Every April 5th I’m reminded that our Mom is no longer with us. With her passing in 2007 on this day the torch of the oldest female in our family was handed to me. For anyone who has lost a family member these life cycle events offer time to reflect and honor a lost loved one and connect to our own personal foundation.
It also presents a chance to illuminate one dimension of wellbeing often left out of the mix, emotional wellness. In worksite wellness we place a very heavy emphasis on the physical component while in reality all seven dimensions need equal attention and support.
I find the following definition taken from the North Dakota State University website appropriate to the conversation.
Emotional wellness implies the ability to express emotions appropriately, adjust to change, cope with stress in a healthy way, and enjoy life despite its occasional disappointments and frustrations.
We live in a nation that puts heavy emphasis on the need to be “happy.” While I don’t disagree that a positive outlook on life is important acceptance and rather an embrace of the multitude of emotions humans experience daily is valuable to overall health. For example, dates that mark the passing of an individual are often filled with highs and lows.
Providing space for individuals to feel comfortable in sharing their emotions, if they so desire. Or letting them be alone with their thoughts if this is their preference. Maybe its’ just a question of being comfortable with silence, a true sign of empathy.
For me personally every year I try to make it a ritual to think of one thing of which I’m grateful to our Mom. This year the word that keeps coming up is self-confidence. A quality our Mom found very challenging.
While on one hand she was able to instill in my brother and I loads of confidence, she was herself in short supply. We were taught that anything was possible, as long as passion and the willingness to work hard supported the desire. Thus, her weakness was our mutual strength.
Worksite wellness continues to experience its’ own aches and pains as a profession. A very similar journey is happening with every individual both in and out of the workplace. The more we accept this ebb and flow the more chances for wellbeing to slip in naturally.
You can’t force feed individuals a certain emotion. You can create spaces where people feel safe and supported enough to share diverse emotions. There are additional tools available within workplaces, such as EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) and other mechanisms specifically created to provide additional support to those in need. However, often there is a stigma surrounding these programs that deters employees from accessing appropriate assistance.
Keeping lines of communication open and transparent goes a long way towards wellness that transcends barriers and supports emotional wellness. A company culture can build self-confidence in others just as our Mom did for us. It takes a commitment and real concern for the emotional wellbeing of all employees, not just the physical.
Life is a work in progress and each day presents a new challenge to the journey. Our Mom told us she gave us wings to fly, even if it meant a path different than hers. Change in the workplace will only happen if we speak up and maybe fly an alternate route.