Life + Career DO Well Toolkit Defining Wellness

Defining Wellness

Wellness check

The osteopathic approach toward physician health

8 Dimensions of Wellness align with the osteopathic approach to mind, body and spirit.

As a physician or medical student, you’ve dedicated your life’s work to helping patients lead healthy lives. But focusing on your own physical and mental well-being is just as important.

According to the National Wellness Institute, wellness is defined as an active process through which people become aware of and make choices toward a more successful existence. Extending beyond physical health, wellness is multidimensional and holistic, encompassing work, lifestyle and environment.

The osteopathic profession’s Physician Wellness Strategy aims to provide DOs and osteopathic medical students with tools to improve their own well-being and educate others about the importance of wellness. Developed by physicians for physicians, the strategy draws from the four Tenets of Osteopathic Medicine by exploring the full spectrum of your physical and mental health.


8 dimensions of wellness

The following descriptions are adapted from SAMHSA’s 8 Dimensions of Wellness.

  • Physical

    As a DO or osteopathic medical student, you understand the importance of preventive medicine. Establishing healthy eating habits and a regular exercise routine can help ward off chronic disease and keep your mind and body strong.

  • Emotional

    Your emotional health is one of the most important components of your well-being. Understanding your feelings, developing a sense of awareness and building resilience will help keep you focused and balanced.

  • Environmental

    Optimal health is best achieved when your mental and physical health are in harmony with your surrounding environment. How you interact with your natural (i.e. climate) and built (i.e. work) environments can have a major impact on your health.

  • Financial

    Financial health is determined by your relationship with money, your ability to live within your means and your approach toward preparing for short-term and long-term needs.

  • Intellectual

    Seeking ways to stimulate your curiosity and creativity will keep your mind sharp and engaged. By becoming active in cultural and scholastic activities, you'll expand your skills and knowledge. And you'll enjoy added benefits by sharing what you learn with others.

  • Occupational 

    Finding true joy and satisfaction in your work can lead to reduced stress and burnout. This can be achieved by finding ways to utilize your talents, establish a healthy work-life balance and manage workplace stress.

  • Social

    A positive mental outlook can result from having a strong support network of friends, family members and colleagues. Fostering nurturing and supportive relationships also helps build communication skills and empathy.

  • Spiritual

    Spiritual wellness focuses on connectedness with self, others, music, nature, art, or a power greater than oneself. Exploring your values, beliefs and purpose can result in greater happiness and satisfaction with your life and career.

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