Monthly Wellness Corner - April 2024

April 3, 2024

Springtime for the Soul

Spring is finally upon us!  Typically, this season is seen as a time of rebirth and renewal – when a “cold” winter gives way to fresh blooms and fragrances with vibrant colors all around.  Many cultures and religions celebrate this time as a new beginning, a time of change.  It is that exact energy that inspires me to dive a little deeper into myself.

Along with rebirth, I see the spring season as a time of repair.  There are times I would classify as “winter moments”, dark and cold times of the soul. These times may have existed for just a passing moment or for much longer.  Perhaps it was a fleeting interaction (an impulsive expression of feelings which I did not quite think through).  Or perhaps it was as long as a certain time of my life (where my actions were not exactly congruent with my authentic self and who I strive to be).   No matter the occasion, I have finally understand that, like each one of us, I am human.  To be human is to be flawed, or to make flawed decisions from time to time.  There is no escaping that.  

So, as I enter my internal spring season, I embrace the idea of repair.  Consider, for example, the Japanese art of Kintsugi.  You may have seen pictures of this ancient practice of repairing broken pottery with gold.  This practice created highly valued works of art which were considered more stunning than the originals.  The break is not hidden, in fact it is emphasized.  The original is not discarded, but instead is elevated and enhanced.  To repair what is broken, the flaw (that which makes the item vulnerable) must be acknowledged.  And once it is thoughtfully tended to, something new is reborn, something stronger and more beautiful.  

Trying to be perfect at all costs leaves us rigid.  What happens if you are walking along and suddenly you start to fall?  If you keep your joints locked and your body tense, you may endure a great deal of pain.  But if you RELAX your joints, BEND your knees, and LEAN INTO IT, you have a better chance of bouncing back and avoiding a more serious injury.

I now move through life holding within the knowledge that I have the power to repair things.  What a relief to know I do not need to walk around feeling like I need to be perfect, while trying desperately to hide my flaws.  I can release the burden of keeping up appearances.  I know that from mistakes can be born something even sturdier, even more brilliant than what I started with as long as I am willing to acknowledge the ruptures and honestly tend to them.  Perhaps I will gain a stronger relationship, a more resilient image of myself, or a new path altogether.  From vulnerability, we can create lasting beauty.

Happy Spring everyone!

-Diane Nunn, Penny Lane Centers

10 Tips to Improve Your Workplace Wellness

1. Maintain a healthy mental state

Your mental well-being is an important part of staying healthy. Keeping a regular schedule can help you feel less anxious and stressed and improves your work-life balance. If you work remotely, make a habit of communicating with coworkers and managers to lessen the psychological effects of isolation. Try scheduling a short daily call or weekly meeting to maintain communication with others.  

2. Plan a healthy lunch

Bring a healthy lunch to work that has a proper balance of fruits, vegetables and proteins. Citrus, fish and green vegetables are some of the best options for supporting your immune system. Eat away from your desk to ensure you're taking breaks throughout the day. If your office provides snacks in a break room, opt for healthier food choices like fruit and nutrition bars.

3. Exercise regularly

Set aside a short period each day for exercise, especially the kind that is aerobic. Physical activity can help stimulate your brain, improve your focus and reduce your stress levels, which can help you feel happier and more motivated. Try individual exercises, like walking or yoga, or incorporate exercise into your commute. You can also stretch as needed during your breaks to help your blood flow and ensure you remain comfortable throughout the day.

4. Sanitize your workstation

Before beginning and ending your shift, disinfect your desk, keyboard, mouse or any other objects or surfaces with which you come in contact. Use EPA-approved products for cleaning, and ensure you sanitize your area well. To properly disinfect a surface, make sure you wipe it down thoroughly, including cracks and corners.

5. Take full breaks

Take full advantage of your break time to recharge and reduce stress. If you work indoors, it's important to set aside time to get away from your workstation and go outside for some fresh air and sunlight. If you can, take a 10- to 15-minute break once an hour and at least a 30-minute break once per shift.  

6. Wash your hands frequently

One of the best methods of illness prevention is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you can, post signs in restrooms and other common areas reminding others to wash their hands. Washing is especially important after touching surfaces, equipment or other people. If you can't wash your hands regularly, especially if you come into contact with shared surfaces, use hand sanitizer. Be sure to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.  

7. Clean your devices

Washing your hands helps you stay clean, but it's also important to clean devices you use regularly. Ensure that you clean and sanitize your devices, such as mobile phones and laptops, as much as possible. Use a damp, microfiber cloth with light soap to clean mobile phone screens. While doing so, don't let water enter any ports. Use a disinfecting wipe to clean your mouse, keyboard and headset.

8. Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing

The best practice for covering your mouth during a cough or a sneeze is to bring your inner elbow or upper arm to your mouth. Doing so reduces the chance that germs or other bacteria reach keyboards, doorknobs and other frequently touched surfaces. If you're unable to use your arm, keep tissues nearby so you can use a tissue in your hand. If you don't have access to tissues, use your hand but ensure that you sanitize it immediately by washing it with soap or using hand sanitizer.

9. Stay informed, but know when you need a break

It's important to take a moment to update yourself on current events and understand any changes or news from trustworthy, authoritative news sources. While staying informed is important, though, watching or reading too much news—especially during times of crisis—can increase your stress levels. Check the news once or twice a day to stay informed, while avoiding an overwhelming amount of information.

10. Advocate for coworkers who feel sick

If you see or know of any colleagues who feel sick or are exhibiting symptoms of sickness or infections, contact management to let them know. It's important to allow these individuals to go home or seek medical attention. The longer they remain in the office, the more likely they are to spread illness.

-Caryn May, Penny Lane Centers