Amanda Rodewald (Cornell University Garvin Professor and Director of Conservation Science) highlights the critical importance of what we’ll call “zooming out,” making connections between the environment and other issues of interest to individuals and groups. “An unhealthy environment exacerbates the challenges we face in those other areas.” (Q&A with Amanda Rodewald; periodiCALS, Vol. 8, Issue 1, 2018) We agree. At Lean and Green, we also believe that “zooming in” on enhanced personal health has great potential to positively affect our care of the environment. How might we enhance this reciprocal influence? Using principles of adult education is one key, as it informs improved personal health decisions and affords opportunities to broaden the conversation to environmental health. Here’s how we apply some key educational principles within our corporate wellness programs:
- We let grown-ups direct their own learning. Your employee-participants make choices as to the relevance of educational content to their personal learning objectives. We offer guidance and facilitation for their goal-setting, if that is what they choose.
- Each participant connects their life experience to new knowledge. Without inquiry to their personal points of reference, any delivery of wellness education loses relevance. In essence, zooming in on their life experience makes room for new information and understanding.
- Setting goals is a good start. Goals can be identified directly from responses to a health risk and lifestyle appraisal. But the path to behavior change belongs to each participant and involves many steps beyond awareness, goal-setting, and programming. We’ll cover the topic of setting reasonable expectations as employer in a separate article. We will guide you in setting your health promotion philosophy, policies, and worksite wellness practices.
- Keep it practical. So many concepts in health are abstract, since we cannot see what is happening inside our bodies. While greater understanding of physiology and chemistry is interesting to some, most will get traction from how-to tips. It’s up to each participant.
- Reveal larger meaning. Many participants are aware of the basic concepts of stress management, nutrition, physical activity, substance use, sleep, and self care. Health coaches have an opportunity to offer interpretation of how these concepts may be playing out in their lives within this season of their life, their unique personality, and background.
- Connect to yet larger meaning. Some participants prove ready and interested in taking a look beyond their personal context to the larger human ecology, to learn of the interconnections between their health, their personal habits, and the care and health of the environment. “Zooming out” can help these individuals verify their path within the big picture.