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Wellness Wheel

The Wellness Wheel is a representation of a person's overall health using spokes to convey a number of important aspects of wellness.  Individuals can use these aspects and their extensions to help evaluate and improve their overall health and wellness.

The Wellness Wheel used by Peer Health Educators at the University of Washington encompasses the five important categories of social, mental, physical, cultural, and spiritual health.  These categories often overlap with one another, but can also be seen as exclusive in the overall picture of wellness. 

Applying the Wellness Wheel to Life

The Wellness Wheel is primarily used as a tool to evaluate and improve health.  It reminds us that wellness is an overall balance between many different aspects which make up our lives.  If one feels that their overall health is lacking, looking at the Wellness Wheel can help him or her find an area which may need to be targeted for change. 



MyPyramid" features a customized eating plan based on one's age, gender, and activity level. The United States Government's website on what foods are safe to eat, how to safely prepare foods, and information on foodborne pathogens.


IMA (UW): woman jogging outdoorsThe University of Washington's Intramural Activities (IMA) Building offers many exercise, sports and fitness opportunities to students, faculty and staff members at the University of Washington. The American Council on Exercise's website features information on safe physical activities, fitness products, and programs. From the Executive Office of the President and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this website provides many resources for maintaining physical health.

Personal Hygiene

Hand Hygiene Guidelines Fact Sheet: This article from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention explains proper hand hygiene.

Oral Health Topics A-Z: Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums (Oral Hygiene): The American Dental Association explains proper oral hygiene.

Self Medical Care

HealthyLife Students' Self-Care Guide: The American Institute for Preventive Medicine provides several self assessment tools for common health issues, personal safety, and lifestyle issues for college students.

Cancer Prevention and Early Detection: The American Cancer Society describes how choosing a healthy lifestyle and environment can help you prevent cancer.

Health Information at Hall Health Center (UW): Provides a number of articles on self-care and health information.


CulturalIndividuals who are culturally well suspend judgment of other individuals.  They strive to recognize, understand, and accept differences among people.  They advocate and affirm cultural diversity including sexual orientation, religion, gender, racial and ethnic backgrounds, age groups, and disabilities, and appreciate the uniqueness of each culture.  They are aware of all the cultures in their life and integrate them into it including micro-cultures such as family, work, school, and various affiliations.

Traits of a Culturally Healthy Individual

  • Is conscious of their personal cultural affiliations
  • Understands that each person's cultural identity is unique and can be made up of many subcultures
  • Recognizes the legitimacy and contributions of varying cultures
  • Is able to affectively communicate to members of different cultures
  • Is willing to learn about, interact with, and coexist with persons of cultures they are unfamiliar with

Resources for Cultural Wellness

Ethnic Cultural Center (UW): The University of Washington's Ethnic Cultural Center promotes an inclusive and educational environment by providing programs and services which enhance the communication and exchange of multicultural perspectives and values.

Q Center (UW): The University of Washington's Q Center facilitates and enhances an open, safe, inclusive, and celebratory environment for bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, Two-spirit, transgender, intersex, questioning, same-gender-loving, hip hop dancingdifferently oriented, and allied students, faculty, and staff.

Disability Services Office (UW): The University of Washington's Access Guide for Persons with Disabilities was designed to help students, faculty, staff and visitors with disabilities locate appropriate routes on the Seattle campus and find appropriate entrances within buildings.

RainyDawg Radio (UW): Listen to a variety of shows reflecting different types of music.

Associated Students Commissions (UW): Provides a listing of the various diversity commissions at the University of Washington ranging from the American Indian Student commission to the Women's Action commission.

Registered Student Organizations (UW): Provides a listing of Registered Student Organizations at the University of Washington that designate themselves as a cultural or international organization. 

Experimental College (UW): The Experimental College at the University of Washington offers hundreds of fun, non-credit classes that provide students with a unique opportunity to expand their interests and knowledge. 


Social photo of students holding hands in a circlePeople who are socially well have the ability to interact with others.  They develop and cultivate close friendships and can interact with people of different backgrounds, lifestyles, and abilities.  They recognize the necessity for personal time, and budget this into their schedule accordingly.

Traits of a Socially Healthy Individual

  • Is able to communicate with people of different ages, backgrounds, races, and lifestyles
  • Has a network of friends, family, or others for support
  • Is able to affectively communicate their feelings
  • Balances their time to incorporate social, or fun, activities along with obligations
  • Plays an active role in their culture and community

Resources for Social Wellness

Experimental College (UW): The Experimental College at the University of Washington offers hundreds of fun, non-credit classes that provide students with a unique opportunity to expand their interests and of middle eastern men sitting

Registered Student Organizations (UW): The University of Washington's list of Registered Student Organizations browsable by categories such as "recreation" and "sports."

IMA (UW):The Intramural Activities Building at the University of Washington has a number of intramural and club sports:

Jet City Improv: Jet City Improv presents improvisation shows in the University District. 


young woman prayingIndividuals who are spiritually well strive for a sense of satisfaction and confidence with personal spiritual beliefs. They encourage individuals to increase their understanding of the values, ethics, and beliefs, which can add direction to their lives.  They have a growing set of beliefs that can help support them mentally and emotionally.  They have an overall sense of well-being, peace, and connectedness that helps them find meaning in life.  Periodically they may choose to rethink their values and act upon changes in beliefs.

Traits of a Spiritually Healthy Individual

  • Spends time reflecting on themselves as a person
  • Spends time defining personal values and reevaluating them over time
  • Is open to those of other religions and belief systems

Resources for Spiritual Wellness Provides information on many world religions and spirituality and includes message boards to learn more from believers of a particular faith.

Religious or Spiritual Registered Student Organizations (UW): A directory of Registered Student Organizations at the University of Washington that label themselves as "religious" or "spiritual", including lit candles in a churchorganizations from Christianity to Buddhism to Atheism.

Spirituality and Health: An overview, from the American Academy of Family Physicians, of how spiritual health can affect overall wellness and variations in how different people interpret the meaning of spiritual health. Provides articles and chapters on topics including: Old and New Testament, theology, ethics, history and sociology of religion, communication and cultural studies, pastoral care, counseling, homiletics, worship, missions, and religious education.

Virtual Religion Index: Analyzes and highlights important content of religion-related websites.  


man furrowing browIndividuals who are mentally well seek to reflect upon their own actions and accept themselves for who they really are.  They encourage self exploration and improvement.  They have a strong desire to learn and maintain intellectual curiosity.  They value shared experiences and are stimulated by new ideas, sharing knowledge, and pursuing learning.

Traits of a Mentally Healthy Individual

  • Keeps a generally positive attitude
  • Has methods to reduce stress before and after it arises
  • Knows their personal limits and acts accordingly by not overextending themselves
  • Is aware of common mental health problems, issues, and signs of detection
  • Is willing to ask for help in warranting situations

Resources for Mental Wellness

National Institute of Mental Health: The United States Government's National Institute of Mental Health website provides up-to-date research and information on all aspects of mental health.

Mental Health Clinic at Hall Health Center (UW): The Mental Health Clinic at Hall Health assists patients to restore, maintain, or improve the quality of their living and learning. The clinic provides high quality mental health services including assessments; individual, couple, family and group therapy; and medication evaluation and management. Rodin's thinking man

National Mental Health Information Center: The United States Government's National Mental Health Information Center website provides information on substance abuse, mental health in general, and mental health services.

Counseling Center (UW): The Counseling Center at the University of Washington offers currently-enrolled UW students assistance with a wide range of personal problems such as relationship difficulties, anxiety, or depression as well as study skills and career decisions.

Mental and Emotional Health: provides articles and non-commercial resources on emotional wellness.

Authored by: Jeff Stallman, Peer Health Educator