On the first day of wellness Julie Norton, student missions coordinator, encouraged someone.
“I didn’t really choose to do it,” Norton said. “It was something that [naturally] happened at the beginning of the day.”
Norton was just one of the participants in this year’s 12 Days of Wellness program, an initiative about 50 percent of employees take part in annually. The program – with goals of evaluation, education, and motivation – has been a tradition of the Employee Wellness Committee for the past 16 years.
The theme for this year was relationships. Beginning December 1, participants worked to complete a wellness form, jotting down which activities they performed for the day. Activities ranged from complimenting often and sincerely, to outgiving a loved one and forgiving unconditionally. These activities were not as simple as they sound; many required a new focus and attitude about relationships. And though participants began with just one activity, each day the number of requirements increased until all 12 had to be completed on the final day.
“I was curious,” Norton said. “I wanted to see how many of these things I already did and which ones I needed to deliberately incorporate more into my life.”
At the end of the challenge, participants turned in their completed forms for a $50 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods. These gift cards have been the program’s popular prize for the last few years, yet nothing compares to the lasting effect the program has on someone’s lifestyle.
Phil Garver, dean of the School of PE, Health and Wellness, and chair of the Employee Wellness Committee, mentioned two of the program’s most immediate and positive outcomes: it gets people thinking of a balanced lifestyle right before the holidays, and it draws employees together with a common goal. It’s also meant to encourage employees and their spouses to be more serious and intentional about their daily interactions.
“[Relationships] has been our theme this year and studies have shown its connection to health and wellness,” said Leslie Evenson, Wellness Institute director and member of the Employee Wellness Committee. “Relationships are one of the most important things we have here on earth!”