On social media, there is a huge emphasis on physical health.
Gen Z wellness influencers wear their matching workout sets, spend hours in the gym, take supplements and drink their green smoothies.
But the truth is, real optimal health goes beyond just your physical health.
Health is multi-dimensional — it’s holistic.
And according to the Global Wellness Institute, there are at least 6 core pillars of health and wellness.
In its most basic form, wellness means being free of illness.
Rina Raphael, author of The Gospel of Wellness articulates that wellness is “whatever you need for your health” in that moment.
The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as “the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.” Their belief is that wellness is a personal and proactive approach that focuses on the prevention of disease through making healthy lifestyle choices rather than turning to conventional medicine.
It’s important to note that there is no right or wrong way to do wellness.
As long as what you choose to do is positively impacting your overall health and well-being and moving you towards a happier and healthier lifestyle, then that is all that matters.
For me, my wellness journey has never been about becoming “that girl” or being super health-conscious. It’s been about loving myself unconditionally, being comfortable in my own company, and discovering my core desires.
I’ve even built Notes by Thalia on the idea that wellness is individual to you and specific to your own needs.
Throughout my content, I encourage you to stop allowing social media’s unrealistic wellness narrative to dictate your actions and to create your own version of wellness instead.
Because in all honesty, you don’t need to drink a green smoothie every morning to be “well.” Likewise, you don’t need to indulge in a 12-step skincare routine or take a range of supplements to show you care about your wellness.
Wellness is holistic and goes far beyond the things we do to improve our physical health.
“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.”B.K.S. IYENGAR
What does holistic wellness mean?
Simply speaking, the word “holistic” means as a whole.
When we talk about “holistic wellness”, we mean a complete approach to wellness that takes into account all areas of your health and treats your mind, body, and soul (spirit) as one.
To achieve optimal health and wellness, you need to actively work on every aspect of your life.
Because each area is fundamentally linked.
For example, if you are dissatisfied with one area of your life, e.g. your work, this could be impacting other areas of your life, such as your relationships and social life.
So holistic wellness considers all aspects of your life, rather than just one.
Although optimal health looks different for everyone, there are still a few core areas that we can all benefit from prioritising.
By outlining these core aspects, you’ll be able to see that health goes beyond just the physical aspect. You’ll also be able to identify the specific areas of your health that you might be neglecting so you can start to work towards a happier and healthier you.
So, let’s dive in and explore the 6 core pillars of health and wellness.
The 6 core pillars of health and wellness
1 | Physical wellness
I know I’ve said throughout this blog post that optimal health goes beyond your physical health.
But that doesn’t mean that I deem it any less important than the other pillars on this list.
What I mean is that it shouldn’t just be your main focus.
Because “to keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep the mind strong and clear.” (Buddha)
Practising physical wellness can improve your energy levels, reduce the risk of disease, and increase your overall well-being. But it also helps build motivation and confidence so you can feel “well” within the other aspects of your health.
Physical wellness involves cultivating a healthy and nourished body through physical means.
This can include:
- Moving your body daily, either by walking, running or working out, etc
- Eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet that consists of protein, fats and carbohydrates
- Getting between 7-9 hours of good sleep
- Staying hydrated and drinking at least 2 litres of water a day
- Avoiding harmful substances
- Exposing yourself to the sun so you can produce your necessary dose of Vitamin D
- Maintaining good personal hygiene
- Avoiding highly processed and sugary foods
2 | Mental wellness
Mental wellness refers to the overall state of your mental health.
It includes your ability to think, feel and cope with stress as well as your ability to think clearly, solve problems and make decisions.
For me, this is the most important aspect of my health — because I can’t reach optimal health without mental wellness.
My wellness journey has essentially been about avoiding burnout, making more time for myself, adopting a slower pace of life and putting my mental health and happiness first. It’s also been about cultivating self-love, practising gratitude and setting boundaries.
And now that my mental health is in a much better place than it was a few years ago, I have now started to focus more on my physical health.
Practising mental wellness can boost focus, productivity and creativity, improve mindfulness and reduce the risk of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Mental wellness practices can look like this:
- Practising gratitude and positive self-talk
- Stimulating the mind by learning new skills or playing strategy games
- Reframing limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs
- Eliminating negative thinking and cultivating a growth mindset
- Setting clear boundaries to protect your energy
- Reflecting on experiences through journaling
- Limiting exposure to negative news and media
- Listening to a motivating podcast before starting work
3 | Emotional wellness
Mental and emotional wellness are very much linked but they are not the same thing.
Whereas mental wellness involves taking care of your mind, emotional wellness refers to your ability to express your emotions and manage them in a healthy way. For example, moving away from binge drinking and emotional eating to escape your problems and instead indulging in self-care.
Not only does emotional wellness involve recognising and understanding your own feelings but it also requires us to understand the feelings of others.
Practising emotional wellness can boost mindfulness, reduce stress, promote self-love and compassion, help you cope with life’s challenges, encourage stronger connections with others (hello social wellness) and increase your overall sense of happiness.
Managing your emotions in a healthy way might look like this:
- Scheduling in a daily worry period
- Repeating positive affirmations out loud
- Connecting with your inner child
- Keeping a list of “healing sentences” that you can repeat during tough times
- Going to therapy or asking for support when needed
- Having a good cry
- Learning to say “no” when necessary
- Listening to more music that uplifts your mood
4 | Spiritual wellness
Spiritual wellness for me is my least prioritised area. Purely because I don’t consider myself a spiritual person. I find manifestation too “woo woo” and I am not a religious person.
However, spiritual wellness can mean something else entirely.
Spiritual wellness involves finding a sense of purpose and meaning in life.
Yes, this can be achieved through various spiritual means like prayer, meditation, and manifestation but it can also be achieved by mapping out your core values and creating a life you truly desire.
You can also engage in activities that bring a sense of inner peace and fulfilment.
Practising spiritual wellness can provide you with a sense of belonging, reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being.
Other spiritual wellness practices include:
- Reading Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E Frankl (affiliate link)
- Mapping out your core values
- Spending time in nature
- Connecting with a higher power or spiritual source through prayer or meditation
- Volunteering or giving back to others
- Learning more about astrology
- Dedicating time to healing and self-reflection
5 | Social wellness
Prioritising your wellness doesn’t have to be lonely.
In fact, being social throughout your wellness journey is celebrated.
Social wellness is all about nurturing social connections and engaging with others in meaningful ways.
Humans are inherently social, and forming connections is part of who we are. Keeping close relationships prevents loneliness and isolation which ultimately increases our sense of belonging.
Building and maintaining healthy relationships are also essential in helping us to develop and improve our communication skills. Social wellness boosts happiness and overall quality of life, positively impacting mental health, emotional health, environmental health, spiritual health and even physical health.
So dive into social wellness with these ideas:
- Participate in community events
- Reevaluate any friendships that highlight toxic behaviour
- Limit your time with negative people
- Strike up a conversation with a stranger
- Smile at the next person you see
- Hang out with a close friend with zero distractions
- Write letters to an old or new friend
- Build an engaged online community
6 | Environmental wellness
Environmental wellness involves taking care of the world around you.
This includes being mindful of your impact on the environment, practising sustainable behaviours, and creating a safe living and working environment.
Practising environmental wellness can improve your overall health and well-being, as well as contribute to the well-being of the planet.
For me, environmental wellness also means designing my environment to work for me.
I find that in order to truly thrive, I need to be in the right environment because your environment should always motivate me rather than distract or depress me. For this reason, I’ve built a life that allows me the freedom to travel and work remotely.
So my advice to you is to look after and maintain your environment just as much as you take care of yourself.
Things you can do to ensure environmental wellness are:
- Making the bed every morning
- Keeping your personal spaces organised and clutter-free
- Separating your workspace from your home space
- Creating a lovely room smell with an electronic essential oil diffuser
- Heading to a coffee shop to work for a change of scenery
- Listening to the right type of music
- Going travelling to explore and learn about new cultures
- Setting a calm mood in the evenings
Other areas of wellness to focus on
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, these pillars were originally outlined by the Global Wellness Institute. But holistic wellness is not just limited to these 6 core aspects.
Other areas that you might choose to focus on include:
- Financial wellness – Taking care of your finances by creating and sticking to a budget, saving for emergencies and investing for the future, etc
- Professional wellness – Feeling stable and happy within your career or job by developing new skills, setting achievable goals and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, etc.
- Intellectual wellness – Engaging in lifelong learning and personal development through reading, attending workshops or courses, and expanding your knowledge in various areas, etc.
- Digital wellness – Reducing the impact that technology has on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This might look like limiting screen time, regularly disconnecting from devices and detoxing from social media, etc
- Travel wellness – Exploring new places and cultures while taking care of your physical and mental health. This might look like planning ahead, going slow and not trying to see everything, staying hydrated, etc.
- Recreational wellness – Taking up new hobbies and cultivating more joy in your daily life. This might look like engaging in activities that bring you pleasure and relaxation, such as painting, dancing or hiking, etc.
I know it can be overwhelming to implement new ideas and concepts. So I suggest not going all in and working on every single aspect of health and wellness listed above.
Start small and make this process more manageable and sustainable.
You can do this by rating each core pillar out of 10 with one being least satisfied and ten being most satisfied.
Choose one of your lowest scores and aim to improve this area first before working on the next. You never know, it might positively impact another area of your health and wellness, and this score might also increase.
I also encourage you to bookmark this page so you can refer back to it whenever you need to.
If you need some support or accountability, please feel free to send me an email.
My inbox is always open.
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to wellness.
It’s up to you to find out what works best for you and create your own version of a healthy and fulfilling life.
Until next week,
♡ Thalia xx
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