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Employee Wellness News

Posted: May 13, 2024

May 2024 Employee Wellness Newsletter

Underrated and overlooked, APS wrap-around mental health services and more well-being trends in the news.

Picture of horses crossing finishe line at the 150 running of the kentucky derby.

Wellness Wire  - Underrated & Overlooked

These were the two adjectives the owner of Mystik Dan used to describe the jockey and his racehorse who recently won the 150th Run for the Roses this past weekend. 

To say it was close is an understatement. The photo finish shows they scraped by this win by the hair of their chinny-chin-chin. (Or, in this case, a nose;) 

The Kentucky Derby is the world's longest-held sporting event.  As some of you may recall, I’m from Kentucky and have written a couple of times about this iconic race. (The Racehorse & The JockeyThe Longshot). 

What motivates me to write about it is that I find so many connections between this competition and our human condition. This year is no exception. So, even if you’re not into horse racing, there are three inspiring things to note about the winning horse, Mystik Dan. Please read on.

Mystik Dan was bred to win.

This is typical in race horsing but noted with Mystik Dan. The sire had been picked but the trainer recommended the dam and both had come from a long list of Kentucky Derby pedigree. This horse was made for more. He was made to beat the odds and so are we.

Mystik Dan wasn’t a favorite and had long-shot odds.

I am going to be honest with you, I get a little riled when people criticize APS. We’re not always considered a favorite. Like many large organizations, we have obstacles. We have the yin and the yang, the positives and negatives of any workplace. 

I believe there is much more good here than not. It’s just the bad that seems to bubble up with spotlight attention while the rest of the hard work accomplished by wonderful people at APS goes underrated and overlooked. 

Some of us may feel, and actually be, underrated and overlooked. But I want you to consider something, do you think the horse knew his odds? No. The jockey knew the odds but saw his opening and went for it without hesitation. That’s called hope and determination. Despite what the betting board showed, the jockey did what he was trained to do and the horse simply did what he was made for. 

Don’t underrate your ability or your impact. Don’t overlook the positives and what you can achieve in life just because someone else does. You - your health and well-being - are the better bet. It may be a long shot but with hope and determination, you’ll find the opening, bolt down the line, and discover that you are made for more. More than depression. More than anxiety. More than the physical and emotional health struggles betting against your happiness. 

The Derby favorite, Fierceness, led out early and tired that way finishing in the back leaving room on the rail for Mystik Dan to stride ahead and hold off the surging competition. 

We do this All.The.Time. It’s such a common analogy in sporting events and life. We start strong - too strong - and peter out somewhere in the middle. We forget that life isn’t really a race. But we sprint anyway - from one thing to the next - out of breath, exhausted, and limping to the finish with the back of the pack. You may feel like that now. Life is about pacing and timing. The jockey, Brian Hernandez, paced with the pack and timed his surge perfectly with just enough track to win - maybe not by a lot but by enough. The margin doesn’t matter, winning and finishing strong does. The win here is for your wellness and it means to cross that line with some semblance of your well-being intact. To do this we have to pace and time our surges appropriately to avoid the typical burnout many of us encounter this time of year.     

Some give us long-shot odds to pull off the goals set before us. I think they underrate us. Indeed, we’re not always the favorite, but that doesn’t mean we can’t overcome those odds and win. Winning on this APS track is two-fold and truly more valuable than a 3 million-dollar purse. The "win" in our arena means student outcomes and employee well-being improve. And since those words are used so much they almost hold no meaning for us let me go deeper.

Our win is serving our community so that everyone has a chance to experience joy, happiness, and intellectual, emotional, and spiritual fulfillment. So that we all know we were made for more and we get to experience that reality.

One might say the odds are stacked against us but I think we've been underrated and overlooked for too long. It's time, ya'll, to change that perception to "overcomers and achievers". That’s what the jockey and the racehorse have done for more than a century and I believe we can too. 

No jockey or racehorse gets to an event like The Derby all on their own. There's a team of people and resources to train and guide them. APS Employee Wellness has a 'ranch' full of services:) Keep scorlling below and connect with us in a wellness-y way on TwitterInstagram, YouTubeFacebook, and the APS Employee Wellness Calendar. If you have questions contact Becky MacGregor at 

APS Employee Wellness Mental Health Programs

Picture of a climb with some days and the different aspects of our wellbeing. Some days we need rest, other days we conquer it.

APS offers all employees, regardless of full or part time status, mental health support through the Employee Assistance (EAP) program. EAP services offer short-term, free, confidential counseling to employees and their immediate family members. Employees covered under APS Benefits have additional resources. For a complete list of benefits and community resources, please check the mental health resources page. 

Since our well-being is intricately interconnected with how we feel and function, chronic illnesses, injuries, and other psychological factors impact our mental health. APS offers an integrated approach to help those struggling to manage their well-being holistically. 

  • 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.
  • 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, increase strength and mobility to stay healthy and pain-free. The program also offers free health coaching to complement your physical therapy journey. *Available at no cost to employees and eligible dependents covered under the APS Benefits plans.   
  • 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. *Available at no cost to employees and eligible dependents covered under the APS Benefits plans.   

  • Life on Mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation is scientifically proven to enhance mental and emotional well-beng. 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. After you enroll, 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 a short Sunday "Sesh" to prepare mindfully for the week ahead.Everything is recorded and available for on-demand access.  *The Life on Mindfulness program is open to all APS employees. 

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: Exercise for Osteoporosis

Exercise improves bone mineral density for people with osteoporosis, but questions remain regarding safety and effectiveness. 

Nutrition: Plant Protein to Build Muscle

When it comes to building muscle, plant protein has long been considered inferior to that from animals. But we’re learning that this might not be the case.

Mind-Body: Mind Games for Mental Performance

An ASICS study demonstrated that a structured exercise program can significantly improve cognitive function and mental performance among competitive gamers. 

Recipe: Sweet-Potato Yogurt Bowl

There is some evidence to suggest that dairy might be an ally in the battle against diabetes—making this sweet-potato yogurt bowl recipe a health win. 

Fitness Handout: Tips for Better Posture

May is National Posture Month, so it’s a great time to learn some ways to improve daily posture habits and relieve some of the pain and imbalances.