What comes to mind when you think of health and wellness?
Our first thoughts often are weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, strength or maybe the absence of disease or dysfunction and pain. Many workplace wellness programs tend to focus on these easily measured variables of physical health, and some do address mental health.
Wellness isn’t just about physical and mental well-being. There are seven dimensions of wellness, — social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical well-being.
The most successful workplace wellness programs are those that integrate a mind, body and spirit approach to add value to individual’s lives on and off the clock.
Let’s briefly define the dimensions, then discuss how we can support growth in each of these areas in the workplace.
- Social wellness refers to the relationships we have and how we interact with others. It is important that we create a strong support network including family, friends and co-workers. As social beings, we long for a sense of belonging.
- Emotional wellness can be difficult to talk about with the stigma often attached to mental health, yet the importance of addressing emotional wellness is evidenced in the statistic that approximately one in five individuals suffers from a mental health episode each year. According to the National Center for Emotional Wellness, the term refers to an awareness, understanding and acceptance of your emotions, and your ability to manage effectively through challenges and change. Being emotionally well encourages you to slow down and practice the art of mindfulness, remaining present in the moment and self-aware.
- Spiritual wellness is about establishing a set of guiding beliefs, morals and values that help us to define our unique purpose and meaning in life. When our actions are in line with these, we tend to find peace and balance in our lives.
- Environmental wellness is an awareness of our environment, both nature and our immediate surroundings. It is about protecting the environment, respecting others living in our environment and protecting ourselves from environmental hazards.
- Occupational wellness represents our ability to connect our passion with our talents and skills to find fulfillment in our career, while finding a work-life balance.
- Intellectual wellness is engaging in creative and mentally stimulating activities, expanding your knowledge and imparting knowledge to others. It’s about being open to critical thinking, new ideas and having a growth mindset.
- Physical well-being is not simply the absence of disease and dysfunction. Physical well-being requires conscious, consistent lifestyle choices that support taking care of your body.
An important first step is assessing the health and wellness of your team members.
Offering health assessments for team members to rate their health and wellness, as well as professional screenings to identify members at risk or already struggling with disease and dysfunction will help to give you information for the level of support your team members need.
From here, the options are limitless. Many resources are available online or consider researching local options available in your community for a more personal experience.
In a survey performed by HealthFitness, nearly 75% of employees said “personal touch” was important in their wellness program. Local resources will be able to provide a more customized program that will connect emotionally with your team members, making them feel more empowered to take charge of their health.
With or without professional guidance in creating a formal wellness program for your organization, there are simple things you can do today to support your team members in the seven dimensions of wellness.
Create a comfortable community space your team will enjoy spending time in to build social connectedness. Share learning opportunities about stress management, mindfulness or meditation with your team.
Be clear in stating your organization’s vision and core values, and communicate with each team member the importance of the unique role they each play to successfully accomplish that vision and core values.
Ensure a clean, safe, comfortable and healthy work environment for your team limiting exposure to harmful chemicals, noise, etc.
Provide ways to encourage work-life balance, such as onsite child care, flexible hours, lactation policies for new moms returning to work, paternity leave or adequate vacation time.
Spark creativity by organizing brainstorming sessions for your team. And finally, offer opportunities that support physical wellness by bringing yoga instructors or personal trainers into the workplace to offer classes during the day or have team members take five-minute breaks every hour to move, stretch, meditate, take the stairs or go for a walk.
Whether your organization has an established wellness program or you’re just getting started, keeping the dimensions in mind will provide a more balanced foundation of support for your team.
And when team members are fully invested in your wellness program, personal growth will overflow to professional growth, generating a positive shift in the culture of your organization that will ultimately impact the success of your business.