Intentional Self-Care and the 8 Dimensions of Wellness

August 3, 2022

We’ve all done it — told ourselves we deserve some self-care, flipped on Netflix, and 8 hours later realized we spent the whole day in front of a screen, eyes glazed over, brains fried.

Self-Care should have the opposite effect. It should leave us feeling recharged and reconnected with ourselves. It should be Intentional.  

Intentional self-care can feel daunting. Thankfully Dr. Peggy Swarbrick from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created the “8 Dimensions of Wellness” as a guideline for how we can holistically categorize and attend to our self-care needs. Paired with our practices of Strengths, Mindfulness, and being Intentional, one can address the following 8 Dimensions with purpose and joy.  

  1. Emotional Wellness: Ensuring you’re self-aware, self-compassionate, and can manage your emotions in healthy ways.

The Character Effect™ Connection: Mindfulness can help us become more in tune with ourselves. It gives us space to approach our emotional state nonjudgmentally, ultimately allowing for more healing and growth.  

  1. Financial Wellness: Finding satisfaction in your personal economics. It might be about making wise financial decisions, investing in something important to you, or budgeting.

The Character Effect™ Connection: The strength of Prudence means, “I carefully and thoughtfully approach situations I encounter.” Use this strength to help you set and meet a financial goal. Maybe you try to make your own coffee for a week rather than hit the local Starbucks. Or maybe you want to save up for a vacation.

  1. Social Wellness: Building and maintaining healthy relationships that bring you joy and a sense of belonging.

The Character Effect™ Connection: The strength of Friendship means “I get along well with others, and my friends can count on me.” The strength of Love means “I value my close relationships with others.” These strengths can help us form relationships that fill our cups.

  1. Spiritual Wellness: Having a Sense of Meaning—a belief that you have purpose and value in life. This can but does not have to be tied to religious beliefs.

The Character Effect™ Connection: The strength of Sense of Meaning means “I am discovering my purpose and place in this world.” Use this strength to reflect on what your values are and how your actions, words, and relationships help you live out those values.

  1. Professional Wellness: Finding satisfaction in your professional life. It might be about having a healthy work-life balance or the feeling that you’re contributing your unique skills and experience to meaningful work.

The Character Effect™ Connection: In the field of teaching, a work-life balance can feel next to impossible. Use Intentional practices to set small but mighty boundaries and hold yourself accountable to staying with them.

  1. Physical Wellness: Creating and maintaining healthy habits that tend to your physical needs.

The Character Effect™ Connection: Everybody is different! Use your top Character Strengths to individualize your physical well-being plan so that it can feel exciting and authentic to you. Have a top strength of Appreciation of Beauty? Get outside! Or a top strength of Creativity? Time to make meals more interesting.

7. Intellectual Wellness: Seeing yourself as a life-long learner. This might look like simply staying curious or developing knowledge and skill in a new hobby.

The Character Effect™ Connection: The strength of Love of Learning means “I get excited about discovering new things.” Use this strength to find passion for something in or out of the classroom.

  1. Environmental Wellness: Cultivating a safe, healthy environment. This could be in your immediate environment, but it can also be in the greater environment like your community or even the planet.

The Character Effect™ Connection: Use Intentional practices to think about and create what you want in your immediate and beyond environment. This could be as simple as dusting off the desk or as grand as joining a local environmental justice agency.