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Resources for Faculty & Staff Well-Being

We've heard repeated messages throughout this COVID pandemic regarding the importance of taking care of ourselves in order to support our students. We know that increased well-being leads to deeper learning, higher productivity, and a stronger sense of connection - all of which create happier, healthier communities. The TLC has partnered with Dr. Beth Cholette in Counseling Services to offer quick, practical tips each Wednesday to promote physical and emotional wellbeing.

Fall 2021 Wellbeing Wednesday

September Theme: Reconnect

September 1: For the 2021-2022 academic year, Wellness Wednesdays will have a new name - Wellbeing Wednesdays - and a new format. Each month will feature a theme, and over the course of four Wednesdays, Dr. Beth Cholette, Assistant Director of Counseling Services, will provide a PLAN around that theme:

  1. Prepare - introduction to that month’s theme and how it relates to our work on campus
  2. Learn - basic information, readings, and other education around the theme
  3. Apply - ways to incorporate strategies or skills around the theme
  4. Nurture - how to engage in self-care related to the theme, often with videos from Beth’s YouTube channel 
September 8 - Prepare

Even as we continue to experience the impact of the ongoing pandemic, students are back on campus, and more and more employees have returned to working in-person. On campus, the landscape has changed, yet many of us are eager to reclaim a sense of community. How do we reconnect with each other despite all of the forces that have contributed to us drifting apart?

September 15 - Learn

Both awkwardness and anxiety may contribute to the distance we feel from one another.

  • Feeling awkward - In this article from the Ten Percent Happier blog, psychologist Susan Pollack normalizes feeling awkward, noting “we are all out of practice.”
  • Feeling anxious - The University of California recently published an article titled Anxious about returning to work? Four different experts from UC-Riverside discuss the impact of social isolation on our brains, the anxiety that being back in-person can create, and ways we can begin to adapt and reconnect.
September 22 - Apply

Last week, we discussed responses as re-engage with each other. Now we'll apply skills:

  • Be a beginner. Approach this semester as a new hire. Adopt a growth mindset - i.e., your skills will get better as you gain experience.
  • Reestablish routines. How did you connect in the past? Returning to what worked pre-pandemic may be possible, e.g., walking with a colleague during lunchtime, holding in-person office hours, etc.
  • Cultivate new habits. You may enjoy being around others and find that you need more time to recharge. Notice what types of interactions energize you versus those that you find more draining.
  • Express empathy. Know that just as you are finding your way, so is everyone else on campus. Acknowledging this directly to others (e.g., “work-life balance is challenging” or “I’m having mixed feelings”) can foster both kinship and support.

Next we will NURTURE; focus = others are “Just Like Me.”

 
October Theme: Change

LEARN (from a student perspective): in this pre-pandemic article, a graduate student explores the meaning of “the only constant is change” for her own life. The author concludes by suggesting that other constants accompany change, including friendship, knowledge, fear, and excitement. Her advice? “Keep going.” Next week we’ll explore how this might APPLY to you.

October 20: Apply

The article from last week featured a graduate student’s view of change. How can we “keep going” as she advocated? Consider these strategies:

1. Focus on energy management versus time management. As we suggested last month, pay attention to when you feel energized/more drained.

2. Find something to appreciate about the change. Look to small positives such as making new connections and learning new skills.

3. Create your own constants. Amidst chaos, choose to maintain brief but impactful routines, such as sending daily text to a family member, pausing to check in with your breath before a phone call, or listing one thing you are grateful for at the end of the day. (See Mindful Minute for more ideas.) Poet Rainer Maria Rilke also recommended that we “just keep going.” We’ll NURTURE this next week.

Spring 2021 Wellness Wednesday

May 12, 2021 Wellness Wednesday Theme: Joy

From Beth Cholette, PhD, RYTAssistant Director Counseling Services:

Well, we’ve just about made it through another “unprecedented” semester and the end of a very looong academic year. If you have been following these Wellness Wednesday offerings, you have learned about practicing self-compassion, helping others, being present, slowing down, moving more, going outside, connecting with others, and more. As we reach the end of the semester and beyond, let’s move from surviving to thriving by inviting more joy into our lives.

3 ideas for generating joy:

1. Choose joy 3, 5, or 10 ways: practice 3 Simple Ways to Cultivate Joy Every Day, explore 5 Ways to Cultivate More Joy in Your Life, or try one of 10 Ways to Cultivate Joy.

2. Add joy to your summer reading list - choose a spiritual text, learn about happiness, or read an inspiring memoir. Beth (who is also Reviewer Dr. Beth on Amazon) has read quite a bit in this area; here are a dozen of her favorites to get you started:

“Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” said the Sloth by Eric Carle
Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman 
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
The Doctor Is In: Dr. Ruth on Love, Life, and Joie de Vivre by Ruth Westheimer
I Am Third by Gail Sayers
Just One Thing by Rick Hanson
Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lasater
Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg
10 Percent Happier by Dan Harris
Happiness is an Inside Job by Sylvia Boorstein (Beth admits that she has not yet read this one, but she loved Boorstein’s other books and it is on her list!)

3. Explore the pillars of joy. In The Book of Joy (see above), the Dalai Lama and Desmund Tutu identify 8 pillars of joy, or practices which help us to develop "mental immunity" and to be happier. As a guide for using these practices, Beth created a 12-minute mindfulness meditation.

May 5, 2021 Wellness Wednesday Theme: Uncertainty

From Beth Cholette, PhD, RYTAssistant Director Counseling Services:

Last summer, the American Psychological Association reported that “for many Americans, life feels particularly uncertain lately.” As human beings, we crave security and stability. We attempt to make sense of the many “what ifs” in life by worrying about worst case scenarios, which leads to even more anxiety. So what to do? 3 ideas for managing feelings of uncertainty:

1. Find alternate ways to approach uncertainty. Experiment with Seven Ways to Cope with Uncertainty, such finding ways to offer yourself comfort. Or try exploring your need for certainty in your life as described in this HelpGuide, Dealing with Uncertainty.

2. Learn about uncertainty from a secular Buddhist perspective: read what mindfulness teacher Jack Kornfield says uncertainty can teach us in The Wisdom of Uncertainty, or listen to this 24-minute podcast addressing The Fear of Uncertainty.

3. Be mindful of both uncertainty as a part of life and your ability to approach uncertainty with resilience via this 14-minute guided meditation with Beth.

April 28, 2021 Wellness Wednesday Theme: Get Out!

From Beth Cholette, PhD, RYTAssistant Director Counseling Services:

Have you heard of Ecopsychology? Studies in this field have found that time spent in nature can serve as an “antidote” to stress by offering both physical benefits (lower blood pressure and stress hormones, reduced nervous system arousal, enhanced immune system function) and psychological ones (reduced anxiety, improved mood, increased self-esteem). Recommendations for time outside vary from 30 to 120 minutes. Do what you can! 3 ideas for spending more time in nature:

1. Take a cue from pandemic precautions and hold traditionally indoor activities outside. Schedule an outdoor meeting, go for a walk on your lunch break, buy your weekly groceries from a farmer’s market, meet up with friends in a park, take an outdoor fitness class, or ride your bike to do errands.

2. Explore Western New York. Geneseo students compiled ideas for this webpage, Things to Do in Western NY, a wealth of suggestions focused largely on outdoor options. And don’t forget to enjoy the Arboretum located right on campus!

3. Engage in a walking meditation. The Ten Percent Happier blog offers three different ways to do this, or you can try this 10-minute Guided Mindful Walk Outdoors. (If you absolutely cannot get outside, a guided visualization may still be of some benefit; try this 10-minute Leaves in the River with Dr. Cholette.

 

 

April 21, 2021 Wellness Wednesday Theme: Help Others to Help Yourself

From Beth Cholette, PhD, RYTAssistant Director Counseling Services:

Recent studies in the positive psychology field have found that helping behavior can have benefits for the helper, too. These positive outcomes include reduced stress and depression, increased self-esteem, and enhanced physical health. Even small positive gestures towards others can go a long way towards improving our overall well-being. 3 ideas for helping others:1. Express gratitude for others. Showing gratitude to those we care about creates a positive self-feedback loop that increases our own well-being and resilience. Start in simple ways, such as giving a genuine compliment, writing a hand-written thank you note, or bringing a co-worker a cup of coffee. Discover other ways to show gratitude for your co-workers and others in this article, 50 Ways to Show Gratitude for the People in Your Life.

2. Enhance your skills for helping others in distress. Kognito At-Risk is a program brought to Geneseo by the Mental Health Advisory Committee. The program provides faculty with the opportunity to practice simulated conversations online via an approximately 40-minute interactive session. The course can be taken on your own or through the “Recognizing and Connecting with Students in Distress” programs offered by the TLC.

3. Offer compassion to others via a mindfulness meditation. Try this 10-minute option from Dr. Cholette, Lovingkindness (Metta) for Others or this 15-minute Guided Loving-Kindness Meditation from Sharon Salzberg, a pioneer teacher in this area.

April 14, 2021 Wellness Wednesday Theme: Strike a Pose

From Beth Cholette, PhD, RYT, Assistant Director Counseling Services:

Can posture be a form of self-care? Beth Cholette, PhD, RYT, says yes and thinks social psychologist Amy Cuddy would agree (see #2 below). How we hold our bodies can reflect how we feel about ourselves; improving our posture can help us to feel more alert, energetic, and confident. 3 ideas for practicing positive posture:

1. Learn from Bob & Brad, “the two most famous physical therapists on the internet.” They offer many posture videos on their YouTube channel, including the Single Best 60-Second Posture Exercise (4 mins), STOP Neck & Back Pain at Your Desk, plus Getting Perfect Posture! (9 mins), and The Perfect Daily 10-Minute Posture Routine (16 mins).

2. Watch Amy Cuddy’s 20-minute Ted Talk focused on how your body language can shape who you are. (Alternate: try this 3-minute summary.) Also read Cuddy’s more recent update on Power Posing.

3. Try this 17-minute Upper Body Chair Yoga practice from Beth, a routine that you can do seated at your desk to stretch your tired neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles. BONUS: Get feedback on your posture using this free PostureZone app.

April 4, 2021 Wellness Wednesday Theme: Putting on Your Own Oxygen Mask First

From Beth Cholette, PhD, RYT, Assistant Director Counseling Services:

We practice self-care not only for ourselves, but also for others. The rationale is the same as for putting your own oxygen mask on first when flying - i.e., by first ensuring that we are healthy and strong, we then have more energy (oxygen) to assist those who need us.

3 ideas for caring for ourselves so that we can care for other people:

1. Replenish your energy for supporting others by following the ENERGY self-care model. Designed for clinicians, the idea is for those in a helping role to take care of their own health using the ENERGY acronym: Energy source, Nurturing kindness, Emotional hygiene, Refocusing purpose, Germinating positivity, and Your uniqueness. See this graphic for a quick overview.

2. Strengthen your helping skills with Kognito, a free online interactive program provided to the Geneseo community by the Mental Health Advisory Committee. You create an account and then participate in virtual professor-student simulations in order to learn new skills for having supportive conversations.

3. Nurture kindness (the “N” of the ENERGY model in #1 above) by practicing lovingkindness (metta) towards both yourself and others with these two meditations from Beth, a 9-minute Metta for Self and a 10-minute Lovingkindness Meditation.

March 31, 2021 Wellness Wednesday Theme: Let's Get Physical

From Beth Cholette, Assistant Director Counseling Services:

We all know that we are “supposed to” exercise, but in the panoply of self-care activities, physical activity may get lost in the shuffle. It can help to shift your focus from more formal fitness activities to how you can add more movement into your daily life. Beth Cholette, PhD, RYT, Assistant Director of Counseling Services says her own personal fitness motto is not “Just Do It!” but rather “Do Something!”

3 ideas for moving more:

1. Read this article by Katy Bowman, a biomechanist and founder of Nutritious Movement, on Office Life: How to Get More Movement in a 9-5. If you want to change your home to encourage more movement, check out this video tour of Katy’s House.

2. Join the annual Geneseo Healthguards Fitness Challenge! The challenge is open to students and faculty/staff. You can participate individually or as a team; you simply keep track of your own intentional movement minutes each day (yes, walking and gardening count!). Visit the Geneseo Healthguards web page to sign up by tomorrow April 1. 

3. Get in some movement seated at your desk - practice with this 10-minute Moving Meditation or 28-minute Seated Stretches.             

 

March 24, 2021 Wellness Wednesday Theme: Be Present

From Beth Cholette, Assistant Director Counseling Services:

You are probably familiar with both the idea of being in the present moment and the concept of being mindful. Abraham Maslow, the psychologist known for creating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, said “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness." We know this, yet the distractions of modern life can make staying present challenging.

3 ideas for how to be present:

Use your senses. Take a moment, stop, and observe. What do you see? Choose one object and describe it in as much detail as possible, including what it looks like, feels like, smells like, etc. Or use the 54321 technique, noting 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you feel, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you taste.

Practice savoring. Savoring is a means of appreciating our current reality. Watch this 2-minute video for an example of how to savor a temporary pleasure or read this article on 10 Ways to Savor a Slice of Simplicity (spoiler: #8 is “Talk to Animals.”).

As a reminder to be present, use the AGE acronym, Arrive-Gather-Expand. Learn more and practice with me in this 10-minute AGE Strategy video.

March 17, 2021 Wellness Wednesday Theme: Slow down

From Beth Cholette, Assistant Director Counseling Services:

Imagine you are on a train whizzing by beautiful scenery. What do you notice? Probably not much, as it’s all a blur. Now think about taking a slow walk in that same area. Notice all of the details you are now able to take in. When we slow down, we have time to experience more, and by paying attention to what is happening around us, we can make more skillful choices.

3 ideas for slowing down:

1. Set a timer on your phone for a specific interval or choose a time before an everyday activity (e.g., eating). At the designated time, take 1-2 minutes to do nothing. You might focus on your breath (try this breath bubble) or simply notice what is around you; your only real purpose is to pause, to slow down.

2. Read this short article on “10 Ways to Slow Things Down and Still Get Things Done.” Choose one thing to try in the next week.

3. Join me and my sloth friend for this 8-minute STOP to Slow Down mindfulness practice. (Also, read about how the slowness of sloths is a survival skill.) 

March 10, 2021 Wellness Wednesday Theme: Connection

From Beth Cholette, Assistant Director Counseling Services:

Connection during the pandemic is challenging! We are facing both the struggles of being physically distanced and the limitations of online platforms. We know that resilience is enhanced by strong social relationships, so what can we do?

3 ideas for cultivating connectedness:

1. Allow yourself to have priorities. What relationships are most valuable to you right now? Be honest with yourself about what you need (including your limits) so that you can focus your time and energy where it is most important to you. At the same time, normalize and grieve the (hopefully temporary) loss of more casual relationships.

2. Go old school and write a letter! See The Benefits of Writing Letters During the Pandemic for more information about how letters can help to increase a sense of connection to others.

3. Explore the idea of Universal Connection with this 10-minute meditation from me. 

Beth Cholette is a clinical psychologist and certified yoga instructor who teaches yoga and mindfulness-based meditation on campus and in the community. Beth is able to adapt yoga/meditation for classroom settings, and she is happy to work with faculty/staff to create specific sessions to meet pedagogical needs.

March 3, 2021 Wellness Wednesday: Heal

From Beth Cholette, Assistant Director Counseling Services:

It's been a year since the pandemic started; don't you think it's time for us to start to HEAL?  HEAL [https://www.rickhanson.net/possible-heal/] is a technique developed by psychologist Dr. Rick Hanson for savoring good experiences.  It involves 4 steps, Have a positive experience, Enrich it, Absorb it, and Link to it.

3 ideas for practicing HEAL:

  1. Have more positive experiences!  Yes, this can be challenging during the pandemic, but Psychology Today offers 50 Simple Pleasures that we experience daily, and this list of Pleasant Things to do for YOU! might also help.
  2. When something good happens, take a few moments to note where you feel it in your body.  Is your stomach fluttering?  Do you have more energy?  Is your posture softer?
  3. Practice the HEAL technique with me in this 10-minute video on Using Gratitude to HEAL.  

     Beth Cholette is a clinical psychologist and certified yoga instructor who teaches yoga and mindfulness-based meditation on campus and in the community. Beth is able to adapt yoga/meditation for classroom settings, and she is happy to work with faculty/staff to create specific sessions to meet pedagogical needs.

February 24, 2021 Wellness Wednesday: A Little Zen

From Beth Cholette, Assistant Director Counseling Services:

How Zen do you feel right now?  Chances are, not very!  We usually interpret being "Zen" as meaning having a laid-back approach to life, and the pandemic has made this especially difficult.  But maybe we can reclaim at least a little Zen?

3 ideas for adding a little Zen to your life:

  1. Bookmark the Daily Zen website for a new Zen quote every day (or, if that's not your thing, try Daily Humor from The New Yorker, the Daily Dose from The Far Side, or check out Joke-of-the-Day - because laughing is definitely Zen!).
  2. Read this article from last year's Geneseo Scene called "Your Guide to a Little Zen - Anywhere" (and featuring tips from yours truly)
  3. Don't want to read?  Watch my 15-minute video "5 Strategies for A Little Zen" and choose one strategy to practice on your own.

Beth Cholette is a clinical psychologist and certified yoga instructor who teaches yoga and mindfulness-based meditation on campus and in the community. Beth is able to adapt yoga/meditation for classroom settings, and she is happy to work with faculty/staff to create specific sessions to meet pedagogical needs.

February 17, 2021 Wellness Wednesday: Compassion

From Beth Cholette, Assistant Director Counseling Services:

We hear a lot about self-care, but what is this, exactly?  How can we practice self-love or self-compassion while maintaining the necessities of our busy lifestyles?

3 ideas for cultivating more self-compassion:

  • Take this "Mindful Self-Care Assessment" from UB to get a better idea of the areas in which you do a good job of taking care of yourself versus where you could do a bit more.
  • Try these Self-Compassion Practices for Covid-19 from renowned self-compassion researcher Dr. Kristin Neff.
  • From me, try this 12-minute Compassion Meditation for Those Who are Hurting. Focus on the practice on YOURSELF.

    Beth Cholette is a clinical psychologist and certified yoga instructor who teaches yoga and mindfulness-based meditation on campus and in the community. Beth is able to adapt yoga/meditation for classroom settings, and she is happy to work with faculty/staff to create specific sessions to meet pedagogical needs.