What comes to mind when you think of health and wellness? Our first thoughts are often
weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, strength, or maybe the absence of disease or
dysfunction, 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 wellbeing, though. There are in fact 7 dimensions of
wellness, including social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual,
and physical wellbeing. The most successful workplace wellness programs are those that
integrate a mind, body, spirit approach to add value to individuals lives on and off the
clock. Let’s briefly define the 7 dimensions of wellness, then discuss how we can support
growth in each of these areas in the workplace.
1. 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
coworkers. As social beings, we long for a sense of belonging.
2. Emotional Wellness can be difficult to 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.
3. 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 our beliefs, morals, and values we tend to find peace and balance in our
4. 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.
5. Occupational Wellness represents our ability to connect our passion with our talents
and skills to find fulfillment in our career, while still finding a work life-balance.
6. 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.
7. Physical Wellbeing is not simply the absence of disease and dysfunction. Physical
Wellbeing requires conscious, consistent lifestyle choices that support taking care of
An important first step is assessing the current health and wellness of your team members.
Offering health assessments for team members to personally rate their own 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. There are a
multitude of resources 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 7 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 on-site childcare, 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 5 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 7 Dimensions of Wellness 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
~By Nicole Hutchison, PT, CSCS, Health Coach, Integrative Nutrition Coach