Occupational Health and Wellness

Occupational wellness is the personal satisfaction and enrichment one obtains from work (SAMHSA). It can involve preparing for and making use of your strengths, gifts, interests and talents to gain purpose, satisfaction and fulfillment in your life.

Occupational wellness is a critical aspect of your overall health and wellness. We spend a significant amount of time working in, planning or thinking about our work. Our attitude about our work, the people, environment, culture and unique purpose and meaning we ascribe to our work has much to do with our overall life satisfaction.

Additionally, an important aspect of occupational wellness is our ability and desire to achieve a healthy balance between work and leisure. Our work-life balance in combination with the other health and wellness dimensions (social, emotional, financial, spiritual, etc.) we apply in our lives contributes to our overall sense of happiness and contentment.

A final and equally important aspect of occupational wellness is working towards financially rewarding employment. Financial health and occupational wellness are closely related and may affect one’s overall health and wellness. A stressful job and/or low paying job can add additional stress into one’s life. Being able to fully cover your personal expenses, save for the future, while doing work aligned with your values and connected to a greater purpose, may increase your energy, motivation and resilience when job-related stress and setbacks occur. How we manage our stress in our work lives can affect our health, performance and satisfaction.

As students negotiate their occupational journey and prepare for their future careers in social work, understanding the following occupational wellness signs may be helpful:

Signs of Occupational Wellness

  • Engaging in interesting and motivating work.
  • Understanding how to balance your work with leisure and other areas of health and wellness.
  • Working in a way that fits your personal learning styles and preferences.
  • Communicating regularly and collaboratively with others.
  • Feeling inspired and engaged at work.
  • Feeling good at the end of the day that you have made an impact in some way.

Ways to improve Occupational Wellness

  • Don’t be complacent, remain motivated and work towards your personal goals.
  • Increase your knowledge, practice skills and gain feedback.
  • Find the benefits and positive aspects of your work.
  • Engage in new activities or start projects important to you and your agency. (Gain buy-in from supervisors)
  • Write out your professional development goals, add timeframes and execute your goals.
  • Provide formative feedback, ways to improve services, contribute to a positive culture and/or environment. (Advocate)
  • Gain support and feedback often.
  • Join committees, coalitions, focus groups, etc.
  • Try a new skill at work. Facilitate a new psycho-educational group, write an evidenced based curriculum (program design) and implement it, join a legislative group to improve services within the community, research grant/funding opportunities and try your hand at writing a grant to provide free services to individuals and families. The possibilities are endless.

Resources for Career Development and Job Searches