Reflections on the Pillars of Wellness

March 13, 2017  |   Posted by :   |   YPHR Blog

Oprah, the Harvard Business Review, and even the National Guard are all talking about the “pillars” of wellness, and when Oprah had guest Kathy Freston, author of Quantum Wellness, on her show in 2011, you knew you would be hearing more about pillars.

Six years later, the trend continues when it comes to reflecting on these aspects as part of building a robust workplace wellness program. Kathy Freston said there were eight:

1. Meditationfeng-shui-1927584_640

2. Conscious eating

3. Exercise

4. Visualization

5. Spiritual practice

6. Self-work (continuous learning)

7. Service

8. Fun activities

I am pretty certain that a handful of us, as with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, would focus first on fun activities. When comparing fun activities to food and shelter…it’s a tough call. In actuality, if we don’t eat and we don’t move, we certainly won’t be very effective at continuous learning or partying down.

Initially, when writing this, I typed quickly and my number one in Freston’s list resulted in the typo which read “medication.” Only one letter off, but I can safely say that working in the counseling and wellness industry, medication might deserve one of these highly sought-after spots in how we often handle life’s stressors today in maintaining our wellness.

Most commonly, in the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) industry, we hear about physical, emotional, social, career or occupational, environmental, intellectual and financial. You may be familiar with some version of this list. The observation is that dependent on the source, the pillars are directed to either an individual, or an organization. And they drastically differ, so it is important that an organization think this through before choosing which will be used to build their wellness program. They cannot stand alone for thriving purposes.

So here are my personal choices (in no particular order of importance): 1. strong family communication 2. meaningful work 3. seeking life’s purpose 4. respect of body and mind 5. learning from mistakes 6. responsible decision-making and 7. care for life.

Now let me explain my philosophy behind my choice of words. First, I do believe the both the words pillar and dimension, which are often interchanged when talked about in wellness, are poor word choices. Pillar is a noun, and according to, it means an upright structure. A dimension, as a noun, refers to a property of space (such as length or thickness) and as a verb (did you know you can dimension something?), is to shape to a desired dimension. I prefer to use the phrase “acts of wellness.”

Let it be a verb that drives us in our personal lives and in the workplace, to make choices that lead to full lives. These should be things that you must choose to do, that are not simply just a state of being.

Impactful choices to “act” towards a well life will impact the workplace and the world. Perhaps make up your own pillars…or your own acts of wellness, and see where they take you.  For more information on the EAP program and services, visit ease@work.

Guest Blogger, Stephanie Patek

Stephanie is a well-being enthusiast with a mission is to help others pushHeadshot2017 past unhealthy obstacles. Serving as Manager of Wellness Operations for ease@work, a local Cleveland-based employee assistance program, she has surprising insight into how various organizations work and thrive. With a passion for presenting and spreading wellness knowledge, she is speaker, fitness coach, and consultant. With two little boys offering a challenge to her fitness regimen, she’s learned to creatively squeeze in a daily calorie burn. A native Pittsburger (oh no!), she has come to love Cleveland and call it home.

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