July Well Wisconsin Challenge – Summer Bucket List

Fill your bucket this summer by doing things that feel good to you! Our Summer Bucket List Challenge has some great ideas or create your own. Set a goal and then get to fillin’ your bucket!

Track your fun for 30 days by checking 10 days off your bucket list. Click here for the form. Email your completed form to wellness@uwgb.edu.  

Treat yo’ self!

Self-care

  • Stargaze—contemplate just how amazing life is
  • Use PTO to leave work early to do your own thing!
  • Enjoy a book or magazine at your favorite cafe
  • Tap in to your artistic side with sidewalk chalk
  • Take a nap or read in the warm shade
  • Say “no” to something that feels stressful
  • Say “yes!” to something fun and indulgent
  • Relax in the bath, pool, hot tub, lake—you choose
  • Sit outside, close your eyes, and just listen

I like to move it, move it!

Active living

  • Dance to music that moves you
  • Beat the heat—get up for an early morning walk/run
  • Start your day with yoga in the sunshine
  • Walk to do an errand or get a summer treat
  • Try a NEW activity—geocaching, paddle boarding, etc.
  • Grab a friend and go for a bike ride
  • Work in your garden or yard
  • Hand wash your car
  • Go for a hike and have a picnic

Get ‘er done!

Goals, productivity, professional development

  • Get rid of 25 items from your house
  • Organize a space—don’t forget before and after photos
  • Set one professional or personal goal for the summer
  • Don’t check work email when you are on vacation
  • Make an emergency/natural disaster plan with family
  • Aim for a no-waste week—reduce, reuse, recycle
  • Listen to a professional/personal development podcast
  • Read an article that will help you toward a goal
  • Plan a fall/winter vacation

Sunday—fun day!

Weekend ideas with friends and family

  • Go camping
  • Visit a museum—pose like an exhibit (pictures!)
  • Catch a summer blockbuster to escape the heat
  • Have fun with animals—zoo, aquarium, or your pet
  • Go to an outdoor concert, festival, fair or sports game
  • Try an outdoor ropes course or ziplining
  • Go to brunch or have a picnic in the park
  • Visit a pool, river, lake, or coast for a water adventure
  • Tour your local town or a new city you want to see

For the love of full bellies!

Food and drink

  • Make a healthy, cool summer treat—share the recipe!
  • Organize a progressive dinner with some neighbors
  • Enjoy a treat from an ice-cream truck
  • Make real homemade lemonade (no powdered stuff!)
  • Eat your favorite summer produce—savor every bite
  • Have a BBQ and snap a photo of the grill master
  • Try a cold summer soup recipe
  • Make fruit popsicles
  • Pick up fruits and veggies from a farmers’ market

You do you!

Create your own list

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Live Online Webinar: The Art of Active Listening

Tips on Understanding the Art of Active Listening

We often spend most of our communication energy trying to get our point across and feel understood and heard by others. Challenge yourself to really listen to others and see if you notice a shift and improvement in your relationships.

What is active listening? Active listening is the act of truly taking in what someone else is saying with full attention. The purpose is to genuinely try to understand the speaker. This seemingly simple act alone can improve personal and work relationships.

Components of active listening include the following:

  • Setting aside judgement
  • Refraining from interrupting, cutting the speaker off, or jumping to conclusions
  • Remain focused – make eye contact, lean in, use open body language
  • Repeat or paraphrase what the speaker said to check for understanding
  • Ask clarifying questions

In conversations, we often skip the listening step and jump directly to labeling someone’s intentions, fix the situation or problem solve. Often the speaker just wants to get something across and feel heard. Being an active listener takes patience and practice, and the benefit of improved relationships can be worth the effort. Are you interested in improving your communications with others? Contact your EAP today for help.

Click here to register for The Art of Active Listening

Or visit sowi.MyLifeExpert.com.

Mental Health Awareness Month

There is no quick fix or magic pill for mental health issues, but I’m confident that together, as we learn and talk about them more, we’ll start to turn every month into one where mental health is a priority, both at home and at work. To your good health!

May Well Wisconsin Challenge: Explore Wisconsin State Parks

This month’s challenge is encouraging everyone to get out and explore our wonderful state parks. The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks have developed a fun event that will challenge visitors to explore the Wisconsin properties in new and fun ways to increase healthy habits, connect with family and friends, and help serve the community.

There are several activities to choose from like hiking, camping, fishing, paddling, photography, and volunteering to help clean the parks. Please go to the site to see all the challenges listed (link below under resources). There is no fee associated with the challenge except for a vehicle admission sticker. Plan to complete it with family members, friends, coworkers or just some alone time outdoors.

The challenge has started and runs through September 22, 2021. Participants need to complete at least one of the challenges in order to get credit for the Well Wisconsin Incentive. Register on the site and download the logbook. When you complete a challenge, log it and email a picture of the logbook to wellness@uwgb.edu.

Want to learn more about the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Explore Challenge? Tune in to Well Wisconsin Radio on Tuesday, May 25th from Noon-12:30. Host Morgan Meinen will be interviewing Mike McFadzen and Randall Paske from the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks.

Register here or available on demand after the live air date.

Resources:

Wis. Friends Explore

WebMD: Health Benefits of Getting Outside

February Wellness Activity: Kindness Bingo

February 14 – 20, 2021 is Random Acts of Kindness week. Everyone can use a little kindness, especially right now! Research has shown that there are physical benefits when we see kindness and when we share kindness. It releases oxytocin which is the “feel good” hormone and reduces our stress levels. It has the same effect on our bodies as receiving a hug.

When we focus on others and share kindness with them it helps us in the following ways:

  • Helps take our mind off our own worries
  • Reminds us we are not alone when it comes to troubles and concerns
  • Gives us a sense of purpose
  • Connects us with others in a meaningful way

The purpose is to do random acts of kindness every day of the month except for a few days since there are only 25 bingo spots. Every day you can cross off one kindness task after you have completed it. Once you have completed the kindness challenge and crossed off all the boxes you can email wellness@uwgb.edu with a picture of your bingo card to receive a code to self-report your participation in this employer sponsored well-being activity for Well Wisconsin at webmdhealth.com/wellwisconsin. Hopefully, participating in this challenge will encourage you to continue and recognize acts of kindness even when there is not a bingo sheet to fill out.

BINGO CARD

Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”                    —Henry James

Source: Well Wisconsin

Ideas to Celebrate Holidays

As we navigate 2020, we have been faced with disappointments, challenges and uncertainties.  We have also learned and tried new things!  We know how important social interaction is to our mental health, and it can be challenging now to fill that need.  As we head into the holiday season, we are considering new ways that we can celebrate the holidays and socialize with our families and friends.  Here are some ideas from your co-workers to connect with your loved ones over the holidays, if you aren’t able to be with them in person.  

  • Apps such as House Party – you can have a virtual gathering where you can video chat and play games with a group of people.
  • Kahoot for family games – your kids may use this in school and they probably love it.  It is a game based learning platform (ex. quizzes) that multiple people can join, and does have a fee. 
  • Send printed photos or kid’s drawings to family members.  
  • Send an encouraging note, email, or card to friends, family, and co-workers.
  • Virtual family gatherings via Zoom, Microsoft TEAMS, Skype, FaceTime, etc. 
  • Call on the phone if Grandpa doesn’t ‘zoom’ 🙂 
  • Consider your holiday traditions, and see if you can continue any of them in a different way – maybe someone makes Grandma’s special Christmas candies and ships some to family members, or individual families do the annual sledding at their homes and share photos or videos of it with everyone, or a Zoom call while watching the Thanksgiving football game.
  • Have a younger family member help put together a collage or scrolling pictures of family members or past gatherings – throw in some new and funny pics to share with everyone!
  • Have a family trivia contest – ask each family member ahead of time for some random/interesting facts about them, put them into trivia questions and see how everyone does.
  • Family members or friends each put together a Power Point about a topic and share it while video chatting, like which breed of dog each person in the friend group would be and why, favorite memories of grandparents, bucket list of top 5 things you want to do in your lifetime, etc.
  • Christmas tree or gingerbread house decorating contest 
  • Secret Santa or White Elephant – you could pick names and mail the gift ahead of time to be opened during the zoom meeting!

Plan ahead so that your holidays are more enjoyable and can still provide you that precious time with loved ones.  You may make some fun memories that you’ll talk about for years!

Teleworking During the Coronavirus: Tips for Coping

‌Teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic can make you feel like you’re working all the time. Know how to set boundaries between your work and personal life, as well as avoid professional isolation. 

If your office is closed due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, you might be working from home for the first time. While teleworking can offer many benefits, teleworking during the pandemic poses unique challenges. Consider these tips for maintaining work-life balance and avoiding professional isolation while social distancing.

Pros and cons of teleworking

Before the pandemic, research suggested that teleworking can increase employees’ job satisfaction and commitment to an organization and even slightly improve their performance at work. Teleworking can also reduce exhaustion and work-related stress, possibly due to a reduced commute or more-flexible hours. Other benefits include a reduction in commuting costs and more freedom to work independently.

However, teleworking has always had drawbacks, including social and professional isolation, decreased information sharing opportunities, and difficulty separating work and personal time. The lack of a physical separation between these two worlds can cause family obligations to intrude on work and work obligations to bleed into family time. This can cause teleworkers to work extra hours to prove themselves, resulting in burnout. The ability to be constantly connected to work through a variety of technologies also can cause employees to feel like they are always on or unable to unplug at the end of the day.

Teleworking due to the coronavirus

Teleworking during the pandemic brings extra challenges.

Those new to working from home likely aren’t used to being isolated from co-workers and might not have a home office or area conducive to doing work. With other family members also potentially at home, including children or a partner, avoiding distractions and interruptions might be next to impossible. To find privacy, employees could find themselves in the awkward position of conducting meetings from their bedrooms or kitchens. And getting virtual meeting technology to work properly isn’t always easy. These changes can cause anxiety, stress and frustration.

Preventing professional isolation while teleworking

For those new to teleworking, the biggest challenge of working from home during the pandemic might be the lack of in-person collaboration with colleagues. Teleworkers don’t get to see their managers, staff or team members in the hallway or at the watercooler. As a result, regular contact through email, phone calls and virtual meetings is crucial. You might make time at the start of meetings specifically for small talk to give people time to interact.

Managers might consider having a regular five-minute check-in with each staff member, even if there is no pressing business to discuss. For colleagues, consider scheduling virtual lunch and coffee meetings to catch up on each other’s projects and maintain your relationships. Online communication platforms also can help keep you connected throughout the day.

Teleworking and work-life balance during the coronavirus

The key to work-life balance as a teleworker is being able to set boundaries — both for your work and personal obligations. To get started:

  • Develop a routine. Come up with rituals that help you define the beginning and end of your workday. For example, make your bed and get dressed each morning as if you were going into the office. When you’re done working each day, change your outfit, take a drive or walk — in place of your normal commute — or do an activity with your kids. Starting and stopping work at around the same time each day might help, too.
  • Exercise your willpower. Take care of yourself by eating healthy and working out. Resisting the temptation to do otherwise will help you when you need the discipline to set boundaries for your work and personal life.
  • Talk to your manager. Discuss your manager’s expectations for your availability and the obstacles you might be facing at home. Ask what time of day is acceptable for you to stop checking your work emails or responding to work requests. Or agree on an alternative schedule with flexibility that allows you to spend some time caring for your kids during the day and make up hours at other times.
  • Talk to your family. If you are working from home due to the pandemic and also have family at home, try to establish guidelines regarding interruptions. If your children are young, you’ll likely need to regularly talk to them about when you are working and can’t play, as well as come up with activities or temporary distractions for them. If there is more than one caregiver at home, you might take turns caring for the kids. You might also remind family and friends what times of day you can and can’t talk or text.
  • Think before you press send. Working from home might mean emailing, messaging or texting every time you want to talk to a co-worker. Reduce the burden on your colleagues by making it clear when a request is urgent or important. If you’re in a leadership role, consider how sending late-night emails might affect your employees’ ability to unwind and enjoy time away from work.
  • Prioritize your work. Focus on your most important work right now. Working all of the time isn’t good for you — or your family.

Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic requires patience, creativity and persistence. Keep experimenting to figure out what works best for you during this uncertain period.

Source: Mayo Clinic/2020, from FEI website

Back to School in 2020: Helping Kids and Families Cope

Listen in to an interview with Ryan Herringa, MD, PhD, Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, about how to support kids and parents during this difficult time.

  • Date: Tuesday, September 22, 2020
  • Time: Noon to 12:30 pm
  • Format: Well Wisconsin Radio (*counts towards your “Activity” goal for your wellness incentive)

Well Wisconsin Radio is a podcast style monthly interview series with health and well-being experts from all across the state of Wisconsin. Listen in from Noon to 12;30 pm on Tuesday, September 22nd to earn credit for your well-being activity.

REGISTER HERE

QUESTIONS? Contact the StayWell HelpLine at 800-821-6591 or wellwisconsin@staywell.com.

*The Well Wisconsin incentive program is a voluntary program available to employees, retirees and spouses enrolled in the State of Wisconsin Group Health Insurance Program, excluding Medicare Advantage participants who have incentives available through their health plan. The Well Wisconsin incentive will automatically be issued to eligible participants upon completing the applicable activities. All wellness incentives paid to participants are considered taxable income to the group health plan subscriber and are reported to their employer, who will issue a W2. In some cases, the Wisconsin Retirement System acts as the employer. Retirees, continuants and their spouses will have some taxes withheld from the incentive amount earned.

Source: The StayWell Company, LLC