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What is wellness?

Wellness is more than health. It is a way of living more fully. It involves taking responsibility for the choices you make each and every day – no matter how small – to take positive actions that fuel your body, engage your mind, and nurture your spirit. It is an intentional approach to healthful and active living that gives you the energy to embrace life and do what matters most to you. It is a holistic way of living in which you deliberately and thoughtfully engage in behaviors that support health in body, mind, and spirit.

To live well is to live in a way that enhances health and well-being in all 6 dimensions – physical, emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual, and vocational.

8 Dimensions of Wellness

Physical

Whether it’s hitting the gym regularly or knowing when to go to the Health Center and rest when you’re ill, physical health is all about keeping your body running optimally so that you can get the most out of your life.

Practicing physical wellness involves:

Examples of small steps to increase your physical wellness:

  • Choose a healthy alternative to the options in your vending machine
  • Wear your seatbelt every time you ride in a car
  • Get all recommended vaccinations
  • Walk the stairs instead of taking the elevator
  • Insist on using a condom during sex
  • Make an appointment for nutrition counseling
  • Make an appointment for relaxation training
  • Cope with stress by going for a quiet walk
  • Switch to water after 1-2 alcoholic beverages
  • Keep a log of how many hours of sleep you get each night and how you feel the next day

Key Physical Wellness Resources at UMD:

Emotional

College can be an emotionally turbulent time, full of adjustments: new environment, new friends, new academic demands. By learning to embrace and express your emotions, you can turn obstacles into opportunities for growth. Keep a positive outlook as you take on new challenges. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to ask for help.

Practicing emotional wellness involves:

  • Maintaining a positive, optimistic outlook
  • Understanding, accepting, and expressing a wide range of emotions
  • Adjusting effectively to change
  • Managing difficult emotions
  • Viewing challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles
  • Respecting strengths and limitations
  • Functioning independently but knowing when to ask for help

Examples of small steps to increase emotional wellness:

  • Make an appointment with a counselor when feeling overwhelmed
  • Spend time with a friend you find uplifting
  • Recognize when you are overeating in response to stress
  • Decline new projects and responsibilities when you’ve reached your limit
  • Journal to diffuse emotional duress
  • At 3 points throughout the day, name and jot down an emotion you are feeling
  • Attend grief support groups to process a recent loss

Key Emotional Wellness Resources at UMD:

Spiritual

Look beyond the day-to-day grind and stop to turn inward and reflect on your life’s meaning. Honor religious traditions that are personally fulfilling to you while practicing tolerance of others’ viewpoints. Appreciate that the world isn’t in your control and understand that connecting with something larger than yourself can give you a sense of purpose.

Practicing spiritual wellness involves:

  • Seeking meaning and purpose in human existence
  • Appreciating the mysteries of life
  • Striving for peace, harmony and wisdom
  • Aligning actions with priorities and values
  • Practicing tolerance of others’ viewpoints
  • Expressing gratitude
  • Honoring your religious traditions
  • Feeling a connection with something larger than the self
  • Questioning assumptions about the nature of life

Examples of small steps to increase spiritual wellness:

  • Meditate for 10 minutes to relax and connect with your sense of purpose
  • Attend a religious service if that is part of your spiritual practice
  • Walk the labyrinth in the Garden of Reflection and Remembrance
  • Make time for a family gathering to honor your value of family
  • Attend a lecture about a life philosophy different than your own
  • Join a spiritual student organization [select 'religious' for Organization Type]
  • Enroll in a music or dance class to appreciate the spirituality in everyday activities
  • Write a note of thanks for a recent kindness

Key Spiritual Wellness Resources at UMD:

Social

A college campus is a great place to foster new relationships and get involved with social causes. Build a strong support network through friends, family and romantic interests. Then, broaden your worldview and social circle by taking advantage of opportunities to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures, as well as contribute to the local and global community.

Practicing social wellness includes:

Examples of small steps to increase social wellness:

  • Recycle whenever possible
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter
  • Join a sports club to build new friendships while engaging in healthy physical activity
  • Plan an outing with a friend or loved one
  • Become involved with an international or cultural program
  • Travel to a place you’ve never been near or far
  • Spend time with a friend who could use your company
  • Look for opportunities to engage in random acts of kindness

Key Social Wellness Resources at UMD:

Vocational

Your job should be more than a paycheck. You want satisfaction and meaning in your work: something aligned with your interests, values and skills. Internships, co-ops, part-time jobs and volunteer work can guide you to your life’s calling. Love your work, and love your time away from it—that work-life balance will keep you energized each day.

Practicing vocational wellness includes:

  • Engaging in satisfying paid and/or un-paid work
  • Choosing an occupation consistent with your interests and values
  • Finding joy and satisfaction in your work
  • Searching for and following your life’s calling and passions
  • Contributing meaningfully to your organization’s mission
  • Maintaining a healthy work-life balance
  • Being open to new work opportunities
  • Growing your set of functional, transferrable skills

Examples of small steps to increase vocational wellness:

Key Vocational Wellness Resources at UMD:

Intellectual

Aiming for that 4.0? That’s great—but remember that excelling in the classroom isn’t the only way to get an education. Be curious. Question the status quo. Be open-minded—and open to discussion and debate. Commit yourself to the pursuit of knowledge because lifelong learning is how you’ll grow.

Practicing intellectual wellness includes:

  • Thinking critically and creatively
  • Being intuitive, expressive and curious
  • Pursuing knowledge in and out of the classroom
  • Participating in mentally stimulating activities
  • Exposing yourself to new ideas and points of view
  • Staying informed of current events
  • Setting academic goals
  • Finding real world applications for what you learn

Examples of small steps to increase intellectual wellness:

  • Bookmark a few news sites and blogs to check daily
  • Enroll in a credit or non-credit course outside of your comfort zone
  • Learn a new vocabulary word
  • Play a trivia game
  • Teach yourself a new skill through a YouTube video
  • Visit the art gallery or the Stamp gallery
  • Watch a documentary
  • Initiate a mentally stimulating conversation about a current issue or event
  • Visit one of Maryland’s libraries or the University Book Center and start a new book

Key Intellectual Wellness Resources at Maryland:

Environmental

Love the earth; it’s the only one we’ve got. We all play a role in protecting our planet and making it a safe and pleasant place to live for generations to come. 


Practicing environmental wellness involves:

  • Respecting and protecting the natural environment
  • Engaging in sustainability practices like recycling and conserving electricity
  • Protecting yourself from environmental hazards
  • Enjoying time outside in natural settings
  • Understanding that natural and built environments affect your health and well-being

Examples of small steps to increase your environmental wellness:

  • Shop locally at The Farmers Market at Maryland
  • Sort your waste thoughtfully and use the appropriate compost, trash, and recycling receptacles whenever available
  • Donate or upcycle and repurpose items you no longer use.
  • Spend time being active outside – hiking, paddling, camping, or just taking a walk; equipment rental available through RecWell.
  • Join a sustainability related student organization
  • Walk or bike to your classes instead of driving. Or alternately, take public transportation. 
  • Create an emergency plan in the event of a fire, tornado, or other natural disaster.

Key Environmental Wellness Resources at UMD

 

Financial

Money, money, money! Financial wellness isn’t about the love of money, but it does require thoughtful planning and spending to minimize debt and be financially stable so you can comfortably enjoy life and protect your future. 

Practicing financial wellness involves:

  • Managing money responsibly
  • Aligning values with spending
  • Not living beyond your means
  • Making informed financial decisions
  • Minimizing debt
  • Using credit wisely
  • Not letting money be the driving force of your life
  • Being charitable when possible
Examples of small steps to increase your financial wellness:

  • Create a budget of monthly expenses and save a little each month if possible.
  • Work on campus.
  • Sign-up for a free account with iGrad, a UMD resource to help build financial literacy skills.
  • Use an online finance management tool like Mint.com to track your spending.
  • Make an appointment with a finance counselor at the Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss options for funding your education.
  • Create a strategy for paying off college debt as quickly as possible.
Key Financial Wellness Resources at UMD