I am lucky enough to work for an organization that values health and wellness. They know that the most important form of healthcare is preventative, so every quarter we can make up to $85 through an app called Virgin Pulse. It’s an awesome tool, but not everyone has access to this app, and even in my office, contractors do not qualify for the program at all. As the Wellness Champion for my department, I make sure that the activities I promote can be used by all! While not every workplace, or even employee, is able to utilize a program like ours, it is important to bring the characteristics of wellness into your workplace to BOOST morale and make your shared workplace a little brighter.
Did you know that there are actually 7 characteristics of wellbeing? I was not aware of these areas until we started getting daily cards that addressed each of the characteristics. I think they are all important and can be incorporated into your workplace at low or no cost.
Emotional wellness (also called mental wellness) refers to our ability to understand and accept ourselves and cope with everyday stressors that occur at work and in life. Although there is still significant stigma around talking about mental or emotional wellness at work, it is important to create a space where people feel comfortable. Guess what? Everyone breathes, so why not take some time out of the busy day/week to breathe together?
No Cost Activity: Meditate together. There are tons of resources to help with mindfulness and meditation that are FREE! We share these through email and group chats and they are so super helpful. UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) offers free online classes in meditation and mindfulness. Meditation Oasis podcast, CDs, and apps also have free meditations to help people.
Environmental wellness is being aware of nature and our physical environment. We are all part of an interconnected web so it is important to be aware of our surroundings and to acknowledge all of the gifts the trees, birds, rivers, clouds supply us. I recently took a guided Forest Bath with Melanie Choukas-Bradley who wrote the book The Joy of Forest Bathing, and it changed the way I experience urban green spaces. The walk itself was only about an hour, but the benefits lasted for days.
No Cost Activity: Go Forest Bathing. Find a local park and schedule a trip with coworkers to go Forest Bathing. It is quite easy. All you have to do when you are in the forest or park is: Take slow deep breaths and smell the fragrance of the forest air. Touch the trees, feel the leaves and soil. Forest bathing takes place at a slow, almost meditative pace. Take your time and look around as you stroll along on a forest path.
Intellectual wellness is all about providing people with creative and stimulating mental activities. When we get complacent, our brains don’t work as quickly as they used to, so it is important to constantly create new, exciting ways for people to think. This helps people open their minds to different opinions and ways to view the world. It creates a workplace where people embrace commonalities and differences.
Low-Cost Activity: Do a puzzle. If you have a common area, bring in a puzzle! Thrift stores are bound to have them for low cost or even visit a dollar store to purchase a puzzle. It doesn’t have to be super intricate, the idea is to get people using their brains in different ways than they normally do for work. If you don’t have a common space, print out crossword or Suduko puzzles and leave them around the office for people to take and do at their desks or elsewhere.
Occupational wellness refers to how much we feel fulfilled in our jobs. Does our work interfere with our home life? Do we have balance? It is also about providing a workplace that is conducive to productivity, presenteeism, and preventing workplace illness.
Low-Cost Activity: Surround yourself with plants. Studies have shown that the presence of plants reduces stress-related conditions such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, and hostility and can actually clean up the air that you are breathing. Who doesn’t want that for their workplace? And you can choose from a variety.
Physical wellness is the one I think everyone thinks of when we talk about wellness – it is about taking care of your physical body through physical activity and nutrition. Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? Looks like research is moving in that direction. Physical wellness doesn’t just mean running marathons, lifting weights, or eating a Paleo diet. It means walking to the printer, having walking meetings, and encouraging healthy foods at the potluck. The team that is active together, stays in good spirits together.
No Cost Activity: Do a Workout Together. Every workplace has breaks for meals, why not use part of that time to workout together. For me, I absolutely love to dance and move, and although I am an AFAA certified instructor, I am not allowed to teach in the workplace. So instead, we opt to do YouTube videos during our lunch breaks. My all-time favorite is The Fitness Marshall, get ready to laugh and giggle with your coworkers during this workout!
Social wellness refers to the way we connect and relate to each other. It is all about creating and maintaining positive relationships that add value to our lives. We spend many hours at work so it is important to get along with people and share commonalities. Guess what? Everyone eats!!! For me, the best way to enhance the social wellbeing in my office space is through a POTLUCK!!!
Low-Cost Activity: Dedicate a day each quarter for a potluck to occur – you can choose a holiday or just a season. In March, we do a Chili cookoff because it’s still cool outside and there aren’t other holidays to contend with. And in the Fall, we do a cookie swap. This takes little prep and people can participate at their own level.
Spiritual wellness can very easily be confused with emotional/mental wellness but it is different. This refers to our ability to align our values with our actions. It is about having a set of shared beliefs, principles, and values that resonate with all in the workplace. This also gives meaning, purpose, and direction to the work we are doing. This helps guide us as a unit.
No Cost Activity: Volunteer at a Food Bank or Shelter. Twice a year, I schedule an outing to a local food bank in our community where coworkers can help stock the shelves and create backpacks for kids in need. Usually, they have 2-3 hour slots for groups of volunteers and you can do this during the work week or on a weekend. It is a great way to increase teamwork and the spiritual wellness of a group.
Wellness is about so much more than how many squats you can do or how long you can meditate, it is about creating a culture and an environment where people can grow and flourish. And it is relatively easy (and low cost) to incorporate the seven characteristics into any workplace.
For breakfast, I had turkey pot pie!