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Healthy Minds Healthy College

Getting familiar with the Wellness Initiative

October 12, 2016

The RRC Wellness Initiative is a movement at the College that’s partly formal, and partly organic. Formal: The wellness committee, the wellness steering group, and RRC departments. Organic: The many informal groups and individual students and staff who participate in wellness conversations and actions each day.

These actions, both strategic and grassroots, are moving the needle on wellness programming, resources and supports for students and staff.

Two years ago, the wellness committee created a definition of wellness.

In part, we call it “a positive state of well-being, driven by a lifelong, dynamic process of change and growth within oneself, with others and with our environment. It is distinct from the concept of “absence of illness”. Our concept of wellness is holistic – it involves multiple dimensions, including emotional, social, spiritual, physical, intellectual /career, environmental and financial. These dimensions interact continuously, influencing and being influenced by one another individually and collectively. Do you find that this description resonates with you?

Interestingly, some leading research refers to wellness as a skill, not just a state. I’m interested in that concept – the idea that we can develop the ability to cultivate and maintain stronger wellness over time is a powerful one.

Many people find that when we speak of wellness in terms of dimensions, it’s easier to look at the areas that seem less in balance and to gain perspective on why and what to do about it (if anything!) For example, I’m not going to train for a triathlon this year because my husband just started a new business. I want to help him with his set up because emotional and financial wellness is more important to me and my family right now than completing the big race. So, that’s okay with me. Seeing this choice in the context of wellness dimensions, I  I feel less likely to put on the self-guilt about not tackling the triathlon.

Meanwhile, I’ve also noticed how much spiritual wellness has been a huge focus for me in the last year, and I can see how that’s filled a gap in my life compared to previous years, so it reinforces for me that this dimension is really feeling healthy right now and I want to keep that up.

What dimensions feel more in balance for you right now, and less in balance? Do you have a sense of why and does it make sense for you right now? If not, consider taking steps to work on that dimension of wellness this year. This might include using resources and supports available here at RRC, or it might involve things external to the College. Or both!

RRC uses the visual of a “wellness wheel” to get our definition across in an approachable way. Have you seen the wellness wheel around campus? It’s on event posters, on display banners and posters, and has been incorporated into various guide books and communications. Keep an eye out for it – it highlights events and programs that tie into the initiative.

Speaking of events, the Wellness Committee has done a ton of work over the past two years to deliver events and programming for the benefit of students and staff. This year, we expanded on our partnership with the Students’ Association to deliver Thrive Week from October 3 to 7 – a mental health awareness week for staff and students (previously just for students). Highlights we heard across the board were the therapy dogs and the featured speaker Nova Browning Rutherford. Our next signature event will be the 2nd annual Get Movin’ Challenge throughout February. We look forward to distributing pedometers, signing people up, giving away prizes, and reducing sedentary behavior during the coldest month of the year! We also have other key goals for the year, including the development of some personal wellness self-assessment tools, adding new wellness activities to our next RED Forum, and better targeting our newest employees to get them plugged into RRC wellness.

Lastly, I mentioned earlier that wellness at RRC includes grassroots individual conversations. I invite you to read an amazingly candid and heartfelt story from an RRC student named Cassandra Cardy who has initiated a conversation about her mental health with her readers via a blog post. It’s up on the Mind It! site and it’s profoundly moving. I urge you to check it out.