We started with a stress management presentation at a staff meeting. The main takeaway from the presentation is that we all have a finite amount of energy. In order to avoid burnout, it is helpful to categorize our “worries and stressors” as things we can and can’t control. For example, the fact that we are living through a global pandemic is out of our individual control. It would be best to use our energy to focus on something we do have control over: our reaction to the situation. This would look like investing our time and focus into self-care practices; boosting our immune systems through exercise, healthy eating, and getting outside; and building support systems.
To promote healthy habits and create an accountability system with our coworkers, we kicked off a Summer Wellness Challenge. Over the course of eight weeks, each participant recorded their weekly score based on the below activities, which are all great stress relievers and methods to boost your immune system:
- Being outside for at least 20 min in a day (+1 point)
- Stretching or Restorative/Yin Yoga for at least 30 minutes (+1 point)
- Any form of physical exercise for at least 30 minutes (+1 point) – Ideas include hiking, walking, jogging, biking, yoga, lifting weights, dancing, push-ups, crunches
- Doing something that makes you happy, does not involve a screen, and isn’t harmful to your health for at least 20 minutes. (+1 point) – Ideas include reading, creating art, solving a puzzle, cooking healthy food, talking to a friend or neighbor, meditating, writing in a journal
Congratulations to our Summer Wellness Challenge Winners!
We received such positive feedback from the wellness competition, that we decided to continue the efforts into fall and created a Fall Fitness Challenge – tzhis time for charity! The challenge consisted of five mini-challenges: a 1-mile race, two 2-mile races, a bike-as-far-as-you-can challenge, and a 5K race. The winners of the full challenge each selected a charity, and every participant got to donate an amount (donated by Foursquare ITP) to one of those charities.
Congratulations to the Fall Fitness Challenge Winners, who selected the following charities:
- 1st place – Jeremy Strauss, Senior Transportation Planner, So Others Might Eat (SOME)
- 2nd place – Finn Vigeland, Transportation Planner, Casa Ruby (DC)
- 3rd place (tied) – Wylie Timmerman, Senior Transportation Planner / Data Scientist, Girls Who Code
- 3rd place (tied) – Doug Robinson, Senior Transportation Planner, Animal Welfare Institute
We administered this competition through Challenge Hound, and we highly recommend checking it out and playing with your network.
Social stimulus and support is also necessary for our wellbeing. This has been more challenging to achieve during the pandemic when we aren’t seeing each other daily in the office, so we initiated a Coffee Roulette series. Employees who opted in are matched with random coworkers every two weeks for a virtual coffee chat. The biweekly meetups have brought a sense of normalcy and comradery into the telework environment.
I have also been leading weekly relaxation exercise and stretch breaks on Mondays and Wednesdays. During both meetings, we start by checking in with each other and an ice-breaker. On Monday, we typically do a quick yoga flow, embodied practices, and self-massage to get our blood flowing. By doing this on Mondays, it reminds us to stand up and move around throughout our whole workweek. On Wednesdays, we do a guided relaxation exercise, such as progressive muscle relaxations, alternative nostril breathing, and box breathings. My personal favorite online resources are Insight Timer Meditation for meditations and Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube for yoga and stretching.
Lastly, right before the Thanksgiving holiday, we are taking time to focus on gratitude. We are meeting the morning before Thanksgiving to write e-mails or letters of appreciation to our co-workers, friends, and families. A positive attitude is contagious, and these words of affirmation could be just what someone needs to get through the holiday season.
These wellness techniques are beneficial to practice any time of day, any day of the week. We hope you found these methods helpful and would love to hear if you have more wellness in the workplace tips and tricks!