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IN THIS ISSUE OF THE WELLNESS CONNECTION

INSPIRE TO MOVE - World Kindness Day 
NOURISHING YOU - White Chicken Chili 
HEALTHY HARMONY - It is Never Too Late!
GOOD DECISIONS - Family History is Worth Knowing
EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT - Interview with Amy Glenn, Assistant Director for Business Process Improvement for AITS

Feedback - SOWellness@uillinois.edu
The System Office Wellness Committee strives to cite relevant information from reputable sources. Employees should always consult with their health care provider before making any kind of health decision or change.

 
 
Thank you
 
 

The System Office Wellness committee would like to extend its utmost gratitude to Seth Yoder for all of his contributions for the Wellness Connection newsletter, lecture series, UI Stride campaigns and other committee initiatives. His leadership and dedication have been integral to the success of these initiatives. THANK YOU doesn’t seem enough to express our appreciation for all he did to promote and expand wellness to system office employees. We wish him the very best as he continues in his career with the Illinois Leadership Center in Urbana.

 
     
 

INSPIRE TO MOVE - World Kindness Day

 
 
Photo Credit: Aaron Burden of Unsplash - flower  
 

By Lydia Schillinger
The holidays are right around the corner. It is a time of the year filled with planning, prepping, hustle, and bustle. This year, let’s try to slow down a bit, appreciate the little things that carry meaning and make us truly happy, and make time to be kind to others. World Kindness Day is celebrated on November 13 and helps us to understand compassion for others, ourselves, and the world.  

To get off to a good start, check out the Workplace random acts of kindness calendar. It has daily tips on how to pay it forward, as well as how to be kind to ourselves. 

Kindness to others: Fall is a great time to clean out that closet and donate items you no longer need. Get some exercise while being kind by helping a neighbor with yardwork. Hold a door for someone. Serve a meal at a homeless shelter. If you have a friend in need, lend an ear to listen. These are all ways to help others by showing kindness.  Help others on your own campus!  Our UIC, UIS and UIUC campuses all have ways to donate to campus programs. 

Chicago -Ignite campaign for UIC 

Springfield -Reaching Stellar alumni and giving campaign 

Urbana-Champaign -We Lead the Way Together campaign 

Kindness to ourselves: That is right! Don’t forget to be kind to yourself too. Read a book, go see a movie, or get a massage. Gather a group of friends or family and go eat at your favorite restaurant. Treat yourself to a ballgame or visit a museum. Sit outside and enjoy the sunshine or ride your bike. Clear your head and go for a walk in one of your favorite places. On a grander scale, remodel a place in your home that may be used for something you enjoy. 

Kindness to the world: Wait a second, I am one person, how can I help the world? What you do matters. There are a lot of causes out there you might consider helping. Our UIUC and UIS campuses are currently running workplace giving campaigns. What a great way to be kind and reach many people in the community and around the world! Our once-a-year voluntary campaigns allow employees to donate to the charitable causes of their choice. Our university supports 12 federations: America’s Best Charities, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, America’s Charities, Black United Fund, Community Health Charities, Community Shares, Earth Share, Global Impact, Special Olympics, United Negro College Fund, and United Way.   

Springfield -State and University Employees Combined Appeal (SECA) 

Urbana-Champaign -Campus Charitable Fund Drive (CCFD) 

November may bring feelings of gratitude and kindness that we may share every day, not just on World Kindness Day. Try to make kindness the norm in your daily life. You can change the world this holiday season, one day at a time. 

“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” - William Arthur Ward  

 
     
 

NOURISHING YOU - White Chicken Chili

 
 
  Photo Credit: WellPlated.com
 

Recipe by Ben Taylor 

This chili recipe will warm you up, satisfy your appetite and is incredibly simple! Combine the ingredients in your slow cooker, set the time and don’t worry about it for most of the day. It isn’t an overly spicy chili, but the toppings you choose can add an extra kick of flavor. 

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ lbs (2-3 breasts, depending on size) boneless skinless chicken breasts 
  • 4 c. chicken stock 
  • 2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained (your choice of Great Northern, white kidney, or cannellini) 
  • 2 cans (4.5 oz cans) diced green chilis 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced 
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin 
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt 
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper 
  • ¼ c. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Lime (optional)  

Instructions

  1. Place chicken in the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. 
  2. Top with the chicken broth, white beans, green chiles, garlic, onion, cumin, oregano, salt, and cayenne. Stir to combine. 
  3. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or high for 2 to 4 hours, until the chicken is cooked through. 
  4. Remove the chicken breasts, shred and return to the slow cooker. Add cilantro, combine, and serve with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
  5. Top with your choice of sour cream, Greek yogurt, sliced jalapenos, diced avocado, shredded cheese, or tortilla chips.
  6. For a thicker chili, start with only 2 cups of chicken broth and add more after you shred the chicken if needed. 

Nutrition information (serving size 1 cup): Calories 315 | Carbs 36 g | Fat 4 g | Protein 34 g 

 
     
 

HEALTHY HARMONY - It is Never Too Late!

 
 
Photo Credit: Soundtrap at Unsplash  
 

By Jackie Billhymer
Have you always wanted to learn to do something, but you keep telling yourself “It’s too late,” or “I’m too old for that?” Well it is never too late to start a hobby or new activity at any age! Cognitive abilities, such as logic and reasoning, problem solving and paying attention, often decline as we age. However, it is important to know that there is no limit to your brain’s capacity for learning. Staying active is not just about getting regular exercise. The brain needs exercise, too, and learning something new can help keep your brain active and healthy.

Physical activity helps improve cognitive function, but so do activities like painting, learning an instrument, gardening, or learning a new language. Challenging your brain with new and complex activities helps improve your memory and focus. The additional benefits of these types of activities include bringing joy and happiness to your life and creating a powerful antidote to cognitive decline. Harvard Medical School published an article with three tips to help you get started on a new hobby or activity:

  • Pick one new activity. Your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Being able to devote enough time and attention to the new activity will increase the likelihood that you will stick with it.
  • Sign up for a class or lessons. Start with the basics to help build your confidence. Involving someone else in the process will also help keep you accountable.
  • Schedule practice time. Practice with consistency and make an effort to incorporate your new activity into your daily or weekly schedule.

Pursuing your deepest (and sometimes wildest) hopes and dreams has the ability to show you that you are capable of things you never thought possible. I have wanted to learn to play the guitar since I was five years old, and recently started taking lessons. I am on my eighth lesson and can attest to trying something new helps increase your self-esteem, gain a better sense of who you are, and boost your creativity. So try something new today – your brain will thank you for it!

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

 
     
 

GOOD DECISIONS - Family History is Worth Knowing

 
 
Photo Credit: Liz Brenden - hands holding hands  
 

By Christina A. Worthington
In the coming weeks, many of us will be spending increased time with relatives and loved ones. This is a perfect opportunity to think about researching, recording, and preserving your genealogy! Generations to come can draw from this strength and gain life-changing benefits. Genealogy can also be learned in a genetic fashion. Genetic ancestry testing, or genetic genealogy, is a way for people interested in family history to go beyond what they can learn from relatives or from historical documentation. In fact, here are a few specific gifts that can come from knowing your family's history. 

It helps you make better health decisions. From a medical standpoint, knowing your family's health history can help identify a chance of having certain diseases. Conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers can be influenced by genetic factors. By noticing the health patterns of relatives, doctors can determine whether you or other family members have an increased risk of developing a particular condition. 

Knowing this information is powerful, because it can help you make better choices regarding food, exercise, and other activities that could impact your health. It also allows you to take preventative steps, such as more frequent screenings and checkups to reduce your risk. 

It provides a sense of identity. Learning about your ancestors, celebrating family traditions, and understanding where you came from can open your eyes to how special you are. This information enhances your sense of belonging, and it can be especially helpful for younger generations. 

When children hear family stories, it creates a shared history and strengthens emotional bonds. They realize the definition of who they are is not something independent and spun from nowhere. It's embedded in a long, intergenerational family story. A family they will be connected to forever. 

It can make you feel resilient. More than likely, your ancestors faced historical events and situations that seemed impossible to overcome. Learning about their stories and how they got through difficult times can provide the courage and strength you may need to overcome your own challenges. In essence, knowing your family history can build your resilience. 

This idea has been reinforced by a study about the resilience of children. It was discovered that "the more children knew about their family's history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem, and the more successfully they believed their families functioned." Simply knowing their family history turned out to be the best single predictor of children's emotional health and happiness. What a priceless gift to pass along! 

Here are some ways you can begin exploring your own story. These story ideas can be asked of your elders or shared with your children and grandchildren to provide a connection to the past. 

  • Where your grandparents grew up and what life was like during that time 
  • Your best memory from childhood 
  • Something important you learned as an adult 
  • Where their mom and dad went to high school
  • Where and how their parents met 
  • A common health condition in the family and ways they can prevent it 
  • The story of their birth and any special details you remember about their childhood 
 
     
 

EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT - Amy Glenn, Assistant Director for Business Process Improvement for AITS

 
 
Photo of Amy Glenn  
 

By Seth Yoder

Q. How long have you been a System Office employee and what do you do in your current role?

A. I have been with the System Office for 15 years and I am currently the Assistant Director for Business Process Improvement for AITS. My team leads process improvement and automation projects.

Q. One of the biggest obstacles to developing a workout routine is developing and maintaining motivation. What strategies do you use to get motivated to work out?

A. To start, I had a workout buddy, and we would use each other as accountability partners. We would coordinate our schedules to attend the same workout classes or go to the gym at the same time. Since I had someone who was expecting me to show up, it became much harder for me to slack off, because I felt like I would be letting my buddy down.  As I started to maintain a consistent schedule, it gradually became a habit.

I would recommend to anyone looking to stay motivated and interested in a workout routine to develop a consistent schedule and stick with it for a least a few weeks to a month. Once you have established that routine, it will begin to feel unnatural to deviate from it because your mind and body will have developed certain expectations around that schedule. 

Q. As we approach the winter months, it will be easy to lose track of healthy routines we may have developed during the warmer months. What are a few things you do to prioritize physical activities even when the weather gets colder?

A. One of the biggest challenges to workout routines in the winter months are the shorter days. I have worked out at home for many years now and getting out of that warm bed in the early, dark mornings can be tough. If you like to work out in the morning, keep a consistent wake-up time and plan the workout the night before. Set out your clothes and shoes so that you can get right to it. With less daylight in the winter months, plan for a walk in the warmer part of the day - such as over a lunch hour. Getting fresh air is good for your mind and body.

Q. Many System Office employees have developed healthy work-from-home habits during the pandemic. What are some healthy habits you have developed while working from home?

A. My husband and I started walking together right when the pandemic hit in March 2020. It was our way to ”get out of the house” and get fresh air at a time when we were stuck in the house. In addition to the health benefits of the walk, it was also a great way to get some uninterrupted time to chat about the day. This was particularly important after being cooped up in the house with kids all day and it is something we have continued to do every day.

Q. How others could incorporate some of these healthy habits into their daily routines?

A. Start small. You don’t need to spend an hour working out every day. Find a small space in your home and turn on a workout video from YouTube or follow any type of routine that is appropriate for you. There are many resources for workout videos for your fitness level.

As I mentioned before, another way to incorporate activity into a daily routine is to go for a walk during a break. Start with a walk around the block and gradually increase. It’s a great way to get vitamin D during the winter months and boost your mood for the afternoon. The key to incorporating physical activity into your day is to plan and prioritize that time as if it is an appointment/meeting in your calendar.