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.


WorkLife Annual Survey Still Open

We in the WorkLife Advisory Committee appreciate the feedback you have provided to us thus far regarding your concerns and challenges when it comes to work-life integration.

Our first annual survey remains open, and will be open until December 28, 2015. This survey asks for information relating to challenges you face between work-related demands and home-life responsibilities, childcare needs, adult-care needs, and self-care needs. We also ask about what areas of work-life blending you would be most interested in or find most helpful.

Please help us out by taking about 10-15 minutes to provide your feedback. Click here to take the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/worklife_connections .

All answers are completely anonymous.

Our goal in the New Year is to develop new programs for you, based on the data provided through the survey.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at worklife@mtu.edu . If you are interested in serving on the committee, please email us as well.

Thank you for your help.


“Oh No…It’s a Snow Day!” Lunch & Learn

Join us Wednesday, December 9, from 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM  in the Memorial Union Ballroom A1 for a panel discussion and idea sharing Lunch and Learn event: “Oh No…It’s a Snow Day!”

Despite this year’s mild weather, the Keweenaw is notorious for receiving large amounts of snow and experiencing below freezing temperatures. Snow day closures of the local school systems are pretty much a given, and it can be very challenging to figure out what to do at the last minute.

Bring your lunch to the “Oh No…It’s a Snow Day!” lunch and learn to hear from Eva Hatfield, Director of Little Huskies, and Jada Gullstrand, Director of Recreation, Programming, and Development at the SDC. Eva and Jada will discuss some options and ideas on how to manage this challenge. The group will spend time sharing ideas for building a local network for childcare options, and learning more about local resources.

Faculty, staff, and students—especially those who are new to Michigan Tech—are encouraged to attend, whatever the age of your children.

Light refreshments will be available; participating employees will earn 500 HuskyPaw points for attending.

 


Come “Relax for the Holidays” with WorkLife Connections & Employee Wellness

All faculty, staff, and students are invited to stop by the Memorial Union Ballroom B1 on Wednesday, November 18, any time between 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. to attend an open-house style Lunch and Learn event, “Relax for the Holidays.”  Attending employees will earn 500 HuskyPAW points!

LunchandLearn-imgflyer
Relax for the Holidays Flyer

The “Relax for the Holidays Open House” will feature several relaxation stations, including chair massages with Christian Baker, Aromatherapy with Vicky Sleeman, Yoga and Guided Relaxation with Joan Kero, as well as a coloring station, bubble wrap popping and light therapy, and a chocolate station. Attendees will be eligible to enter a free drawing for one of three spa packages: two 30-minute Swedish Massages or a 30-minute infrared Sauna with Spa Shower from J. Jukuri Spa and Salon. Additional aromatherapy and other stress-relieving items will also be given away to attendees.

Bring your lunch and eat in our stress-free lunch environment, try out different relaxation techniques, and take a breather before the busy holiday schedules roll around. Tea and hot chocolate will be provided.

 


The Chill Chipmunk

The Chill ChipmunkWe’re told by our loved ones to take care of ourselves, but being able to actually do that is often a whole other story. Good intentions don’t always make it into action. We may get fresh fruits and vegetables from the store to make a vitamin-filled smoothie and then what happens? The fruits and veggies sit in the fridge and never make it to the blender. The same thing happens for the grand idea we had to make homemade soup when the weather turns cold. And then all of a sudden we’re sick and overwhelmed while our fruits and vegetables still sit in the fridge. We’re working hard, running errands, and still adding things to our agendas. And doing everything but taking care of ourselves.

I was watching a little chipmunk the other day. He was almost in my way on the sidewalk, so I stopped. He wasn’t running away as I inched closer, so I thought maybe he was injured or something. No, he was just chilling and eating his acorns, no worries! I had to laugh as I realized that to him, making sure he got his little meal was more important to him than responding to his fear and running way. Only once he had his cheeks stuffed did he scurry into his little tree burrow.

This makes me think, if the chipmunks can do it, can’t we? Can we just stop a little and take some time for our health and wellbeing?

A large part of mindfulness, I think, is being intentional. Take a break and don’t let the stress enter your break. The stress can wait a few minutes while you relax your pulse. And like the chipmunk, don’t let anything get in your way.


First Annual WorkLife Quality Survey is Open

The WorkLife Advisory Committee invites you to take the first annual WorkLife Quality Assessment Survey by clicking here. (URL: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/worklife_connections)

This survey will provide baseline data to help identify the services that are most needed to support work-life blending, as well as to assess the quality of work-life blending that all of us in the Michigan Tech community experience. All responses to the survey are completely anonymous. The report for the survey will be made available on the WorkLife website.

Your feedback is important as it allows us to address topics of importance and provide resources and services that are valuable to the campus community. The WorkLife Advisory Committee appreciates your assistance.


Meditating is Weird

meditateI am terrible at meditating: I don’t like to sit still, I fidget, I can’t keep my eyes closed, my mind tends to wander about and worry about the next thing on my calendar, and my legs just won’t twist into the pretzel-like lotus position if you paid me a million dollars to do it (although, I’d really try hard to get there if someone wanted to pay me that much to do it!). Meditating is weird. And, for me, it feels weird to meditate at work.

Mindfulness has become a buzzword among businesses and leaders in the last few years, and many businesses and organizations are incorporating mindfulness practices at work as a way to help their employees reduce stress and become more productive. When we hear the word, mindfulness, many of us (myself included) conjure images of workers in our business attire silently sitting in a dimly-lit room while struggling to balance in lotus position and sitting on those thin yoga mats, trying to meditate in silence while we struggle to keep our minds from wandering to our next task. Over the past year, however, I’ve learned that my imagination is very inaccurate when it comes to mindfulness at work.

What is mindfulness?

There are many definitions and descriptions of mindfulness. Simply put, to be mindful means to be aware of how you are experiencing the present moment.

For example, take a moment to focus on your physical self:

  • Right now, how is your posture? Check to see if you’re slouching over your computer or mobile device: are your shoulders hunched? are you looking downward at your mobile device? are you sliding down in your chair? are your legs crossed or are your feet both on the ground? Try repositioning your body so your posture is in alignment and your muscles relaxed.
  • How does your physical self feel? any soreness or stiffness in your neck or back? If so, maybe now is a good time to look away from your screen for a little bit and stand up to stretch your muscles a bit.
  • How’s your breathing? do you feel short of breath? are you feeling a little tired? While you’re standing, take a deep breath—as much as your lungs can hold—and exhale. Try this one or two more times.
  • How’s your thirst? would a drink of water make you feel better? do you have that dry feeling in your mouth that we are so good at ignoring? Since you’re standing, maybe it’s a good time to take a little walk to get a quick drink of water.

As we get absorbed in our work, it’s easy to let our bodies slump down and succumb to gravity. But it’s important to take some time throughout the day to allow ourselves to be aware of our bodies and how they are making us feel.

And this type of practice—simply running through the above physical inventory of our physical self, and adjusting our posture and breathing for a few minutes—is mindfulness. In fact, I like to think of it as taking a moment of self-care.

The Science of Mindfulness

Sure, mindfulness includes meditation or similar practices. This article published in Mindful magazine, Rewiring Your Emotions is a useful piece that provides some information about how mindful practices can help improve our neurological health. Ultimately, simple habits like this can help us to do well in all areas of our lives: work, home, hobbies, self.