Dimensions of Wellness
The Wellness Education and Learning (WEL) Committee coordinates programs that encourage the integration of all aspects of wellness in the lives of students and staff of the college. Our goal is to be healthy persons living in a healthy community and contributing in meaningful ways to the world around us.
The wellness movement in the U.S. can be traced to work of Dr. Halbert L. Dunn, M.D., who described a glowing, natural state of well-being in which you are “alive clear to the tips of your fingers. You have energy to burn. You tingle with vitality. At times like these, the world is a glorious place” (from High Level Wellness). Dunn describes the interconnections between body, mind, and spirit, explaining how health is more than the absence of illness and stressing the importance of finding personal satisfactions and a sense of purpose in life.
The various dimensions of wellness have evolved over time to include the following:
- PHYSICAL – includes regular exercise/physical activity, combined with a nutritious diet composed of mostly whole foods, and a healthy body composition (BMI of 10-22% for men, 20-32% for women). Also includes safe behaviors and no abuse of controlled or illegal substances.
- SOCIAL – includes developing and maintaining satisfying (reciprocal) relationships with friends, family members, and your surrounding community.
- EMOTIONAL – being able to recognize and accept your feelings, strengths and limitations; managing your emotions and coping with stressful events without actions that compromise other aspects of wellness such as your social and physical wellness.
- INTELLECTUAL – being mentally stimulated; absorbing new knowledge, developing and improving skills, and using/sharing creative ideas and solutions to day-to-day issues.
- SPIRITUAL – being at peace within; having a sense of purpose and living in a manner consistent with your values and ethics, which may or may not derive from religious beliefs and practices.
- OCCUPATIONAL – finding meaningful and satisfying work that is consistent with a sense of purpose, and achieving a balance between work and leisure.
- ENVIRONMENTAL – establishing personal habits that promote harmony and order within your own living and work spaces, that contribute to healthy communities, and that help sustain the natural world.
Putting It All Together
In attempting to balance each dimension of wellness it is important to acknowledge that they are all intertwined. Given this, it is vital to recognize that commitments to work, friends, family, and other social groups should in most cases contribute to wellness and not take from it. While we all have obligations and duties to fulfill, regardless of our desire to do them, the subjects you study, work you commit to, and relationships you form should, on the whole, allow you to treat your body well with regular physical activity and nutritious foods. If they do, then you’re off to a good start. Beyond that, if these things provide you purpose, positive reciprocal relationships, and mental stimulation and do not require you to compromise your values or ethics, you’re way ahead of the pack. Wellness is not a given; it requires a mindful pursuit dependent upon honest reflection and evaluation of one’s life.
The current Allegheny College Student Affairs Mission Statement clearly reflects the concept of wellness:
Members of the division of Student Affairs work to enhance and supplement curricular learning and student development in collaboration with students, faculty and other administrators. We foster the intellectual, physical, spiritual, emotional, social and professional development of students by offering a full range of programs, support services, and experiential opportunities. Through individual attention and community building we encourage students to create a campus environment that respects difference and values the voices of others.