Knitting Can Create Mindful Spaces in Stressful Times

By Morgan Laajala, WorkLife Connections Intern

WorkLife Connections and Employee Wellness hosted a “Knitting for Wellness” Lunch and Learn on Wednesday, October 5 in Memorial Union Ballroom B3. The Lunch and Learn had a great turnout, with about 31 attendees. The presentation was given by Silke Feltz, a knitting enthusiast and Humanities PhD student.

Silke talked about Knitting at Michigan Tech, StreetKnits (an international knitting charity), how knitting can be beneficial to your mental health, and provided resources for other knitters. Studies have shown that regular knitting and similar

Silke Feltz, humanities PhD student, discusses the wellness benefits of knitting at the 10/05/16 Lunch & Learn.
Silke Feltz, humanities PhD student, discusses the wellness benefits of knitting at the 10/05/16 Lunch & Learn.

needle work activities produce benefits for knitters, including creating mindfulness, lowering blood pressure and heart rate, helping quit a bad habit, improving cognitive function, and increasing happiness. Silke loved sharing her passion with others, and said that doing the presentation “was like a spa treatment for [her] soul.”

When Silke is taking a break from PhD work, she enjoys walking her dog, spending time outside, doing yoga, and of course, knitting. She explained that even during her busiest days, she takes her knitting with her and will take five minute breaks between grading papers to knit. This helps her to keep calm, relax, and focus on the task at hand.

Silke’s advice to other knitters is to realize that it’s just like any other skill that requires practice and commitment. If you keep practicing, you will eventually be able to knit without even thinking about it. Most importantly, give it a try, commit to it, and don’t get frustrated.

If you would like to learn more about StreetKnits or donate needles, yarn, or knitwear, check out their Facebook page or e-mail streetknits2013@gmail.com. If you have questions for Silke, e-mail her at shfeltz@mtu.edu.

 


“Knitting for Wellness” Lunch and Learn

WorkLife Connections and Employee Wellness invite you to join them for a Lunch and Learn, “Knitting for Wellness,” from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5 in Memorial Union Ballroom B3.

Did you know knitting has health benefits? Join Silke Feltz, knitting enthusiast and Humanities PhD student, to learn about resources, knitting at Michigan Tech and more. Novice and seasoned knitters are encouraged to attend.

Register at HuskyPAW, members may claim 100 bonus points for attending. Feel free to bring your lunch. Beverages will be provided. Email Shannon Brodeur with questions.


Bike the Keweenaw Lunch & Learn

WorkLife Connections and Employee Wellness invite you to join them for a Lunch and Learn with Bike Initiative Keweenaw (BIKE!) from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21 in Memorial Union Alumni Lounge B.

Interested in biking more often? Learn how to be comfortable and safe while riding and commuting, as well as what BIKE! is working on for our bike-friendly community.

Register here. HuskyPAW members may claim 100 bonus points for attending. Bring your lunch. Beverages will be provided. Email Shannon Brodeur with questions.


An Invitation to Staff to Join Michigan Tech’s Pilot Staff Mentoring Program

The Staff Mentoring Program Committee invites all university staff interested in working with a trained mentor to fill in the Mentoring Interest Form. Forms must be submitted by August 15, 2016 to be considered for participation. Click HERE to fill out the Mentoring Interest Form.

In 2015, Michigan Tech received a grant from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) to develop a staff mentoring program, designed to train mentors here on campus who would like to work with their colleagues to assist with things like:

  • Finding ways to more effectively blend work and home life demands
  • Developing job skills to assist with career growth and advancement
  • Learning about the University and opportunities to become more involved
  • Improving professionalism and communication skills
  • Finding opportunities to network and meet people from other departments
  • Addressing challenging workplace situations
  • Learning more about University resources and benefits

Seventeen mentors have recently completed their training; about two-thirds of these trained mentors are members of the AFSCME and UAW unions. The overall goal of the Staff Mentoring Program is to provide staff with an opportunity to work with a trusted colleague to help with career growth and development here at Michigan Tech.

Questions? EMail worklife@mtu.edu or call Ann Kitalong-Will, Staff Mentoring Program Committee Chair, at 7-1809. See also the 2016 Staff Mentor List.


New Mothers’ Room in University Library

We are pleased to announce that a new lactation space, the Mothers’ Room, has been added in the J. R. Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library. The Mothers’ Room is located in room G01B on the Garden Level of the Library. Users may stop at the Library Service Desk for directions to the Mothers’ Room.

Michigan Tech currently has nine lactation spaces for nursing mothers on campus. These spaces are available for faculty, staff, and students who are breastfeeding and who need a quiet, comfortable, and private space to pump breast milk or to feed your baby.

“I was contacted by Carol Makkonen from the Library to let us know they were interested in converting a single bathroom on the Garden Level into a new lactation space,” said Ann Kitalong-Will, Chair of the WorkLife Advisory Committee. “University Librarian Ellen Marks was very supportive of the project. I was happy to be able to collaborate with the Library to add this space.”

“Our newest mother has been using the space daily, and she loves it,” added Makkonen.

Visit the WorkLife Connections Lactation Support page for information on all our lactation spaces.


Intro to Qigong and Tai Chi Lunch and Learn

WorkLife Connections and Employee Wellness invite you to join them for an interactive Lunch & Learn with Darlene Basto, North Star Qigong and Tai Chi, from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 28 in Memorial Union Alumni Lounge A.

Interested in learning about Qigong and Tai Chi?  Find out how these ancient Chinese arts can help relieve stress by promoting circulation, balance, and alignment.  Wear comfortable clothing for an interactive demonstration.

Register here. HuskyPAW members may claim 100 bonus points for attending. Bring your lunch. Beverages will be provided. Email Shannon Brodeur with questions.


Beginner’s Running Clinic Lunch & Learn with Dr. Reminga

WorkLife Connections and Employee Wellness invite you to join them for a Lunch & Learn with Dr. Reminga, Northern Foot Care Center, from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 15 in Memorial Union Alumni Lounge B.

Interested in starting a running program? Learn about proper footwear, training tips and the foot-body connection to help yourself stay injury-free.

Register here. HuskyPAW members may claim 100 bonus points for attending. Bring your lunch. Beverages will be provided. Email Shannon Brodeur with questions.


When Grandpa was like a Kid Again

By Amelia Newman

We used his old blue camper van for a long time after he passed. I remember when my dad took our grandpa in to live with us. With my grandpa’s failing health, my dad flew to Florida to pick him up and bring him to our backwoods place. We gave him a bedroom and had a newer, bigger shower installed. I was pretty young at the time, so I didn’t understand much of what was going on with his health and slower lifestyle. But I remember feeling very concerned as a young child when I noticed such things as drops of blood on his bed blanket. My dad would help him change and bathe, which was no easy task. I am told that I would sit on his lap and have big intellectual conversations with him; I just wish that I could remember those conversations. I do remember however, how Grandpa would have my brother go and fetch his cigars for him, and it makes me smile as I can faintly see the smoke gently rolling off one of his cigars as he sat on our porch.

I am grateful that my siblings and I were able to spend some of my grandpa’s last days with him, because now that is all we have. But, in-home elderly care is no shiny job, and in many ways can be similar to taking care of another child. Many employees do this all-consuming job for a parent in addition to holding their full-time job, yet few feel encouraged by it. Our elderly loved one feels restless because of being cooped up after all their thriving life experiences. Sometimes they are stuck in one of their own time eras, talking for hours on end, day after day about it. Sometimes they are extremely irritable or discontent because of their ailments. More often than not, the daily grind of elderly care leaves an employee wishing they could either get a cruise away from it all, or send their parent away on one.

As you care for your parent or elderly relative, remember that it will not last forever. Remember that one day you will be in their shoes too. Remember that just as you are frustrated, they are frustrated with themselves too. If they are overly cranky, stand up and do not let them get the better of you with their demands. Lay down some rules, so to say, because it’s your house now. Give yourself a break from them now and then too; this is vital. Getting your elderly involved in community groups and activities is good for both them and for you.

It’s really quite beautiful how life goes on through the passing of generations. In many cultures, such as African tribes, stories and values are passed on from the elderly to the younger. So hold on to the stories of your parents, grandparents, and great aunts. Write them down or record them if you can. This is an ancient practice and a valuable one. And last but not least, if there is any enjoyment to be had with your loved one, laugh a little!

 


Don’t Let the Water get Stagnant: Tips for a Learning Organization

By Amelia Newman

We are an output society. Education has taught us this. From the time we start college, for instance, we push out assignments. One after another, just to get it done, whether we truly understand what we’re doing or not. A common phrase in the scholastic world is, “I’m good at BS-ing.”

So we morph to fit into a society that’s more about the doing than about the understanding. And so do our organizations. At some point many of us shut our brains down and are no longer learning new things, but rather going off of what we already know.

Therefore the question is raised: how do we mix up the stagnant water? How do we keep moving toward a culture of learning organizations? Here are a few tips that any one of us can either initiate or start practicing to help keep our schools and work environments moving in a healthy direction.

Tip 101:

Be question-friendly. Show that you can both be asked a question and can answer one for someone too. This is huge. Many people either in school or in the  workplace get stumped on something with a simple solution all because they are afraid to ask a question. We’re afraid to appear dumb in a smarter and smarter world. So laugh a little about your mistakes, and in the process say what you’ve learned. This will help a shy person feel that you are approachable and they may come and ask you a question.  Maybe there are even some things you’ve thought you should ask your boss recently, but then you told yourself,”No, I’ll just figure it out.” Well, why not go ahead and ask?

Tip 102:

Out with the old, in with the new. Talking about what’s new, trying out new fads, new technologies, and new health options can really help make the workplace more exciting. When a work culture is too sedentary, it does not encourage learning and change within the organization. But showing a co-worker how you utilize your android phone for organizing and planning, sharing how your new version of software has really improved your job, or how your new desk chair has really improved your back posture, can help your organization overall to stay up to date.

Tip 103:

Read books related to what you do. One can always improve and learn more. Have some fun with this and don’t treat it like a college textbook that you want to avoid. There are many good, creative books out there with tips for a healthy workplace, and you are a big part of what gives your organization its own culture.

Tip 104:

Inspiration is key. This is fundamental for other things such as a creativity, innovation, invention, etc., so do what it takes to stay inspired. Maybe it’s certain people in your life that inspire you, a nature photography hobby you do on the side, or traveling to a place you’ve never been. Whatever it is, take some time between your work and personal life to stay inspired.

Tip 105:

Take a break to recharge. This goes along with focusing on your breathing, especially when you’re stressed out. It also means taking care of you. If you’re like me, stress takes a huge toll on you mentally and physically. I find that when I’m especially stressed out, I’m sitting there not breathing well and not really learning anything in class or at work. If I try to work on something I have to do, I can’t focus. So I have to stop and recharge with something relaxing, in order to re-feed the brain.

We are real people with real lives who need to make real decisions that have important things at stake. We are not computers, simply calculating and functioning—though sometimes we may feel like it. Whatever the case, we all need to stop a little and recharge, taking a little thought for what we are doing.


Benefits Services & Employee Wellness offering Dietitian Services

In the recent WorkLife Quality survey, many respondents indicated they would be interestested in working with a registered dietitian. I’m pleased to share the following announcement sent out by Michigan Tech’s Employee Wellness:


Benefit Services invites you to participate in a new wellness initiative between Michigan Tech and Aspirus Keweenaw. This is an 8 week program that gives employees access to a registered dietitian. The program includes:

  • One 60 minute initial individual consultation (in-person)
  • Two follow up phone calls during weeks 2 and 4
  • One final consultation during week 8 (in-person)

The program is divided into two groups Nutrition Basics and Nutrition Enhanced.

Nutrition Basics is designed for employees interested in paying more attention to foods they eat or employees that need guidance on where to start.

Nutrition Enhanced is designed for those who have already made changes to their eating habits but need additional support. Employees may choose the plan that best meets their needs. For additional program information, please visit the wellness website.

This is a pilot program for active, benefits eligible employees that will begin onMarch 14, and run through May 9. Space is limited to 15 employees in each group.

You may register for the program here. Enrollment is based on a first-come first-served basis. Enrollment into the program will close at 8 a.m. on Monday, February 29.

 Please contact Benefit Services at 7-2517 or email benefits@mtu.edu if you have any questions.