I recently spoke at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Conference alongside partners from the National Summer Learning Association, Afterschool Alliance, and Grow Appalachia. A common theme of our 3 workshops was the interconnectedness of physical health and social-emotional health to promote overall well-being.
While at the NRPA Conference, we released an exciting new brief, Afterschool: Fostering Protective Factors that Can Last a Lifetime. The resource emphasizes the importance of the relationships out-of-school time leaders build with young people, especially those experiencing trauma. If we’re honest with ourselves, working in this field is challenging; leaving even the most passionate and energetic staff suffering from compassion fatigue and burnout.
Self-care at home and the weekends, although essential, can only go so far. We must create a workplace culture that supports our bodies and minds – and that responsibility must be owned by all of us.
Below are 3 activities from my NRPA workshop, Reshape Your Workplace: 5 Activities to Start a Wellness Movement.
#1: Interactive Staff Well-Being Survey
Getting the conversation started can be the hardest part; here’s a 15-minute activity to try at your next staff meeting.
- Create posters labeled “physical,” “emotional,” “purpose,” “community,” and “social.” Hang them around the room.
- Explain that the purpose of this exercise is to brainstorm what each of us needs to thrive in these five buckets of wellness. For example, what activities or experiences give you a sense of purpose or what makes you feel part of a community?
- Encourage everyone to use sticky notes to write down how we can support our physical and emotional health, foster a sense of community and purpose, and strengthen social ties; remind everyone that there are no wrong answers.
- Provide stickers and markers; ask everyone to star or put a sticker next to an idea they like.
- Share observations and discuss them. By the end of the activity, the group will have a sense of what staff well-being activities they want to prioritize and implement.
Many thanks to my teammate Megan, Content Manager for Social-Emotional Health, for teaching me this activity.
*Short on time? Healthier Generation has an electronic employee wellness interest survey too.
#2: Social Media Contests
The NRPA Conference hosted a fun social media contest during the event with community-building themes. Why not try your own version with a physical activity twist for a mid-day brain booster? Team up for the Mirror Challenge, get moving and snap a photo to share – it’s a great way to source fun images for your next newsletter too!
Another activity to try is “Deskercise” by the National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability. It’s a simple way to promote inclusion, movement, and social connectedness. Just pick one of the 20 Ways to Get Moving While You Work, share a selfie and tag a teammate. Here’s what it looks like!
#3: Walking Meetings
Healthier Generation’s Senior National Advisor for Social-Emotional Health, Elizabeth, sums it up nicely, “in addition to physical benefits, walking meetings enhance creativity while boosting our mood and productivity.”
Walking meetings are joyfully contagious! Once you start to take them, you’ll notice others feel comfortable trying them as well. Here are a few quick tips that I’ve found to be helpful when integrating walking meetings into my day:
- Share note-taking responsibilities and always carry a notebook and pencil.
- Make sure your phone has a full battery charge.
- Ask ahead if it’s ok to take a meeting while on the move.
- Walk a path you know with minimal background noise and traffic.
- Follow up once you get back to your desk to outline next steps.
- Make sure your team knows walking meetings are welcome. Want an example? Check out Create a Thriving Work Culture by Making Self-Care a Priority: 4 Lessons from Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
Which activity will you try? Why not all 3!
How do you encourage staff well-being? Share your ideas on Twitter using the hashtag #SEHealthChat. Don’t forget to tag @TEAMBOOST and @HealthierGen.
For breakfast, I had a protein bar.