Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Spreading Wellness: How are you inspiring those around you?

"Live Happy, Dream Big, and Smile!" 
~Jodi L. Tervo's motto/mantra...inspired by a HS teacher...~

Mr. Olson, my high school English teacher, challenged me to write my own poems in order to heal from life's events/losses. As I reflect upon my journey, I realize how important those words were to me. At that time I didn't feel like I had meaningful thoughts to share with others, let alone, write poetry. I loved reading poetry, and it helped me to heal from life’s losses…but, write my own?! However, with his encouragement, I began writing my thoughts and feelings. He even allowed me to turn papers into him that were for my personal healing. Critiquing and encouraging me to continue. 
Early on, when I was still "practicing how to write poetry," I was able to reflect upon who I wanted to become, and what life meant to me. It came back to the simple words, "Live Happy, Dream Big, and Smile!" People always told me that I had a great smile. So I knew that my mantra needed the word "Smile." It was the one thing that connected others to myself. In a world of social beings, it was the one thing that kept me in a group, even if few interacted with me. So early on, these six simple words became my mantra through difficult times, and slowly they became a part of my daily thinking.

Years later, I can see the incredible power that these six words had on my life! I learned early on in my professional career, that I am a big picture person, a visionary, and a "get it done" person. The “don't just talk about it, do something about it,” sort of person.
Life continued...and after almost 2 decades worth of experience in health, wellness, rehab and education, I continue to enjoy helping my clients, no matter their age or ability, which is one of  my many strengths! I LOVE to empower clients to reach their dreams, and jump over hurdles in life. Cheering them along and celebrating their successes! :)

I now use blogging as a way to help inspire others to reach for their dreams! Mr. Olson, a teacher whom unfortunately I haven't kept in touch with, has been a huge inspiration in my personal and professional career. As a teacher myself, I often think about how I may touch the lives of others. Maybe I won't know about the positive impact I inspire, but it is my wish, that every day that I engage with my students/clients, there may be a new chance to help inspire them to reach for their dreams!  

Recently, I listened to a story about a woman connecting  people of different backgrounds so they could capitalize on each others strengths, to do good in the world. She called herself an "Opportunity Maker." It was so inspiring. As we come to the close of this fall semester, I want you to reflect upon your personal and professional careers. Have you been an "Opportunity Maker?" Can you recall a teacher who had a positive impact on your life? Have you been able to touch the lives of your students/colleagues in a way that you may never realize? Each day, we have a new opportunity to become "Opportunity Makers" and inspire others to reach for their dreams. 

At CSS, we all have the ability to touch the lives of others. May this upcoming Winter Break, rejuvenate you all, so that when we get together again in January, we are all able to maximize our abilities to make a difference in the lives of others! 

When you return, you will be able to engage in programs that WellU provides to all employees, to help you continue that feeling of rejuvenation....Stay on the look out for registration for Well U Employee Programs, on imleagues.com. I will let you know when registration is open. With New Year's Resolutions around the corner, maybe the employee wellness programs can help you accomplish them. :)

If you would like to hear the story about "Opportunity Makers," please feel free to click on this link.

Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday Season!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to Enjoy the Holidays

The holiday season can be a time of joy but also a time filled with a hectic schedule and changes in your daily routine.  Even with the additional demands placed on yourself during the holidays it is possible to enjoy yourself.  

  1. Start by setting realistic expectations for yourself and/or your family.  Do you really need to bake 4 dozen different types of cookies?   
  2. Create multipliers.  Do you have a date with your girlfriends/partner etc. planned but you have not been able to exercise?  Ask if they would like to join you for a walk or ski.
  3. Keep a budget in mind.  It may be easy to fall into a materialistic mindset but remember it is possible for you, your family, and your friends to enjoy the holiday season through the experiences you share together not the things you buy for each other.
  4. Plan and communicate. Try to set a flexible schedule for yourself including time for you to relax and communicate your plans with your family and friends.
  5. Remember people are not perfect, families are not perfect do not expect them to be.  You may have a few rough spots over the holidays but that does not ruin the good experiences you will have.
  6. Take time to relax, visit the WellU Resources page and go on a 5 minute vacation. Here is the link to the webinar, 5 Minute Vacation .

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Spreading Wellness: What are the three simplest letters that create one of the most powerful questions?

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." 
~Mahatma Ghandi

Have you ever asked and received? Have you ever wondered, and been verified? Have you ever asked the question, "Why?" One of the great professors that I had during my educational career taught us more about life than the subject matter...what I really mean, is that he had an incredible way of sharing a holistic view on life in regards to health, food, the environment, and nutrition. He had an amazing ability to help us learn how to ask critical questions. The greatest question in the world is one that our children teach us on a daily basis, especially the toddlers...that infamous question, "Why?"

There have been a number of great employees here at CSS who have asked me that question lately as I'm planning for next semester. I have been so grateful for people who have the ability to ask, because it makes me think about programming in a different light. It has helped to guide the programs that are on the menu for next semester, and it has helped me grow as a professional as well.

A few of the questions have led to changes already. One of them being that we now have an "Activity Contact List" available to everyone on our WellU Resource page. Here is the link:  http://www.css.edu/administration/wellu/faculty-and-staff/resources.html. Look for the "WellU Activity Contact List" under WellU Program Additional Resources. This resource is to help employees make connections with others on campus who may want to participate in similar activities, but maybe don't know who they are. For example, if you are looking for a walking partner, jogging partner, a yoga friend, or ride share partner, you can look for others interested in that same activity on this list! :)

You may have started to see the "12 days of wellness" emails, which feature spring 2015 programming. You will find new programs for the spring, and some that were sparked by people having the courage to ask me, "Why not?" In fact, this week our walking club is going SLEDDING! :) Maybe you want to join the fun?! If so, take your snowpants, maybe a sled, and meet us in the Mitchell Foyer at noon on Thursday. It is sure to be a great time!

If you have an idea, thought, question, comment, or concern, please feel free to ask/share with me, in person or via email. If you would like to have a discussion, I'd love to meet for tea. We at WellU are always open to listening, discussing, and tailoring our programs to the employee needs. We of course cannot accommodate everyone/everything, but we will certainly try our best. And, it never hurts to ask, because, you just might get what you ask for! :)

I urge you today, to consider asking yourself or those around you, that question that we as parents should encourage our children to ask, that big question, "Why?" :-) Make it a great day!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Active at Home

Active at Home

Many of us spend a lot of time at home sitting or laying down. So, how do we incorporate activity into our routines at home? It’s simply a matter of how we choose to spend our time. We can lay on the couch and watch T.V. or we can choose to stretch instead (and still watch our favourite show!) Whatever you choose, be sure it’s simple and fun (for yourself and/or the whole family!)

Here are a few simple tips on building physical activity into your home life:
  • Begin/end your day with a 10-minute walk around the neighbourhood, maybe start a neighbourhood walking group!

  • Come up with a simple bending and stretching routine while you watch TV.

  • Do household chores like vacuuming or washing windows.

  • Create a garden or use planters on your balcony.

  • Do active outdoor work. Pull weeds, rake leaves, trim hedges, and use a push mower.

  • Wash and wax your car.

  • Dance 15 minutes to your favorite music.

  • Run up and down stairs several time a day just for fun.

  • Reduce the time spent in front of the TV/computer.

  • Keep the "parent taxi service" to a minimum. Walk your children to visit friends, to the library and to sporting events.

  • For trips less than 1 mile leave the car parked and walk, rollerblade or cycle.

  • Purchase your daily newspaper from a convenience store and walk there.

  • Walk your dog or your neighbour’s dog twice a day.

  • Avoid the television/stereo remote control.

  • Walk around the house while talking on your cordless phone.

  • Make one night of the week family activity night.

  • Go grocery shopping at a local market, buy only what you need for the next couple days and walk home with a couple bags.

  • For more information on living a balanced life check out the Well U webpage which contains a Stewardship is Seconds Webinars series with topics ranging from Desktop Dining and Exercises to 5 minute relaxation exercises.
Source:Source: County of Lambton Community Health Services Department

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Spreading Wellness: Will you give a spontaneous hug today?

"Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try." 

~Brian Littrell~

Do you remember learning how to walk? Probably not. We don't remember falling on our bottoms multiple times. We don't remember the tears that we shed as we learned this difficult task. What we remember is the accomplishment and the lifelong ability to get up the stairs, all because we decided to try. You probably remember teaching a child how to climb stairs, or at least watching a young one conquer the task. Think back to a time when you watched a toddler climbing the stairs on their own two feet. Focused, unstable, and most determined. It is exciting for them, and they constantly want to try again, no matter how many times they fall. Practice, practice, practice! As adults we are by their side for support, and most importantly, we are there for the big hug and the high five when they reach the top! Yes, even if it is 20 times in one day! :)

Those were the days, the days with continuous moments of accomplishment. The days that we celebrated the small milestones in our development, naturally, excitedly. The days that those surrounding us instinctively gave us a high five, and a hug at the completion of a small victory. The days that we lived in the moment, celebrated spontaneously, and easily loved ourselves. The days that we spontaneously and generously released oxytocin within ourselves, and those around us.

Those are the days that we can look back upon for inspiration into our future. Do you remember how you felt as a child when you accomplished something? Do you remember the excitement and joy when your friends/loved ones gave you that spontaneous hug of celebration? Do you remember how you felt when you gave that spontaneous hug to a friend or loved one? Maybe you still give hugs freely. If so, that is fantastic! Have you ever thought about the jolt of oxytocin that those moments gave/give you?

Last week I shared my gratitude for TED Talks, and the abundance of knowledge that they have sparked within myself and my career. This week I want to share another one, on the importance of those spontaneous hugs. If you have 16 minutes to learn more about the reasons why, you can click on Paul Zak's TED Talk.
http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_zak_trust_morality_and_oxytocin If you don't have 16 minutes to listen, his take home message is: "8 hugs a day will help you to be happier, and make the world a better place."

So how do these stories relate to WellU? WellU has partnered with Campus Rec, and this month Campus Rec has started their Trot off the Treats initiative to get our campus moving during this year's holiday season. Look at the COR Announcements and/or stop in the BWC, at the Campus Rec welcome desk to learn more! Everyone is eligible to win one of their great prizes! And, every day you walk, bike, take a class, plus other activities, you have an opportunity to mark your progress...and every day you will have an opportunity to celebrate these little successes! Every day you have an opportunity to celebrate with a hug, and release oxytocin within yourself, and others, making the world a happier place.

I urge you to reflect upon your life, determine what your "stairs in the world" are, and choose how you will climb them. No matter how many times you fall, remember the child learning to climb stairs, pick yourself up, and try again. Find some support, and you will succeed! Then, celebrate your milestones!

How will you release oxytocin in your personal physiology today? I encourage you to give a spontaneous hug, to help make the world a happier place.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ways to Relax Today

Do laundry, check email, walk the dog, return text messages, plan trip to visit family, pay bills… does this to-do list sound familiar?

Well U has got something else for you to add to your to-do list: Relax!

As our days get busier and busier, a designated time for relaxation becomes even more important. You must prioritize relaxation, or stress could make you sick. Stress can cause everything from weight gain to headache to heart attacks.

While our culture tempts us to stay busy and be productive, our bodies and minds can’t handle a 24/7 mentality of “full steam ahead!” We need wakeful relaxation. Carve out time every day to unwind, restore, and chill out. It doesn’t take hours, and won’t derail you to-do list – we promise. Here are 18 ways to max and relax today:

1. Close your eyes and sit with the sun shining on your face.

2. Take a walk and observe every little thing you see, staying fully present in the moment.

3. Soak a wash cloth in a cup of water infused with a few drops of calming lavender oil. Wring out the cloth and drape it over your eyes.

4. Take five slow, deep breaths. Make the exhale longer than the inhale.

5. Sip herbal tea.

6. Watch a funny YouTube video.

7. Turn off your phone and read a good book.

8. Soak in a warm bath, with bubbles, candles, and relaxing music.

9. Write down or tell someone three things you are grateful for.

10. Try progressive muscle relaxation.

11. Be present by orienting yourself: Where are you? What does it look like? What time is it? This practice is grounding and reminds you that things are fine, just as they are.

12. Connect your hands to the earth in child's pose.

13. Meditate.

14. Cut
 yourself some slack.

15. Snuggle with a pet, a loved one, or a cozy blanket.

16. Watch nature: trees swaying in the wind, birds gliding overhead, bees busily working among the flowers.

17. Get a massage or give yourself one.

18. Practice yoga.

The practices above can help you learn how to just “be” rather than “do.” Although they are simple practices, they won’t happen unless you make relaxation a priority and find the time to practice it.

Start a new habit by challenging yourself to practice one new way to relax every day for the next 18 days, or pick one that you really love and make time for it every day. If none of these practices appeal to you, find one that does.
Want more information? Check out the Well U Resources webpage for a 5 minute relaxation webinar and more!
Resource: Aloha.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Spreading Wellness: How has gratitude helped abundance in your life?

"Gratitude...the open door to abundance." ~Yogi Bhajan

Abundance of life and happiness? Abundance of food and water? Abundance of snow and wind? Abundance of friends and family? Or, an abundance of kids art projects on your refrigerator? These questions all pop into my head as I ponder that quote. We all have an abundance of different experiences. We are all grateful for different people/places/things in our lives. It is that time of year, when we as a nation gather together, and talk about what we are grateful for. The time of year that we bring gratitude to the forefront of our minds. What would it be like if we all lived with a bit more mindfulness around gratitude? Some say that being grateful is the first step toward happiness. Some say that gratitude is the real joy that we feel in life. Yet others say that gratitude is an attitude that we live, and is the precursor to positive change.

Although there are an abundance of people/places/things to be grateful for, as a person who loves intellectual stimulation and learning, I am grateful for Ted Talks. :) Yes, Ted Talks. I am a research junky, who enjoys getting sparks of curiosity and knowledge through this amazing series of talks that attracts an array of experts on almost any topic imaginable. I am grateful for the professors who introduced me to them while in graduate school. My love of independent learning has been enhanced in a very positive way. This tool has allowed my intellect to grow abundantly. Today, I want to share a phenomenal inspirational talk with you, on Gratitude. If you have about 10 minutes, take some time to watch and listen to the power of beauty and gratitude, from 3 different perspectives (the speaker and 2 interviewees) at: http://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_nature_beauty_gratitude.

Expressing gratitude and becoming more mindful of gratitude, can only help to enhance your own wellness wheel. Currently, WellU has a Wellness Wheel Challenge going on, and we hope that you will be able to expand your wheels by expressing gratitude. To sign up for the challenge, go to imleagues.com, and look for the Well U Employee Wellness Wheel Challenge.

Even if you choose not to join the challenge, I challenge you to become more mindful of gratitude, and see how your personal wheel will expand. How has your life become abundant through gratitude?

Please share with us, your story about gratitude and abundance.