Thursday, August 25, 2011

What is Your Passion?

Hi Everyone,

I hope my last two posts about Wellness at the Workplace were motivating to some of you.  I realize that some of you work at home, or are retired, but you could always share some of those ideas with people in your life who do have a workplace outside of the home.  Please help spread the word, and the wellness!

So, what's your passion?  I like asking the people I meet, including students I work with at the middle school level, about their passions.  Isn't the one thing that strongly interests you, the same thing that puts a smile on your face, and an extra bounce in your step?  Of course, sometimes I cringe when the answer I get from a student is, "Video games!"    But, hey, at least the kid is passionate about something, and the fact that he can talk about it in a small group will probably help him the next time he has to give a speech.

My passion is wellness and trying to motivate others towards improving their own state of wellness.  Surprised?  If I had to choose between reading a really good novel, or reading a nonfiction book related to health in any way, I'd choose the latter.  The first thing I want to do every morning, after breakfast, is exercise.  How did I develop this passion?  I guess it's been with me my whole life.  In 1974, when I started my first teaching job in Springfield, Oregon, I made a little booklet for each of my students, (using the ditto machine!), titled, "Feeling Good."   So, a sub-topic of wellness that I especially like to concentrate on is helping people improve their self-esteem.  That's why I'm working on a self-esteem workbook for kids.

Enough about me, I'd love to hear about your passions.  It's what makes the world so enjoyable, meeting people who have such a variety of interests. And, wouldn't you agree that one of the biggest components of having good mental health is having a strong interest in something?  If I were asked about the passions of some of my friends and family members, I'd say:  rowing; science; crafts; reading; antiquing; sewing; working with wood; computer gaming; ping pong (another one of my passions!); swimming; cycling;  agility competitions (with the dog); crossword puzzles; volunteering; choreography; cooking; playing the guitar and singing; and much more.  Many of us have more than one passion, of course, but I'm asking about the one thing (hobby, would be another way to look at it) that gives you the most joy.

So, the  next time you meet someone, if you are having a long enough conversation, and it's not too awkward, why not ask the person what he or she is passionate about?  I bet they'd love to share, and it can not only feed their self-esteem, but also improve your interest or knowledge about the topic.  If you have kids or grandkids, I hope you can help them develop whatever interests them, making a strong and very positive impact on their self-esteem. 

Well, what's your passion?  I'd love to hear about it.

Wishing you wellness.

Mary R.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wellness at the Workplace-Part II

Hi Everyone,

If you caught my last post, then you know that I had so much to say about Wellness at the Workplace, that I decided to save the rest of my ideas for a second post on the topic.  So, here goes!

Here are some more tips for the boss, or the Wellness Director, should you be lucky to have one at your place of business:

1.  Need a reason to have a celebration?  Years ago, at a place where I worked,  we started an annual tradition of celebrating Festivus, ("For the rest of us!").  If you're not aware of what Festivus is, it's from the TV sitcom, Seinfeld. George's father, Frank, came up with it.   You'd have to look it up and watch the episodes that refer to it, to understand the reasoning behind it, and the activities involved.  Trust me, it's worth checking into.  People love it. 

2.  I keep getting back to the idea of a board for people to post pictures, recipes, etc.  So, let's call it a Wellness Board, shall we?  I've mentioned healthy recipes, and pictures of family and pets, but you could also encourage people to post: carpooling requests;  requests for exercise buddies; classified ads; coupons; sign-ups for a group trip to a sporting event; sign-ups for a community volleyball team, or a biking excursion.  The ideas are endless.

3.  Is there a walking path around your place of business?  If not, could one easily be made?  Not only could people use the path for walking or jogging during their breaks, or before and after work, but maybe even 'walking meetings' are feasible, given a smaller staff. 

4. It doesn't hurt to ask local businesses if they'd like to sponsor your wellness activities.  Sometimes the local gym will offer corporate memberships at a reduced cost.

5.  Make the staff room a place where people want to spend their breaks. Can you afford to purchase subscriptions to some of the more popular health magazines?   There could be a library set up, where employees bring in their used books and magazines. Is there a water cooler?  Some of the staff members might be willing to put money together for filtered water to be delivered.  Is there adequate light?  Plants?  Motivating quotes?  Nice hand soap?  How about the paint color?  Could that be improved?

6.  Is a 'Family Fun Night' a possibility?  Someone might be willing to head up such an activity, with crafts, games, etc.  It doesn't hurt to ask.  Remember, happy employees = happy work environment = more productivity.

7.  If you're remodeling, or just starting to build an office space, why not invest in a shower for employees to use if they ride their bikes to work, or if they workout during their lunch breaks?  By the way, do you have a place where people could safely lock their bicycles?

8.  I mentioned Wellness Wednesdays in my last post.  Here are some more suggestions for special events that could be held on a Wednesday:  flu shots; guest speakers; a yoga class; neck massages;  a volunteer activity such as serving at a homeless shelter or cleaning up a road; or, sharing your talents and passions.  Also, if you want to just concentrate on one month of wellness activities each year, May is Health and Fitness Month.

9.  One of my employers actually furnished a basket of umbrellas right by the door.  It's the little things...

10. If the staff is small enough, a different employee could be randomly chosen each month, and  featured on the Wellness Board.  Someone could interview the staff member, and post interesting information about him or her.  The employee should be encouraged to bring in photos and other items to display.

11.  Consider making space for a few pieces of exercise equipment.  It's so easy to find inexpensive used exercise machines and hand weights.  The space could have a CD player, magazines, plants, etc.  Place the equipment near a window, if possible.

Whew.  I guess that's it.  I could go on and on, talking about Zen gardens, stress relief balls, exercise balls to sit on while at the computer....    But, I think as long as you have an open mind to improving the environment for your employees, you'll come up with and receive all kinds of ideas.  Have fun!  Think WELLNESS! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wellness at the Workplace--Part 1

Hi Everyone,

Wellness at the Workplace has always been such an important topic to me, especially since life can be full of so many stressors that we have to deal with, both in our personal and our professional lives. So, I've decided to throw out a few suggestions as to what an employer, or manager could do to help improve the climate at the workplace.  Of course, any of the workers could also get something started.  I just feel that if more bosses tried to help their workers with their mental and physical health, the rewards that would come back to them and to the workplace would be well worth any effort made.  It would be time and effort well spent, a win-win situation.

Here are my suggestions for the boss:
1.  Learn everyone's name, first and last, (and the correct spelling), as soon as possible.  While you're at it, find out what everyone is passionate about.  Don't forget to share your passion as well.

2.  Put everyone's birthdates on your calendar, and acknowledge each one of those birthdays.  Is there a way that person could be treated special?  Leave work 15 minutes early? Have a latte delivered? Receive a card signed by everyone?  What about celebrating 'half birthdays'?  That could be a lot of fun.  There could be just 1/2 of a cake, and then the serving sizes would be more realistic too!  I know, I'm a bit overboard at times on the moderation/wellness thing.

3.  Some insurance companies cover a weight loss program, such as Weight Watchers.  If enough people get on board, Weight Watchers might even hold meetings at the workplace.  Some businesses are starting 'Biggest Losser' competitions, and pass around a trophy each week to the person who lost the largest percentage of weight. 

4.  Along those same lines, it's fun to share healthy recipes.  There could be a board located in a central area, where people could post recipes.  Or, how about a healthy lunch potluck.  Bring a dish, bring the recipe.

5.  It's easy to have a salad bar or a potato bar lunch, where everyone signs up to bring one of the ingredients.  As an added bonus, activities like this can help build camaraderie.

6.  During the dreary months, when moods are especially low, it's fun to offer a 'Secret Pals' activity.  Have a form for people to fill out, if they're interested, listing favorite snack, beverage, magazine, candy bar, fruit, hobby, etc.  This activity works best if the person organizing the activity does NOT have a secret pal, and administers the activity, keeping track of who picked whose name, and perhaps even delivering the gifts for them.

7.  Is there somewhere in the budget where the boss can make sure there's a basket of fresh fruit always in plain view, and offered gratis to the employees?  Or, could there be one day a month when a fresh piece of fruit is delivered to every employee's mailbox or desk?  Again, the costs can often outweigh the benefit of having a happier staff. 

8.  How about having a little fun at the beginning of a staff meeting?  You could share a joke;  people could be encouraged to share what's going on in their lives;  there could be a drawing;  use your imagination.

9.  Set a precidence with (voluntary) blood pressure checks, perhaps on a 'Wellness Wednesday'.  The local hospital might know of someone who would be willing to stop by and do that for you free of charge, once a month.

10. Furnish a board in the lunchroom where staff can feature pictures of their loved ones, and pets.

This is getting long, but there is so much more to say.  Look for part two, coming soon.  Meanwhile, I hope things are going well for you as you continue to work on your own personal wellness goals. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Return of Ten Tip Tuesay!

Hello Everyone,

Where did July go?  Man, summer sure likes to breeze by us, don't you think?  Have you been working on any goals?  I'd love to hear from you about any "goals in progress" you might have.  I've been good with my "21 Days to Success" chart, where I've worked on my book everyday, for at least an hour. If I have too many time constraints one day, and can't fit in the one hour, I make sure the next day I put in two hours.  So, it seems to be working for me. Of course, it's something I love to do, so that helps.

OK.  Time for some more tips!
1.  Here's one from my mother:  Brush and floss your teeth after dinner, so you won't be tempted to eat anything else before bed.
2.  Drink more water!  Lack of water is the #1 cause of daytime fatigue.
3.  You never know when you and your friends might need to call a cab.  Take the time now to look up the phone numbers of your local cab companies and plug them into your cell phone contact list.  You'll be glad you did. 
4.  Ever wonder how scientists determine the number of calories in a food item?  In a lab, they separate the macro nutrients, (protein, fat and carbohydrates), from the components that contain zero calories, such as water and minerals.  Then, they take the weight of each of the macro nutrients, in grams, and multiply the grams of fat by 9, and the grams of protein and carbohydrates by 4.  See why we should eat less fat?  It has over twice the calories per gram as the other two macro nutrients.
5.  Alcohol, which is NOT a macro nutrient, has 7 calories per gram.  Moderation is important for many reasons, "empty" calories being one of them.
6.  I like this quote by Henry David Thoreau--"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm."  Hang on to your fun (but safe) impulses.  And remember, that when you eat right, sleep enough, and exercise regularly, you develop a new found, even contagious, enthusiasm.
7.  Stretching daily is so important.  It's best to exercise when your body is warm, so do some walking first.  That way the blood flow is making the muscles warm and more elastic, so there will be less chance of injury.
8.  Headaches can be such a bummer.  Next time you have a headache, visualize that artery that is throbbing in your head and tell it to relax, so the blood will flow more easily.
9.  When you strength train, exhale during the exertion phase, and inhale when you are returning to the starting position.
10.  Some easy ways to cut 100 calories:  ice cream in a dish, instead of a cone;  nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream;  pancakes without butter on top;  and, corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas.

That's all for now!  I hope you have some fun activities and goals planned for August, before it is behind us.

Wishing you wellness,

Mary R.