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What is wellbeing?

The concept of wellbeing grew from the academic fields of social work, clinical psychology and public health. In understanding the difference between health and wellbeing, health is a state of being, whereas wellbeing is a state of living. The state of your health may be determined by numbers on a medical chart or by a series of test results, but the state of your wellbeing is measured in countless ways and results in the overall quality of your life.

The definition of wellbeing used by the National Wellness Institute states: “Well(being) is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.”

Wellbeing at CVM follows three tenets

  • Wellbeing is a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving our full potential.
  • Wellbeing is individual and community-based, multidimensional and holistic, encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual wellbeing, and our environments.
  • Wellbeing is positive, affirming and meets us where we are in our growth process.

""Cornell's seven dimensions of wellbeing

At Cornell, we recognize the importance of fostering an environment in which individuals can prosper in every area of their lives. In 2018, Cornell launched a comprehensive framework for approaching wellbeing and human health. The seven dimensions of wellbeing include mental health, relationships, physical wellbeing, cultural wellbeing, environmental health, occupational success and financial health.

Below is some information about each dimension. Please explore the links on the right to find resources and information along each of these dimensions as they pertain to you and others in our community.

Mental Relationships Physical Cultural Environmental Occupational Financial

Mental health

Mental wellbeing focuses on managing emotions and mental stress through regular self-care practices and mindful decision-making. Learning to work through challenges is necessary and offers a powerful opportunity for enhancing positive growth and wellbeing. Cultivating resilience will help our ability to positively cope with stress and adversity. Self-awareness, self-compassion and self-reflection all contribute to our mental wellbeing.

How to enhance mental wellbeing

  • Be attuned to and mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Try to focus on "responding" instead of "reacting" to stressful situations.
  • Cultivate a a “growth mindset” that acknowledges that you can learn from challenges, and that these experiences can increase your intellect and abilities.
  • Be aware that "doing your best" does not mean working yourself to the point of a mental breakdown. Rest, recovery and reflection are essential parts of personal progress and growth.
  • Professional or academic "failures" do not factor into your personal self-worth. You are always a valuable person.
  • Schedule self-care practices into your routine. For some, it may be seeing a counselor and/or balancing your mental health needs with medication.

Learn more about mental wellbeing via Cornell's Human Resources

Relationship wellbeing

Relationships include family, friends, animals, co-workers and our community. Develop and foster healthy relationships based on care and mutual respect. Find a balance between work, academics and your personal life. Address interpersonal conflict quickly and with empathy. Practice self-awareness, boundary-setting and personal accountability while seeking and establishing healthy relationships.

How to enhance relationship wellbeing

  • Develop and foster relationships that help bring a greater sense of peace and happiness into your life.

  • Find a balance between relationships that are restorative and non-restorative.

  • Clearly communicate and respect boundaries and needs in any type of relationship.

  • Know the difference between love and attachment.

  • Strive for diverse and inclusive relationships. Welcome people into your circles.

Learn more about relationship wellbeing via Cornell's Human Resources.

Physical wellbeing

Physical wellbeing strives to maintain good physical health through regular medical check-ups, mindful nutrition, regular body movement and healthy sleep habits. Nourishing and caring for our bodies can help us feel agile, energized and more able to accomplish our short- and long-term physical goals throughout our entire lives.

How to enhance physical wellbeing

  • Strive to better understand the connection between nutrition, metabolism and physical and mental health.
  • Consider lifestyle changes to help address chronic physical concerns. Set realistic goals that are achievable.
  • Strive for a positive relationship with food and cultivating a caring relationship with your body.
  • Navigate barriers to mindful eating practices such as time management, stress and anxiety, negative emotions or self-talk and complicated food environments.
  • Prioritize and stay current on health screening appointments.

Learn more about physical wellbeing via Cornell's Human Resources.

Cultural wellbeing

A culturally well person strives to develop an awareness of their own cultural background and identity, how it has shaped and informed their lives and sense of self, as well as a curiosity and openness to the diversity and richness present in other cultural backgrounds and identities. This may also involve a spiritual connection or a deep commitment to something larger than yourself. Cultural wellbeing also implies an understanding, awareness and intrinsic respect for diversity and inclusion.

How to enhance cultural wellbeing

  • Explore your sense of purpose and pursue meaning in life. Identify what gives you hope and peace.
  • Develop values and beliefs that sustain and strengthen you during difficult times.
  • Contemplate your cultural past, your present and your desires for the future. Find what connects you to yourself and to others.
  • Make the world a more inclusive place for those around you and for those who will come after you. 
  • Participate in CVM-sponsored events like the monthly "Many Voices, One College" diversity and inclusion dialogue series.

Learn more about cultural wellbeing via Cornell's Human Resources.

Environmental health

Environmental wellbeing is connected to the quality of our home, work environments, our community and to nature. Strive to create personal environments that promote cleanliness, restoration and stress reduction. Engaging respectfully and frequently with nature is essential to building a positive relationship with our natural surroundings.

How to enhance environmental wellness

  • Get involved with organizations like the Sustainability Club here at CVM.
  • Educate yourself on how to reduce, reuse and recycle appropriately. Be aware of recycling contamination.
  • Spend time in nature when possible or other environments that you find restorative.
  • Eliminate excess clutter from home and work environments.
  • Develop daily habits that reduce your impact on natural systems and resources. Become a more conscientious consumer.
  • Strive for environmentally sustainable solutions when you can. When given options, try to choose the most sustainable option that you can comfortably afford.

Learn more about environmental health via Cornell's Human Resources.

Occupational wellbeing

Occupational wellbeing involves preparing and making use of our skills and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness and enrichment in our lives. Intellectual stimulation and career fulfillment allow us to maintain a positive attitude and experience satisfaction and pleasure in our employment. Expand your knowledge and seek opportunities for growth. Be creative, think critically and embrace new challenges.

How to enhance occupational wellbeing

  • Pursue a career that is interesting, satisfying, meaningful and that contributes to the larger society.
  • Strategize for both short- and long-term career goals.
  • Connect with professionals who are working in roles that you find potentially interesting and fulfilling to find out more about their career path.
  • Seek out and contribute to a safe, comfortable working environment.
  • Join professional organizations to connect with others in your field.

Learn more about occupational wellbeing via Cornell's Human Resources.

Financial health

Financial wellbeing involves managing short- and long-term goals for our personal finances to reduce stress and build toward financial security and stability. Create budgets and be actively engaged in managing your loans, investments, taxes and expenses. Seek financial knowledge and resources that will help you accomplish your goals over your entire lifetime.

How to enhance financial wellbeing

  • Create a monthly budget to help you live within your means. Reassess as your situation changes.

  • Manage your finances for both the short- and long-term. Develop a plan to manage emergency expenses.

  • Be mindful of what emotions or situations trigger your negative spending habits.

  • Keep organized records that you can refer back to when identifying spending patterns throughout the year.

  • Don't ignore a problem until it is too late! Identify potential problems before they start and use your resources to make a plan.

Learn more about financial health via Cornell's Human Resources.