At the beginning of April an email was sent out agency wide with a Wellness Calendar attached. I took it on myself to do all the activities to increase my wellness and self care! Here is what I discovered:
Definition of Self Care: Any intentional action you take to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Self-care and wellness are things that I have found to be the most important thing to creating a life in which one can be happy both at work and outside of work! Throughout this month I participated in a variety of different self care activities and techniques in order to determine which were helpful in increasing my productivity, mood, and general well being at and away from work. As mentioned in the definition above self care can consist of any action that allows you to take care of yourself either psychically, emotionally, and or mentally; however I think that there is more to self-care than just the action; I also believe that self care allows you to create a culture in which positivity flourishes; aka wellness.
Here is a recap of the activities that I participated in at work throughout April to embrace Self Care Month here at AK Child and Family:
Mindfulness Desk Exercise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH4OiBEPlb8 After this short video which could be infused into any workday I felt more relaxed and able to focus on the daily tasks in front of me for the afternoon.
Mid-day run : Two times throughout the month I brought my running shoes to work and utilized my lunch to spend some time outdoors and get in a little physical activity. I found that this was a great way to take a short break, breath some fresh air, and step away from the computer most of us sit in front of all day. Each time when I returned I felt more awake then before I set out on my runs and also more motivated to end the day on a productive note. And I was able to enjoy the beginnings of Spring on those nice days where we don’t want to be inside all day! All around a fabulous experience
Test to evaluate your stress level: https://www.healthwise.net/aetna/Content/StdDocument.aspx?DOCHWID=zu1121#zu1123
I took the test and although I was not overly sure if I agreed with the results it provided me with a chance to think about how often I feel stressed and what results in me feeling stressed. I found that having this tool to spark some thinking was helpful for me in order to determine if I needed to increase my self-care activities or try new ones!
Moment of Laughter article: https://news.aetna.com/2016/03/laughter-therapy-can-a-laugh-a-day-keep-the-stre
This article discusses the importance of laughter in everyone’s life and also provides some feedback on ways to incorporate laughter into your life more often! Remember laughter is good for the soul!
Muscle relaxation to reduce stress: https://www.healthwise.net/aetna/Content/StdDocument.aspx?DOCHWID=uz2225#uz2226 This is something I tried at home as you are supposed to do this while laying on the ground, however these could be broken up and done with your officemates and co-workers in the middle of the day to alleviate stress in order to feel more able to complete daily tasks, decrease stress, and increase your productivity level
Middle of the day yoga class: I utilized a Friday lunch when I wasn’t super busy with meetings, emails, etc. and headed off to the yoga studio. This is something I normally do during outside of work; however I wanted to experiment with how this could be incorporated into my work day in order to increase my general wellness. The results were amazing! I flew through my morning to-do list as I was excited to get to yoga, once at yoga I was able to let the stress of day-to-day work disappear for an hour. After the yoga class was over I came back to work refreshed, wide awake, motivated, and ready to hammer out the afternoon meetings and tasks! Such a great way to take a quick break on a Friday while also providing yourself with some internal motivation to be a great employee!
Stress and time management exercise: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/posthandout_session12.pdf This interactive tool allows you to evaluate where stress comes from in your life, ways to manage, this stress, and also how time management plays into our everyday schedules. It gave me a chance to really figure out how and where I spend my time and evaluate if I was managing my time in a way that is effective to my life.
Breathing exercise: Simply taking 10 minutes out of the day in a quiet place (your office, outside, etc) to just sit and take slow, deep breathes. This allowed me to decompress from daily events/stressors and also made me feel better and able to continue working effectively for the duration of the day with a little more ease.
Not only did I engage in self-care and wellness activities at work but I have a pretty solid habit of engaging in this type of thing out of work! I find that the more often I participate in these types of things the more my life seems to be in balance! Every person will have their own idea of what self care and wellness mean to them. Here is a recap of activities that I did outside of work for my own self care:
Weekly swimming , running a couple of times a week, cycle classes, yoga , long outdoor bike rides, gardening, cleaning my house, Netflix binging , paddleboard adventuring , starting a sewing project, camping with friends, volunteering, walking my dog, fishing, and coloring an adult coloring book
I would encourage all of you to embrace the idea of increasing your self-care and wellness!! This is important to us as humans to take care of ourselves and it helps us become better employees for the organization that we love and have chosen to work for! We all do extremely difficult and rewarding work. I know that self-care is stressed a lot; however it really does make a difference. Remember, if you are at your best than you have the ability to serve the youth and families to work towards their best more effectively.
I challenge each and every one of you to choose at least one new self care activity or to increase your self-care by at least 1x per week this month to improve your wellness!