Better Together: Making Wellness a Key Priority

Social well-being has definitions emerging from a range of fields. But overall, it’s defined as the subjective evaluation of personal life circumstances and functioning in society. Social interactions, both in terms of quality and quantity, can have a short- and long-term influence on mental well-being and physical health.

Social wellness refers not only to our social interactions, but also to our relationships with communities and social structures that constitute a key and distinct domain of well-being. Support systems for social wellness are different for everyone, but not having those systems in place creates a barrier to nurturing relationships and overall health.

Social health can impact your mental health, which can impact your physical health. And vice versa. Maintaining an optimal level of social wellness allows you to build healthy relationships with others. Having a supportive social network allows you to develop assertive skills and become comfortable with who you are in social situations.

Wellness means different things for different people. For some, it means taking the time to unwind, meditate, spend time with loved ones or focus on their fitness. For others, it could mean seeing the value of wellness through the support of a child with ADHD.

At Genesys, we’re called to embrace empathy — empowering us to recognize everyone’s value, learn new ways to approach opportunities, and accommodate those who have historically been excluded, including those with neuro-differences.

July is Social Wellness Month, and it’s dedicated to nurturing relationships. Experts say that being the social support you want to from friends is key to avoiding one-sided relationships. In this blog, I share my story of how and why I’ve prioritized wellness each day — and how that translates to being available for others when they need me. Then my colleague Laura Stelsel shares her story of how she experiences wellness when she sees her son thriving in and out of the classroom.

My Wellness Game Plan

Jon’a Joiner leads Global Inclusion and Belonging for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Genesys

For me, wellness is personal and it’s a priority. When I’m in a good place, I’m a better wife, parent and leader. I’ve learned that when I am burned out or not at my best, the remedy isn’t getting more rest. The remedy is in restructuring my life.

Although restructuring your life may sound daunting, it’s actually more manageable than you might think. During the pandemic, I experienced the loss of a loved one to suicide, which resulted in my own feelings of depression and severe anxiety. More rest didn’t help. Neither did more yoga.

The game changer for me to feel like myself again was to make and prioritize bite-sized improvements to my day to form new habits.

I began writing down my accomplishments as a reminder of things I’m good at. If I found myself working on something for two hours and getting nowhere or not being productive, I would stop and do something else. I’d come back to that thing later when I was more refreshed.

I began booking small breaks between meetings and would use that time to step away from my screen to take quick walks. I began avoiding people, places and things that did not bring me joy. Eventually, I carved out more time to exercise and move my body. I would identify three to five goals to focus on, saying “No” to everything else.

Over the past few years, my perspective on wellness has shifted from being a privilege I didn’t think I had or could make time for to being a priority and a key aspect of how I maintain my health — both mental and physical. Though I don’t nail it perfectly every day, having a wellness game plan in place helps to quiet the anxiety and get back to smashing goals.

Wellness and Neurodivergence

Laura Stelsel, Community Manager, Impact Together at Genesys

I love that Genesys is creating awareness about neurodiversity. Last July, the company offered a great webinar on parenting neurodivergent children, which was very timely for me. My eight-year-old son was diagnosed with ADHD last year.

Receiving his diagnosis connected many dots in our understanding of his behavior and thinking. For example, his kindergarten teacher said that he would ask so many questions during her lessons that they had developed a secret hand signal. When his questions would start to derail the curriculum, she would discreetly show him the signal, and he would go to a special place in the classroom. There the teacher’s aide would help him until he could rejoin the others. Now that I know much more about the traits of ADHD, I recognize this as hyperfocus.

So many of the things I love most about him can be attributed to his ADHD. He is endlessly energetic (which makes him a beast on the soccer field), adventurous, self-aware, an excellent critical thinker and extremely entertaining.

But there are things that are not as easy for him. He struggles with impulse control and with sitting still and focusing for long periods of time. He is bored very easily. Media, especially aggressive content, can make him act out. He finds changes to his routine very disruptive. Prioritizing tasks can be very difficult.

I’m grateful that he’s a very confident person — and his diagnosis has not shaken that. In fact, when I researched a therapy solution to help with his executive function, the first thing he said was, “I like who I am and don’t want anyone to change me.” I am happy to say that the more he has learned about ADHD and how he can support himself, the more his confidence has grown.

I recognize the extraordinary privilege we have in being able to afford a therapy program and live in a school district dedicated to social-emotional learning. Not every child with a neurodivergence is able to receive these resources. But I think that the more we, as a society, understand about neurodiversity, the better we’ll be able to support one another.

In the spirit of embracing empathy, I know that I do not parent him perfectly. There are days when I go to sleep regretful that I lost my patience and think about the things I could have done differently. But what I do know is that, on those days, I wake committed to admitting my mistakes and supporting him to the best of my abilities. He feels safe, loved and understood — and it’s my responsibility to make sure I take whatever steps necessary to ensure he always does.