8 Simple Tips for Total Wellness

Making a few tweaks to the social, emotional, and physical aspects of your life can yield big results.

Updated on June 2, 2022

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You probably hear the term “wellness” all the time—in the news, at the doctor’s office, at work, and across social media. But what does it really mean to be well?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health and wellness as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Wellness encompasses several components. According to the Global Wellness Institute, six important aspects are your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual states, along with your social and environmental connections—that’s how you connect with your community and positively interact with the planet.

This sense of well-being can lead to fulfillment in your relationships, career, and your overall sense of purpose in life. Read on for examples of how you can improve your well-being and overall wellness in eight key areas of your life.

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Take on a new project a work

Your job is a source of monetary reward, sure, but it can also be a way to fulfill personal goals. Work is also where many people spend most of their waking hours. For these reasons, it often plays a huge role in your health. Studies show that people who feel their jobs are meaningful, enjoyable, and important are less likely to experience anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and physical conditions like headaches and stomach problems.

Even if you don’t like your job, you can still find meaning in it. Consider an aspect that you feel passionate about. If you’re a teacher, maybe it’s working directly with students in a small group. If you’re a customer service representative with a knack for the internet, try helping out with your company’s web design team.

You could also spend time collaborating with a colleague or asking for their opinion on something you’re working on. Try running a presentation by them or having them read over a proposal. Doing so can help you feel rejuvenated about your work and improve your mental health at the same time.

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Find a sweat session you enjoy

Your physical health plays an obvious role in overall wellness. One of the best ways you can keep your body in shape is exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says regular physical activity can help you:

  • Control your weight
  • Lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers
  • Better manage chronic conditions like arthritis and diabetes
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your mental health and mood
  • Prevent falls, particularly among older adults
  • Live longer 

Aim to get moving each day. Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (like swimming) each week.

If you’re not sure where to begin, try taking a dance class or picking up a set of weights for a quick workout during commercials while you watch your favorite show. Tracking your steps can also help. Studies show that using a steps tracker, like the one in Sharecare (for iOS and Android), can help you move more throughout the day, too.

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Try a new-to-you fruit

Another way to keep your body in top physical shape is to eat a balanced diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends choosing foods and drinks low in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. That means a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. A good way to start a new food plan is to follow the USDA’s My Plate guidelines.

Healthy eating can lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. While everyone has slightly different nutritional needs, following these principles is a good way to get started.

You don’t have to make big changes all at once. Start by replacing one fatty food at a time with healthier choices. For example, you could replace your post-dinner chocolate ice cream with a few squares of healthier dark chocolate (with at least 70 percent cocoa). Or the next time you’re in the grocery store, pick up a tropical fruit (like papaya or mango) for a fresh take on breakfast.

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Surround yourself with positive people, let go of toxic relationships

Socializing is fun, and it may boost your longevity. Studies show that adults who are more socially involved are more likely to live longer, healthier lives than those who are more isolated. Socializing may also help stave off feelings of depression and help keep your memory strong. Some research suggests that increased social interaction may even improve outcomes for patients with chronic health conditions like cancer.

Try to stay in touch with family and friends as best you can. Joining clubs, community groups, or volunteering in your community are also great ways to be social. Workout classes at your local gym or YMCA count, too.

On the flip side, toxic relationships can wreak havoc on your health. Relationships that cause you stress may contribute to high blood pressure, a weaker immune system, increased anxiety and depression, and an increased risk of heart disease. If you have friends who encourage bad habits, gossip all the time, or are abusive, it may be time to move on.

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Find your spiritual center

There’s not one universal definition for spirituality, but many experts describe it as having a connection with something outside of yourself that gives life meaning. That could be a religious institution, a higher power, or even nature or art. Studies show that practicing spirituality can improve mental health, help you cope with chronic health conditions, and help you live longer.

Spirituality may mean something different to each person, but it’s often about:

  • Focusing on the things that are most important in your life
  • Gaining a sense of peace, even during challenging times
  • Realizing that you aren’t responsible for everything (big or small) that happens in life; releasing control can often relieve stress
  • Meeting people and making connections in places of worship

How can you practice spirituality if you’re not sure where to begin? You may need to test out some practices to see what helps you the most. Here are some ideas:

  • Practice yoga by starting out with a few minutes and working your way up to a longer session.
  • Meditate for five minutes each morning.
  • Visit your local church, temple, mosque, or synagogue and ask how you can get involved.
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Write down one thing you’re grateful for each day

You may have heard about how gratitude can improve your health. In general, it’s about appreciating what’s valuable and meaningful to you in life. Research shows that grateful people are more likely to take care of their health. Being grateful can also help you build new friendships, improve self-esteem, and help you sleep better.

A 2015 study published in the journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice observed 186 asymptomatic heart failure patients and found that those who were more grateful and spiritually inclined reported positive effects including less inflammation, better sleep and mood, and more regular heart rhythms.

You can show gratitude by taking the time to thank your server at a restaurant or calling a former mentor to let them know how much you appreciate them. Or start a gratitude journal. Each morning, write down one thing for which you’re grateful. Read your entries at the end of each week or whenever you need a pick-me-up.

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Skip plastic utensils and paper plates

Pollution is known to be a risk factor for a wide range of conditions. A 2022 Lancet report suggested pollution is responsible for 9 million premature deaths worldwide every year.

Poor air quality can contribute to asthma, heart problems, certain cancers, and premature death, while water pollution can contribute to liver and kidney damage, cancer, hepatitis, typhoid, and more.

To stay well, it’s important to understand how environmental factors play into your everyday life. Doing your part to conserve energy and take care of the environment is crucial. In addition to skipping paperware and plasticware when possible, you can:

  • Invest in reusable water bottles and grocery bags.
  • Eat and shop at local grocers and produce markets to avoid buying food that’s been shipped from far away.
  • If you’re not using an appliance, unplug it or turn it off.
  • Walk or ride a bike instead of driving.
  • Reduce, reuse, and/or recycle common everyday items.
  • Volunteer with environmental organizations.
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Learn something new each day

Challenging yourself intellectually means engaging in mentally stimulating activities. Doing so will expand your knowledge and encourage you to share that knowledge with others. The more you challenge yourself, the more curious you are, and the more likely you are to try new things.

How can you work on your intellectual wellness? Signing up for a class, volunteering in your community, and trying your hand at new hobbies are good ways to start. You can also:

  • Download an app that teaches you a new word each day.
  • Study a new language.
  • Be an active listener when talking with someone.

All in all, having an open, receptive mind goes a long way to boosting your mental and overall well-being.

Slideshow sources open slideshow sources

Global Wellness Institute. What is Wellness? Accessed May 27, 2022.
Aazami S, Shamsuddin K, Akmal S, Azami G. The Relationship Between Job Satisfaction and Psychological/Physical Health among Malaysian Working Women. Malays J Med Sci. 2015;22(4):40-46.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Benefits of Physical Activity. Reviewed April 27, 2022.
Lienert, Jeffrey, Marcum, Christopher Steven, Finney, John, Reed-Tsochas, Felix, Koehly, Laura.  Social influence on 5-year survival in a longitudinal chemotherapy ward co-presence network. Network Science. 2017;5(3):308-327.
Salsman JM, Pustejovsky JE, Jim HS, et al. A meta-analytic approach to examining the correlation between religion/spirituality and mental health in cancer. Cancer. 2015;121(21):3769-3778.
Hughes M. Helm, Judith C. Hays, Elizabeth P. Flint, Harold G. Koenig, Dan G. Blazer, Does Private Religious Activity Prolong Survival? A Six-Year Follow-up Study of 3,851 Older Adults, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 55, Issue 7, 1 July 2000, Pages M400–M405.
Sansone RA, Sansone LA. Gratitude and well being: the benefits of appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2010;7(11):18-22.
Williams LA, Bartlett MY. Warm thanks: gratitude expression facilitates social affiliation in new relationships via perceived warmth. Emotion. 2015;15(1):1-5.
Algoe SB, Haidt J, Gable SL. Beyond reciprocity: gratitude and relationships in everyday life. Emotion. 2008;8(3):425-429.
Wood AM, Joseph S, Lloyd J, Atkins S. Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. J Psychosom Res. 2009;66(1):43-48.
Mills PJ, Redwine L, Wilson K, et al. The Role of Gratitude in Spiritual Well-being in Asymptomatic Heart Failure Patients. Spiritual Clin Pract (Wash D C ). 2015;2(1):5-17.
Fuller, Richard, Landrigan, Philip, Balakrishnan, Kalpana, et al. Pollution and health: a progress update. The Lancet. Published online May 17. 2022.

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