This message was sent on April 9 on behalf of Dr. James Raper, Assistant Vice President, Health & Wellbeing.
Dear Wake Forest faculty and staff colleagues,
I am writing on behalf of the university’s Health & Wellbeing Team, and in hopes of virtually connecting with you to highlight strategies and resources that might be useful for you.
In these unprecedented times, we have heard from colleagues across campus that both uncertainty and increasing responsibilities have created understandable stress and anxiety. All of us on the Health & Wellbeing Team resonate with that as well. Whether you’re taking care of sick family members, live by yourself, are coworking with a partner at home, looking after children or other loved ones, staying at home right now can be difficult as we also try to manage the day to day tasks of our work. Nevertheless, it has never been more important to invest regularly in our own wellbeing.
Below are a few wellbeing practices that might be helpful. Some may be a familiar reminder, while others completely new. Above all, however you choose to practice wellbeing, be kind to yourself. Trying new things can be great and surprising, but can also sometimes feel like “too much.” Being intentional about a few moments of breathing, laughing, or connecting with someone can be more than enough.
- Maintain a daily routine. Keep yourself to a schedule, especially when it comes to the beginning and the end of the day: Commit to your routine; Take scheduled breaks; Move to a separate area or go outside; Step away from email and screens when engaged in other activities (eating lunch, walking, etc.).
- Move more move often. Just had lunch? Fight the urge to slump in front of the laptop or desktop monitor and instead go for a post-lunch walk. If you frequently take phone calls, this is a great chance to walk around. Participate in Campus Recreation’s free national #RecMovement challenge.
- Create and sustain a community. This one is crucial, and like many of our other suggestions, the practice of community varies widely among us – and that’s ok! Developing community can start simply by listening with intention to ourselves and to others. Show up for one another. Listen deeply and with empathy. Be intentional about turning on your camera during at least some of your virtual meetings.
- Set boundaries. Paying attention to our boundaries is crucial in practicing having healthier relationships with ourselves and with others. Boundaries can be about physical setting, time, and other personal needs. They also involve two steps: being aware of our own boundary needs, and then acknowledging them/articulating them when needed. A great example might be asking for less traditional meeting times to take into account the complex in-home demands we might be experiencing. While all boundaries can’t be accommodated all the time, when expressed directly and with openness, simply the act of saying them can be helpful.
- Practice gratitude. Gratitude practice isn’t rainbows and unicorns (unless you’re really grateful for those things right now, then go for it!). It’s simply about pausing in a particular moment, noticing ourselves and our lives and acknowledging what we do have. Start with thinking of two things you’re grateful for each day. Maybe even be a little vulnerable and call/chat/text someone for whom you’re grateful. Notice the life that continues to bloom all around us. You can create a gratitude journal or share them publicly on a gratitude application like the Gratitude Circle.
- Know when to log off. While staying aware of developments, do not let the COVID-19 chaos and uncertainty govern you. If you find yourself “sucked in” to the events of the day, take a step back to disconnect from technology (and reconnect with yourself). Though you may receive emails and chat notifications at any hour, it’s important to develop a habit of setting a time when you officially “log off” for the night.
- Set a sleep schedule. Sleep deprivation is real and has short-term and long-term ramifications, so get rest and sleep. In times of heightened stress, sleep becomes even more critical. Aim to get around seven-to-eight hours of sleep a night to ensure you have enough energy the following day.
Below are a few wellbeing tools specific to our staff and faculty:
- Employee Assistance Program. Are you feeling overwhelmed and experiencing higher than normal levels of anxiety? Concerned about your self-medication or increased level of alcohol use? Consider reaching out to the confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP now offers telephonic counseling on topics such as anxiety and depression by calling (336) 716-5493. Medical plan participants can also call (800) 475-7900 or visit the Carolina Behavioral Health Alliance (CBHA) website to connect with in-network providers specializing in behavioral health and substance abuse issues.
- Relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques (including mindfulness, yoga, breathing exercises) can help reduce tension and stress and increase feelings of wellbeing. Consider registering for Koru’s Un-Course in partnership with MindfulWake, or joining The Women’s Center for their Wake Up series featuring a 30-minute self-care practice every Wednesday at 10 a.m. Eastern.
- Free virtual wellbeing coaching. These 30-minute drop-in sessions can help those who are looking to overcome new obstacles, get support to build a home routine, enhance self-care practices, or develop short-term goals for personal success and holistic wellbeing.
- Practice eating with intention. Have you noticed changes in your eating routine while being at home? Being kind to ourselves around eating and food is always important, and that’s particularly true during times of crisis and challenge. When you are able, eat foods that make you and your body feel good – that give you energy and are satisfying – remembering that there are no “bad” foods. In addition, faculty and staff enrolled in the Wake Forest medical plan may take advantage of free one-on-one consultations with Registered Dietitian, Christie Hunter.
- Free educational resources for children. Parents and caregivers, are you trying to manage the very difficult task of working from home with your children? Looking for educational activities to keep your children busy? Check out the Office of Civic and Community Engagement’s YouTube channel which provides educational content with programs like Wake Reads, STEM @ Wake, and Kids Cooking Demonstrations.
- Virtually connect with other working families at Wake. The Women’s Center has a Google Group listserv where parents and caregivers can ask for help and offer one another encouragement, support and mutual aid. To join, email: email@example.com
- Deepening Our Spiritual Practices. During this time of extraordinary disruption and uncertainty, the Office of the Chaplain encourages you to use the coming days as an opportunity to deepen our spiritual and mindfulness practices. If we strive to transform our collective isolation into an opportunity for communal stillness and reflection, we might discover that it is, as it has always been, the seedbed for growth in present-moment living, for communion and connection, for resilience and renewal.
For more ways to practice wellbeing, check out Thrive Remotely.
Remember you’re not alone – we’re in this together. Reach out if we can be of service or support.
With deep gratitude,
Dr. James Raper
Assistant Vice President, Health & Wellbeing