In honor of National Wellness Month, we’re taking a look at what wellness means, what it looks like, and how to create a plan that puts holistic, all-around wellness front and center in your life.

Make a list of everything you need to do today. Go ahead, we’ll wait right here. If you’re like 90% of the population (us included) your list probably includes things like picking up the groceries, starting or finishing that work project, dropping the kids off at practice, cleaning the house, or making dinner. 

It seems like today, we’re penciling ourselves within the increasingly narrow margins of our own lives. Wellness and self care are more of an afterthought than a conscious day-to-day endeavor. With lives that are constantly on the go and built around accomplishment, working for others, and speed, it’s no wonder that we’re in the middle of a global health crisis with so many people concerned about staying emotionally and physically healthy. This is partly due to less downtime. Today we have more productivity tools than ever, faster ways to work, and machines that accomplish the mundane. But life is busier and more crowded than our parents’ lives, or their parents for that matter.

In other words, personal wellness and the happiness that comes from it has never been more important. It’s also never been harder to attain. But research shows that if we can, we’ll be happier and healthier. 

The eight dimensions of wellness.  

Before diving into how we can put more wellness into our lives, let’s talk about what we mean when we say it. Wellness, wellbeing, self-care –– however you choose to put it –– is more than a daily trip to the gym or a healthier lunch (although those both belong to the wellness family). Wellness is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” And according to the National Wellness Institute, the definition is “a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.”

Thinking about wellness this way pivots the idea away from a list of “me time” activities to a conscious plan that incorporates multiple dimensions. Here are eight that we don’t always think of when it comes to wellness. 

  1. Emotional Wellbeing: This comes down to how you approach life and the activities that reinforce that approach. Positivity, the ability to seek and accept help, and achieving the right balance while setting good goals. 
  2. Environmental Wellbeing: Wellbeing means caring about your environment. Recycle, stop junk mail, clear your life from clutter, and maybe consider riding the bike to work instead of driving. 
  3. Financial Wellbeing: It’s hard to be happy and whole with looming bills or when we’re living outside of our means. Track your expenses, be frugal, and understand money doesn’t buy happiness. 
  4. Intellectual Wellbeing: A challenged brain is a happy brain. When we’re thinking deeply and strengthening our intellect, we feel more fulfilled. So go ahead and read a book for fun. Or debate a friend in real life (not a stranger on facebook). 
  5. Occupational Wellbeing: Engage in meaningful work that you’re proud of. But also understand how important it is to create a healthy work/life balance in the process. 
  6. Physical Wellbeing: Eat a healthy diet, move more during the day, and sleep well. We only have one body, so take care of it. 
  7. Social Wellbeing: Build strong, meaningful relationships with your family members, neighbors, and friends. Ask for help if you need it. Become organized. Join a book club. 
  8. Spiritual Wellbeing: Look for deeper meaning in life. Examine your beliefs and values. Explore your spiritual core. Take time to meditate and travel. Remember, a spiritual life means an examined life. 

Planning for wellness. 

Wellness isn’t something that we just stumble into. Like we mentioned earlier, it’s not just eating a healthy meal. It encompasses the entire spectrum of our lives. Developing total wellness takes a plan that encompasses all eight dimensions. But before you begin jotting down a list of all the wellness activities, let’s take a step back and discuss how to make that plan along with some ideas to help you create a pure wellness plan to help you be healthier and happier over the long haul. 

1. Take inventory of your life. 

Write down the eight dimensions and put your life under a microscope. Where are you excelling? What activities are already in place that you want to continue? Now move into the areas you would like to improve. Are you working too much? Do you find the number of your meaningful relationships dwindling? More generally, where are you currently unhappy –– and what do you think is lying at the root of that unhappiness? 

Now give each of the eight dimensions a 1-10 ranking. 1 being the poorest rank, 10 being the best. This should give you a quick bird’s-eye view of the areas that need the most improvement. 

2. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals. 

Any goal should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. By creating parameters around your goals and making sure each is attainable, you’ll have a better chance at meeting them. 

Begin with your larger goals and then set smaller, short-term goals that ladder back to your big ones. As you plan and begin to execute on your goals, it’s important to remember how critical patience is. You’re beginning a journey. There will be bumps in the road and twists and turns along the way. This is what comes with personal evolution. Don’t let it discourage or derail your plans. 

3. Track your progress. 

Once you’ve taken inventory and set some goals, the real work begins. That’s why you need a plan and routines that help you track your progress. There are numerous ways you can do this. Find a spouse, significant other, or friend who can serve as an accountability partner. That’s one way. Personal weekly check-ins are another idea that we love. Find a day and time of the week where you have the mental clarity and emotional space to think. Then break out your plan and reflect on how you’re doing. Where are you excelling and where are you falling short? Maybe your personal check-ins come in the form of a daily journal entry where you report your progress back to yourself. You can do this on paper and with a pen or on your computer. The key is to make sure you’re tracking. Don’t forget, a step backwards doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It actually means you’re making progress. So keep at it. 

4. Update your wellness plans regularly. 

Pure wellness is always evolving. Unfortunately, there is no endpoint where you can just coast and call it good. But that’s the amazing, wonderful thing about the journey. The more we change and grow, the more opportunities for growth we uncover. Sometimes our old goals give way to new goals. And sometimes we realize that our goals take more time than we originally anticipated. That’s ok. In fact, it’s great. This is what makes being a human so wonderful. 

We recommend updating your wellness plan regularly. Maybe this happens once a month or twice a year. Which goals and ideas are still working for you? Which do you want to adjust? Are there any you’d like to replace? Your personal wellness plan is a WIP – just like each one of our lives is. 

Wellness isn’t purchased. It’s not an idea or a gym membership. It’s baked into every corner of our lives. Achieving long-lasting health and happiness starts with a plan that sets you on the right course –– and one you’ll actually stick to and achieve. Will there be bumps and blindspots and setbacks along the way? You bet. But will there be more moments full of wonder, amazement, and happiness? Absolutely. So get out there and make your plan. 

* The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LifeVantage or any other agency, organization, employer or company

** LifeVantage’s Marketing team may from time to time publish blog articles reporting information and research from third-party sources. The views and opinions expressed by these third-party sources as reported in LifeVantage blog articles are those of the authors and experts quoted therein and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LifeVantage.