Category Archives: 9 Dimensions of Wellness

Physical Wellness: What It Is, Why It’s Important, and How to Cultivate It

What does it mean to have Physical Wellness? Physical wellness means getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy and balanced diet, being physically active every day, and getting an annual medical check-up (1).

Why is Physical Wellness Important? Physical wellness is important because your body needs to be healthy so you can perform to the best of your ability in all areas of your life, including academically.  Physical activity is just one aspect of physical wellness.  It also includes managing your stress, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet.  Many college students struggle with getting enough sleep.  Staying up late to cram for an exam or write a paper can be counterproductive because you will accrue sleep debt.  If you are sleep-deprived, your memory will not be as good and you will not be able to learn efficiently or focus your attention.  Also, sleep, stress and physical activity are all connected.  If you are physically active, you will reduce your stress level and will probably sleep better as well.

How do you cultivate Physical Wellness?  To cultivate physical wellness you must get adequate sleep (7-9 hours) every night (1). Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per day. Incorporate strength training and stretching into your exercise routine (5). You can achieve a balanced diet by eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (1 serving = about 1 cup), eating whole grains and, if you eat meat, make sure the protein is lean (e. g., fish, chicken). Limit saturated fats, but consider including more unsaturated fatty acids found in foods such as chia seeds, avocados, and salmon (6). Avoid consuming trans fats (6). In general, make sure to eat a variety of whole foods to get the most out of every meal (7).


  1. Ohio State University Student Wellness Center: 9 Dimensions of Wellness
  2. Harvard Health Publishing; Harvard Medical School: Importance of Sleep: 6 reasons not to scrimp on sleep
  3. UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services:
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Why is Sleep Important?
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
  6. Choose My Plate: Saturated, Unsaturated, and Trans Fats
  7. Choose My Plate: USDA Food Pyramid

Environmental Wellness

 Environmental Wellness: What It Is, Why It’s Important, and How to Cultivate It

 What does it mean to have Environmental Wellness? Environmental wellness is about having a connection with the earth. This means you actively work to preserve and protect the planet and help make it a clean and safe place to live (1). This includes protecting yourself from environmental hazards such as air pollution, ultraviolet radiation in the sunlight, chemicals, noise, water pollution, and second-hand smoke (2).

 Why is Environmental Wellness important?

If the environment isn’t healthy, then humans and other creatures cannot thrive.   Human beings have the greatest impact on the earth’s resources (e. g., air and water) than any other creatures.  It’s up to us to make sure we’re engaging in behaviors that foster sustainability and are ecologically friendly.  Also, having a healthy and clean environment contributes to your overall physical and mental health (2).

 How do you cultivate Environmental Wellness?

Protect and preserve the environment by reusing and/or recycling paper, glass, plastic, and metal.  Understand that natural resources are not limitless (2).   Buy less stuff (e. g., clothing,  electronics).   Reduce trips in the car by walking, taking the bus, or riding a bike to work, class, and the store.  Use natural cleaning supplies.   Reduce your use of paper; don’t print things unless you need to.   Make sure your living space is clean and free of the environmental hazards listed above.

 Share examples of how you reduce your impact on the planet with #healthypsu


  1. UC Davis Worklife and Wellness:
  2. University of California, Riverside Wellness:


Emotional Wellness

Emotional Wellness: What It Is, Why It’s Important, and How to Cultivate It

What does it mean to have Emotional Wellness? 

Emotional wellness means having the ability to acknowledge, express, and cope with your feelings (1). You engage in self-care and stress reduction activities.  You also have the inner strength to handle tough situations (2).

Why is Emotional Wellness important? 

Being emotionally well and able to recognize and accept your feelings can make you more emotionally intelligent.  This will also help you handle stressful situations. Emotional wellness is important because it can help you become more emotionally stable.  You’ll also increase your inner strength and improve your self-worth and confidence in your ability to make decisions (2).

How do you cultivate Emotional Wellness? 

Cultivating emotional wellness requires you to be positive and be true to yourself. To have emotional wellness, you must be able to accept your feelings and be comfortable expressing your emotions (3). To fully accept your emotions, you first have to be okay making mistakes and be able to learn and grow from your mistakes (3). Cultivating emotional wellness is not an easy task. Take small steps.  Start by writing down your thoughts and feelings.

  1. Ohio State University, Student Wellness Center:
  2. UC Davis Student Health and Counseling:
  3. University of California, Riverside:

Love Your Body Week October 23-27

HealthWorks is hosting Love Your Body Week at University Park October 23 – 27. The week-long series of events is designed to encourage students to appreciate, nurture and respect their bodies. Students will have an opportunity to participate in Love Your Body table events including: create your own affirmation cards for yourself or a friend; take a KIND bar to spread KINDness; and tell us what you love about your body while posing for a picture with the “Inspire Hope, Empower Change” Instagram frame. Handouts and information will be available at each table with tips to improve body image as well as other Penn State resources and giveaways.  The Love Your Body tables will be on the ground floor of the HUB Monday 10/23 – Wednesday 10/25 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Additionally, HealthWorks will have a Love Your Body table in the Intramural Building on Thursday 10/26 and Friday 10/27 focused on body positive reasons to exercise and ways to fuel one’s body.Tuesday night guest speakers Lindsay and Lexie Kite will share simple strategies for building body image resilience. They will share how the media and society are negatively impacting many people’s view of themselves and how we can counter the messages and improve our wellbeing.  The Kite sister’s presentation will take place at Freeman Auditorium in the HUB, on Tuesday, October 24th at 7pm.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders — such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder – include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. They are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males. In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life (NEDA).

Interested in learning more about eating disorders or do you want to learn proactive ways to foster a body positive environment? Visit the websites below:

Are you or someone you know struggling? There is a team of providers at Penn State who are dedicated to helping students who are struggling with eating disorders. Use the information below to make an appointment.

Healthy Eating and Living Support (HEALS)
University Health Services (UHS) Medical Appointments 863-0774
Nutrition Clinic 863-0461
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) 863-0395

Health Promotion and Wellness offers individual wellness services

Health Promotion and Wellness is now offering free Wellness Services for students. The services are designed to help students increase knowledge and learn new skills that contribute to healthy behaviors and academic success.  Services are available for:

  • Financial Wellness
  • Healthy Relationships and Sexual Health
  • Nutrition/Healthy Eating
  • Physical Activity
  • Sleep
  • Stress (Relaxation and Time Management)

Each service includes three 1-hour sessions. Trained peer educators deliver the services. Students can schedule an appointment by calling 814.863.0461.  The services are located in the Wellness Suite, 20 Intramural Building.

Intellectual Wellness

Intellectual wellness is the dimension of wellness that relates to continuous learning during one’s life. You engage in lifelong learning and seek knowledge & activities that develop your critical thinking. An intellectually well person reflects on experiences, challenges their own views, and commits to learning new skills that they can apply to their life (1). The intellectually well person realizes that learning comes from experience just as much as it comes from a book. So sign up for that pottery class, go check out a new museum, or take a spontaneous trip to a place you have never been. There is no downside to learning new things, and you never know when the information you’ve learned will come in handy.

1. University of California, Riverside. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2017, from


9 Dimensions of Wellness

When you think of improving your health, do you think about taking steps to improve your physical wellness? While physical wellness is extremely important, it is only a small fraction of your overall health and wellness. In fact, it is only 1 of 9 areas that contribute to your overall well-being. The 9 dimensions of wellness are: career, cultural, emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual (1). All of these areas contribute to how we feel overall, but are often overlooked when we work on strategies that are designed to help us feel better. Whether you’re a grad student, graduating senior, first-year student, or anywhere in between, it’s never too late to start focusing on your overall health. Over the next few weeks Healthy Penn State will be providing more detail about each dimension of wellness, so stay tuned!