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Wellness: Moving Beyond COVID

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Amber Nikzad, Tracy Rickman, Ygnacio “Nash” Flores and Don Mason
April 8, 2022

In its contemporary context, wellness implies more than just an individual’s health. There are many factors tied to one’s wellness. These include emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, cultural, occupational and financial. A person’s overall wellness requires a combination of two or more of these factors to become satisfied. Understanding where one lies on the wellness scale is essential in managing stress. To be well implies that the multidimensional connectedness of an individual’s potential is aligned across these varied factors.

The COVID-19 Pandemic, which we continue to navigate, continues to cripple several dimensions of wellness. We have learned much more than expected about the virus over the past two years. Some dimensions have been able to revive themselves through fortitude and lifestyle changes. The pandemic has affected some factors more than others, and one key ingredient of wellness, or the lack thereof, is realizing the need for one’s fitness during these trying times.

Since implementing quarantining mandates, social wellness has been impacted most significantly. Living in fear of becoming sick, constantly fearing that illness lurks around each corner, is not beneficial for wellness. Fear has paralyzed many who lack hope and created social distortions for those with compromised immune systems. These thoughts work hand in hand with emotional wellness to its detriment. The reality of illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and other diseases coupled with COVID-19, makes the prospect of a healthy life seem like a challenge. This is not only unfortunate, but a sobering reality for many.

Emotional wellness has been discussed, explored and reviewed more in the past two years than in the past two decades. The noticeable rise in the need for togetherness has been revealed in many ways as we live through COVID-19. We can socialize in ways that we individually feel most comfortable with. We are becoming more prone to addressing the mental health issues we face through the ease of telehealth appointments made increasingly more available due to social distancing practices. The “safer at home” concept may have encouraged changes that will promote better access to the healthcare system.

Physical wellness is still suffering as obesity rates continue to increase and related health issues explode due to a lack of activity. As parks and gyms continue to reopen to let some normalcy back into daily American life, we can hope to see an increase in work devoted to physical health to combat typical COVID-19 symptoms.

Although there is light at the end of the tunnel, we find that people are struggling to work with each other in occupational wellness. With the massive viral explosion of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020, companies nationwide suffered a tremendous blow to revenue, leading to many negative outcomes in the United States economy. Small businesses that once fought to get out of the shadows of larger brick and mortar companies found themselves struggling to stay in business. The government implemented the CARES act to revive the economy at a cost of $2 trillion. This hefty price tag, albeit effective, has been too productive, thus leading to an enormous rise in unemployment based on government dependence. The country looks at a future inflationary period as interest rates creep upward—events that also add to the stress placed on a person’s wellness.

It is no surprise that there is a significant burnout rate among working individuals as businesses seek workers. American workers are feeling burnout as there becomes an excruciating attempt to reacclimate to the thought of living in this new normal. The new workplace requires people to do much more than required before the pandemic. Your home has become your work environment, meanwhile the working day has been reframed to include more hours than a nine to five job. The constant barrage of new and updated information, the inconsistency of information disseminated state by state and the overall division among Americans as a whole, has left thousands in a rut regarding their overall wellness. Some have decided not to go back to work based on their fears of the virus. Those who do not want to work due to COVID-19 place demands on several industries.

City leaders and administrators need to review their wellness policy, establish wellness guidelines, check-in with their employees and provide support during present and future times in the workplace. Concepts such as togetherness, welcoming interactions, the satisfaction of working while being at work, and socializing and interacting will provide some needed positive results when it comes to getting back to what we once called normal. The wellness aspect, be it individual or in a group setting, should be at the top of administrative agendas as they lure workers back into the office.

Authors: Amber Nikzad is a Doctoral student at Liberty University studying Health Science, Exercise and Sport Science. Dr. Tracy Rickman is faculty at Tarleton State University and Dr. Ygnacio “Nash” Flores and Don Mason are faculty at Rio Hondo College.

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