The annual fall GMHEC faculty staff physical activity challenge will be happening from October 20th through November 16th. Enlist your coworkers to sign up and help propel your college to win the coveted designation of “Most active GMHEC college”. All types of activities will earn you points. All challenge participants will be entered into a drawing at the end of the four weeks to win one of three prizes: a $100 gift card to the Outdoor Gear Exchange, entry for four to the Escape room in Burlington or two lift tickets to the VT ski area of you choice. To sign up, create an account in Wellable here. Returning Wellable users, log in to your account, and follow the instructions on the challenge dashboard to opt in. Don’t miss out on the fun. Enhance your well-being and build camaraderie with your teammates.
When it comes to infant feeding, many of us may have heard that “breast is best”. The health benefits of breastfeeding to moms and babies are widely publicized and include reducing the risk of maternal postpartum depression and supporting a faster return to prepregnancy weight, reducing infant mortality and reducing the risk of the infant developing chronic health conditions including obesity and diabetes as adults. While these benefits are certainly noteworthy, the benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond mom and baby.
What differentiates thriving organizations from organizations that languish are the people. To support employees’ well-being and engagement, managers and supervisors must move away from focusing so much on how employees spend and manage their time, and instead support employees to manage their energy. Energy, not time, is the most valuable of our human resources. It is “the fundamental currency of high performance” (Loehr, 2017). Check out our new resource, Employee well-being: A guide for managers and supervisors to find out more about how you can support your employees and sustain a culture of well-being on campus.
It’s no surprise that organizations who support their employees have happier, healthier, more engaged employees, In the academic setting, one of the many benefits of high levels of faculty and staff engagement is a better student experience. “Highly engaged faculty and staff members can make the difference between students who thrive and ones who fail to grow” (Gallup, n.d.).
While it is always essential to take action toward optimizing our personal well-being, during times of change and challenge it becomes even more essential. We’ve all heard the saying about putting on our own oxygen mask first. To weather the curveballs that life throws at us, we’ve got to be at our best and firing on all cylinders. Regular self-care enables us to be resilient and nimble. It ensures that we have the energy and mindset to tackle life’s challenges and have energy left for the things that are most important to us.
One way to support our well-being is to take advantage of all of the amazing resources available at our fingertips. Each of the GMHEC member colleges has an abundance of resources to support all five domains of well-being: physical, career, financial, social and community. These resources include everything from financial coaching and retirement planning to physical activity classes and fitness centers to volunteer opportunities to community gardens to Consortium-wide benefits and programs. To find out about what’s available at your school, check out the well-being resource guide for your college on the GMHEC Well-Being Resources page. Take action today to be well and to optimize your well-being. You can be the catalyst to transform the world around you into a world where everyone is thriving.
Each of the Consortium colleges offers a plethora of resources to support all five domains of well-being: career, financial, physical, social and community. We encourage you and your family to take advantage of these resources so that you can bring your best self to life and work everyday.
When we hear the word health, the first thing that often pops into our minds is physical health but mental health is just as critical to our overall well-being. Mental health is “a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (WHO, 2014.). According to a 2007 article published in American Psychologist (Keyes, 2007), mentally healthy adults reported the fewest missed days of work, low levels of helplessness, having clear goals in life, high resilience and high intimacy, the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease, the lowest number of chronic physical diseases, the fewest health limitations of activities of daily living and lower health care utilization.
Why couldn’t the pirate play cards? Because he was sitting on the deck! Bahahaha…..oh come on….go ahead and laugh. April is National Humor Month so there is no better time to make a commitment to interject more laughter into our lives. Laughing is one of the best things we can do to support our well-being and the best part is that we can actually fake it ‘till we make it when it comes to reaping the benefits of laughter. Forced laughter is just as good for us as spontaneous laughter. So go ahead…laugh along with that sitcom, or to your favorite comedian, or those silly talking dog videos on you tube, or check out one of hundreds of free laughing yoga videos online. It’s fun, feels good and is good for us.
Laughter, whether forced or spontaneous is good for every aspect of our well-being. People who laugh on a regular basis have a lower standing blood pressure than does the average person. Laughter eases psychological stress, strengthens the immune system, promotes muscle relaxation, reduces pain, enhances learning, enhances oxygen flow throughout the body, relaxes blood vessels, enhances cardiac muscle conditioning, elevates mood, helps us connect with others and enhances our energy (1). There isn’t much else that can benefit us like laughter can. Laughter is so good for us in fact, that a 2016 article in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine suggests that primary care clinicians start prescribing it to their patients (2). Can you imagine? You go to the doctor and you leave with a prescription for laughter. Now who wouldn’t want that?
To get you started on incorporating some laughter into your day, I’ll share a couple of my favorite videos….the ones that not only make me laugh out loud but that make my husband laugh at me because I’m laughing so hard. If talking dogs are up your alley you’ve got to check this video out. It gets me every time. Or, maybe you’ll find this video of Dennis Quaid on the Ellen Degeneres show funny. I know I did. If you’ve got a favorite funny joke, video or meme I’d love to see it. Send it my way at email@example.com.
March is National Nutrition month so there is no better time to talk about healthy eating and to think about how we might be able to optimize our diet. What we eat plays a significant role in how we feel both mentally and physically and on the quality and quantity of our life. People who consume a diet based on whole foods including plenty of fruits and vegetables are less likely to suffer with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression or with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
One of the best ways to optimize our diet is to eat plenty of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants, the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors, protect our cells and body structures from free radical damage. Free radicals are derived in the body during normal metabolic processes and also from environmental exposure to things such as environmental pollutants and industrial chemicals (Lobo, Patil, Phatak and Chandra, 2010). Free radicals act as little scavengers in our body, snatching up electrons from our cells causing cell damage and death which leads to illness and disease. A diet rich in antioxidant-containing fruits and vegetables can reduce and/or prevent free radical damage and keep us looking and feeling our best.
Not only do fruits and vegetables help keep us healthy in mind and body but they also add pizzazz to our meals, are a great way to add variety to our diet, and help to fill us up without adding significant calories, which is great for our waistlines. Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Check out these tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and, if you’re feeling adventurous, try one of my favorite recipes….roasted root vegetables. I like to use sweet potatoes (Japanese sweet potatoes if you can find them….they are AMAZING), beets (preferably golden beets or candy cane beets as they are more mild than red beets), parsnips, carrots and butternut squash. I will warn you though – you might be tempted to eat the entire pan.
If you have a favorite produce-rich recipe I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Year’s resolutions….we’ve all set them but how many of those resolutions have actually taken hold? We decide that this is going to be the year we get active, lose those last ten pounds, clean out the garage, start saving for retirement, etc. We get fired up thinking about what we will achieve but by Valentine’s Day we’ve long forgotten about those resolutions. Why is it that something that sounds so good and may actually be in our best interest is so quick to fall by the wayside?
Well…it all has to do with habits. Merriam Webster defines a habit as “an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.” A habit is like driving your car on a dirt road in mud season. The more you do it, the deeper the ruts get and the harder it is to pull your car out. Habits are easy. They’re familiar and comfortable. They require no thinking and as the definition states, are often involuntary. The idea that we can change a habit or develop a new habit in only twenty or even sixty days is nonsense. Think about how long you’ve been behaving like you do, driving in that same rut. Those ruts are deep. It will take patience, time and consistent practice to form a new path, a new habit, but there are things we can do to facilitate the process.
According to author James Clear (Clear, 2018) there are five strategies which can dramatically help us change or implement a new habit. 1) don’t try to change everything at once; 2) start small; 3) focus on the process instead of the outcome; 4) pay attention to the environment; 5) remember that small changes can lead to big results. You can hear more from James here. I’d like to add a sixth strategy tp James’s list and that is to connect with your “why”. In her book, “Emotional Agility” (2016), author and Harvard professor, Susan David says that “when you discover and reconnect with the things that really matter to you, your daily decisions will be much easier”. When we have a strong emotional connection to our values it’s much easier to choose the right action.
So, when you’re thinking about what you want to achieve in 2019, think also about who you want to be and how you want to live your life. Define the outcomes you want and the values you want to uphold. Let your values guide your actions. Utilize James’s five strategies to help you get one percent better everyday and you’ll be amazed at where you’ll be one year from now.
Want to learn more? Check out these great resources:
Brewer, J. (2016, February 24). A simple way to bread a bad habit [TED talk]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-moW9jvvMr4.
Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits: An easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
David, S. (2016). Emotional agility: Get unstuck, embrace change and thrive in work and life. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit: Why we do what we do in life and in business. New York, NY: Random House.
Goldsmith, M. (2015). Triggers: Creating behavior that lasts-Becoming the person you want to be. New York, NY: Crown Publishing.