The Good Steward

Health and Wellness: Nudging Others in the Right Direction

April 2021

How do you help congregants or employees attain or maintain wellness and balance during a pandemic that’s lasted more than a year? No matter how good people’s intentions are, it’s easy to lose momentum and fall back into old habits.

From her experience working with clergy and lay employees in The Episcopal Church on financial, physical, and psychological wellbeing, Krishna Dholakia, Senior Education Specialist at the Church Pension Group (CPG), has learned the importance of sharing wellness programs with the right features.

“The offerings that are accessible, relevant, and promote wellness in a supportive, non-judgmental way seem to be most successful,” she notes. Furthermore, she says, “programs that integrate a well-rounded approach to health and wellness—including spiritual considerations—tend to thrive in religious institutions.”

Here are a few suggestions for promoting wellness in your congregation or among your employees:

  • Take Advantage of Resources

CPG has an extensive learning section on our website with many options.

Listen to the “Choose Well” podcast series, which offers practical tips for cultivating financial skills, mindfulness, and other healthy behaviors.

Or participate in the “Walk and Be Well: 28 Day Walking Program” by getting moving while listening to a reflective podcast.

You can find other resources in CPG’s Learning Center, such as financial fundamentals and planning, a roadmap to wellness, and information about how to become your own healthcare advocate.

  • Build Community Ties

Krishna knows that the COVID-19 pandemic can be especially hard for those who gain their support and motivation from others. Though the crisis may limit gatherings, she points out that there are still ways to encourage a sense of community.

“Socially distant walking groups outdoors can be a way to stay active while fostering social connectedness,” she says.

Technology can also help people socialize while tapping into fitness. “Take live virtual fitness classes or schedule virtual fitness breaks with your loved ones or colleagues,” Krishna suggests.

She also recommends reaching for a health or fitness goal. “Programs like ‘Couch to 5K’ can help provide structure,” she says.

  • Acknowledge Obstacles

The pandemic has heightened depression for some while making people feel it’s unsafe to go outside, compounding their anxiety. At the same time, many live in “food deserts” that provide few healthy food choices, lack access to health clubs, or are deprived of social support.

Religious institutions can help overcome such barriers by providing incentivized programs and outreach that build on a shared sense of community to promote the importance of wellness and self-care during difficult times.

“Most religious institutions likely have wellness programs in place for their employees and congregants,” Krishna says. “The important piece is to ensure that people know where to find the resources and the tools you’ve put in place to support them.”