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INSPIRE TO MOVE - Using Movement to Cope in Times of Change and Uncertainty
NOURISHING YOU - Balsamic Grilled Vegetables
HEALTHY HARMONY - Wellness as a Whole
GOOD DECISIONS - The Importance of Preventative Care

We hope you enjoy the new look of the Wellness Connection! Our new format allows for improved accessibility for all of our readers. We welcome your feedback below.

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

Walktober graphic. Link to video about walking in the fall.

By Seth Yoder
The System Office Wellness Committee is excited to invite you and your family to participate in the upcoming UI Stride Walktober program. With fall just around the corner, this program is going to provide the perfect incentive to get outdoors and soak up the sights and smells of the season. Here’s a short video that illustrates the essence of UI Stride Walktober.

Feeling excited yet? Well, don’t worry! We’re just a few short weeks away from our kickoff. Everyone will be able to register on Monday, August 31, and the program will start on Monday, September 14. As we get closer to the kickoff you will receive emails with additional information on how to register and participate in the program. Thank you!

River Walk in Chicago taken by Benjamin Rascoe of Unsplash. Picture has link to Understanding anxiety. 

By Colleen Crawford
The past five-plus months have been an unprecedented time of change and uncertainty. No area of our lives has gone undisrupted during this time. While we may have settled into some sense of routine and become accustomed to not knowing what comes next, there may be days, weeks, or months where we feel a greater need to lean into our coping strategies.

Daily movement or exercise is one of the most frequently physician-recommended strategies for managing symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. In fact, some studies have shown exercise to be as effective as medication in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms. Benefits from an exercise session, which could be as quick as a 10-minute walk, can alleviate symptoms for up to several hours. Exercises that require repetitive movements (walking, running, cycling, swimming) can be especially effective as these types of movements have a meditative effect on the mind.

It’s easy to combine the benefits of exercise with other coping strategies to experience enhanced stress relief. For example, use the time you devote to exercise to also connect with a friend or family member. You can talk on the phone while walking, or meet outdoors for a socially distant hike or bike ride. If you prefer a group setting, consider joining a virtual group fitness class or set up a zoom call and stream a workout that you and your friends can enjoy together. Moving your body while socializing with others is likely to leave you feeling energized and renewed.

Connecting with nature is another great coping strategy that can be experienced through an almost endless list of activities that also get your body moving. Whether you thrive on more vigorous activities such as kayaking and rock climbing, or you prefer a leisurely stroll through a flowering garden, the benefits of fresh air, sunlight, increased heartrate and respiration will help you approach the rest of your day with greater ease and focus.

Those who consistently include movement into their daily routine may note reduced fatigue, increased alertness and concentration, and improved overall cognitive function, in addition to the physical benefits of exercise. If you are someone who is new to prioritizing movement in your daily routine, it is important that you approach this coping strategy with patience and grace. Small daily movement goals can help build consistency and endurance. Remember that movement is cumulative – a few minutes several times per day can be enough to leave you feeling refreshed and able to manage challenges with a clear mind. Eventually, you may find your body and mind craving the relief that exercise provides.

 Balsamic Grilled Vegetables with link to recipe source

Recipe by Leana Coffey
Prep time: 8 minutes; Cook time: 12 minutes; Yield: 6 servings

If you know me, you know I LOVE my veggies! I made a huge batch of these Balsamic Grilled Vegetables and ate the leftovers for days. I ate it as a cold salad the next day for lunch and warmed it up as a side with dinner the day after. You can substitute your favorite veggies to make it even better. I added yellow squash and mushrooms to mine. If you’d rather roast them in the oven, they’ll be just as delicious! Simply put them in a baking dish sprayed with a little bit of cooking spray and roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Add the dressing after grilling or roasting.


  • 1 lb zucchini or yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into shorter sticks
  • 1 lb red bell peppers, sliced into side strips
  • 1 large red or white onion, cut into ½ inch thick rounds
  • 1/3 cup Italian parsley or basil, finely chopped
  • Cooking spray

Balsamic Dressing

  • 2 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Spray grill with cooking spray and then preheat on low heat.
  3. Place vegetables in a single layer on the grill, close the lid and cook for 12 minutes, flipping once. Vegetables should be tender to the touch with nice grill marks. Cook longer if you like softer vegetables.
  4. Transfer vegetables to a large bowl, pour balsamic dressing on top, sprinkle with parsley or basil and gently mix.
  5. Serve hot, warm or cold with grilled meat or seafood and a side of quinoa or brown rice.

Nutrition Information: (serving size 1 cup) Calories 97 | Fat 5.3g | Carbs 10.7g | Protein 3.3g

Flower coming out of rocks by Markus Spiske of Unsplash. Has hyperlink to fact sheet 

By Jackie Billhymer
August is National Wellness Month and the perfect time of year for reflection. We are over the year’s halfway mark! As you are reflecting, think about what it means to YOU to live life fully. You have the opportunity over the next 31 days to take a step back, evaluate where you are with your wellness and put a plan into action.

Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence. Wellness is a journey, not a destination. A good place to start your wellness journey is by understanding the dimensions of wellness. According to the National Wellness Institute, there are SIX dimensions of wellness: spiritual, emotional, occupational, physical, social and intellectual. Each dimension* recognizes and encourages the ways in which you can make choices towards being the best you can be. Making good choices requires a degree of self-awareness and a commitment to be open-minded about changing any habits that do not align with your overall wellness.

Once you understand the wellness dimensions, you can use a resource from the National Wellness Institute to assess how much energy you currently spend in each dimension. It also helps you to envision where your energy should go in order to reach your full potential and what values guide your overall wellbeing. This process of evaluating, planning and determining your values is important because in order to be your best, you have to create conditions that support a desire to thrive.

Do not wait for January to get here before you put your plan into action! Create a wellness goal based on what you have learned and use the SMART goals worksheet on our website to map out your plan. Remember, your plan is unique to you and you are the best expert on yourself. Good luck!

*System Office Wellness also recognizes financial wellness as a dimension

Dentist office photo by Pexels.com 

By Christina A. Worthington
There’s an old saying that goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. It seems to still hold a great amount of truth when it comes to our health and preventative care services. Maintaining your health isn’t only about diet and exercise, but also scheduling routine exams and screenings to avoid serious health issues.

Many screenings can be performed during an Annual Physical Exam while others could require a separate visit. The following is not an all-encompassing list of medical exams and screenings.

Preventative Care for All

  • Physical Exam: Yearly exam to monitor on-going or new health concerns
  • Dental Exam: 2 cleaning visits are recommended each year
  • Eye Exam: August is National Eye Exam Month! A visit every 2 years is recommended
  • Skin Self-Exam: Watch for any skin spots that change in shape, size or color and consult a medical professional
  • Blood Pressure Screening: Check at least once every 2 years
  • Cholesterol / Heart Disease Prevention: Recommended for screenings to start for men between 20 and 35 

Preventative Care for Men

  • Colorectal Cancer Screening: Recommended for people between ages 50 to 75
  • Prostate Cancer Screening: 1 of 10 new cancer cases are prostate cancer

Preventative Care for Women

  • Breast Exam / Mammogram: Mammograms recommended to begin at age 40 or earlier with a family history of breast cancer
  • Pelvic Exam / Pap Smear: Beginning at age 21, pelvic exams should be done annually and Pap smears every 3 years to check for cervical cancer

Preventative Care for Children

  • Behavioral Assessments
  • Developmental Screenings
  • Hearing Screenings
  • Immunization Vaccines

A great benefit of preventative care is that it is often a free or low-cost service with an insurance provider. Make sure to check with your insurance provider prior to scheduling any preventative care visits. And as always, you should consult with a trusted medical provider about what exams and screenings are appropriate for your healthcare.