What Is Wellness? May 30, 2015 11:53

Simply put, wellness is a conscious, active, positive striving toward being your best self. If you think of life as a biological experiment, then wellness is your buffer. There are multiple parts to it and each component is important for the overall success. How much of each component is required depends on the specific experiment.

Holistic wellness is comprised of eight parts: physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, occupational, environmental, and financial. 


Physical wellness is being in a state of good health and function. Things like diet and exercise obviously are important for this, but so is proper management of chronic conditions and taking care of yourself when sick. Ask yourself if your physical state positively or negatively impacts your daily life.


Emotional wellness is your ability to identify your feelings and express them, while also dealing with the challenges of life. Emotional wellness and science have the same starting point: you make an observation. A good place to start with observation is to think about how events physically make you feel.

I find practicing mindfulness and meditation help me maintain a healthy level of detachment from what happens at work. 


Acquiring new skills, knowledge, and expanding your horizons are all part of mental wellness and (hopefully!) life as a graduate student. If you feel like you’re not growing in this area it may be helpful to reach out to a mentor you trust.


Social wellness is a feeling of connectedness to, and support from, friends and family. Social connectedness is important for surviving grad school. Do something you love to do and meet people while doing it!


Spiritual wellness is all about feeling a greater sense of purpose in life. Maybe you find volunteer work or a regular spiritual practice helps you develop a greater sense of belonging. 


Occupational wellness can be described by feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment from your work. To work toward this I think it’s important to know what actually makes you satisfied with your work. There will always be rough patches at work. It may be more useful to think about occupational wellness in the longer-term. 


Some think of “green” things when they think of environmental wellness. Environmental wellness also refers to the physical environment you operate in. Ask yourself if you are having a positive effect on your environment and if your environment is having a positive effect on you. If you’re answer is no, think about little changes you can make to improve the situation. You may be surprised how much stress you can relieve by organizing your desk/office.


Financial wellness is having enough money to live comfortably and manage your financial responsibilities. 

What areas are you interested in developing? How are you working toward wellness now?