Wellness

What is Mindfulness and What Does it Mean?

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Mindfulness is defined as being present in the moment in a nonjudgmental way. Becoming mindful in our lives expresses itself in multiple ways:

  • Being aware and accepting of present experience
  • Bringing focus, awareness and attention to the present moment
  • “Single-tasking” rather than multi-tasking
  • Being wholeheartedly present here and now
  • Appreciating the present moment rather than wishing it away
  • Being attentive to what you are doing rather than operating automatically
  • Nurturing attitudes of acceptance and non-judgment, which adds warmth, friendliness and compassion

You can practice mindfulness in almost everything you do.

Informal Practice – involves reminding ourselves throughout the day to focus our attention on whatever is happening in the moment, which increases our ability to respond effectively. A simple example is becoming more mindful of our movement, which may lead to taking the stairs instead of the elevator or bicycling instead of driving.  Practicing mindfulness in this way involves experiences like:

  • noticing the sensations of walking when we walk
  • noticing the taste of our food when we eat
  • noticing the clouds and the trees as we pass them
  • noticing the feel of soapy water on our hands when washing dishes
  • focusing our attention on our friends and family when we’re with them

Opportunities for informal mindfulness practice are infinite.  At every moment, when it’s not necessary to be planning or thinking, we can simply bring our attention to what is happening in our sensory awareness.

Formal Practice – involves setting aside time to go to the mental “gym.”  Unlike informal practice, in which we’re accomplishing another task while practicing mindfulness, formal practice means dedicating a period of time entirely to cultivating mindfulness per se.  Mindfulness meditation is a formal practice that has been studied scientifically.  This practice involves choosing an object of attention such as the breath or another sensation and returning our attention to that object each time the mind wanders. Through this formal practice we develop a degree of concentration that allows us to focus closer attention to any physical or emotional sensation, such as an itch, ache, sound or feeling. Regardless of the object of attention, we practice being aware of the present experience with acceptance.

Why Practice Mindfulness?

Do you ever find yourself worrying about the future, feeling angry or sad, feeling guilty or ashamed, getting upset about physical pain, or just feeling bored or stressed?  Sometimes the feeling is more subtle and you may just feel “out of sorts.”  There may be times when you get taken over by anxiety, depression, addictions, pain or other stress-related symptoms that make it difficult to function.  Emotional suffering comes in all forms.  Mindfulness is a way of relating to life that holds the promise of both alleviating our suffering and making our lives richer and more meaningful.

The point of being mindful is to develop a close relationship with your own mind. You become more familiar with what you are thinking and feeling, and less reactive to the thoughts, emotions and cravings you have.  Mindfulness is a practical way to develop our ability to see the world around us more clearly and understand ourselves and others better, so that we might live a more joyful and fulfilling life.

Mindfulness practices have been around for thousands of years.  Research in the past twenty-five years has proven that mindfulness can help people with a vast range of emotional and physical disorders, which has led many people from all walks of life to be more open to the practice including hospitals, businesses, governments, athletes, schools and the military.

Stress has been cited as a cause of more than 70% of all family doctor visits for illness and 66% of Americans report having trouble focusing at work because of stress.  Job stress costs U.S. industries more than $300 billion per year.  These costs include missed work, employee turnover, decreased productivity, and medical, legal and insurance costs. Mindfulness programs have been shown to help reduce many stress-related symptoms and improve overall health, including outcomes such as the following:

  • 80% fewer hospitalizations for heart disease
  • 83% improvement in decision making skills
  • 60-70% fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression

Benefits of Mindfulness

Meditation practice can yield all of the following benefits:

  • Strengthened immune system
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Balanced hormones
  • Improved digestion
  • Help maintain weight
  • Increased ability to relax
  • Reduced fatigue and anxiety
  • Increased energy
  • New coping skills
  • Better brain function
  • Sense of calm
  • Decreased depression
  • Help with relationships
  • Enhanced listening skills
  • Focus on goals and meaning
  • Resiliency

Just how can the simple practice of mindfulness provide all of these positive benefits?  Paying attention to the present moment can improve the functioning of the body and brain in two specific ways. Mindfulness:

  1. Helps You Be Less Reactive – When you slow the mind, you think more clearly.  You respond thoughtfully instead of simply reacting.  Many people use the same coping mechanism over and over, repeatedly reacting the same way without thinking.  Although this coping mechanism may be a healthy one, such as choosing walking or jogging rather than food or alcohol when frustrated, being mindful allows you to be intentional about healthy choices.  Being mindful also helps you be more aware of how you unconsciously and consciously react to stress so you can find new ways to deal with the situation.
  2. Helps Relax Your Body – Short-term effects of mindfulness on the body are similar to the benefits of relaxation. When you are in a mindful state, you experience a decrease in perspiration, a slower heart rate, and changes in alpha waves in your brain.  These physiological changes are evidence that your body is going into relaxation mode. Your body can’t be relaxed and stressed at the same time so, when you are relaxed, you think more clearly and tend to make wiser decisions.

Article from The StayWell Company, LLC

Good Luck on the Bellin Run!

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BellinRun2017TshirtLogoThe Bellin Run is this Saturday, June 10th, and 29 UW-Green Bay employees will be walking or running on Saturday morning. Good luck to Christina Baudhuin, Jacob Depas, Bridget Derge, Kate Burns, Sam Goeller, Josh Goldman, Jenell Holstead, Michael Holstead, Mel Jones, Nathan Kraftcheck, James Marker, Ryan Martin, Molly Vandervest, Donna Mleziva, Dan Moore, Sarah Pratt, Darrel Renier, Nate Rusch, Sue Steeno, Bea Yang Thao, Barb Tomashek-Ditter, Lea Truttmann, Erin Van Daalwyk, Kimberly Vlies, Bobbie Webster, Crystal Williams and John Zimonick!

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Thank you to UW-Green Bay student, Jenna Bares (picture at right), for designing the team T-shirts this year!  The logo she created, shown at left, was printed on the UW-Green Bay Bellin Run Team T-shirts, which team members received this week.  The T-shirts were available through funding offered by the Department of Employee Trust Funds to support employee wellness and the Well Wisconsin Program. Thank you ETF!

Thank you to Sam Goeller for being the UW-Green Bay Bellin Run Team Captain!  Go team!

5 Steps to Mindfulness

  1. Find a quiet place free from distractions and sit upright in a comfortable position.bench
  2. Decide how many minutes you have.  You may want to set a timer to keep track of the time.  Begin with 5 minutes and ease into 20-30.
  3. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.  Continue to focus on your natural breathing pattern at a relaxed pace, inhaling and exhaling through the nose.
  4. When your mind wanders from the breath, simply return your attention back to your breath.  Anytime the attention drifts away to a thought or distraction, gently guide focus back to your breathing.
  5. When the time is complete, remain sitting comfortably with your eyes closed.  Take a deep breath as you slowly open your eyes.  Have a restful moment before resuming activity.

Could Mindfulness Help You Control Anxiety?

Inhale, then exhale, focusing on your breath. Place a mint on your tongue, and pay close attention to the taste.

These types of exercises promote mindfulness. This state—in which you observe and accept the present moment—may reduce symptoms of anxiety disorder, among other conditions. Other effective treatments for anxiety disorders include counseling and medication. Mindfulness training may be combined with these approaches to ease stress and worries.

In a recent study, seven weeks of mindfulness training reduced anxiety in women with fibromyalgia, who are prone to developing anxiety disorders. And in a review of 19 studies containing almost 500 participants, researchers noticed similar soothing results.

Mindfulness means learning to focus and stay in the present moment. Especially if you have an anxiety disorder, your thoughts may still scatter or race. But instead of being distracted, you’ll learn to let them exist and take their natural course.

With practice, you’ll start accepting and tolerating your fears and worries, rather than trying to actively push them away. Noticing and stepping back from your thoughts may help you let them go.

Article from The StayWell Company, LLC

Being Mindful at Work

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Think you’ve got to bend your legs like a pretzel and sit for hours to achieve mindfulness?

Think again. This once obscure Buddhist concept is growing in popularity—no yoga mat required.

The timing couldn’t be better, either. Recent research indicates we’re more stressed-out than ever. In fact, stress rates have skyrocketed in the past six to seven years, a timeline that roughly corresponds to our ability to “hyper-connect” to work via smartphones, says executive coach and American Management Association expert Scott Eblin, author of Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative.

The Gift of Presence

Mindfulness can get us back to center. At its heart, mindfulness is observing what is happening in the present without calling it good or bad. Observing without judging keeps us out of a past we can’t change or a future we can’t control.

When we practice mindfulness at work, we think more clearly. We respond rather than react. We take events less personally. We make better decisions. In short, our brains slow down. We reduce our stress levels while simultaneously increasing our effectiveness.

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Learn to Be Mindful Without the Mat

The latest research shows you can gain mindfulness benefits anytime. Here are a few activities to get you started according to Scott Eblin.

  • Take a walk. Walking’s repetitive motion immediately relaxes you, says Eblin.
  • Stretch. Step away from work for several minutes. Roll your shoulders, reach for the sky, and get your blood flowing. Remembering your body brings you back to the present.
  • Lunch well. Enjoy the tastes, textures, and smells of your food. Avoid junk food, which can hurt your brain and disrupt your focus.
  • Breathe. Put your hand on your belly and take three deep breaths, Eblin suggests. Increasing oxygen and the moment-by-moment awareness of this most basic life-sustaining act will help bring you back to now.


Article from The StayWell Company, LLC

 

June Wellness Webinar: Mindful Mess or Mindfulness

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Working. Fix-it projects around the house. Errands. Groceries. Cleaning. Helping family members. Yard Work. Working out. Cooking. Bills. Bills. Bills. Oh, and maybe a little bit of fun.

Is this enough to cause you to feel frazzled and worn out? Join this webinar to get a new perspective on mindful living and learn how to approach each day with mindfulness. We’ll also review the NEW Mindfulness Collection resources available on the portal in June!

Date: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Time: 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Location: Cofrin Library, 7th floor, room 735

No need to RSVP – just mark your calendar to join us, and bring your lunch!

You could also participate in this webinar at your workstation if you prefer – please visit wellwisconsin.staywell.com and go to Webinars to register.

Wellness webinars highlighting various health and well-being topics will take place the 3rd Wednesday of each month. All webinars will be recorded and available to Well Wisconsin Program participants on the wellness portal after the event date.

To access the wellness portal, you must be an employee, retiree, or enrolled spouse/domestic partner enrolled in the State of Wisconsin or Wisconsin Public Employers Group Health Insurance Program.

Arboretum Poker Walk Challenge Results

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Thirty-three employees participated in the five-week Arboretum Poker Walk Challenge this spring, and enjoyed refreshing exercise on UW-Green Bay’s scenic arboretum trails.  Whether they enjoyed a reinvigorating walk and conversation with co-workers over their lunch hour, or took a peacful stroll after work, they were able to tear off a strip of paper at a trail kiosk to redeam at the Kress Events Center or Human Resources front desk for a playing card.

Twenty-seven employees collected a full hand of playing cards, and the top three poker hands were collected by Sara Chaloupka (best hand), Amanda Wildenberg (2nd best hand), and Tina Tackmier (3rd best hand)!

All participants were entered in to a random drawing, and the following people were selected to pick out a prize:

  • Diane Grubisha
  • Brenda Beck
  • Jill Siegmund
  • Bea Yang Thao
  • Stephanie Kaponya
  • Erica Grunseth
  • Sarah Pratt
  • Laura Sinclair
  • Karen Peterson

Thank you to~

  • Bobbie Webster and her staff for putting up and taking down the posters at different Arboretum trail kiosks each week
  • Sam Goeller and the Kress Events Center front desk staff and Human Resources front desk staff for handing out the playing cards
  • Charlie Schroeder (UWGB student employee) who designed the posters and added the weekly quotes to the tear off strips
  • Caela Stenske and the UWGB Dietetic Interns for contacting businesses to request donations of prizes
  • Tammy Papineau and the Marketing & University Communication staff for creating the arboretum map showing the kiosk locations
  • Lisa Schmelzer for reviewing all the poker cards collected to determine the best hands

Thank you to the following organizations who donated prizes~

  • 9th Street Wellness Center
  • Anytime Fitness – DePere
  • Aurora BayCare Medical Center
  • Every Body’s Yoga, LLC
  • Humana
  • Network Health
  • Planet Fitness – Appleton East
  • Planet Fitness – Green Bay East
  • T. Rowe Price
  • WEA TRust
  • Weight Watchers – Green Bay

Last but not least, thank you to those who participated in this fun challenge! 

Fourth of July Salsa

4thJuly(Recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup diced strawberries
  • 1 cup diced jicama
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • Salt, to taste
  • Tortilla chips, for serving

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine blueberries, strawberries, jicama, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno, and lime juice.
  2. Stir until well combined.
  3. Season with salt, to taste.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips at room temperature or chilled.

Yield: 3 cups

Note-this salsa is also great with grilled fish or chicken. It is best eaten the day it is made.

Nutrition Facts for ¼ cup: 21 calories ∙ 5 g carb ∙ 0 g protein ∙ 0 g fat

Recipe provided by Bethany Soderlund, UWGB Dietetic Intern

The Farmer’s Market: A Rainbow of Opportunity

With Summer around the corner, let’s talk Farmer’s Market! The Farmer’s Market offers an abundant selection of fruits and vegetables. Visit the Green Bay Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays to support your local farming community and provide you and your family with nutritious produce.

Fresh fruits and vegetables come in a assortment of colors which means they contain a diverse selection of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants needed to protect the immune system and prevent diseases including cancer. Produce also contains fiber. Fiber helps keep you fuller longer, aids in normal digestion, and regulates blood sugar levels. Fruits and vegetables offer our bodies a variety of health benefits.

Purchasing fresh produce might be a concern because they have a shorter shelf life. Keep produce fresher longer by storing in the refrigerator which slows the ripening process. Washing produce right before use also helps to increase the shelf life. If you do find yourself with expiring fruits and vegetables, try some of these ideas below:

  • Make a veggie stir-fry.Veggies
  • Grill veggies for a side.
  • Serve fresh cut veggies with hummus, guacamole or bean dip.
  • Dip apple slices in peanut butter.
  • Prepare a savory salsa with tomatoes, onion and peppers.
  • Toss a sweet salsa together with berries, mango and pineapple.

The Farmer’s Market is a perfect time to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.  There are so many delicious ways to use your Farmer’s Market purchases.  Discover the colorful and nutritious opportunities at this year’s Farmer’s Market beginning May 31st!

Article provided by Bethany Soderlund, UWGB Dietetic Intern

 

Arboretum Poker Walk Challenge – Week Five

WkFiveThe fifth and final week of the Arboretum Poker Walk Challenge brings us to the trail near the bay in Bayshore Woods!  The kiosk near the parking area will have the tear off sheets for the week of April 30th to May 6th.  Check out the trail map at https://www.uwgb.edu/UWGBCMS/media/hr/Wellness%20Items/KioskMap.pdf.

The Wellness Committee decided that any employee who participates in this challenge and gets at least one playing card will be entered in a drawing for prizes, so it’s not too late to get out there and discover the beautiful areas around our campus!  Your body and mind will feel better after a brisk walk or run.

After you have gotten your final playing card during week five, turn in all your playing cards at the Human Resources (CL 710) or Kress Events Center front desk by Friday, May 12th to be entered in the drawing.  If you collected a card each of the five weeks, we’ll see how your poker hand plays against the other hands, and announce who won the game!

More information about the Arboretum Poker Walk Challenge: https://blog.uwgb.edu/hr/2017/03/arboretum-poker-walk-challenge/

Couch to 10K – Bellin Run Lunch ‘n Learn held on April 5th

BellinRunBThank you to Nate Vandervest, Running Coach with Bellin and UW-Green Bay alumni, for presenting a very interesting and helpful lunch ‘n learn on Couch to 10K – Bellin Run, on April 5th!

He showed us the Bellin Run training plan, which includes a calendar outlining runs and walks of varying length and intensity leading up to June 10th (Bellin Run).  Please click on the following link to view the training plan: http://bellinrun.com/uploads/bellin/BR17_TrainingGuide.pdf  Surprisingly, he said that most people train too hard, which can not only cause injuries, but also increase the amount of time it takes for your body to get ready for the race.  Rest days (as shown on the training plan) are very important, and actually help your body.BellinRunA

Nate also discussed common running-related injuries and how to prevent them.  We shared some past injuries we or our family members incurred.  He explained why the injuries happened, and how we can help our bodies heal and avoid future injuries.

If you would like to participate in the Bellin Run as part of the UW-Green Bay team, there is still time!  Please sign up by May 1st: https://blog.uwgb.edu/hr/2017/02/bellin-run/