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Aspects of Health: What Has Changed?

corporate meditation rooms

When I studied wellness in school (in the 1980s/90s), these were the aspects of health:

Spritual + Social + Physical + Mental + Emotional

Now, we’ve expanded them to include a few more:

Spiritual + Social + Physical + Mental+ Emotional + Intellectual + Environmental + Occupational

I’ll simplify:

The Impact of Design on Health and Wellness

Corporate Meditation Rooms

What could be better than creating “Human Spaces: Spaces Designed with the Human in Mind?” Creating spaces for humans should not only be of interest to designers but to people who work, who shop, who live, who go to school in these environments. That’s everybody!

I jumped at the chance to write for Human Spaces. Check out their web site and my blog on The Impact of Design on Health and Wellness (repost below).

The Impact of Design on Health and Wellness

While wellness in the individual is multifactorial, signs point to a distinct link between wellness and design. As we improve the built environment with design elements that include better lighting, more fresh air and the use of materials and products that don’t leach toxic chemicals into the air, it would follow that health and well-being of the occupants should improve.

Meditation Rooms vs. Economic Reality

Looking to become leaders in their industry

Yes, it’s ideal to have a space designated as a Meditation Room. But it has to make economic sense for your company. If you don’t have the funds to redesign a room or you simply don’t have the square feet to renovate, then start a trend in your company. Send this note to your team:

Dear All,

I am so proud of all of you and grateful that you’re on my team. I don’t say this enough and want you to know. Also, I’ve been thinking about how hard you work and how much is expected of you…both from me and from others. We all need to take better care of ourselves, and I’m starting now. I want you to do the same. I’m going to take 15 minutes every day to sit quietly in the office or outside and just breathe. I want you to do the same. Call it meditation, call it breathing, call it whatever you like, but please do this each day you come to work. I value all of you both as my team and as humans. I’ll be checking in on your progress. Happy breathing!

Nutrition in the New Year: It’s Not What You Think

woman eating apple

Nutrition is such a big part of what we call wellness. We are obsessed with diet! But by now, most of us realize that there is not one recipe for good nutrition (pardon the pun). What works in one country, doesn’t work in others. One dietitian says eat mainly grains. Another says never eat grains. Many hail the benefits of a high-protein diet. Others say too much is bad. Eat vegetables but not the ones high in sugar. Last week Group X said drink 64 ounces of water. Next week Group Y will say drink when thirsty. Milk is bad. Milk is good. Red wine and chocolate have benefits, but not too much, not too often; probably better to just abstain. Our heads spin, and we rebel. We now have a new category of eating disorder: those obsessed with healthy eating, aka orthorexia nervosa.

We want to be healthy, and people tell us that we are what we eat. So what should we do?

Wellness: The Mind-Body Connection

jumping girl in meadow

How do you create wellness for yourself?

Wellness is defined as the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.

Two words stand out: mind and effort. We generally connect wellness with our physical health. That is a fallacy. The mind-body connection is unequivocal. What we think, what we believe, what we expect all affect how we feel and, therefore, how our bodies feel.

Remember the last time you walked into a meeting unprepared. All eyes on you. You sat down with not much to offer. Oops. You were uncomfortable, embarrassed, awkward. Was your body relaxed and loose? Nope. You were fidgety and tight, maybe even sweating.

What Do Candles and Light Bulbs Have in Common?

Candles burning

Flick off the overhead lights. Light a candle. Turn on a lamp or two and sit. It’s 7pm in November and dark outside (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). It’s dim and cozy inside and your body and mind relax. Fast forward to 2pm tomorrow. Bright sunlight outdoors; bright inside. You’re energized and ready for action. Close the shades, turn off the lights, light a candle or two. Hmm, doesn’t feel right. Why? Our bodies are programmed to ebb and flow based primarily on our circadian rhythms (how our body acts and reacts based on external cues).

Our bodies want to synchronize with our environment. As the sun rises, our bodies rev up, and as it sets, we do the same. Or so the theory goes.

Lighting Is a Game Changer: How Lighting Affects Our Health

hand and light

We give relatively little thought to lighting and its effect on our health. Picture this…you’re outside in bright sunlight and you walk into a store with fluorescent lighting overhead, the kind where you feel like a gray fog has descended upon you as soon as you step past the sliding doors. Not a good feeling. You feel drained, deflated, dull, dim.

What if you work in an environment like this?

Imagine a space where you walk in and there is a host of lighting. There are sconces, pendant lamps, floor and table lamps, overhead lighting and desk lighting. What a difference! This is not only an energizing and inspiring environment; it is also a soothing and relaxing place to be.

Where would you want to work? To go to school? To live? To shop?

The Effects of Indoor Spaces on Our Health

Clean Energy pic w lightbulb

How do our indoor spaces affect us? Most of us don’t give this much thought. But as we listen to the green building industry and consider the myriad chemicals that are outgassed from the products and materials that we build, design and decorate our indoors with, it gives us pause.

Consider this…we spend 90 percent of our time indoors. We sleep indoors all night, get up, jump in our car, work indoors all day, go back home, go to bed. A little simplified, sure. But for the most part, true.

What can we do?

Corporate Wellness Programs…Do They Really Work?

sphygmomanometer free imageImagine if your employer asked you what your cholesterol level is, your BP (blood pressure), how often you exercise, what your reproductive plans are, if you’re happy at home…oh wait, they do!

Corporate Wellness programs often include questionnaires with very personal questions that seemingly have nothing to do with your work life. Employers want to reduce health care costs and, with good intentions to improve employee health, they engage corporate wellness firms to put wellness programs in place. Do these wellness programs improve well-being?

Some say yes:

The Cost of Stress

stressed businesswoman

“According to the World Health Organization, the cost of stress to American businesses is as high as $300 billion,” Arianna Huffington notes. Staggering. What are we doing to our workforce? Or what are we not doing for them?

First, we have to acknowledge where these $300 billion are going. Health care costs to businesses skyrocket when employees don’t feel good. There are five aspects to health: mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual. We give our employees a comfortable, safe place to work and often a gym to exercise in…that’s physical. We are opening up the work environment to create spaces for collaboration…social. Spiritual is really not in the realm of companies to address. What are we doing about the emotional and the mental? We’re working our employees to the brink.