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INSPIRE TO MOVE - Summer Sun Safety Month
NOURISHING YOU - Fig and Arugula Salad, with Goat Cheese & Pecans
HEALTHY HARMONY - Self-Care: Finding the Time
GOOD DECISIONS - Eight Dimensions of Wellness
EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT - Interview with UI Stride Well Traveled Individual & Team Award Winners

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.


INSPIRE TO MOVE - Summer Sun Safety Month

Sun and Sunglasses Photo Credit: Herbert Goetsch of Unsplash  

By Colleen Crawford
August is Summer Sun Safety Month and a perfect time to renew your commitment to staying safe under the sun. It may seem inconvenient to practice sun safety, but taking the time to protect yourself from too much sun exposure now will help you avoid the discomfort of a sunburn and reduce your risk for skin cancer in the future. There are several simple measures you can take to limit your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays while enjoying your favorite outdoor activities.

Seek shade. One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from the sun’s rays is to stay out of direct sunlight, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest. Shade can come in the form of trees, an umbrella, a pop-up canopy, or even the shadow of buildings. Be aware that even if you are under shade, UV rays can reflect off water and sand, so additional protective measures are recommended.

Wear sunscreen. You know you should wear sunscreen, but it can be easy to skip when you are heading out on an adventure. Find ways to make sunscreen application part of your routine when you are getting ready to spend time in the sun. You might leave a bottle of sunscreen near your keys as a cue to remember to apply it on your way out the door. If you are going to be in the sun all day, set reminders on your phone to help you remember to reapply every two hours. Be sure to read the label of your sunscreen to ensure it protects against both UVA and UVB rays and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. It is also important to coat exposed skin thoroughly for optimal protection. If you experience skin irritation from sunscreen, you may need to try several different brands to find the right product for your skin.    

Wear protective clothing. Long sleeve shirts and long pants offer the most UV protection and many clothing brands offer items with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating that signals what percent of the sun’s rays are blocked by the item. For the most protection from your clothing, choose those that are dark or brightly colored, made of densely woven fabric, and are loose-fitting. Wearing a hat with a wide brim can protect your scalp and ears as well as reduce the number of rays that are reflected onto your face from surrounding surfaces. To protect your eyes, look for sunglasses with a label that says “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” to ensure that the glasses block at least 99% of UV rays.  

Following these sun safety precautions will allow you to enjoy fun in the sun all summer long!


NOURISHING YOU - Fig and Arugula Salad, with Goat Cheese & Pecans

  Photo of salad credit: Feasting at home.com

Recipe by Lorraine Graham
Serves 6

Who doesn't love a good salad when it's hot outside? This is one of my new favorite salads and I hope you'll try it. :) 


  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans 
  • 6-7 cups of baby arugula 
  • 6-8 figs, stems removed, quartered
  • 5-10 basil leaves, torn
  • 1/2 cup firm goat cheese, crumbled

Fig Salad Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


If sensitive to red onions, thinly slice and soak in salted water for 15 minutes.

Toast pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 5-6 minutes.

Place arugula, pecans, drained onions, and torn basil leaves in a large bowl. (Refrigerate until serving, placing figs and goat cheese on top of the greens).

Drizzle the dressing ingredients into the salad bowl (or feel free to mix dressing together in a small jar or bowl first) tossing the salad until all the leaves are lightly coated. Add the figs and goat cheese, and lightly toss to incorporate.

Taste, adjust vinegar and maple to your liking, adding more if you prefer.

Nutrition Information: (serving size 1/6th) Calories 264 | Carbs 19.4g | Fat 20.5g | Protein 4g


HEALTHY HARMONY - Self-Care: Finding the Time

Peaceful Scene Photo Credit: Dominik Reallife of Unsplash  

By Jackie Billhymer

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
          - Benjamin Franklin

A happier and healthier lifestyle starts with taking care of yourself. A good place to start is to think about your basic physiological needs such as air, food, water, and sleep. The amount of sleep you get, the amount and variation of nutrient-dense foods you eat, and the ways in which you move your body have a big effect on your well-being. A lack of sleep can cause irritability and a lack of focus. The likelihood of developing serious health issues such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type II diabetes increases if processed foods make up a majority of your diet and/or if you do not get enough physical activity.

Establishing these healthy behaviors and practicing self-care is not always easy. Self-care often takes a back seat to the laundry list of commitments and responsibilities we have. If you include the amount of time spent on social media and technology in general, it may seem like there is not enough time in the day to devote to yourself. In reality, practicing self-care even just for five minutes a day can offer the support you need to be healthy, engaged, and a happier employee.

Kick-start developing healthier behaviors by devoting small blocks of time to a variety of activities throughout the day. Take a few deep breaths or stretch, run in place, do some jumping jacks, or walk up and down steps. Go a step further and make a list of activities you can do in 10, 15, or 30 minutes each day. Make the commitment to spend just five minutes a day (or more!) on self-care and increase your chances of success toward creating a healthier lifestyle that can be sustainable for the rest of your life.


GOOD DECISIONS - Eight Dimensions of Wellness

Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Emotional, Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, Environmental, Financial, Occupational, Social. SAMHSA Resource  

By Christina A. Worthington
When we talk about wellness, what comes to your mind? Some might focus on physical or mental wellness when asked this question. While those are important pieces of our overall wellness, there are a few more areas that are sometimes overlooked. The Wellness Wheel that the System Office Wellness Committee has adopted from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration focuses on eight dimensions of wellness.

Emotional • Emotional wellness is an awareness, understanding, and acceptance of your emotions, and your ability to manage them effectively through challenges and change. The National Institute of Health has put together a toolkit for improving emotional wellness! Here you will find strategies to brighten your outlook on life and reduce stress.

Environmental • Environmental wellness refers to your sense of safety, comfort, and connection with your physical surroundings. Environmental wellness can be enhanced by living more in harmony with the planet and your community. You can not always control the environments in which you live, work, or play, but you can take small steps to make them better.

Financial • Financial wellness involves things such as income, debt, and savings, as well as a person’s understanding of financial processes and resources. If you are not sure where to start, the University of Illinois Extension has put together a quick list on how to create good financial habits. Browse around their site for more financial resources, including podcasts, blogs, and programs.

Intellectual/Mental • Intellectual wellness involves keeping our minds active and ever-expanding. This includes critical thinking, learning and education, and mental exercise. Engaging your personal interests are a great place to begin. Consider taking a class to learn a new skill or begin a discussion with peers who help stimulate your mind.

Occupational • Occupational wellness involves participating in activities, including employment, that provide meaning and purpose and reflect personal values, interests, and beliefs. This is where our work-life balance lives! The University of Toledo created a great infographic on occupational wellness tips for improving connections with coworkers and avoiding becoming overworked.

Physical • Physical wellness not only focuses on how we move our body, but also on what we put into our body, and how we treat our body. Try fueling your body with fresh, nutrient-dense foods, getting enough restful sleep, and seeking preventative medical care to help create good physical health habits.

Spiritual • Spiritual wellness is a broad concept that represents one’s personal beliefs and values and involves having meaning, purpose, a sense of balance, and peace. There are many different ways we can nurture our spiritual health. Augusta University compiled a few videos to show us how.

Social • Social wellness considers the health of our relationships with friends, family, and the community, as well as having an interest in and concern for the needs of others. Positive social habits can help you build support systems and potentially lengthen your life! Check out the National Institute of Health’s toolkit on how you can make meaningful connections.

Well Traveled

EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT - Interview with UI Stride Well Traveled Individual & Team Award Winners


By Seth Yoder
This month Seth Yoder sat down with both the 2021 UI Stride Well Traveled (Maureen Sorensen) and team (University Audits) winners to find out about the secrets to their success. Congratulations Maureen and University Audits!

UI Stride Well Traveled Individual Award Winner Interview with Maureen Sorensen, University Audits

Q. You ended the Well Traveled challenge with an impressive score. What do you attribute your success to?

A. I’d say the primary reason was the timing of the challenge. It coincided with spring weather and longer days, and it was easy to be outdoors and active after a long winter spent mostly inside at home.

Q. Do you have one highlight or memorable moment from this challenge that you would like to share?

A. The highlight for me was doing my first in-person running race since 2019. Last fall I signed up for an event scheduled for June with little hope that it would be able to be held. Thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the event was held in almost the same conditions as pre-COVID.

Q. Did you start any new habits or routines during this UI Stride challenge or did you continue the same habits and routines you had prior to the challenge?

A. Doing stretching on a daily basis is something I always mean to do but thanks to this challenge, it did become a new habit.

Q. What advice would you give to other System Office employees who would like to improve their results in the next UI Stride campaign?

A. My advice is to find activities/exercises that you enjoy doing and incorporate them as much as possible. For instance, riding your bike or walking instead of driving whenever possible.

UI Stride Well Traveled Team Winner Interview with Team University Audits

Q. This was the longest UI Stride campaign to date. Did your team have any strategies on how to maintain motivation throughout the duration of the Well Traveled challenge?

A. We did not have a singular strategy for the entire team. Due to the constraints the work-from-home environment has created, the individuals on the team relied more on leaning into their personal wellness routines. Our team did find the communications and reminders from the UI Stride administrative team, as well as the wellness prompts from the website, helpful to encourage us to stick with our goals for the challenge. Additionally, the good weather during the spring campaign certainly helps by enabling us to get outdoors more often and participate in activities they may not do as much in the cooler months.

Q. Was there a particular highlight or memorable moment for your team during the challenge?

A. We found the trivia component of the campaign to be interesting. It was nice to learn new things about various parts of the United States, all while completing our wellness goals for the day or the week.

Q. What advice would you give to other System Office teams who would like to improve their results in the next UI Stride campaign?

A. Our team largely felt that maintaining a daily routine helped ensure we stayed on track and held ourselves accountable. We also recognized the importance of mixing up activities. The Well Traveled challenge provided a variety of activities to choose from and we found that mixing in new activities throughout the campaign helped prevent our routines from becoming stagnant. Perhaps the most important advice is to choose activities you enjoy, because this will help you stay motivated and get the most out of the experience.

Q. Did your team learn any valuable lessons during the Well Traveled challenge and, if so, do you plan to utilize those lessons moving forward?

A. For some of the members of our team, they have learned to take more personal accountability for their wellness. They are accomplishing this by setting daily/weekly goals for themselves and recognizing themselves with rewards when they reach those goals. Other team members found the lessons they learned from the Thrive Thursdays to be highly impactful. While these lessons were useful at the time, they did find it challenging to remember every lesson and for that reason the team would like to see some of these tips sent out in reminder emails from the System Office Wellness Committee in future campaigns. Overall, the University Audits Team found the Well Traveled challenge to be rewarding and are looking forward to the next iteration of UI Stride.