What is total wellness?Everyone wants to be happy and healthy and have fulfilling lives. We typically watch what we eat and try to fit exercise into our busy lives.  We monitor our alcohol, caffeine and sugar consumption and give up smoking. But these things are only one aspect of wellness, the physical aspect.  So what is total wellness and how do we achieve it? 

Total wellness encompasses much more than just physical health. It includes emotional, mental social and spiritual element too.  It’s a fine balancing act to work out how to achieve total wellness between them all.

What Is Total Wellness?

There are many definitions available on wellness (or well-being).  Some models are based on as many as nine different dimensions.  They include elements such as occupational wellness or financial well-being. But what they all have in common are the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual elements. These dimensions all influence and support each other. In order to have total wellness, a person needs to develop a degree of wellness in all of these areas.

Realistically some areas will be more developed than others. But the goal should be to ensure a balance between them all – just like we think about having a balanced diet. Our diets may not be perfect but we aim to eat something from each of the major food groups.

Physical Well-being

This is the most commonly addressed side of wellness.  It deals with the physical body’s growth, development, movement and how we can care for it.

Media is full of advertisements and articles with advice about food, diets, exercise programs, and dramatic weight loss stories. We can get confused with the conflicting information and the fad diets that come and go. We get worried by News stories about the latest research that links this, that and the other to cancer or other diseases.

So what is the right thing to do to care for our physical well-being? Well firstly, take a calm, sensible approach when determining your own individual needs and plans. Focus on one thing at a time.

Have you decided to give up smoking?

The only person who can stop you from smoking is YOU. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says or does.  If you don’t wholeheartedly want to give up, you won’t be able to – well, not permanently anyway. I gave up smoking for a year each time I wanted to have a baby but it wasn’t until I was 39 years old that I gave it up for good. Looking back at my failed attempts makes me realize that I just wasn’t mentally ready.What is total wellness?

These days there are great resources to help with withdrawal symptoms such as medications, gum, therapy, hypnosis and support groups. I had previously tried a number of these things and had good results for a while but then started up again.  By 39 I was totally sick and tired of everything about smoking that I gave up cold turkey, and it was the easiest experience.  

Want to lose fat?

If fat loss is your goal then focus on your food plan first. Learn about the different food groups and how they all play an important part in maintaining a healthy body. Find a mentor who you can follow – someone who has been successful in losing fat in a healthy, long-term manner.

What is total wellness?

Plan your meals for the week. Cook in bulk and freeze them in individual containers.  If you don’t have time, order calorie-controlled meals from international distributors such as Jenny Craig or look for a local provider such as Muscle Fuel in New Zealand.

You can also buy small frozen meals from your local supermarket. Some of these meals can be costly but you don’t need to get one for every day. Buy a few each week and stick them in your freezer for your busiest days or when you’re really tired and don’t feel like cooking.

Give yourself plenty of time to get into a routine with your new food plan and don’t beat yourself up if it’s not perfect. It takes time to form new habits and time to work out what works best for you. This is how my daughter Chelsea lost 24 kilograms (52 pounds) over 2 years.

Do You Need To Get Moving?

When you’re happy with how your eating is going then add some form of exercise. Again, do this gradually and realistically. I’ve started with two visits a week to the gym with my husband. We’ve been doing this for about a couple of months now and it’s becoming a normal part of our week. It takes about three to four weeks to create a new habit. 

But remember we’re all different and what may be right for me, may not be right for you. We are different ages, have different tastes in food, different interests in sport and outdoor activities, we have varying amounts of leisure time and we are all at different starting points, so do what is best for YOU.




Key Message

Whatever it is you want to achieve towards total wellness:

1. Start out with a small, realistic and achievable SMART goal. (Don’t over complicate things.)

2. Implement that goal until it becomes a habit that you are happy with. (This could take weeks or months.)

3. Tweak your goal if you are not happy with it. (I found I was too tired to go to the gym after work, so I don’t.)

4. When you are ready to add a new goal then start from step 1 again.

Your new goal maybe something completely different or you might be ready to make your original goal more challenging. And don’t forget, if you need advice and inspiration then find a mentor, either someone you know personally or follow someone online. Your physical well-being is just one dimension of your total wellness so read on to find out what else you can do.

One Last Important Tip

Work on developing a positive mindset, especially if you have tried dieting many times before because having an untrained unconscious mind is like having an enemy who is trying really hard to stop you from achieving your fat loss goals.

Having the right mindset is a huge asset for assisting you with any of your goals. Keep checking back to my website for more information about how your brain works and how you can get it to work in your favor.

Social Well-being

Humans are innately social creatures. Some of us are more sociable than others and typically we are the most social when we are young, footloose and fancy-free. As we age and start families our priorities change and so does our socializing behavior.

But social well-being is not based on how much we socialize but that we have opportunities to connect with others. Connecting with people can mean many things. It could be the relationships you have with friends, family or colleagues. Or it could be interactions with fellow students or community groups such as sports teams, churches, hobby clubs or volunteer groups. Social well-being is about having a sense of belonging, being part of a group where you can interact, contribute and receive support.

Mental and Emotional Well-being

The mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of well-being are the whole purpose of this website and what I personally consider to be the most important parts of total wellness that need to be addressed first.

My reason being, if you are mentally, emotionally and spiritually well then you are better equipped to deal with physical or social well-being issues.  Having a strong psyche is what will drive you to find solutions to your problems, reach your full potential and ultimately a happy, fulfilling life.

Life can be very demanding and we humans typically follow the same norms and routines the way our parents did before us and their parents did before them.

Many of us are brought up to believe that you have to go to school to get a good education so that you can get a well-paying job to support yourself and your family. We hear that life is tough. That’s just the way it is. It’s like that for everyone so you just have to suck it up and get on with it.

When Things Go Wrong

So when things go bad, maybe due to illness or your marriage breaks down, stress, grief, and worry creep in. It starts gnawing at you, bringing you down and wearing you out. Friends and family may be supportive but after a while, you may feel pressure to sort yourself out and get back to your usual self.

Sometimes you can dust yourself off and get back on track. But it’s not always that easy. Prolonged stress can be very harmful and lead to depression. That’s what happened to me after years of living under stressful conditions when I had been caring for my sick husband. I had coped with stress for so long, I thought I was superwoman.

But it was when the stress stopped, that things really changed. I think I had been living on adrenaline. Then one day I got a simple cold and my world came crashing down. I had no interest in anything, no motivation or ability to concentrate and had to take a year off my studies and just recuperate. Thankfully my husband had fully recovered by this time and it was his turn to look after me. I was lucky because I was only restricted from living a normal life for one year. Some people’s lives are affected for decades.

Mental illness has been on the rise for over 50 years and we also see that there is a frightening epidemic of mental illness developing in children and teenagers. Sadly, New Zealand has the highest youth suicide rate in the world. I will be focusing on this topic in more depth in my next post about Anxiety and Depression.

Spiritual Well-being

Less talked about is spiritual well-being. Until recently I was unsure about my spirituality. I believed in ‘something’ but wasn’t sure what that was. When I was growing up, I hadn’t been brought up in any particular denomination. My father was a non-practicing Catholic and my mother was Presbyterian. Occasionally my brother and I went to church with my mother and I went to a girl’s Catholic high school, only because it had a good reputation and small classes. When we were children, my parents told my brother and me that we could choose for ourselves when we grew up.

It wasn’t until I was in my early fifties that I read The Secret and began to develop my personal spiritual awareness. It’s been a wonderful journey so far and I am so pleased to learn and believe that true happiness comes from within you.

Where To Now?

From here I will explore emotional and mental health issues and spiritual well-being. Watch out for further articles. I hope you have found this information valuable.

If you want to share your experiences or have any questions, please feel free to leave them below. I’d love to hear from you and will be more than happy to help and support you if I can.



The information on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.


  1. Hi Tanya,
    The concept of balancing elements to achieve total wellness as you would in a balanced diet is very interesting. Some of us have problems in more than one area which would make total wellness more difficult to attain – just as we would have issues eating from each food group. In reality, some people are not concerned with total wellness. They need to be educated and strategically guided. You have given them an opportunity to do so.
    This post provides a variety of ways to achieve total wellness. I enjoyed reading this post and I will share it with my family and friends. Thank you for sharing this great post!


  2. Social wellbeing is so important! We sometimes find ourselves withdrawing from social situations when, in reality, they can often empower us.

    I also really like your thoughts on working slowly on goals and to create solid habits. It’s so true, that we can change if and when we make up our minds to do that.

  3. Wow Tanya, amazing article! I appreciate all the information you are supplying here. It’s so sad about the suicide rate of kids, that’s terrible!

    I really believe that our brains are the final frontier. There’s so much we don’t know about it.

    • So true. And that’s the wonderful thing about the internet. We have ready access to more up to date information than ever before. Thanks for sharing.

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