7 Elements of Wellness


This project is based on ALA President Loriene Roy’s 2007-2008 Circle of Wellness Initiative. Ted Chaffin, Sara Jeffress, Jennifer Turner, and Laura Warren-Gross–all members of the 2008 cohort of ALA Emerging Leaders–created the Circle of Wellness website and several accompanying tools.  In the spring of 2016, the website’s content, tools, organization, and design were updated by Amanda Avery, Dory Cochran, and Jennifer McElroy, members of the 2016 cohort of ALA Emerging Leaders.  The site was designed to provide resources to help library workers achieve a well-rounded life which includes all seven dimensions of wellness: physical, social, environmental, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and occupational.  It is felt that this valuable resource is needed now more than ever with today’s changing workplace dynamics.

Individual and community well-being are inherently connected, so it is vitally important that workplaces be places of wellness for their employees.  The ALA-APA is an organization dedicated to promoting the mutual professional interests of librarians and other library workers, so it has a distinct interest in helping library workers address their own wellness and the wellness of their libraries.

Wellness is an active and lifelong process, involving positive decision-making and finding balance between many priorities.  It is tied to awareness and to making choices that lead to being happier, healthier, and more fulfilled.

Often, total wellness is described as being an intersection between 7 different aspects*:

  • Physical
    When thinking about wellness, this is often the first element considered.  It includes things like exercise, nutrition, ergonomics, and sleep.  People with good physical wellness have healthy habits and routines, are aware of their health status, participate in preventative health care, and seek appropriate care for illness/injuries.
  • Emotional
    All types of mental health are a part of this element of wellness, including aspects like stress management and overall attitude towards life.  People with good emotional wellness set priorities, balance different aspects of life (family, work, friends, etc.), are self-aware of their mental health, and seek support when it is needed.
  • Occupational
    Because people spend so much time at work, occupational wellness is a particularly important component of overall well-being.  It includes job satisfaction, the ability to use one’s talents and skills at work, and ambitions for professional growth and change.  People with good occupational wellness find their work rewarding, have good relationships with co-workers, and find positive ways to handle workplace stress, all while also finding a good work-life balance.
  • Environmental
    Perhaps the most outward-looking of all 7 wellness elements, it involves a person’s awareness of nature and the general environment, as well as their more immediate surroundings.  People with good environmental wellness take actions to both protect the environment (by using sustainable practices, recycling, etc.) and to protect themselves from environmental hazards.
  • Intellectual
    Involves keeping current on issues and ideas, participating in activities that are mentally stimulating, and working on creative endeavors.  People with good intellectual wellness are curious, lifelong learners that are interested in the world around them and challenge themselves regularly.
  • Spiritual
    For many people, spiritual wellness includes religious participation and prayer, but it also encompasses all aspects of faith, values, beliefs, and morals, as well as activities like meditation, yoga, and affirmations.  People with good spiritual wellness make time for relaxation, make value-guided decisions, and connect with a personal sense of purpose.
  • Social
    Communication, relationships, and community involvement. People with good social health interact with–and can relate to–a variety of people, have positive and meaningful relationships of all kinds, and create a support system of family and friends.



* Dr. Bill Hettler of the National Wellness Institute developed a now-standard model of overall wellness that had 6 dimensions.  The seventh dimension–environmental wellness–is now commonly added.