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Employee Wellness News

Posted: January 2, 2024

January 2024 Employee Wellness Newsletter

Be intentional in 2024. Join the New Year Fit & Functional Program. Reduce pain and gain strength and mobility with Hinge Health. Manage weight, diabetes, and blood pressure with Livongo, and more wellness trends in the news.

picture with graphic and words be intentional with stress and rest. Recharging versus discharging

Wellness Wire - Recharge vs Discharge 

Last week I introduced our word, or phrase, for the year "Be Intentional" (more on that below). When we are intentional with our days, our time, and our actions we have the opportunity to build a life on purpose. A life filled with health, well-being, connection, and joy. 

One of the biggest areas of concern in human well-being, and one that is a real struggle to manage, is balancing stress with appropriate rest.  I heard a concept this past weekend about two different ways to cope with the fatigue we feel from stress and anxiety - recharging versus discharging. 

Stress and anxiety make us physically tired. At times they can be absolutely exhausting. Fatigue is not failure. It is a human condition. It is our body, mind, and soul telling us we've worked hard. We need to honor that signal by utilizing the 'recharge' method and other times we need to - literally - work it out and 'discharge' our stress.

There are benefits to both but also some downsides if we continually choose one over the other. To help us be more intentional about managing our stress and rest let's take a look at what both can do for us.

Recharge

Recharging is just that - it's a rest that can include sensory, social, emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual components.  It may mean unplugging electronics, email, and the Internet. It can be literal rest by going to bed at a decent hour or separation from people and stressful situations. Sometimes we really do need to 'get away from it all' and that can be highly therapeutic and restorative. 

This is needed when we have chronic stress, we've been running on little sleep for a while, and are in a borderline to full-on burnout situation. We're operating in an environment with considerable anxiety and ongoing, high-stress situations. 

When we're in this state our bodies have been on a type of cortisol, adrenaline over-drive. This is what causes heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, and can contribute to some cancers, and depression. Even just a few days of high-stress and deprived sleep can sap our tank dry.  

Recharging can be actual sleep, meditation, reading a captivating fiction book, taking a walk, knitting, sewing, art, music, playing a game/cards, watching a fun movie, cooking, gardening, or any other non-stress hobby that inspires us or brings us simple joy. 

We need to recharge to rebuild our energy stores and take our minds off daily pressures, and it should not be associated with "work" in the sense of professional or personal development. That is not rest. That is still a form of work. 

 Exercise in this state can be restorative if it's gentle yoga, stretching, and walking. Hard workouts could do us more harm by increasing cortisol and inflammatory levels in our bodies and lowering our immune system. So, we need to be mindful of how we feel, and how long we've been under stress, the severity of our anxiety, and be honest about where our energy is - if we have any at all. 

The downside if we always choose to "recharge"  is that sometimes we give ourselves too much leeway. (This is the trainer in me.) There are times when we may be tired from the day but we still need to do the workout and move our bodies to get stronger and feel better.  I find that most people are genuinely tired from the workday, but one of the best things we can do after work and before going home is...

Discharge  

This is using physical activity (it doesn't have to be 'hard') to release stress and (what I call) buffer out the cortisol in our systems. Discharging is great for everyday use but the danger here is overload and not getting enough rest in the way of sleep to recover from our busy days and workouts combined.

Exercise and physical hobbies have a wonderful way of pulling our brains away from situational stress. It increases our endorphins and ultimately relaxes the mental and physical tension we may have experienced throughout the day.

When discharging isn't relieving physical, mental, and emotional stress but rather adding to it - then we need to step back and recharge. Sometimes life distracts us, we get caught up in it all, and we stop being intentional with our well-being. That is when fatigue settles in for a stay. Feeling tired every day becomes a common operating status and we just accept it as normal. It's not.  

We can think of 'discharging' stress in a useful way throughout our day when we take short, quick walks, mindful breathing, and stretch breaks. When we are intentional about a situation or meeting in front of us and step back to buffer off nervous or excited 'energy'. This helps us approach potential stressors with a calmer body and mindset. 

We are given rhythms to our days, weeks, months, and seasons. On any given day we'll face frustration, anxiety, and stress - that's an opportunity to manage our daily well-being by discharging. Weekly and seasonally, we can balance ourselves through intentional recharging.  Again, fatigue is not failure. It is telling our bodies we've worked hard. Whether that is mental, emotional, or physical - it doesn't matter. We need to rest from it, buffer it, and intentionally restore our energy given our unique personal situations. 

APS Employee Wellness offers programs to help you on both sides of the recharge-discharge cycle. Keep scrolling below for more information. 

Wellness Wire - Be Intentional

Join the New Year Fit & Functional Program!

Fit and functional new year program

Check that 'get healthy for the new year box' by joining the APS Fit & Functional New Year Program.  

This six-week program started on 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 gives employees the option to participate in any way they 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 or see below. 

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

pictures with description of new wellness incentive program.

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 in 2023 sent between January and October from Wellness at Work  wellnessatwork@phs.org (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. 

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 www.livongo.com/aps
  • Call 800-945-4355 and use the registration code: APS

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 want to get started on the road to better health and wellness but you're not sure how to start, 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 ToolsThis 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:

  • Wellness Benefits Boot Camp - APS wellness benefits and resources fun interaction
  • 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: Muscle Strengthening for Longevity

Research shows muscle-strengthening activities are linked with a lower risk of heart disease, total cancer, diabetes, lung cancer, and death from any cause. 

Nutrition: Alcohol and Brain Function

PLOS Medicine reported that drinking as little as about four cans of beer or four glasses of wine a week was associated with higher iron levels in the basal ganglia. 

Mind-Body: Exercise for Depression Is Helpful

Study findings support exercise as a first-line treatment for non-severe depression among adults, as published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Recipe: Poached Chicken With Apple Chutney

The polyphenol antioxidants and soluble fiber pectin in apples are likely behind their heart benefits, which makes this sweet and savory dish a meal your heart will love.

 
Handout: Mental Wellness for the New Year

When you’re considering your New Year’s resolutions, you may want to center on more than weight loss or getting stronger.