Dimensions of Wellness
"Progress, not perfection, is what I am striving for."
Optimum wellness results from the intentional integration of eight fundamental dimensions of wellbeing. They require personal health choices relative to your own goals and values.
Begin the practice of asking yourself regularly - how am I doing in these various areas of my life? Adjustments are often best achieved in small increments, not 'all or none' approaches. Going from 0 to 60 on any life change is too often met with stumbles and frustration, however, making change one or two steps at a time, and evaluating from there is usually a process that works.
Become familiar with the wellness dimensions below and try to take a mindful moment daily, weekly or monthly to consider whether you are taking the necessary small actions to keep life and your overall well being in good balance.
Career Wellness is defined as a person who engages in work to gain personal satisfaction and enrichment, consistent with your lifestyle.
Social wellness is the ability to successfully interact with people in our world and connect with the community. It is enhanced by establishing networks through meaningful relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. Social Wellness allows ourselves and others to feel safe, included and supported.
Everyone has different personalities, previous life experiences, and preferences that inform how, when, and where we prefer to interact with others. Some people are more introverted. They prefer one-on-one conversations. Some are more extroverted. They derive joy and energy from being with larger groups of people. It is healthy and helpful for us to stretch our social comfort zones. However, we will benefit most from being our authentic selves and refraining from harsh comparison to others. Discover who you are and honor that part of yourself.
In recent years there has been a steady shift in values to a society that is more tolerant of social differences, gender differences, multicultural diversity differences, and ability differences. Enhance your social wellness by taking advantage of resources offered by Student Wellness and around campus in an effort to better understand and appreciate both yourself and the differences in people.
At Student Wellness
- Alcohol and Other Drugs Prevention and Intervention Services
- Relationship Wellness Services
- Healthy Relationship Resources
- Student Organizations
- UNC Housing Opportunities and Events
- Get connected with the community (Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Community Involvement)
- The LGBTQ center
- Safe Zone Training
In the Community
A person practicing intellectual wellness values lifelong learning and seeks to foster critical thinking, develop moral reasoning, expand worldviews, and pursue knowledge.
Intellectual Wellness requires a growth mindset. Consider opening your mind to new ideas and experiences. This includes learning in and out of the classroom and using knowledge to inform future decision-making around personal, social, civic and occupational choices. Intellectual wellness acknowledges that you are at Carolina to develop your mind for both a solid experience now as well as for optimal future opportunities.
Enhance your intellectual wellness by taking advantage of resources offered around campus.
Environmental wellness is achieved by gaining an understanding of the dynamic relationship between humans and their environment.
There are different environmental circumstances that impact our health and wellness including:
Social environment – This is the fluid arena in which people interact with individuals, groups, and institutions through personal interaction or online via social media. These interactions are filtered through a lens of social norms.
Health and wellness can be impacted in a negative way, a positive way, or both. One example is peer pressure. Bullying, character assassination, body shaming, and other personal attacks can have a significant negative effect on wellness. On the contrary, praise, compliments, and empathy – and Tar Heel school spirit – all will have a positive impact. It's amazing how contagious a smile can be - give it a try and see!
Built environment - This aspect involves how we set up the area where we live, study, and socialize. Our home - whether an on-campus residence hall room or an off-campus house or apartment - is ideally our retreat and respite place. In that respect, it is important for us to make our living environment as comfortable and conducive to our level of desired rest and enjoyment as possible.
Natural environment – We are surrounded by living and inanimate elements including air, earth, plant and wildlife. Research continues to show us that getting outside and experiencing nature in various ways is often an essential component of our wellbeing, especially as it relates to our physical and emotional health.
So you can take a walk across campus or a hike in one of the nearby trails, spend 15 minutes a day sitting outside or even watch the fish swim in the fish tank on the second floor of the union–very peaceful!
Enhance your environmental wellness by taking advantage of resources offered around campus, joining a student organization, and in the community.
Emotional wellness involves understanding one's self and adequately facing the challenges life brings. For college students, those challenges may include managing emotional reactions such as anxiety, depression, and stress. These are all perfectly normal human emotions that can provide motivation and help build character.
It's only when they begin to limit one's ability to function with confidence that they can become an issue. In Spring 2017, a national survey* revealed that 20.6% of college students reported being diagnosed or treated for anxiety within the previous 12 months, while 16.7% were diagnosed or treated for depression in that period.The 24/7 influence of social media contributed to this increase due to its ever-more prominent influence on the way individuals judge themselves and others.
Learning to manage our emotional reactions to stress is critical in attaining emotional balance and well-being. Beginning to better understand ourselves (our patterns and responses to stress) while keeping things in perspective (acknowledgment that 'it is what it is'), and being willing to get help when we need it, is a large component of emotional wellness. Remember that wellness is a journey, which requires practice. Practicing self-acceptance and self-compassion will help you find the emotional intelligence and well-being necessary for a more fulfilling and peaceful life.
Campus has numerous resources to support you - so utilize friends, resident assistants, faculty, staff, parents, or even anonymous online/phone resources if needed.
* Source: American College Health Association (ACHA) Spring 2017 National College Health Assessment
Steps to determining your own Emotional Wellness status
Screening: A screening test is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.
Getting Help: There is a wide range of treatments and supports for children, families, and adults. Unfortunately, they can be hard to find or pay for. We're here to help.
Sticking to Your Plan: Treating your mental health or substance use condition is about more than therapy and medication. You can get help with everything from housing to relationships, too.
Promote Well-being in Your Life: Regardless of whether you have a mental health or substance use condition, you can live your life well.
Financial wellness involves setting and achieving short and long-term personal financial goals within the context of resources available to us.
We benefit from thinking critically about our needs versus wants. Beginning this approach in college, sets you up to be more financially well and balanced throughout later life.
- Student loans. It is easy to take out the maximum amount offered on student loans without thinking fully about the future implications of loan debt and the ability to access other essential credit needs like housing and cars. Use a conservative model to estimate your basic living needs in college and only borrow what you think you will need at the beginning of each semester.
- Credit cards .It is easy to get caught up in what initially seems like "free money" when you can purchase something on a credit card and walk away. Add that to your monthly bill with an additional growing interest and you can suddenly be over your head. Again, think about whether and where a credit card fits into your overall financial needs and wellbeing.
- Savings. It is good to have a savings process, whether that includes a set amount of $25 a month or a standard 10% or so of each paycheck. It is much easier to set up an automatic contribution to your savings account than to rely on yourself.
- Retirement(IRA or other). Try to start it as early as possible and committing to regular contributions. This can be hard while in college but do not underestimate the benefits of compounded interest over the years. Even if it’s just $10 to $25 a month, you will appreciate the power of this early investment when you are ready to step back and consider full or partial retirement.
Physical wellness is living a thriving, active life - whatever that activity level is for each person without undue fatigue or physical stress. Adopt healthful habits (i.e., routine medical exams, immunizations, a balanced diet, daily exercise of some type, sufficient rest and managing stress, etc.) while avoiding or minimizing higher risk choices and behaviors (i.e. tobacco, drugs, alcohol, etc.).
Sometimes there may be limitations and factors beyond your control (like access to resources, physical ability, comfort level, financial state, and perceptions of healthcare) that impact your healthy habits.
Enhance your physical health by taking advantage of resources offered by Student Wellness and around campus.
At Student Wellness
- Visit our sexual health educators to get tested for STIs, chat about contraception, and learn to take control of your sexual wellness
- Learn more about managing your alcohol intake from our Alcohol & Other Drug Specialists
- Feeling sick or need a preventative care appointment? Head over to Campus Health.
- Want a consult on your nutrition goals? Visit this web resource first, then contact Campus Health nutrition for a private appointment by calling 919-966-2281 or making one at healthyheels.unc.edu.
- Exercise at Campus Recreation.
- Join an intramural sports team or sports club.
- Check out the Carolina Outdoor Education Center.
The Spiritual dimension recognizes your search for your purpose in human existence.
- It is better to ponder the meaning of life for ourselves and to be tolerant of the beliefs of others than to close our minds and become intolerant.
- Remaining open to the mysteries and magic in life often allows us to experience a sense of wonder and spirituality
- It is better to live each day consistent with our values and beliefs.
Religion may play a part in some students’ spirituality, but there are different ways to explore and express spirituality depending on individuals' personal beliefs, cultural contexts, and upbringings.
Enhance your spiritual wellness by taking advantage of resources offered around campus.