What does it mean to be truly well? It\u2019s not just a clean bill of health from your doctor or feeling satisfied with a relationship or a job. Instead, wellness means actively pursuing balance among the key areas of your life, which the wellness initiative of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) identifies as these eight:\r\n\r\n \tEmotional\r\n \tIntellectual\r\n \tOccupational\r\n \tFinancial\r\n \tSocial\r\n \tEnvironmental\r\n \tPhysical\r\n \tSpiritual\r\n\r\n Courtesy of SAMHSA Pay attention to these and how they interrelate, and you\u2019ll not only add years to your life but quality to your years. Getting to wellness, however, can seem overwhelming with so many elements to monitor, each of which can affect the other. Emotional issues such as anxiety, for example, can cause physical problems such as heart issues, which can affect your ability to work and, thus, your finances. But that snowball effect works the other way as well: Creating positive change in one area can prompt positive change in others. The key to wellness, SAMHSA noted in a video created as part of its initiative, is not to expect that you can achieve a complete absence of stress or problems, but to make daily small improvements in your life. Consider these tips for improving each element of your wellness:\r\nEmotional\r\n\r\n \tPay attention to your feelings rather than running from them \u2014 or trying to drown them out with unhealthy behaviors such as drinking or drug use.\r\n \tTalk to those you trust about what you\u2019re feeling and how it\u2019s affecting you. If emotional problems persist, reach out for help from a mental health professional.\r\n \tAccentuate the positive. Research confirms that pursuing positive feelings such as gratitude translates into more life satisfaction.\r\n\r\nIntellectual\r\n\r\n \tSeek out creative outlets, keep an open mind, and embrace a love of learning. This not only makes life more interesting, it helps keep your mind agile as you age. It\u2019s even been shown to delay the progression of Alzheimer\u2019s disease.\r\n \tCultivate a sense of awe. This feeling has not only been linked to better mental and physical health, it can slow down our perception of time, which makes us feel as though we have more of it to share, making us more patient, more social, more willing to volunteer and more satisfied with our lives.\r\n\r\nOccupational\r\n\r\n \tSeek work that engages your passions. If you haven\u2019t found your way to that perfect occupation yet, consider volunteer work or a side business doing something you love. It may even lead the way to a new career (think Mrs. Fields and her cookies).\r\n \tThere are bills to pay and responsibilities to meet, of course, but don\u2019t forget that none of that will be possible if you forget to take care of yourself and strike a work\/life balance. You also run the risk of waking up one day and realizing you\u2019ve been so occupied with your career that you\u2019ve missed the little moments that make up life.\r\n\r\nFinancial\r\n\r\n \tTake time to learn about how finances work so that you can create a more secure future. The stress of debt has been linked to increased health risks such as high blood pressure and depression. It can also cause you to skip needed medical care. If you can\u2019t afford to pay for financial advice, free guidance can be found.\r\n\r\nSocial\r\n\r\n \tDevelop a sense of belonging and shared purpose by connecting with others who share your values and interests, perhaps through volunteer activities, a hobby, worship services, clubs or other group activities.\r\n \tBe the type of friend you want others to be, and move on from the toxic people in your life.\r\n \tEach day, make it a point to have at least one social interaction, even if it\u2019s just chatting with the supermarket clerk. If this is difficult for you, consider seeking help for social phobia.\r\n\r\nEnvironmental\r\n\r\n \tWhat you surround yourself with has a powerful impact on your mental and physical health. Not too many of us are lucky enough to be in beautiful, stimulating settings all of the time, but we can aim to spend time in environments that support our wellness, whether it\u2019s planning a vacation in nature or listening to music that nurtures our sense of well-being.\r\n\r\nPhysical\r\n\r\n \tThe benefits of physical activity, nutritious food and restful sleep can\u2019t be overstated. The trick, of course, is committing to getting all three in an era when most of us live life on a dead run. Try small steps to get you going: take the stairs instead of the elevator; bring a healthy snack to work instead of hitting the vending machine; go to bed an hour earlier instead of checking emails.\r\n \tIf you\u2019re having trouble sleeping, consider cognitive behavioral therapy. Research shows it\u2019s as effective as medication for insomnia, without the harmful side effects.\r\n \tDevelop an exercise routine you\u2019re excited about. If you hate the gym, consider hiking or dance class. Or try the mind\/body benefits of yoga. Research shows it helps with mood and anxiety and can improve cardio-metabolic\r\n\r\nSpiritual\r\n\r\n \tThis doesn\u2019t have to mean a belief in a deity. At its most elemental, spirituality is thinking about what is important to you and cultivating a sense of purpose and meaning in life. It\u2019s also a feeling of being part of a greater whole. If you need a little help with that mindset, consider this: Everything\u2014 every rock, every animal, every tree, and, yes, you \u2014 are made of atoms that arose as stars died beginning with the Big Bang. We are all stardust, and we are all connected.