The Wellness Wheel – holistic wellbeing

24 August 2022
Image: UCLA Rise Center

The WHO defines wellness as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Further, WHO defines mental health as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises their own potential. Thus wellness is not just good health, it is thriving. In order to thrive we need to function well in all aspects of our lives.

The wellness wheel offers a holistic way of considering wellness. We can think of wellness as a wheel with separate spokes. Each spoke is critical for the wheel to keep turning. This perspective allows us to see how these “spokes” are interconnected and contribute to our quality of life we live. There are commonly eight spokes to the wellness wheel. It is a good habit to regularly check in with the various spokes of the wellness wheel and make adjustments which will allow us to thrive.

The Occupational Spoke
Think about what provides satisfaction at work. Discover what makes you happy to be in your workplace. The key is to balance any negative aspects of the job with the enjoyable ones. We all have to find those positives because by human nature we gravitate toward what is wrong first, rather than what is right. Identify the positives in your work and be sure they outweigh any negatives. If not consider what needs to change.

The Emotional Spoke
As healthcare professionals, we have to acknowledge what we are feeling, rather than deny our emotions. We may be annoyed with contrary colleagues or difficult patients, but we have the power to choose how we will behave and manage these feelings. Optimism and maintaining satisfying relationships with others are key to wellness.

The Physical Spoke
Exercising enough, eating well, getting adequate sleep and paying attention to signs of illness, and getting treatment when needed, play a big role in physical wellness. Doctors and medical students who are in good physical shape will reap the psychological benefits of greater self-esteem and self-control.

The Financial Spoke
Being financially secure is important to our effectiveness as a healthcare professional. Part of financial wellness is to develop a plan by establishing goals such as having a comfortable home, providing for family, paying monthly bills, planning holidays and creating a nest egg that provides for a comfortable retirement.

The Spiritual or Existential Spoke
What gives you meaning and purpose in medicine? Is it the art of helping and healing? The spiritual dimension will be characterised by times of peaceful harmony interspersed with times of disappointment, doubt and fear. In healthcare, every day we have these experiences which cause us to adapt and bring meaning to our existence.

The Social Spoke
How are you relating to others in your workplace and in your life outside? Developing effective relationships with colleagues, patients, friends and your families indicates social wellness.

The Intellectual Spoke
As there are constant changes and evolution in healthcare, having an open mind and participating in ongoing education and development and learning fthrough research is critical. Sharing what we know with others in our workplace can be stimulating and serve as a way to challenge ourselves. In addition, outside the workplace have broader interests and pursue creative activities which provide enjoyment and satisfaction.

The Environmental Spoke
Environmental wellness is creating or finding spaces where we live, work and study that help us feel motivated to reach our goals. Is our working and living environment comfortable, well organised and clean? Can we spend time in nature? Are there opportunities to contribute to protecting the natural environment by conserving energy, recycling and reducing pollution and gas emissions.

Take time to address each spoke of the wellness wheel and work towards holistic wellbeing. When we thrive we will provide the best care to our patients and also live our best lives.

Kay Dunkley
AMA Victoria doctor wellbeing and mentoring


Further reading

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