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The Sum of the Parts: A Holistic Look at Wellness

by Stéphanie Caron-Roy ASEBP | January 7 2016 | 1 Comment

I’m always happy when a new year starts. As I flip to January on the calendar I find myself easily inspired and motivated to try new things. I think that probably rings true for many people—the New Year is a popular time for setting new personal wellness goals and renewing commitments to old ones. How we make those choices, however, is affected by a multitude of factors—something to be acutely aware of if you’re behind or initiating a wellness campaign in your workplace.

One of those factors is the way in which individuals define health and wellness. I’d wager that you’d get a very different answer from person to person if you asked that question of a group. For one, health and wellness might mean to exercise every day. For another, to eat a healthy diet. Of course we know that the state of being well or healthy has many components, which can all impact the other. I love this visual representation from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website (see the image below as well).

Their Eight Dimensions of Wellness gives us a fantastic visual sense of the great many factors that contribute to an individual’s state of wellbeing. So, knowing this, we can be assured that any activity or initiative that promotes health—whether that’s taking a fitness class or joining a card making group—will have an impact on several dimensions of a person’s wellness.

For example, over the past two years I’ve had the opportunity to plan Nutrition Month activities at ASEBP. Being a health advisor with a background in nutrition, I knew that promoting a healthy, balanced diet in the workplace often translates to good decisions made at home—a wonderful offshoot of my interest and love of food. So, planning a few, fun workplace activities during Nutrition Month (a topic of personal interest to me) had the following, potential offshoot benefits for me and my coworkers:

  • Physical health—healthy food choices and portions lead to healthy bodies.
  • Emotional/mental and intellectual health—ensuring our bodies have enough nutrients for our brains to function at their full potential, manage stress and certain chronic illnesses.
  • Environmental, occupational and social health—when the overall workplace culture supports healthy food choices and availability, everyone benefits.

The moral of my story is the simple fact that workplace wellness initiatives have the potential for far-reaching benefits that you may not even realize. Try to see the big picture in your wellness planning, and remember that small changes to one aspect of wellness will surely have benefits to others. So something as simple as a walk around the school before a staff meeting, can have many resulting benefits.

Have you planned a wellness event that had unanticipated benefits? Please share your experiences here with The Sandbox community—let’s help one another achieve our workplace wellness goals this year!

Eight Dimensions of Wellness

Stéphanie Caron-Roy

As a registered dietitian and a former ASEBP workplace wellness liaison, Stéphanie enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and believes healthy eating is all about balance. In fact, she’s as good on her feet as she is with her food. With her bilingual superpowers, Stéphanie’s favourite moniker, 'The Frenchie,' seems absolutely appropriate.

. | January 12 2016 2:43 PM

I love how the Dimensions of Wellness model you use in this post can expand perspectives on health and wellness! It is so true that our wellness efforts are not silos. 

One event possibly not intentionally meant to be a "wellness event" that I've participated in at a couple different workplaces is personality-type workshops.  I know these are not always for everyone, but I have always really enjoyed learning more about the personalities of those around me as well as new insights into my own.  When referring to the Dimensions of Wellness, I see potential for this type of activity to create increased Occupational, Intellectual, Emotional, Social and Spiritual Wellness.  That's a lot of areas to build up all at once!