What is Wellness?

Wellness Factsheet

Wellness is more than just avoiding illness. It is a lifelong journey that affects how long you live and your quality of life. It changes over time depending on your lifestyle choices and life circumstances. To live your best life, you need to actively and intentionally pursue choices, behaviours and a lifestyle that work together to lead you toward whole-person health.

Did you know?

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular disease, cancers, respiratory diseases and diabetes are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, yet are largely preventable and caused by unhealthy lifestyles.2

Each year, NCDs are responsible for 41 million, or 71%, of all deaths worldwide.3

Healthcare systems and individuals alike are struggling economically and physically under the growing burden of rising NCDs.4

In 2017, the world spent US$7.8 trillion on health, representing about 10% of global GDP. This expenditure is rapidly growing, both in size and percentage of spending, and is doing so at a faster rate than the overall global economy.5

In the US alone, the total national health expenditure in 2017 was $3.5 trillion, which represented 17.9% of GDP and equated to US$10739 per US resident.6

In Australia, the total health expenditure in 2018-19 was $195.7 billion, which represented 10% of GDP and equated to $7,772 per person.7

The New Zealand government spent $19,871 billion in 2019-20 on health, which represented about 20% of government spending.8

The Facts

Some key elements in pursuing wellness are:

  • Aim for Whole-Person Health – The path to wellness incorporates many dimensions that overlap and are interrelated and should work together in balance and harmony. In order to maintain this balance in your life, it is important to pay attention to all seven dimensions of wellness. Addressing all seven dimensions prevents early mortality from treatable and preventable diseases.
  • Take Personal Responsibility - You have a large role to play in your health and wellness. Be aware of what you are doing and how it impacts your health - whether it harms or heals you. Your health also has an impact on your family, friends and others.
  • Be Proactive - Take a positive approach to your health and wellness. Embrace life and live in a way that will help you to become the heathiest you possibly can. Do what you can to optimise your health and make any necessary changes.
  • Getting healthy can be fun! - Have fun exploring the many healthy ways you can move, eat, rest, make friends, work, connect, learn, enjoy nature and enjoy life! 

Wellness is more than just physical health. It is a complex interaction between seven different dimensions. The 7 Dimensions of Wellness (7DW) are:

  • Physically Energised: When you are physically energised, you are physically active, eat a healthy diet, get enough rest, drink enough water, and avoid smoking and other toxic substances.
  • Socially Connected: Being socially connected involves having meaningful relationships with people who care about you. Living in community with others also improves your health.
  • Vocationally Enriched: To become vocationally enriched, find activities that you enjoy – be they study, work, volunteering/service, leisure or sport. Doing something that you love and that challenges you will use your skills and give you purpose, meaning and a sense of achievement.
  • Spiritually Empowered: Expressing love, faith, compassion, forgiveness and gratitude are key features of the spiritual dimension and help you to become spiritually empowered. Having a connection to God and something bigger than yourself also gives you meaning, purpose and hope for the future. 
  • Intellectually Engaged: Keep your brain sharp and intellectually engaged by learning throughout life and sharing what you have learned. Spend time in self-reflection and critical thinking.
  • Environmentally Attuned: Being environmentally attuned means enjoying nature and living in a clean environment – sunlight, clean air, low levels of pollution and toxic substances – as well as giving back to the environment by minimising our impact on it.
  • Emotionally Thriving: When you are emotionally thriving, you feel content, you have a realistic and positive outlook, and you are able to deal with stressful situations and emotionally challenging events.

What can we do about it

Emotional Dimension:
Listen to your feelings and share them with someone you trust. Learn to understand them and how they affect you. 

  • Control and avoid stress.
  • Think and speak positively. Practise gratitude daily. 
  • Move more to boost your mood – be physically active. 
  • Eat healthier to feel better, get enough sunlight daily to stop the blues and get enough rest - daily and weekly. 
  • Socialise with others.

Physical Dimension:
Reduce your risk of getting many preventable diseases by looking after your body. 

  • Increase your physical activity as much as you can. 
  • Eat a healthy diet based on whole plant foods. 
  • Get enough rest and sleep. 
  • Drink enough water 
  • Minimise or avoid putting stimulants and toxins in your body.

Social Dimension:
Belonging to a reliable and supportive group can help you through difficult times, and lower your risk of disease and dying early. Build healthy friendships with people who are positive, uplifting and supportive of you. 

  • Ask for help or advice when you need it. 
  • Learn to communicate well. 
  • Learn conflict management skills. 
  • Smile and talk positively. 
  • Learn to appreciate other cultures. 
  • Volunteer and perform random acts of kindness. 
  • Spend time in nature - it makes you kinder to others

Vocational Dimension:
Work out what you are passionate about, whether it is school, work or something else, and spend time and effort investing in that. 

  • Find balance between your roles, responsibilities and leisure time. 
  • Manage your time and develop good study skills and work habits. 
  • Consider volunteering for a worthy cause.

Spiritual Dimension:
Develop a sense of belonging and purpose. Working out what is important to you and what/who you believe in will help bring you peace and direction. 

  • Spend time cultivating a positive outlook by practising gratitude, optimism, compassion and forgiveness. This will increase resilience, happiness and contentment. 
  • Find a faith community and attend regularly. Routines, rites and faith practices can help you de-stress and experience a sense of connectedness.

Intellectual Dimension:
Develop and keep your brain sharp by challenging it with new ideas, information and complex brain activities. 

  • Learn something new, just for fun! Share it with someone you know. 
  • Understand the mind/body connection. Fuel your brain with the right food, physical activity, and adequate water and sleep. Maintain a healthy body weight. Quit smoking. Cut down on alcohol.

Environmental Dimension:
Spend time in nature enjoying fresh air, sunshine, plants and animals. 

  • Minimise or avoid harmful chemicals, toxic substances and unhealthy environmental influences where you can. 
  • Minimise your impact on the environment by using less, reusing what you already have, recycling, conserving energy, buying locally grown fruit and vegetables, and replacing animal protein with plant protein.

Focus on living a healthy lifestyle across the seven dimensions to give yourself the best chance for a happy, healthy and fulfilling future.


1. Global Wellness Institute. What is wellness?  [Available from: https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/what-is-wellness/. 

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About global NCDs: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2020 [updated May 26, 2020. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/healthprotection/ncd/global-ncd-overview.html. 

3. World Health Organization. Noncommunicable diseases. 2018. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/noncommunicable-diseases.

4. Haque M, Islam T, Rahman NAA, McKimm J, Abdullah A, Dhingra S. Strengthening primary health-care services to help prevent and control long-term (chronic) non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries. Risk Manag Healthc Policy. 2020;13:409-26.

5. World Health Organization. Global spending on health: A world in transition. 2019. Report No.: WHO/HIS/HGF/HFWorkingPaper/19.4.

6. National Center for Health Statistics. Health expenditures: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2020 [updated November 10, 2020. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/health-expenditures.htm. 

7. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Health expenditure Australia 2018-19. Canberra: AIHW; 2020. Report No.: HWE 80.

8. Ministry of Health. Budget 2019: Vote health: Ministry of Health;  [updated November 18, 2020. Available from: https://www.health.govt.nz/about-ministry/what-we-do/budget-2019-vote-health.  

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