A woman relaxing on a hammock.

The 5 Components Necessary For Well-Being

Maintaining clarity is difficult, especially when you are depressed or experiencing burnout. Often, something is missing from one of these basic components to well-being if you are unhappy. It is important to consider each of these elements when we begin to feel unbalanced.

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Social
  • Spiritual

The Physical Component:

Getting the right amount of sleep and exercise are essential to physical health. Having access to good (and affordable) nutrition (not junk-food or convenience foods) is also important. When your body is depleted of the vitamins and minerals needed to maintain a healthy body, and you consume “empty” calories, your body and mind aren’t getting what they need to thrive, you will be more vulnerable to illness, fatigue and even memory problems.

All these can affect your performance at work- which is another very important aspect of wellness (social, financial, “career” well-being).

The Mental Component:

Optimal mental health can be defined as realizing one’s potential and having sufficient confidence and self-esteem. When an individual’s mental health is balanced, they are able to manage stress better, express their anger and moods appropriately, set goals, build friendships, and have a good view about themselves and their bodies.

The Emotional Component:

Exploring your intellect and getting insight is part of emotional well-being. It is the ability to see our problems and find ways to manage them. We also have compassion and empathy for others when we have optimal emotional well-being. Relationships with our friends, family, and co-workers are improved when we are well-balanced and our emotional component (as well as all components) are nurtured.

The Social Component:

The ability to build and maintain strong relationships and social networks is an important component of our overall well-being. Interacting, communicating, negotiating, trusting, and setting boundaries with others comes from the social component of our well-being. When we can socialize with others in meaningful and healthy ways, we, in turn, are able to reciprocate and receive needed support and guidance. Without proper social support, feelings of isolation or alienation may take root and hinder our well-being.

The Spiritual Component:

Spiritual well-being is the search for purpose and significance. Many people satisfy their spiritual component by participating in worship and religious activities, yoga, meditation, quiet time or by spending time in nature. Fulfillment, altruism, mindfulness are satisfied with the spiritual component.

When The 5 Components of Well-Being Lack or Overlap

Since well-being is holistic, meaning we depend on each and every component to function properly for our overall wellness. The components overlap each other- for instance, if you don’t get enough sleep (physical), you may be too tired to carry out your daily tasks (mental, emotional, social). Some of us lack the 5 components because of things beyond our control. When things are beyond our control, we don’t have a sense of mastery over our tasks.

A good example is working in a job where you don’t feel valued or respected. Perhaps, responsibilities are being removed or shifted to other workers without your input. You feel alienated and disregarded. It may be difficult for you to find another job. You may not have access to reliable transportation or childcare. This would be a situation where you would have to make the best of a situation or make some difficult choices. Perhaps you can explore a hobby to satisfy your sense of mastery, or you could write in a journal to gain insight and set goals for the future, or take classes to satisfy your intellectual curiosity. All of these things can help to improve your confidence and combat the stressors that are beyond your control.

Take Small Steps, Make and Maintain Small Goals To Start

What if you have too many responsibilities to meditate or pursue spiritual activities? You may have anxiety issues (perhaps repressed or unresolved issues) that prevent you from socializing as you would like to pursue? Perhaps you don’t have good social connections, or you feel judged and alienated by your peers, or you observe social cues that signal you don’t “belong”. Make use of one of the 5 components in which you are stronger- for instance, if you have good physical health, or a strong attitude and joy from exercising, you could do running and change your physical environment for the moment by being outside.

Being in nature helps us physically (fresh air) and spiritually (created environment). This environmental change refreshes us and allows us to see what is in the world beyond our cubicle and our own problems.

  • Set aside 5 minutes a day to pursue a spiritual goal, such as prayer, meditation, reading spiritual books.
  • Skip time with negative people and try to encourage or say “hi” to somebody else.
  • Read and understand the meaning of the serenity prayer. Apply it to your life!

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

  • Talk to trusted people, or reach out to an online community or counselor.
  • Be sure to get an annual physical to check for underlying health issues.
  • Take a self-paced (free) online class.
  • Visit a museum for beauty and fresh perspective.
  • Write in a journal for insight and reflection.
  • Research and evaluate your personality.
  • Evaluate your values. Do they line up your physical environment? Does your career satisfy these values? Does the culture of your company align with your values? What small (or big) changes can be made to improve your daily interactions and surroundings?