November 11, 2021
I joined SchoolCare at the end of August after nearly a decade as a journalist and more than seven years as the Director of Communications at CASA of New Hampshire. Last year I had a baby right as the pandemic was starting, and as the year went on I felt the pull to move on to something new, but where I could continue to use the communications skills I’ve honed over the years in an environment that impacted people and their well-being. While it’s very different from the field of child advocacy, the team atmosphere at SchoolCare, the focus on holistic health, and the important work the staff here is doing has been a wonderful fit for this season of my life. It has also been a tremendous opportunity to learn more about health, wellness and the healthcare industry.
Something that has never resonated more than in this past year is the saying, “you cannot pour from an empty cup.” When I returned from maternity leave last spring, my husband and I were both working full-time and parenting full-time as the pandemic had interrupted our childcare plans. I was exhausted and I needed to make more “me time” somehow. Whether it was time out of the house for a solo run, a 15-minute meditation in the middle of the day, or just a shower and a nap, I needed time to fill my own cup to be able to give to my family and my job. I’ve not always been good at this (and I’m still working on it!) but it is so, so important for your mental and physical health.
First, if you aren’t following us on Facebook, you should! We share information about your benefits and fun content related to health, wellness and life in general. This month, we’re sharing Monday Morning Gratitude Challenges as we lead into Thanksgiving in just a couple short weeks.
Gratitude is very connected to our health and well-being. Studies show that practicing gratitude has positive effects on our mental and physical health. Expressing gratitude helps increase self-esteem and optimism, it shifts attention away from negative emotions and it improves our social bonds with loved ones and even strangers. It is correlated with improved sleep, higher engagement in healthy activities and improved heart health, among other things. Practicing gratitude regularly can also help change your perspective on hardships and build resilience and the ability to overcome obstacles and challenges you face.
How do you practice gratitude in your own life?
In January of 2020, I participated in a month-long challenge where I was keeping a gratitude journal. It really helped start the year in a good place, and it was nice to flip back through those pages in April when I’d been home for more than a month with a newborn and life wasn’t even a shadow of what I envisioned it would be as a new mom. A recent EAP seminar we participated in at SchoolCare brought up gratitude journals and this month I brought it back into my life. My goal this month is to write down at least one thing that went well with each day. I try to do this before bed each night to focus my thoughts before sleep.
I’ve also long been a fan of random acts of kindness and try to perform them regularly. And there are also the little things, like saying thank you to my husband for doing the dishes (which he does every night!). These are just as important to me as thanking someone for a gift, or for helping with a project.
Has the pandemic changed your outlook on gratitude at all?
It has made me more aware of things I may take for granted. I know I’m not alone in how my outlook changed on things like how being able to buy essentials at a grocery store is not always a given and can be easily disrupted for a long time. It made me more grateful for every minute we got to spend with our family and friends. And it was another good reminder to show appreciation for those who work so hard for others – people in the medical profession, teachers, emergency service personnel, volunteers and so many more – and to see the good in the people around us.
What are some things you are grateful for?
The opportunity to see life through the eyes of a very busy toddler, my family and friends, my health, coffee and sour gummy bears (though not at the same time), the ability to go for a run and clear my head when needed, living in a beautiful state I’ve called home my whole life, my cat, and more recently, the opportunity to start a fresh new chapter of my life. This is the shortlist.
“Sometimes, all it takes is one kind word to nourish another person. Think of the ripple effect that can be created when we nourish someone. One kind, empathetic word has a wonderful way of turning into many.” – Fred Rogers