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December 2023 Employee Wellness Newsletter

Posted November 28, 2023, 6:55 AM. Updated January 2, 2024, 3:39 PM.

A season of safety, a December checklist, get a jump on the New Year with the Fit & Functional Program, and more well-being trends in the news.

Join the New Year Fit & FUNctional Program!

Fit and functional new year program

You may not be thinking about the new year right now but you will be soon! So, check that 'get healthy for the new year box' by joining the APS Fit & Functional New Year Program.  

This six-week program starts January 1, 2024, on the Wellness at Work/Virgin Pulse platform. This is the primary APS well-being platform used for many of our wellness challenges and where employees have the opportunity to earn wellness incentive points. 

The New Year Fit & Functional program will give you the option to participate any way you want - whether it's fitness by training for a 5 to 10k, nutrition, or overall well-being goals. You get the choice of different training and well-being journeys laid out on the calendar with direction and support through the APS Fit & Function Group.  The program will have a calendar with daily and weekly content, coaching support, as well as mini-challenges in a variety of areas to meet your wellness goals and stay motivated. 

Raffle prizes will be awarded for mini-challenges and completed journeys. The 5-10k run/walk program culminates in a fun group event at the "Touchdown for Fitness" Superbowl event by RunFit. Participants will receive a free shirt and a discount on race entry. 

The APS Fit & Functional Group is open now on the Wellness at Work/Virgin Pulse platform. Check your Wellness at Work dashboard gallery card to join. From the top menu bar, go to "social" click "groups" and browse to find the APS New Year Fit & Functional group. The program and events start January 1 but participants can join anytime after the first of the year and participate. 

The Wellness at Work/Virgin Pulse well-being program is open to all full-time employees. If you haven't registered on the new platform, click here to learn more. 

Wellness & Benefits Holiday Checklist

A list of wellnes things to do including reenroll in presbyterian fitness pass, redeem wellness incentive point and check flexible spending funds before the end of the year.

The to-do list can get long this time of year but a few on the graphic above have a 'use it or lose it' clause and we hate for you to miss out on hard-earned wellness incentive points or Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds. 

  • If you participate in the Wellness Incentive Program ($150 in rewards!) via the Wellness at Work/Virgin Pulse platform you must redeem points by 7:00 pm December 31. No exceptions. January 1 starts a brand new year with more opportunities to earn awesome rewards.
  • Presbyterian Health Plan/Fitness Pass members must re-enroll in the Fitness Pass in December if they want their gym membership to stay active on January 1.  You don't want to miss out on that post-holiday crowded gym rush!
  • For employees participating in the Health Care or Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) the plan year runs through December 31. Participants have a grace period until March 15, 2024, to spend 2023 contributions and submit receipts for reimbursement from eligible expenses in 2023. If you find you have an overage and don't anticipate extra healthcare bills, ASIFlex has a great online store with thousands of surprising products including joint and muscle pain management, baby care, home health, and other items. 
  • Schedule annual preventive health visits because we want you safe and healthy!! Prevention goes a long way for disease prevention and lower costs down the road. 
  • Take care of yourself and enjoy the season! Slow down, sip hot cocoa, watch fun movies, cuddle with loved ones (pets included), and enjoy!

Wellness Wire - Worth More Than Silver & Gold


How many years have you just overdone the holidays? I can remember the exhaustion.  By the time Christmas rolled in, I felt more cooked than the turkey and I wound up sick numerous times.  I also paid the price in patience, losing it more than once to people who certainly didn't deserve my curt, frustrated exchange. I just felt like I had to do (and be) it all for everyone. I didn't even realize going through it that I wasn't happy or experiencing the joy of the season in my stressed and tired state.    

Then a little over eight years ago, I was working on a project to connect a workforce with the integration of safety, health, and well-being using the SafeStart concepts of rushing, frustration, fatigue, and complacency. It was a true 'ah-ha' moment for me. These emotional states resonated because I realized I was a casualty to them all - on more than one occasion. 

These days we all have a lot on our plate. Our drive to do well at work and serve our family or community takes up space in our hearts and spills over into our busy lives. 

What happens when we get busy? We take shortcuts. From grabbing fast food, skipping personal morning time, and sacrificing sleep to speeding, every shortcut is the result of a decision that could be made differently. Unfortunately, we don't always consider that until after the fact. Sometimes with devastating consequences. 

 Safety is more than just physical - it's psychological, too. When we've heard something a million times like 'don't speed', 'slow down', 'take a breath', or 'get more sleep' (whatever the wellness advice is) we tend to become numb to it.  The emotional awareness of our physical situation is diminished.

Over time, that becomes dangerous on two levels. First, we're simply less safe in our environment because we're distracted and not paying attention. Second, we lose the connection between our purpose, passion, community, and activities that bring us joy and begin the slippery slope of acceptance by using maladaptive coping strategies to stifle stress, frustration, fatigue, and complacency (which also includes boredom and life dissatisfaction). This contributes to preventable chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, weight gain/obesity, and anxiety and depression. 

When researchers dialed back how most injuries from accidents occur it came down to those four emotional states and the connection with mismanaged chronic illnesses. During the holidays, at a time when we want to be and feel our best, we tend to do everything that diminishes our capacity to actually be safe and well. 

As we continue through another holiday season together, my encouragement to you is to truly consider your safety and well-being as THE gift worth giving yourself and your family. Permit yourself to say no, cut back, slow down, and find true rest and peace. Take a pause and prepare mentally, emotionally, and physically for your day, your next drive, or interaction. This simple awareness - protecting your health and well-being - is the gift that keeps on giving and is worth more than silver and gold. If this season is difficult for you, seek support. APS offers free EAP confidential, counseling services and mental health services. Keep scrolling below for APS Employee Wellness resources to help you cope with stress, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes and more.  

Do You Have Muscle or Joint Pain? 

Get the relief you need to feel and function better with this NEW virtual physical therapy program by Hinge Health. 

Hinge Health gives you the tools to conquer joint and muscle pain including back, neck, knee, and shoulder pain, recover from injuries, prepare for surgery, and stay healthy and pain-free.

Learn more and register for the program. Begin your journey today with a physical therapist and health coach team!

Hinge Health is available at no cost to employees and eligible dependents covered under the APS Benefits plans.   

New! Livongo Expanded Benefits for Weight Loss, Diabetes, Blood Pressure & Mental Health!

Manage diabetes, pre-diabetes, blood pressure, weight loss, and healthy lifestyle goals, and receive mental health support with this integrated wrap-around solution.

Livongo is a holistic program that empowers people with chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other health challenges to feel better and do more. 

Livongo is an integrated solution with free 1-1 health coaching, mental health support, and connected device monitoring.  Depending on your health condition you'll receive a blood pressure cuff, glucose meter/test strips, and/or connected scale. It's all seamlessly integrated through a mobile app with results you can share with your doctor. 

*This is a free program for all employees and eligible dependents under the APS Benefits plans. 

Getting started is easy!  

  • Text “GO APS” to 85240 to learn more and join
  • Join by visiting
  • Or call 800-945-4355 and use the registration code: APS

Register Anytime For The New Wellness at Work Well-being Platform

picture with people eating well, moving and text about the new wellbeing platform.

APS partners with The Solutions Group to bring you a variety of well-being programs as well as the Wellness at Work platform and employee wellness incentive program. We are happy to announce our well-being program had a significant upgrade in the transition to a new platform called Virgin Pulse.

The wellness program through the Solutions Group is still called "Wellness at Work" but the platform is hosted on Virgin Pulse.

The new mobile app has enhanced wellness options, easier access, and simplified activity syncing.

Full-time employees have received five email invitations sent between January and October from Wellness at Work (it's not spam). Search for the email invitation with your link to join. You can also register by going to the main login page.

Employees on the previous platform can access your new Wellness at Work program with the same username & password.  New users can easily register in less than 5 minutes. This is open to all full-time APS Employees. 

Note: If you are a full-time APS employee covered as a dependent under the Presbyterian Health Plan, or ANY health plan, register as a 'non-covered' APS employeeIf you are a full-time employee NOT covered by APS Benefits plan, register under "non-covered" APS employee. 
The 2023 APS Employee Wellness Incentive Program runs from Jan. 1, 2023 - Dec. 31, 2023. This is a voluntary wellness reward system for all full-time employees.  All wellness incentive points must be redeemed by December 31 at 7:00 p.m. If you do not redeem your points by Dec. 31 you lose the rewards. NO exceptions. 

Financial Wellness with Nusenda

Nusenda Credit Union has been the Albuquerque Public Schools Federal Credit Union since 1936 and offers comprehensive financial services to APS employees and their family members. 

The APS Employee Wellness Banzai Site. offers financial literacy courses and interactive simulations that engage users as they learn about finances and how to build credit, reduce debt, and/or save for life expenses like buying a home or car, starting a family, and planning retirement. Take a look at the Nusenda benefits flyer and reach out to Nusenda for more information. 


Virtual and Email-Based Wellness Opportunities 

  • Life on Mindfulness: Check out the new Life on Mindfulness website with the password LIFEONMINDFULNESS. 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 Calendar Enroll 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 to simply feel better, APS offers free health coaching to all APS employees. *Open to all APS employees.
  • 30 Ways to Well-being is an email-based program. Register and 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.
  • MyStress Tools  This is an online suite of stress management and resilience-building resources. My Stress Tools helps you understand

    the root causes of your stress and gives you the help you need to dramatically reduce your stress and build your resilience. Click here for flyer details. *Open to all APS employees.

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
  • Understanding your APS Healthcare Benefits
  • Stress, Burnout, and Resilience
  • Social well-being
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • Financial Well-being
  • Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Health

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. 

Wellness Trends In The News

News: Hitting Daily Activity Goals for Results

When it comes to hitting training goals, daily activity may be more important than meeting a weekly total minute goal. read more »

Nutrition: High Protein and Diet Quality

An analysis of multiple clinical weight loss trials shows that even slightly increasing the amount of protein has a noticeable impact on the quality of food choices. read more »

Mind-Body: Nature Walks Reduce Stress

Research shows measurable positive changes in brain regions related to stress after a 1-hour nature walk in contrast with a 1-hour urban walk. read more »

Recipe: Orange-Scented Steamed Salmon Packets

A 3-ounce serving of Atlantic salmon provides about 2 g of omega-3 fats—all the more reason to get hooked on this speedy steamed fish more »

Fitness Handout: Healthy Holiday Substitutions

Getting through the holidays shouldn’t be about avoidance and restriction. It should be about enjoying yourself in a healthy way. Try these tasty healthy holiday substitutions. read more »