Wellness has become a main focus in today’s modern workplace. The health and well-being of employees can play an powerful role in important aspects of the business such as…
- Employee engagement and satisfaction
- Quality and quantity of productivity
- Communication and collaboration
- Level of camaraderie and morale
- Recruitment and retention rates
- The bottom line and overall success of the company
In this article, we’ll be discussing how employers can actively ensure a happy, healthy, high-functioning workplace by giving employees the knowledge, resources and tools to care for their individual well-being (or personal wellness). Employers can use personal wellness in order to improve their population health.
- What is personal wellness and why is it important?
- What are the 7 dimensions of personal wellness?
- What is a personal wellness plan?
- How do you create an effective personal wellness plan?
What is personal wellness and why is it important?
Personal wellness is the idea of caring for yourself and maintaining an overall state of happiness and balanced sense of well-being. The act of maintaining your individual well-being is usually referred to as “self-care“.
There are endless factors that can either support or hinder someone’s ability to properly care for and maintain their individual well-being. Everyone has a unique self-care because we all have different needs, circumstances and capabilities.
Over 38 million people living in the U.S. are currently experiencing food insecurity (the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food). Food insecurity is an external circumstance hindering those it affects from maintaining their physical health. Many develop nutrition related health conditions as a result.
Alternatively, consider someone who recently got a raise that will enable them to afford a safer place to live and pay some important medical expenses. This improvement in their financial well-being would consequently improve their environmental, mental and likely social well-being. Having the financial support you need along with the financial literacy skills to make the right decisions with your money can enable you to better care for almost all other areas of well-being.
Both examples help explain how everyone’s ability and approach to how they care for themselves is determined by their unique needs, capabilities and factors that may be out of their control.
What are the 7 dimensions of personal wellness?
The act of caring for and maintaining the health of your physical body through fitness and nutrition education, healthy diet, exercise and sleep, etc.
Physical wellness is one of the most commonly acknowledged and discussed dimensions of wellness. This is likely because it’s easy to identify the issue and receive proper treatment when it comes to physical wellness. It’s also a dimension of wellness that can be the most disruptive to carrying out basic, everyday functions, so people tend to seek and receive treatment as quickly as they can. It’s important to pay attention to your physical wellness to improve your overall fitness, and strength (this is a great way to take care of your heart)
Good examples of physical wellness goals:
- Get an annual physical to know the status of your physical health and identify what you need to improve
- Get at least 30 minutes of being active / healthy exercise per day (only 23% of Americans get enough exercise every day, and exercising more frequently helps you live longer). You can use wearable technology to easily track this.
Mental (Intellectual & Emotional)
The act of caring for and maintaining the health of your mind through learning, continuously expanding our knowledge and skills, and sharing them with others.
A good indication of intellectual well-being is having good communication skills, a desire to learn, grow and be exposed to new perspectives. Adopting an open mind approach to people, places, ideas and things that are new or unfamiliar is a great way to develop intellectual wellness.
Good examples of intellectual wellness goals:
- Aim to learn one new skill per month
- Read one book about an unfamiliar topic each month
- Travel somewhere new to experience a different culture once per year
The act of caring for and maintaining the health of your emotions through learning about your feelings, values and moods and understanding how to properly identify and obtain your unique needs.
There are many ways we can work to improve our emotional well-being, but the first step is to gauge where you are now and identify what you need. One of the most effective methods gauging and maintaining emotional health is to regularly use a journal. Taking the time to get everything in your head out on paper can help organize your thoughts, identify feelings and find solutions to things you may be struggling with at the moment.
Good examples of emotional wellness goals:
- Keep a journal that you write in each day (or to express your emotions and thoughts as needed)
- Develop self-calming techniques for stressful situations like breathing, meditation, etc.
- Follow a daily routine developed with your needs, interests and goals in mind
The act of caring for and maintaining the health of your external relationships, maintaining and nurturing casual, close and intimate relationships with others and contributing to/engaging with your community.
Social well-being often looks like a well-balanced support system and proportionately active social life. This can be difficult to achieve if areas such as emotional, intellectual, physical or financial are struggling. Someone struggling to maintain social well-being may be able to improve by strengthening a related area.
Good examples of social wellness goals:
- Aim to build a well-rounded and strong support system consisting of; close friends, family, colleagues, romantic partners, etc.
- Nurture your existing social circle by making an effort to see a close friend in person in an informal location at least once per week
The act of exploring, caring for and maintaining the health of your spiritual identity.
Spiritual well-being can be achieved by finding purpose, value and meaning in your life and living in a way that is aligned with those aspects, with or without organized religion. You don’t have to be a part of or practice an organized religion to achieve spiritual well-being.
Good examples of spiritual wellness goals:
- Meditate or practice mindfulness for at least 5 minutes per day
- Find and get involved with a group of people that share your beliefs
- Consider getting involved in community service
Occupational (or vocational)
The act of caring for and maintaining the health of your personal satisfaction, sense of fulfillment and belonging through your career, hobbies and lifestyle.
Most of us spend an average of about 34% of our time at work. If you’re unhappy with the work you’re doing, the environment you work in or your professional growth, your occupational wellness will suffer. This dimension can often have a big impact on your emotional well-being. It can be helpful to use a journal to gauge your current satisfaction and set professional goals.
Good examples of occupational wellness goals:
- Consider career counseling or finding a mentor to meet with on a weekly or monthly basis
- Work with your manager to set personal goals and milestones to accomplish in your role, company and overall career
- Receive a raise or promotion in “x” months
The act of caring for and maintaining the health of your financial well-being through financial literacy and making decisions about money that are realistic, responsible and inline with your unique circumstances.
Financial wellness arguably has the biggest impact on other dimensions. Not having enough money to pay for basic needs like food, housing, healthcare, etc. can prevent you from caring for your physical, mental, social, environmental health. Additionally, not having the skills or knowledge to use your money appropriately can make it even more difficult to achieve financial well-being.
Good examples of financial wellness goals:
- Set a realistic budget based on your income and expenses
- Set a savings goal for a large purchase or rainy day fund
- Take a financial literacy course
The act of caring for and maintaining the health of your social, natural and built environment through understanding the ways in which different environmental factors affect your overall well-being. Additionally, understanding your unique environmental needs to maintain your own overall well-being.
Environmental well-being can be identified by determining your level of happiness, calmness, feeling of safety and ability to be productive in your home, workspace and anywhere else you frequently spend your time. Incorporating live plants and natural sunlight into your home and workspace are great ways to improve your mood and create a cleaner environment, helping prevent illness.
Good examples of environmental wellness goals:
- Put at least one plant in each room of your house
- Aim to get at least 30-60 minutes of natural sunlight each day
What is a personal wellness plan?
A personal wellness plan is a regimen of activities determined through self-assessment to achieve specific goals in each of the seven dimensions of wellness. The foundation of an effective personal wellness plan is balance.
For some people, taking care of their personal wellness comes naturally. For others, designing and carrying out a personal wellness plan may require a more intentional approach with increased effort and structure. What your personal wellness plan looks like is entirely dependent on how well you know yourself, your circumstances and your capabilities. As an employer, you can also implement a wellness program to help your employees on their personal wellness journey, this investment in the employee experience will also really help improve employee engagement. Often companies get started on this path by implementing a biometric screening program to inform their employees about their health, and moving on towards implementing specific types of employee benefits to help employees on their personal wellness journey (wellness challenges are popular wellness benefit)
Although the activities and goals of each individual’s personal wellness plan should be unique, they should always include all seven dimensions of wellness. As we mentioned earlier in this article, all seven areas work together to create a healthy, balanced life. When one dimension of wellness is struggling or getting more attention, it can impact the health of other areas and your overall well-being.
Keeping that in mind, even if someone may feel like they don’t need improvement in a certain area of wellness, all seven dimensions should still be included to create a well-balanced, sustainable plan.
How to create an effective wellness plan for yourself?
A wellness plan should include daily, weekly, monthly and yearly activities and goals to achieve overall well-being. Start by listing out each dimension of wellness and filling in the following information for each.
1. Paint a clear picture
Write out what well-being in each dimension, and overall, looks like to you. Think about what’s needed to make this image a reality.
You could even take this literally and mock up a visual representation. Using software to make perfect photo edits and add get creative with pinning down your interpretation of wellness to strive towards is an option.
2. Identify blockers
First and foremost, start by identifying everything that blocks or hinders your ability to achieve well-being in each dimension. Maybe you feel like you don’t have enough time to make a healthy breakfast in the morning. Your blockers could include having too many responsibilities, poor time management, never having learned how to prepare a quick, healthy breakfast or not having access to healthy food (we’ll continue to use this example for the following steps).
3. Identify what is out of your control
Sort through all your blockers and identify what is in and out of your control. Clearly, food insecurity is a blocker that is out of your control. But if the issue is that you do have access to healthy foods, you’ve just never learned how to prepare a meal that you enjoy – that can be a quick fix!
4. Brainstorm what is possible
Make sure to take all circumstances and capabilities into consideration. Do you have any responsibilities on your plate that you can delegate to someone else or find a service to do it for you? Maybe you never learned good time management skills or you’ve developed poor time management habits. Is there someone who can help you learn?
5. Identify what’s working
You should also take some time to observe what’s going well and what’s helping maintain wellness in each dimension. Maybe 15 minutes of yoga is an integral part of your routine that helps you start your day relaxed, refreshed and with a clear mind. This is not only something you’ll want to include, but actively prioritize in your plan.
6. Design your plan
For each dimension, create one overall goal and determine milestones to achieve each. Outline actions you’ll take each day, week, month.
The key to any successful personal wellness plan is balance. After your plan is complete, take a step back to look at your plan as a whole. Make sure the goals and actions you’ve set for each dimension will work to support and complement, never take from the others.