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Move Your Mood

by Lorna Muise Alberta Health Services | June 9 2016

For the past eight weeks, my family has taken part in the Move Your Mood wellness challenge, organized by Addictions and Mental Health Services in Red Deer. Each week, we were encouraged to take part in challenges in three different areas: healthy eating, active living and asset building. One week, all we had to do was watch a sunset! Taking the time to sit and watch a beautiful sunset allowed us to slow down and experience the amazing colours of the evening sky. When was the last time you left your home to mindfully watch the sunset?

I like the concept of wellness challenges. They force us outside our comfort zones, help us become more familiar with our community and introduce us to new concepts and ideas. During this latest challenge, for example, we were encouraged to play at different parks and explore parts of our community we had never visited before. The challenge encouraged me to be more creative and intentional about how I connect with my family and community. This made me think—how can we get creative as wellness champions at work and get our colleagues involved?

Taking Wellness to Work

I’ve heard about some fantastic workplace wellness challenges where staff coordinated walking competitions using pedometers, hosted healthy potlucks, incorporated walking into meetings, supported colleagues in “kicking the nic” and celebrated personal achievements. I’ve started to see a number of school jurisdictions and schools begin to explore wellness challenges as a means to embrace collegial ties at work and encourage their families to join the fun, all in the journey to wellness.  

Framing a Good Wellness Challenge

A challenge does not have to mean a competition. It can simply be a way to encourage people to try something new or different. The Alberta Health Services Provincial Mental Health Promotion Unit has created seven simple tips, known as Ways to Wellness, which you can use as a foundation for a wellness challenge. Although these tips are individually focused to address mental health, they are tips for improved health in all areas of life.

  • Get active: Physical activity can improve your mood.
  • Be kind: Showing kindness can help you and others feel good.
  • Be yourself: Appreciating yourself can have a positive impact on your mental health.
  • Be grateful: Being grateful can help you develop a positive outlook on life.
  • Get your groove on: Music soothes the soul.
  • Laugh: Laughter is medicine for the mind and helps to reduce stress and tension.
  • Eat healthy: What you eat can affect how you feel. Eat healthy to feel healthy.

Here’s a toolkit supporting these tips and messaging to help you encourage others to join your wellness movement. As an added bonus, here’s a clip of the Ways to Wellness, which you can share with your working groups and colleagues to spark some inspiration.

Make it Happen

If you are interested in starting a quick and simple staff challenge before the end of the year, consider inviting staff to submit the name of their favorite song. Play one to two songs per day and invite staff and students to dance when music is played. See if anyone can figure out who picked the song as their favorite. Health tips like the ones above can be the catalyst for an idea or challenge that will get your colleagues involved in workplace wellness. With one month left in the school year, I challenge you to create a workplace wellness challenge that will carry you through the last few work weeks and into the easy days of summer.

Lorna Muise

As a school health promotion coordinator with Alberta Health Services and a long term passion for health promotion, Lorna is one of Alberta’s central zone superheroes! Her superpower? Lorna can mimic the sound of a water drop. We’ve yet to determine the benefits of this talent but are sure they are widespread and amazing.