6 Small Steps Toward Greater Wellness We Are Taking Right Now
I always find January difficult. The holidays are over, it’s dark and cold in Maryland, where I live, and spring is still months away. But this year the burden felt much heavier. As the Omicron variant of Covid swept the world, in addition to the usual winter blahs I worried about my family getting sick, my kids’ schools closing again suddenly, and how I was going to keep up my mood through another winter spending close to 24 hours a day in my house.
Of course, I have many, many things to be grateful for, and I truly am grateful for them, but when the walls start closing in during a stressful day, it certainly helps to have ideas at hand to make things just a little more manageable. Kind of the opposite of death by a thousand cuts. Life by a thousand band-aids? Not an idiom for the ages, but I hope you see where I am going.
It was with this idea in mind that the team here at AHP started sharing little nuggets of well-being that we are using right now, in the hopes that collectively we can nudge each other (and you too) toward greater wellness during this tough period in all our lives.
Here’s an example: I listen to a lot of podcasts. One of my favorites is Hidden Brain, which is about human behavior. A recent episode called “Minimizing Pain, Maximizing Joy” gave advice for responding to life’s curveballs without drama. I’m now trying to use one of the suggestions, called negative visualization, where you briefly imagine what life would be like without something or someone close to you. Doing this has renewed my appreciation for the things I tended to take for granted and has made me more content with my life as it is.
There are many more ideas where that one came from. Here are other ideas from our staff to you.
Take Time Each Day for Reflection
Journaling is one of my favorite daily to-dos. In the morning, I write about three things I'm grateful for and ways in which I can make it a great day. In the evening I reflect on my day, write about things that made it a great day, or ways in which it could have been better. Doing this helps me clear my mind and pushes me to find things to appreciate each day.
Kim Alfaro, Education Manager
Get Your Groove On
I love listening to different types of music to accommodate my mood. So, if I'm going into a meeting and I need to pump myself up, I'll listen to a little bit of 80s pop music and dance around my kitchen. Or if I'm working on a solo project that's difficult and I need to take a break, I'll get up, get a snack, and listen to some thrash metal to help process some of the most frustrating things.
Jasmine Jones, Associate Director, Research
Join a (Stationary) Biker Gang
One way that I am working on my wellness is by riding my Peloton bike. My three favorite instructors are Cody Rigsby, Robin Arzon, and Ally Love. My leaderboard name @MichelleGilbert. If you also ride, I'd love to connect so we can encourage each other and keep ourselves accountable.
Michelle Gilbert, Business Development Manager
Pay Attention to How Far You’ve Come
I spend a lot of time with data and something that's interesting to me is how easy it is to become demoralized by a negative movement in a metric—but we don’t celebrate the same change in a positive direction.
This is a really common phenomenon because performance improvement often happens over a long time, and so we don’t notice the gradual positive change while it's happening. It's kind of like walking up a hill. If we look back over our shoulder every few feet, we don't notice the incline. But once we reach the crest, we see exactly how high we've come. So, when I'm thinking about a goal, I don't just measure step by step, but also think about how far I've come from where I started.
Jordan English, Chief Operating Officer
Meditate on Gratitude
In this incredibly tough couple of years, I've started listening to meditation podcasts. I'm not very good at meditating; I usually fall asleep in the middle of it. But there's one that particularly stands out by Tara Brach called “Gratitude: Entering the Sacred Relationship.”
I listened to this on a day when I was, frankly, feeling pretty defeated. An hour later I was at an AHP staff meeting overflowing with gratitude for all the incredible things in my life. If you find yourself in need of a little boost, I highly recommend it.
Alice Ayres, President and CEO
One of the things we often hear about the benefits of being an AHP member is the access to a built-in community for advice and support. While this support is critical to succeed in our professional lives, professional lives don’t happen in a vacuum. By supporting each other in our personal wellness, we can help each other to reach even higher professional heights, and to do it with peace of mind and purpose.