As a free program for all Illinois State students, faculty, and staff, the SEVEN program encourages individuals to engage in the seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and vocational.

These seven dimensions are key factors to achieving a balanced, healthy and happy life. By recording activities which fall under the seven dimensions, individuals not only continually benefit their personal wellness, but acquire points for the chance to win various prizes as well.

Wellness can be interpreted in a variety of measures, containing a multitude of different ideas, beliefs and activities. It’s common that we overlook the ways in which we can benefit our personal wellness and fall into the habit of prioritizing ourselves last among the accumulation of our daily responsibilities. However, SEVEN participants find that tracking activities in the name of a little friendly competition can go a long away.

All this said, we introduce and celebrate our 2016–2017 SEVEN winners who made personal wellness a priority along their quests for health as they share their insightful stories for you to read.

Our student winner:  Sarah Vance

Role on campus: Senior studying special education

Year(s) participating in SEVEN: One

Sarah Vance found herself participating in SEVEN for the first time in her senior year, recognizing it’s never too late to start exploring wellness. Vance’s path to SEVEN came from her belief, “Every person has a purpose, and wellness is vital to helping you achieve this.”

SEVEN winner Sarah Vance

Sarah Vance

While reflecting on her experience of discovering the seven dimensions of the program, Sarah said, “SEVEN allowed me to see areas of my life that weren’t proportional. I was able to see areas where I needed to consider greater wellness and begin looking for things to improve that area.” Asking Vance what she liked best about SEVEN, she told us, “My favorite thing about SEVEN is the recommendations made for different activities on campus that promote wellness.” Vance indicated she was unaware of the many opportunities available on campus prior to her SEVEN participation.

A challenge we often face as an academic campus is making time for wellness. Vance shared her approach in meeting this challenge: “I kept a detailed and organized schedule of my life. This allowed me to make time for wellness in my life. Allotting the time and actually writing it down really helped me out.”

What advice does Vance have for her fellow students? “I would tell others to make sure they make wellness a priority. Allotting time in your schedule will make you much more successful in the pursuit of wellness. Rounded wellness will benefit you in many ways. One area of wellness will affect others. Working out doesn’t just affect your body it affects you socially and mentally.” Additionally, Vance told us her pursuit of spiritual wellness affected every aspect of how she was living, as well as providing another social outlet.

SEVEN provided an opportunity for Vance to transform and expand her wellness in just a year’s time, laying a foundation for her life habits ahead. Like Vance, no matter where you are at, SEVEN can meet you there, and you can enjoy the journey along the way!

Our employee winner:  Rhonda Jenkins

Role on campus: Accountant in the Comptroller’s Office

Year(s) participating in SEVEN: Seven

Rhonda Jenkins was inspired to begin her journey in SEVEN knowing several of her family members suffered from diabetes. Jenkins became concerned for her personal health while watching the impact diabetes had on her loved ones. She then reached out to a doctor who told her, “You can’t change your genetic makeup, but you can make good choices for your health.” Jenkins took those words to heart and decided to take an active role in her health and hasn’t looked back.

Jenkins went on to share, “SEVEN has helped me to be more balanced in all areas of my life. I know when I’m spending too much time on any one area, and when another area probably needs attention.” She also finds the monthly articles on the different SEVEN dimension areas to be helpful, “They often challenge me and give me something to try.”

What tops out as Jenkins’ favorite wellness activity? Boot camp. “It is a great stress reliever, and after 45 minutes, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. It pushes me mentally and physically, and has given me confidence to continue on my fitness journey.”

SEVEN Rhonda Jenkins

Rhonda Jenkins

We always hope SEVEN provides a broader sense of wellness for participants. Jenkins found this to be true for herself: “For a long time, I thought the only thing that mattered was physical wellness. After a car accident, I had a bout of depression, and it stemmed from the injury sustained in the car accident. I realized that emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness are all interrelated.” This was a profound and life changing realization for Rhonda, further supporting a more holistic approach for her health and well-being.

Jenkins knows keeping wellness as an ongoing priority can be a challenge. How does she address that challenge? She shared a few of her tips: “I have a goal to do some kind of cardio or physical activity each day outside of the walking I do, getting to and from my car. Three to four days a week I do boot camp, and the other days I will walk. I schedule those on my calendar as appointments for myself. I have a friend who likes to walk too, so we’ll walk together on occasion.

“SEVEN and wellness are more fun when you share the journey with a friend. I would encourage you to ask a friend to join you as you both become the best people you can be.”

Jenkins’ uses an analogy for her final words of wisdom to us: “Your wellness journey is a marathon, not a sprint. In the beginning, it can seem overwhelming. Rather than just changing everything at the same time, pick one thing to concentrate on and change that. Small changes will eventually add up to big results!”

SEVEN provided a place for Jenkins to take a health concern and turn it into an opportunity, empowering herself with tools, knowledge, awareness, and activities cultivating a healthier and richer quality of life. Here’s to celebrating NO diabetes and expanded horizons for Jenkins!

We applaud Sarah and Rhonda for their commitment to SEVEN, and more importantly themselves. We thank them for sharing their personal journeys with SEVEN, serving as an inspiration for others in our campus community.