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Employee Wellness and Taking Control of Your Nervous System

As the balancing of life, work, family, friends, communities, political landscapes, and workplace responsibilities affect us as a person - our bodies are still taking on the stresses, anxieties, and natural responses that these events bring on. It does not matter what time of day it is, or when we unplug and focus on something new, our minds are storing the stress or lingering obligations for another time. When factoring careers, our personal needs, and the needs of others in our lives; these are where obligations tend to lie each day but vary by scale.
Workplaces including colleges & universities, small companies, multinational corporations, and businesses that value their employees include wellness breaks, resources, and community building to show reverence for the employees that keep their organizations moving forward. This can take shape in the form of fitness, mental health breaks, healthy foods, and facilitated activities for employees. Each employee will utilize the resources to fit their needs or reference them later. When we listen to our minds and bodies, they are usually telling us something.
“Drink water.” 
“Breathe, then refocus.”  
All of these words or thoughts are responses coming from our muscles, circulatory systems, and respiratory systems.
Wisdom Café Wednesday’s focus this week will be on listening to our bodies in times of stress, anxiety, lack of focus, or motivation; and how to re-center what we need to feel better, boosted, or more energized. We often tell ourselves that a work-life balance means disconnecting and not focusing on work. However, that does not mean that life outside of work does not drive stress or anxiety also. As a way to facilitate a balanced approach to life and work, Berkeley has resources that are applicable to meet employees’ needs in both contexts.

University Health Services Faculty/Staff Wellness Programs offers a line-up of virtual and in-person programs to help employees find an avenue of wellness to suit their needs. Ranging from physical fitness, to food & nutrition, crafting, to life planning; employees have taken advantage of these offerings and found their support services to focus and balance in responding to stressful situations.

Some upcoming offerings in November include:

  1. Fall & Winter Seasonal Vegetables, Wednesday, November 16, 12:10 PM-1 PM

  2. Guided Meditation, Thursday, November 17, 12 PM-12:50 PM

  3. Yoga for Tension & Stress Relief, Friday, November 18th, 12:10 PM-1 PM

In conjunction with employee wellness with professional development, Berkeley People & Culture sponsored the NOW Encore Series this Fall 2022 semester. The final workshop Nourishing Our Whole Selves, Wednesday, 12/7/22, 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM offers techniques to help employees set up their workspace and better support their temporal and emotional boundaries and needs. These concepts help in transitioning into the personal time after the work day, by using mindfulness and simple movement practices throughout the day.
Wellness and self-care to support the body's core functions start with you.  As fitness experts, exercise enthusiasts, and the average person will tell you “listen to your body.” Wellness classes and experiences go beyond lacing up our sneakers, moving about, and counting our steps via the smartwatch. Similar to the concept of exercise VHS and DVDs, LinkedIn has expanded its library of learnings with fitness and wellness e-courses as well.
The following e-course Reduce Stress and Anxiety by Managing Your Nervous System serves in practice to focus on our nervous system when responding to stressors and external stimulants. Presented by Jay Fields, Somatic Educator, Coach, and Author; she brings a background in yoga, spirituality, and kinesiology to which she helps break down the parts of the body and their responses to stressors. Over time with experience, this helps us respond strategically to stressors and empowers us to be better equipped for other challenges we face.
Wisdom Café Wednesday invites you to go through this course this week. As we break for the Veteran’s Day Holiday on Friday, embrace the time off to re-center yourselves. The e-course is broken into 4 categories interspersed with practice and listening. Take some time to practice these exercises during the week, including on your day off to help re-engage your nervous system with some thought. As referenced previously, the body responds to stressors the same way, whether you are at work or not. When using the techniques outlined in section 3, you can restore the balance of your body’s response to stressors.

Wisdom Café Wednesday Featured Approaches to Re-Centering Your Nervous System

Developing the Feeling of Gratitude

When we pause from our work or have a momentary break between tasks, one of the easiest ways to occupy our minds is to reflect on a moment of gratitude for something which we are thankful for. This could be directed to a colleague who you appreciate, something you appreciate about yourself, or an interaction you had with a student or client. Lean into this feeling and think about what you appreciate most, then use it in the future to bring a rewarding experience to yourself and others.

Recognizing Mental & Physical Experiences of a Stressful Situation

When we experience turmoil, stress, and anxiety; we are experiencing uneasiness in our brains and bodies. Ask yourself, what is that feeling of uneasiness and where do you feel it? Is there a sense of physical pain, disorientation, mental block, or a reduction in motor skills? Identifying the source of what causes these are a way for us to know how our bodies will react in the future. Some situations trigger these biological experiences, but as time goes on we learn how to respond and our bodies adapt with us.

Helping Someone Else Regulate Their Nervous System by Example

Once we become experts at controlling our nervous systems, we can showcase that in our behaviors and demeanor. It is reassuring to others when they confront difficult situations and see our responses to these scenarios. We have heard the phrase “read the room,” it helps in not just assessing our surroundings but also setting the tone in these surroundings. Using techniques that allow us to present ease, will also help others build a healthier and sustainable workplace, team, and social circles.

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How to Share Your Insight on Wisdom Cafe 

Discover the benefits of sharing your professional insights on Wisdom Café Wednesdays and how to do it here.
-Reading about and reaching out to featured colleagues.
-Finding supportive communities.
-Using resources to start your own network.
-Signing up for this Wisdom Café Wednesday Newsletter to ensure you get a message that you can use to support your development every week!
Don't have time for everything? Add time on your calendar to use these resources by using this link.

The Wisdom Café Team
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