Employee Wellness News

Posted: October 31, 2022

December 2022 Employee Wellness Newsletter

Wellness wire, December check list, new January programs, December monthly webinars, and more wellness trends in the news.

 

Wellness Wire - Hope Is Internal

There's a feeling in the air - Can you sense it?

Is it the lights on the trees? The festive music filling our ears? The crisp smell of pine? The delightful taste of peppermint mocha lattes? 

Well, yes and no. There's a deeper sense stirring our souls and I've been talking with people on the street about it.

It seemed especially palpable this year; this mood shift into the holiday season. Sure, in years past I’d noticed the window from Thanksgiving to the New Year felt more festive and cheerful.  People seemed to be nicer, more courteous, and upbeat. 

But this year it seems heightened. Some people I talked with mentioned the pretty lights, decorations, holiday music, and yes even the traditional yummy foods this time of year. (Being a connoisseur of magical morning elixir, the peppermint mocha latte is my thing:)

They were talking about sensory things like sight, sound, taste, and smell. There’s more to our senses than that. Along with our proprioceptive sense of movement and balance, we actually have the eighth sense. Our interoceptive input (internal) is sometimes called the hidden sense. This internal input gives us the ability to feel what is happening inside our bodies. It plays a role in influencing emotions and a sense of well-being and detects changes in our internal state. Not just the basic needs of hunger and fullness, thirst, body temperature, heart rate, and exertion, but also social touch (think hugs - not just Olaf likes them - humans do, too!), stress, frustration, sleepiness, and more. 

The holiday season is advertised as a time of joy, peace, hope, and love. These emotions are a connection point to our interoceptive senses. All of which contribute significantly to our basic, safety, and psychological well-being.

But of those, one has a special wellness superpower. Hope. Hope is different than optimism. Optimism is the feeling we have in viewing external events and believing there will be positive outcomes or results that we find favorable. Despite negative circumstances, we’re optimistic about the best outcomes. Optimism is a great attribute for many situations. Some psychologists and research suggest optimism is more of a human trait. Having optimism has been linked to greater health and well-being, and more satisfying work and life situations. 

Hope is an internal light post that guides us and keeps us going through the toughest of times. Despite circumstances, we intrinsically feel that we'll be okay. Hope is a force that can not only drive our well-being, but it's also a survival tool! When survivors of accidents, traumas, and other global tragedies were asked how they actually made it through their answers consistently contained the word hope

The power of hope can:

  • Boost immune function
  • Decrease pain
  • Lower anxiety and depression
  • Reduce risk for chronic illnesses 
  • Enhance our motivation and approach to work and life relationships

Hope is something far more valuable for our well-being because it’s not reliant on forces outside of our control. Hope is an inner energy no one can take from us. 

It got me thinking - why can’t we carry this with us all through the year? Why is it that we promote and engage in just one "season of hope"? 

We know that for some the holidays are not the most wonderful time of year and many of us struggle with the loss of loved ones, depression, anxiety, and stress. The last 2+ years everyone talks about as 'trying times'. The reality is in any given season we are all going to face trying times. All of us have experienced the feeling of our well running low and we're scraping at the barrel to find something that can pull us up and sustain us. 

This is why it is so vital to cultivate our interoceptive sense of hope for our mental and emotional well-being every day - for the long term. And, it’s not as hard as we may think. In fact, we've been talking about it in this space for a couple of years now :) 

My encouragement to you this week is to consider participating in some hope-growing activities and continue this as a habit into the new year. 

Ways to train our interoceptive sense of hope:

  • Daily affirmations/motivational and spiritual readings 
  • Mindfulness 
  • Focusing on what you can control
  • Connecting with people and activities that bring you joy, peek you interests and curiosity
  • Doing something you love - finding your purpose and passion 
  • Finding gratitude 
  • Being of service to others (I would say by nature of what you do, no matter where you sit in APS, you are of service to others. Consider how shifting your mindset around that concept can positively affect your well-being and those around you.) 

These are all areas that also (coincidentally) build our buffers against stress, and help us manage our wellness and communication with others on a more connected, positive level. We can purposefully build this eighth sense of hope which leads to greater mental/emotional resilience, strength, awareness, peace, joy, and love. It's a beautiful concept - One I believe is a priceless gift for every season. 

Scroll below for more resources from APS Employee Wellness to help you with all aspects of your mental, emotional and physical well-being. 

Get Ready For The New Year! (what?)

Of the oh-so-many things we have to do this month, try to check off a few of the items from the graphic above.  As we wrap up this year and look to a new one, taking care of health plan details and preventive health visits is a good thing. It sets an intention that our well-being, and knowing and using our resources are a priority. When we get them done early, we get to check them off the list which is an incredibly satisfying feeling!

The other items above are pure FUN which is what I want us to have, too. Do a little jig (it's okay, no one's watching). Step back from obligations and rest, take time with family, and friends, and enjoy community events. These aspects of our well-being are equally important. Remember our 'off' time doesn't have to have a production value to it. It doesn't have to be 'doing' it can be simply 'being'. Which is a wonderful way to spend the holidays. 

 As a reminder, this time of year can also be a lonely, stressful time for many in our midst. If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out to APS EAP and mental health resources.

New! In January 2023

We are happy to announce our well-being program is getting a significant upgrade in the transition to a new platform called Virgin Pulse. 

Find your balance, get daily inspiration, and experience the rewards of feeling & functioning better every day! 

The new mobile app has enhanced wellness options, easier access, and simplified activity syncing.  Registration on Virgin Pulse begins on Jan. 4, 2023. Look for an email from Virgin Pulse.  Access your new Wellness at Work platform with the same username & password.  New users can easily register in less than 5 minutes. This is open to all full-time APS Employees.

December Monthly Webinars

Every month APS employees now have access to a variety of well-being webinars. All webinars are recorded. Register and receive the recording for on-demand viewing at a time that is convenient for you. All the information and links/QR codes to join are in the Employee Wellness event calendar. 

  • Saturday, Dec. 3, 10 a.m.: Life on Mindfulness - Sharing Mindfulness With Others.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 14, 8 a.m. or 12 p.m., 15 minutes:  Less is More –How to avoid overdoing and de-cluttering strategies to reduce stress over the holidays.
  • Thursday, Dec. 15, 12 to 1 p.m. Cooking Class: Good Mood Foods Do the shorter days have you feeling down? These recipes are packed with nutrients that play a festive role in lifting your mood.
  • Mindset Monday, Dec. 19, 12 p.m., 15 minutes: Laughter is The Best Medicine! Join us as we discuss the science of laughter, lift your mood with funny videos, memes, and jokes, and engage in a light-hearted laughter meditation.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 22, 12 to 1 p.m.: Wellness Wednesday Sustainable Selfcare 

Virtual and Email-Based Wellness Opportunities 

  • Life on Mindfulness: Check out the new Life on Mindfulness website with the password APSLOM. This is a free, flexible program for all employees that offers daily drop-in meditations, new weekly and monthly content, featured meditations, and Saturday workshops. Everything is recorded for on-demand access.  Links for daily drop-ins and the Saturday sessions are in the APS Employee Wellness CalendarEnroll in the Life on Mindfulness Program for all content and email reminders. This site is mobile phone optimized so you can access a wide variety of recorded meditations anytime, anywhere. *The Life on Mindfulness program is open to all APS employees. 
  • Health Coaching: If you would like help with managing a chronic illness and weight loss to improve your health, or simply feel better, APS offers free Health Coachinto all APS employees. *Open to all APS employees.
  • 30 Ways to Well-being is an email-based program. Register and you will receive daily wellness emails with simple yet innovative practices to do every day. This will bring new awareness for you around stress, sleep, movement, nutrition, connection, and more! This is an ongoing program. Enroll and engage at your own pace. *Open to all APS employees.
  • Livongo: Get your life back and manage diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity with this personalized program- Livongo The name is short for Live On The Go! Because having a chronic illness can hinder our positive life experiences. We want you to get that back and feel better! Participants receive one on one expert coaching, and integrated tools to manage blood sugar, blood pressure, and weight loss. *This program is free for eligible employees and dependents under APS Benefits.

On-Site Wellness 

Short wellness presentations for school staff and APS departments. We can tailor to your needs and fit time ranges from 15-60 minutes. Some topics include:

  • Just the basics - APS wellness benefits and resources
  • Stress, Burnout, and Resilience
  • Social well-being
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • Financial Well-being
  • Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Health
  • Understanding Healthcare & Medical consumerism

Schedule Pet Therapy

This is for APS employees. If you would like to offer your staff or department a couple of hours of furry-cuddle-stress-relieving therapy time, fill out this request form. Please note that accommodations must be made for any colleagues who have allergies to dogs. 

Group Exercise Classes 

Class Schedule

  • Monday (virtual) 6 to 6:30 a.m.: Sunrise Yoga link to join is in the APS Employee Wellness event calendar.
  • Monday (in-person) 4:45 to 5:30 p.m.: Gentle Vinyasa Yoga. Location: City Center/Rio Grande OR Arroyo Chico Rm
  • Tuesday (in-person) 4:30 to 5:15 p.m.: Gentle Vinyasa Yoga. Location: Helen Fox Complex, 1730 University Blvd. 2nd-floor wellness room. 

About the classes

  • In-person group exercise classes are at City Center/Alice & Bruce King Complex or Helen Fox.
  • In-person classes are 45 minutes in length and all levels are welcome.
  • Classes are free for APS employees. 

Questions

If you have any questions contact Becky MacGregor by email at employee.wellness@aps.edu. 

More Wellness Trends In The News

  • News: Exercise Therapy and Chronic ConditionsExercise is often recommended for people with a single chronic health condition. But what about using “exercise therapy” for those with multiple health challenges?
  • Nutrition: Eating Breakfast and Why It Matters: A study of 5,761 people published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine may leave you questioning the virtues of skipping the morning meal.
  • Mind-Body: Mental Imagery and Running: A new mental imagery technique, “functional imagery training,” is showing promise in helping self-described “nonrunners” complete their first ultra-marathon.
  • Recipe for Health: Cream of Chard SoupThe vitamin K you get from spooning up this comforting cream of chard soup may help prevent the buildup of calcium plaques in your arteries.
  • Video: Curl to Overhead Press: Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides. Curl the weights up, rotating your palms to face your shoulders, then press the weights overhead. Add a squat through the movement for extra intensity!