8ight Ways to Wellness

Good health, energy, and confidence to live our lives to the fullest.

8ight Ways to Wellness
1. Be physically active.

People who are physically active tend to live longer and have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers. While it can be hard to find the time for activity, a good goal is to fit in at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day, like brisk walking or cycling. More is even better, but any amount is better than none. For many people, a good way to stay motivated is to try to get 10,000 steps each day. Most phones can keep track of steps; inexpensive pedometers work well, too.

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For Individuals:

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2. Don’t smoke. Limit alcohol.

Not smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible. You can do it. More than 1,000 Americans stop for good every day. Getting professional help can double your chances of success. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit smokefree.gov for free tips.

It’s also important to limit alcohol. Drinking has many risks, including an increased chance of developing cancer.  Even just ½ to 1 drink a day can increase the risk of breast and colon cancer.  While moderate drinking may be good for the heart in older adults, zero alcohol is the healthiest choice overall.

Take Action

  • Get specialized professional counseling from certified Tobacco Treatment Specialists when you enroll in the Freedom From Smoking behavior change program.  For assistance to enroll in this free benefit, contact MyWay to Health at mywaytohealth@wustl.edu or call 314-286-0078.
  • Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit smokefree.gov for free tips.
  • Find out if lung cancer screening is right for you.
  • Get support from a large quit-smoking community at Becomeanex.org.
  • Be mindful of how much alcohol is in your drink.
  • Complete this quiz to better understand your drinking patterns.
  • Identify symptoms of alcohol use disorder.
  • UnitedHealthcare members can access 24/7, confidential support for substance abuse concerns by calling The Substance Use Helpline at 1-855-780-5955.
  • Staff, faculty, and students can safely dispose of unused and/or expired medications through a drop box in the Washington University Police Department on the South 40 campus.
  • We know that individual needs vary and we want you to be successful! Contact your UHC Nurse Advocate, Bridgette Sims, BSN, RN, for private guidance and support as you take steps to reduce substance use. Call Bridgette at 314-440-3882 or email Bridgette_sims@uhc.com.
3. Get health screenings and immunizations.

As part of your regular health care, it’s important to connect with your provider to get recommended screening tests that help protect against serious diseases. Some screening tests find diseases early when they are most treatable, while others can play a role in preventing diseases before they start. These diseases and conditions should be tested for regularly: breast cancercervical cancercolon cancerlung cancer (in current/past heavy smokers), high blood pressurehigh blood sugarunhealthy blood cholesteroloverweight/obesity, and low bone density. Talk with a provider about which screening tests are right for you, at what age you should start them, and how often you should have them.

And, it’s important to work with your provider to manage any chronic conditions you have, like diabetes, hypertension, chronic pain, or depression. Consider enrolling in a disease management program through your health plan or participating in the WashU MyWay to Health consultations through Wellness Connection. Getting a flu shot each year and staying up to date with adult immunizations are also important steps for lowering your risk and looking after your health.

Take Action

  • Establish a relationship with a primary care physician. WUCare provides dedicated primary care for Washington University employees and families (age 18+) enrolled in the university-sponsored health plan (United Healthcare). Call 314-747-5900 to schedule an appointment.
  • Your onsite UHC Nurse Advocate can support you in finding a provider and managing your emerging or chronic health condition. She’s dedicated to WashU employees!
  • Stick to your wellness goals and get expert accountability from a MyWay to Health consultant – earn more rewards!
  • Schedule your breast cancer screening where you work!
  • Schedule your well woman exam.
  • The gold standard for colon cancer screening is a colonoscopy.
  • Find out if lung cancer screening is right for you.
4. Eat a healthy diet and keep calories in check.

Eating a healthy diet can lower risk of many diseases – including cancer. Focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and keep red and processed meat to a minimum. Make dishes with healthy oils, like olive, canola, and corn oil. And limit fast food and processed food, which can be high in calories, sodium, and unhealthy fats. Taking a 100% DV multivitamin can be a good nutrition insurance policy if diets fall short, and may also help lower the risk of some chronic diseases.

Avoiding weight gain by not eating more calories than needed is also a key part of a healthy diet. In addition to focusing on healthy plant-based foods, keep calories in check by choosing smaller portions, eating slowly, and choosing water instead of sugary and high-calorie drinks. Setting a daily calorie goal and keeping a food diary with a phone app can also help.

Take Action

For Individuals:

For Departments:

  • Recruit a Wellness Champion(s) for your department.
  • Be mindful of how food is presented at meetings and in the work space. Consider these guidelines from the AHA’s Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit (see practical strategies starting on p. 7)
  • Always offer at least one appealing fruit and/or vegetable option when food is presented at meetings or in the work place.
  • Reduce (and ultimately eliminate) soft drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages. Always offer water and consider alternatives to soda, such as unsweetened tea or seltzer with a splash of 100% juice.
  • Consider healthier alternatives to candy in vending machines, like dried fruit, popcorn or whole-grain graham crackers.
  • Consider implementing policies that require or incentivize healthier food options for meetings.
  • Invite one of the dietitians from the WashU MyWay to Health team to present on a healthy eating topic at your next staff meeting: https://hr.wustl.edu/wellness-connection/request-program/.
5. Use mindfulness and other healthy ways to lower stress.

Practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction and becoming aware of habitual reactions to tough situations can help in preventing distress that could lead to serious health conditions, including depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. Developing a daily stress-reducing practice can help you experience better emotional control, improved concentration, and a greater sense of ease throughout the day.

Take Action

For Individuals:
  • Reduce stress, increase focus and develop practical coping skills through the Move Into Mindfulness program. Beginner and advanced classes are offered year-round for WashU employees at no cost. 
  • You and your family can get assistance from your Work-Life Solutions program whenever you need them for confidential emotional support, as well as legal guidance, financial resources and just about anything on your to-do list! Utilize the tools in the Money Matters Toolkit to learn about simplifying your financial life and managing personal finances.
  • Exercise can boost your mood! Check out ways you can get moving.
  • The MyWay to Health Wellness Consultants help participants set goals and overcome barriers to improving their health and quality of life. The focus is on eating a nutritious diet, building regular routines for exercise, establishing healthy sleep and emotion management practices.
    Schedule a session or call 314-286-0078.
  • The UnitedHealthcare Behavioral Health benefit includes counseling services to help employees effectively deal with stressful and challenging situations. You can also connect with a mental health provider from the comfort of home using a virtual visit or through Talkspace, a new app where you can message a licensed therapist any time of day.
  • Get expert clinical care from the Washington University Psychiatry Mental Health Services for Employees and Families. Providers treat the full range of mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, PTSD, substance abuse and others. Both adult and child/adolescent services are available. 
  • The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to cause stress for both adults and children. The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) has information on ways to manage your mental health on its website.
For Departments:
6. Get enough sleep.

Not getting enough sleep is linked with an increased risk for a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, and depression. Getting enough sleep is not a luxury; it is something people need for good health. Experts recommend at least 7 hours of sleep a day. These can help with sleep: pick a regular bed time, avoid caffeine and heavy meals 4-6 hours before bedtime, and exercise regularly (but not right before bed). Talk with your primary care provider if you regularly have trouble sleeping.

Take Action

  • For credible, on-demand information to help you learn how to effectively improve your sleep, WashU Sleep Medicine experts recommend the patient resources from the American Academy of Sleep Science. Check out several tools, including a bedtime calculator, sleep diary, videos, and more.
  • Connect with a MyWay to Health wellness consultant regarding your goals to improve your sleep for guidance and accountability.
  • See a WashU Sleep Medicine expert for a clinical evaluation of your sleep concerns.
7. Plan for your financial well-being.

Planning and saving for our financial future can help bring peace of mind and opportunity as we make our way through life.  It can help us meet our financial needs now and in the future, and increase our ability to choose important and meaningful experiences that can contribute to our well-being – like spending time with family and friends, or donating our time or money to charity.   Make time now to explore our financial tools and resources, set goals and connect with one of our financial wellness consultants to prepare a solid foundation. As part of your financial goals, advance your career skills, abilities and knowledge by engaging in our learning and development opportunities.

Take Action

  • Participate in upcoming financial well-being resource sessions.
  • Make good use of discounts and special opportunities available to WashU employees.
  • Do you need help charting your credit card debt and personal loans? Check out the Debt Illustrator tool to see how much interest you will pay and when you can be debt free. Read about these steps to help you optimize your savings and then take action with this Budget Organizer.
  • WashU has partnered with Savi and TIAA to help employees manage their student loan repayment options and to determine eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. Learn more and check out these FAQs.
  • Connect with your WashU/TIAA financial well-being consultant to discuss your personal financial needs and learn how you can take action now to plan for the future you want. Call 1-800-732-8353 or schedule a consultation online. Learn more about the Retirement Savings Plan at Washington University.
  • Utilize the tools in the Money Matters Toolkit to learn about simplifying your financial life and managing personal finances. The toolkit is provided by Work-Life Solutions (EAP), a free resource for WashU employees and their families to assist with solutions for every aspect of your life.
  • Through self and career exploration Human Resources can help you make a plan to achieve personal success.
  • The Human Resources leadership development program aims to build effective leaders across the university.
8. Work together toward wellness – with family, friends & community.

Good health is something worth sharing. So, bring your friends, family and co-workers along with you on your wellness journey. Be active together. Shop for groceries and cook healthy meals together.  Encourage each other to seek work-life balance. And if you’d like to, take the extra step to help make healthy changes in your community as well.  Work to get healthier drink choices in public buildings or use social media to help connect people with local health resources and assistance.  Changes like these, however small they may seem, can together help lift up the wellness of a community by making it easier for people to find resources and make healthy choices. 

Take Action

  • Get active together! Kids and teens ages 6 to 17 need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.  Check out the Move Your Way Parent Interactive Graphic to help you identify time in your family’s daily routine for kids to get the recommended 60 minutes of activity.
  • Some cancers develop as a result of genetic factors that occur in families.  Talk to your family about your history of cancer and share with your doctor.  Assess your cancer risk with the Your Disease Risk tool, developed by world-renowned WashU experts!
  • Consult with an expert to plan a healthy pregnancy or discuss effective birth control options. Call 314-362-4211 to schedule an office visit or learn more at Washington University Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Call 1-888-246-7389 to enroll in the UnitedHealthcare Healthy Pregnancy Programor download the FREE app
  • You and your family can access 5 face-to-face or telephonic counseling sessions per person, per issue, per year through Work-Life Solutions (EAP).  This free WashU benefit is available 24/7 with multilingual access to experts on a variety of topics, including confidential counseling, legal and financial consultation, event planning or buying/selling a home. Login online or call 844-365-4587.  Company Web ID: WASHU
  • Formerly known as the Family Resource Center, the Center for Families Resource Library at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is your free resource for learning more about a diagnosis, condition, general health, and wellness. You can request health information, search for books in our online catalog, view a list of resources for parents working from home, and find the new teaching tool “Talking to Your Kids About Racism & Social Unrest”. Nurses and medical librarians are ready to answer questions and help you with research. Call 314-454-2350 with questions. 
  • Get involved with WashU’s Diversity and Inclusion efforts through many different opportunities and events.
  • The Gephardt Institute offers opportunities for faculty and staff to connect with community partners or volunteer in St. Louis and beyond.
  • Join the School of Medicine Research Participant Registry today, and help improve the health care of the future.
  • Does your department have a Wellness Champion? Join our Network of passionate employees who advocate for a workplace culture of wellness!
Learn More About the 8ight Ways Program
  • Washington University Human Resources team has partnered with Dr. Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, to present ‘8ight Ways to Wellness for WashU Employees’.  Dr. Colditz is the Niess-Gain professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the associate director of prevention and control at Siteman Cancer Center. His research shows these eight ways are key steps to reduce the risk of serious chronic diseases and to give us the good health, energy, and confidence to live our lives to the fullest – for ourselves, and for those close to us. Read about the research behind the 8ight Ways.
  • Checkout curated and trusted health information from the Feuerstein Health & Wellness Information Center at the Bernard Becker Medical Library.