Wellness Self-Assessment

How to Determine where I am on the Journey of Wellness to Optimal Health and well-being

Where Am I?

Whole-person well-being involves balancing all of life's dimensions for your optimal health & vitality. Some things this may include are to reduce stress, lose weight, improve relationships, gain better work-life balance, & live life more fully. To be able to begin this journey it is important to know where what your starting point is in each of life’s core processes or dimensions. Before starting that assessment let’s explore the differences between Illness or Disease, Health, Wellness and well-being. Take a look at the following definitions that have been used for each of these states.

What is Disease?

  • Any abnormal condition that causes discomfort, dysfunction, or distress
  • A condition of the organism that impairs normal physiological function.
  • Label given to Signs and Symptoms Consequence of lack of proper balance
  • “Dis-Ease”, the opposite of ease, when something is wrong with a bodily function

What is Optimal Health?

It can be identified by the following traits: 

    • A feeling of energy is available throughout the day.
    • A youthful and age-defying physical appearance is evident.
    • Sleep comes easily and lasts until morning
    • There’s a feeling of being refreshed upon awakening
    • Digestion is comfortable
    • Bowel Movements occur comfortably, 1-3X/day
    • Skin is clear with radiant glow
    • Illness is rare and departs quickly
    • Mind is clear and alert
    • There’s a feeling of gratitude
    • Emotions are stable
    • Joy, laughter and happiness are experienced daily
    • There is a strong sense of purpose in life 

A couple definitions of True Health are:

“ True Health is the state of mind, body and spirit which allows for proper function, repair and regeneration of all of the body’s cells, tissues and organ systems, all of the time.”

- The Health Coach, “Teaming Up For A Healthier You,” 1993, pg 6 

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
~ The World Health Organization, 1948

So then, How do We Define Wellness?

According to the Global Health Institute, “Wellness is a modern word with ancient roots.” It has become a modern concept when the writings and leadership of a network of physicians and thinkers in the United States starting in the 1950’s shaped the way we began to think and talk about wellness. 

It’s origins, however, can be traced far back into history. The foundation of wellness concepts, balance in all areas of one’s life including physical, emotional, mental and spiritual can be found in Ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ancient Greek Medicine, through Homeopathy, Hydrotherapy, Chiropractic and Naturopathic Medicine. 

But today it is a word that is heard on a regular basis and in the 21st century it has become a global wellness movement with the ideas of fitness, diet, healthy living and well-being concepts transforming every industry. With healthcare costs climbing considerably due to the crisis of chronic disease and obesity occurring worldwide in this century more focus in being shifted to prevention and wellness. 

The term wellness has been applied in many ways. Although there might be different views on what wellness encompasses, the National Wellness Institute--along with the help of leaders in health and wellness--shared many interpretations and models of wellness.

Through this discussion, there appears to be general agreement that:

  • Wellness is a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential
  • Wellness is multidimensional and holistic, encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment
  • Wellness is positive and affirming

The definition of wellness long used by the National Wellness Institute is consistent with these tenets:

Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.

According to wellness pioneer John Travis, MD, MPH:

  • Wellness is a process. It changes over time and along a continuum.
  • Wellness is multi-dimensional.
  • Wellness is holistic.
  • Wellness is individual, but also influenced by the environment.
  • Wellness is a self-responsibility. It is a decision you make to move toward optimal health.
  • Wellness is the integration of the body, mind, and spirit. It is the appreciation that everything you do, and think, and feel, and believe has an impact on your state of health.
  • Wellness is a way of life. It is a lifestyle you design to achieve your highest potential for well-being

There are two key concepts to pay attention to in these definitions.  First, wellness is never a static state. There are many degrees of levels of wellness, just as there are degrees of illness. It is an active pursuit associated with intentions, choices and actions that move you toward an optimal state of health and well-being. 

Second, wellness is linked to holistic health which means that it extends beyond the physical state to include the many different dimensions of our being that should be working in harmony. It is about a balancing of energy that is being received, transformed and returned to the world around you. 

Wellness is an individual pursuit that requires self-responsibility for your choices, behaviors and lifestyles. Ultimately, by taking responsibility for your personal wellness, you have the ability to improve things in your life like physical fitness, happiness, balance, relaxation, emotional balance, stress reduction and your overall quality of life.

Wellness is about more than just physical health and is multidimensional. Moving toward high-level wellness involves three steps which are awareness, education, and growth. Health occurs as the result of a dynamic energy exchange between the individual and everything in creation. We are all part of an interconnected and interdependent living system. Optimal health, vitality and well-being are the result of the active process of balancing all of life’s dimensions.


Twelve dimensions form the basis of the Wellness Inventory, the original wellness assessment, developed by wellness pioneer John W. Travis, MD, MPH in the 1970s.

This dynamic whole person model, formally referred to as the Wellness Energy System, is comprised of the 12 fundamental life processes that interact with one another to shape our life experience and our state of personal well-being.

 “Energy cannot be created or transformed; it can only be changed from one form to another.”   ~ Albert Einstein

As part of this dynamic living system we are all energy transformers. As a human being we take energy in from all the sources around us, organize it, transform it, and return it to the environment around us. All of our life processes, including health and illness, depend on how we manage energy. Our energy inputs and outputs form a complete wellness energy system. We have at least three major sources for energy input around us at all times: Breathing (oxygen), Sensing (sensory stimulation such as physical touch, heat, light, and sound), and Eating (food). The other nine are energy outputs. The harmonious balancing of these life functions result in good health and well-being.

A Brief Description of Each Dimension of Wellness:

Directions: Expand (click on) each to see it's definition.

Wellness Self-Assessment FORM