Wellness is an expanded idea of health. Many people think that if they are not sick, then they are well. However, the definition of wellness is optimal health and vitality, encompassing physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, interpersonal, social and environmental well-being.

On this page, you will find a broader definition of wellness as well as a working definition of recovery.


Below is a short description of the six areas of wellness.

Physical Wellness: Optimal physical wellness requires eating well, exercising, avoiding harmful habits (such as smoking), recognizing the signs of disease, getting regular physical exams, and taking steps to prevent injury i.e. wearing a bike helmet.

Emotional Wellness: Optimism, trust, self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-control satisfying relationships, and an ability to share feeling.

Intellectual Wellness: Openness to new ideas, a capacity to question and think critically, and the motivation to master new skills.

Spiritual Wellness: Possess a set of guiding beliefs, principles, or values that give meaning and purpose to life. Spiritual wellness is also the capacity to love, have compassion for others, forgiveness, joy and fulfillment.

Interpersonal and Social Wellness: Good communication skills, developing the capacity for intimacy and cultivating a support network of caring friends and/or family. Social wellness also means participating in and contributing to the community, country, and world.

Environmental Wellness: Learning and contributing to the health of the planet. Helping to eliminate pollutants, lead paint, and second hand smoke indoors. Environmental wellness requires learning how to protect yourself from these hazards and doing what you can to reduce or eliminate them.

All areas of wellness interact continuously, influencing and being influenced by each other. Making a change in one area of wellness will directly affect other areas as well. Maintaining good health and wellness takes a conscious effort and dedication.


In December 2011, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) put forth a working definition of recovery, four major dimensions that support those in recovery, and guiding principles of recovery. SAMHSA addresses recovery for both mental disorders and substance use disorders and defines it as "a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential."

The four dimensions that support those in recovery include health, home, purpose, and community.

SAMHSA also describes 10 Guiding Principles of Recovery: