Universal Tools for Wellness

Published: December 7, 2021

Everyone has advice and guidance these days. The paths to wellness, individually or as a team, are many. Like most fads, there’s always something new that catches the attention of social media and gets talked about among friends. While all of that is unfolding, there remain three simple tools that have stood the test of time. One at the micro level, one at the mezzo level, and one at the macro level.

Individual Wellness: Biofeedback

Biofeedback has provided a path to psychophysiology health for over 50 years. In the 70’s, the equipment used to provide real-time data on your body’s reaction to stress was only available in university psychology labs and hospital neurology departments. Today a Bluetooth connection makes this valuable tool accessible to anyone with a smartphone. The method is easy to teach. When the device signals an increase in stress, a mindfulness/meditation technique is deployed while immediate relief is both experienced and measured and, therefore, taught.

With practice, you learn how to maintain your mind and body in a calm zone while under the pressure of stress. The benefits extend beyond health and wellness. The ability to achieve and maintain a calm zone enhances performance in any endeavor from taking final exams to giving a speech to the enjoyment of intimacy to excelling on the sports playing field.

Relationship Wellness: Crucial Conversations

Crucial Conversations was introduced in business settings 20 years ago but has important application for problem solving in all relationships. In short, the methodology posits that the ability to remain in productive dialogue is threatened whenever the stakes are high and perspectives are at odds. While dialogue is, by far, the best path to resolution of differences, the stress of disagreement makes it much more likely for partners to either withdraw or become aggressive.

Withdrawing under stress prolongs the problem while aggressiveness grows the divide between collaborators. The ability to remain in productive dialogue begins with agreement on an overarching goal that both parties accept. Partners keep this common objective at the forefront of conversation whenever the tension threatens to devolve the exchange. There are always many paths to a destination and negotiation of differences is most successful when that destination is clear and shared.

Team wellness: Team Clock

The Team Clock methodology was created in 1979, published in 2009, and is currently being research validated for predictive outcome in a graduate-level university data science study. As an evolution to the 1965 Tuckman “Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing” theory on group cohesiveness, the Team Clock model suggests a cyclical understanding of team growth and wellness rather than a linear trajectory. In this model, teams are always evolving from stages of investment to trust to innovation to distancing.

In the investment stage, foundation elements of team norms, mission, and values are established. In the trust stage, accountability and connection are strengthened. In the innovation stage, the platform of norms and trust enable exploration and discovery. In the distancing stage, teams adapt to the change they have created by stepping back and recalibrating. This reset signals the start of a new investment stage and the cycle continues. Simply, team wellness is achieved from knowing where you are in the cycle, why you are there, and what to do in order to move forward.

These days, we can all use tools for wellness. The impact of the past few years has taken an immeasurable toll on each of us. Whether attending to your individual health, the quality of your relationships, or the productivity of your team, there are proven methods at your disposal. Knowing what to do, however, is not the same as doing it. Open your toolbox, choose a tool, and get to work.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.