As a free program for all Illinois State students, faculty, and staff, the SEVEN program encourages individuals to engage in all 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 ways, 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 way.

That said, we introduce and celebrate our 2017–2018 SEVEN winners who made personal wellness a priority in their quests for health as they share their insightful stories for you to read.

Student winner:

Name: Megan Hildebrandt
Role on campus: Graduate student and teaching assistant
Year(s) participating in SEVEN: One

Megan Hildebrandt found herself participating in SEVEN for the first time while in graduate school. With a packed workload, Hildebrandt used SEVEN to evaluate the level of wellness balance in her life.

“Using SEVEN helped me identify areas where I’m strongest and areas that could still use attention,” she said. “I already keep a really detailed schedule so it was easy to transfer that into SEVEN.”

When asked why wellness was important to her, Hildebrandt expressed “Wellness is about taking care of all aspects of your life. Everything goes more smoothly when I have a good balance. With this, Hildebrandt told us her favorite aspect about SEVEN is how it emphasizes more than just physical wellness. SEVEN’s many dimensions of wellness is a great reminder of the different ways you can engage in taking care of yourself. The more you engage, the more benefits you can experience!

Hildebrandt’s favorite wellness activity was incorporating activities she could do with friends.

“I liked inviting my friends to go for long walks so we could move and chat,” she said.

Her example is a smart and enjoyable idea by combining physical and social activities together benefiting both her friends and herself. Attaching community is always beneficial toward sustainability of engaging in wellness activities.

A challenge we often face as an academic campus is making time for wellness.

“I make time by multi-tasking and actually placing time into my calendar that is just for me, even if something else has to wait. I treat time for me just like any other appointment to be kept,” Hildebrandt said.

She also found some of her daily routines and things she did often count toward her wellness dimensions, underscoring the holistic nature of wellness through SEVEN.

What does Hildebrandt have to say to you about being on your own wellness journey? “Make it fun. Try new activities and plan things with people you enjoy. Take advantage of community resources, the great trails and parks, and all the cultural and community events.”

Concurring with Hildebrandt, the ISU campus is rich with resources, events, and wellness-oriented opportunities.  Additionally, our surrounding community has a great deal to offer.

SEVEN provided a venue for Megan to seek more balance, explore different dimensions of wellness opportunities, and to bring her friends into the mix. Megan treated SEVEN as a new adventure to support her well-being. Like Megan, SEVEN is there for you to create your wellness adventure!

Employee winner:

Name: Janet Caldwell
Role on campus: Special Education Academic Advisor
Year(s) participating in SEVEN: 13

Janet Caldwell made the decision to participate in SEVEN several years ago knowing, “I wanted to be healthy and mobile for many years to come so I could continue to do all I am called to do.”

Caldwell describes the human body as a “temple” to be respected and cared for, inspiring her to take care of herself. SEVEN has helped Caldwell not be focused on her daily work to the point where she puts her own wellbeing aside.

“I tend to get hyper-focused on a project, so having SEVEN helps me review daily to be sure I stay balanced,” she said.

Being focused only on work and daily living tasks is a reality that many people face. SEVEN provides the gentle reminder to pause and spend time investing in your wellness.

Caldwell shared her favorite aspect of SEVEN, “It is the fact it keeps me aware of things I don’t do naturally. I focus a lot of my record keeping on the physical category because that is the one I would be most likely to neglect. I don’t record every time I read a book or do a Sudoku puzzle, because I am inclined to do those things quite naturally.”

When asked what her favorite SEVEN activity was, she clearly resonated with the spiritual dimension. Caldwell’s faith is strong, spending daily morning devotional time as a foundational pillar to her functioning throughout the day. Engaging in the spiritual dimension of SEVEN can not only be devotional prayer time, but also mindfulness and meditation practice, reflection, journaling, being in nature, listening to music or doing activities that bring an inner peace and calm to you.

A significant piece of SEVEN is its holistic approach with the goal of helping its participants gain a broader sense of wellness.

“Besides the physical dimension, I would be inclined to shortchange the social and emotional dimension during busy times. Sometimes I begin feeling tired and drained, but I have learned from doing SEVEN that instead of sitting dazed in front of the TV, I am recharged best by inviting a friend over for coffee or tea.”

You might wonder is it the caffeine responsible for recharging? Caffeine does give us a pick me up, but not as much as an emotionally satisfying experience of coffee or tea with good friends. Spending time with people we enjoy can be a bridge to our emotional and physical wellbeing, by restoring us and lowering our stress cortisol levels.

Caldwell is a busy woman between her professional life, taking care of her mother, and being with her grandchildren. With so much on her plate, sometimes it is hard to strike as much balance as she would like. She works with what she is given, rising earlier to have time to take care of herself. Asking Caldwell what advice she can share with others on their wellness journey, she is realistic.

“We are created for balance, but it is sometimes hard to maintain it,” she said. “Start by committing to something for thirty days that you know will be good for you. It can be the beginning of a lifetime of good habits.”

SEVEN’s program has anchored Caldwell, helping her stay accountable to her commitment of being healthy and mobile throughout her life. Her realistic approach to SEVEN is affirming for many of us who also lead busy lives, but also want to take care of ourselves.

Congratulations to Megan and Janet for their commitment to SEVEN, and more importantly themselves! Their personal journeys with SEVEN serve as an inspiration for others in the campus community.


Challenge yourself to make YOU a priority! SEVEN is a free program from Health Promotion and Wellness for students, faculty, and staff that focuses on the importance of the seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and vocational. Seven runs from September to the end of April, and you can join at any time. Participants log wellness activities to earn points toward monthly prize drawings and compete towards the end of the year overall point totals. Participants also receive the Seven e-newsletter and information on campus wellness events.

For additional details and to sign up, visit

About Health Promotion and Wellness

Health Promotion and Wellness provide wellness information, services, and programming to students, faculty, staff, and the Illinois State community. People living, learning, and working in a healthy environment are more likely to reach their highest potential. For more information, visit or stop by 187 McCormick Hall.