beginning a walking and run-walk-run routine outdoors improved several areas simultaneously:
- Bonus: listening to an educational podcast boosted my intellectual wellness too. Four-in-one!
I stayed intentional about choosing weekly activities to support the 8 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 8 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 wellness wheel and start prioritizing my wellness again. How about you?
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 8 wellness pillars are the secret sauce to a happy, healthy life!
Use my free Wellness Wheel to track and balance your 8 wellness pillars. Drop your name and email below and I’ll send it right to your inbox!
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