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Refresh and reinvigorate with Renew

Take time to refresh and reinvigorate yourself during the fall wellness challenge, Renew. This 4-week program is an opportunity for employees to take a holistic approach to well-being. Check back weekly as we share ways to re-engage with your family, friends, and community while working toward your well-being goals.

Renew wellbeing challenge logo
WashU’s fall 2022 wellness challenge runs from Oct. 24 to Nov. 20, 2022.

Week 1 – October 25 | Create Calm

Give Meditation a Try 

Breathe deep and focus the mind for myriad health benefits  

Meditation has ancient roots in cultures all over the world. Despite its rich history and traditions, you don’t need much to experience the advantages – just a quiet room and a few minutes. Here’s how:  

  • Find a guide. Meditation is a solitary practice, but a good podcast or app can provide useful tips and techniques to help keep you on track.  
  • Practice, practice, practice. As with learning any skill, improvement in meditation requires repetition. Don’t burn yourself out in the first week; play the long game and start with just 5-10 minutes each day, building up to 20-40 minutes a day. 
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Your mind will wander; it happens to everyone. You’ll sit down to focus and end up thinking about groceries or bills. That’s natural and expected. Progress comes when you pause and bring your attention back to the breath each time.  

The simple act of sitting quietly has persevered through the ages for good reason. Research shows it has numerous health and wellness benefits, ranging from stress and pain reduction to smoking cessation.  

“Wherever you are is the entry point. The opportunity to drop into this moment is always here. Slow down, take a conscious breath, open the senses, and discover a space of calm.”

Meg Krejci, MBA, mindfulness consultant

WashU offers resources to help you create calm 

Dive Deeper 

If you’d like to learn skills to create calm and haven’t already done so, consider participating in WashU’s current wellness challenge, Renew, which runs from Oct. 24 to Nov. 20, 2022.  

Week 2 – November 1 | Boost Happiness

Break bread with others

We know that a nutritious diet provides fuel for our bodies – for organs to work, muscles to move, and the brain to function. But did you know that sharing meals with a friend, family member, or coworker can offer a shared experience that strengthens a sense of connection and camaraderie? Feed your body and your mind by breaking bread together.

Communal meals offer a variety of benefits, including:

  • Feeling happier
  • Better physical and mental well-being
  • Enhanced life satisfaction and community connectedness
  • Stronger bonds and a wider social network

Children experience substantial benefits when families eat together, such as:

  • Healthier food choices
  • Reduced risk for substance abuse and eating disorders
  • Better school engagement and academic achievement

“Cooking dinner for yourself or the family can seem like an insurmountable task for many busy folks, leading to fast-food, convenience items, and distracted eating. This doesn’t have to be the case. When you include your family or friends in the process of selecting and cooking meals, you are getting to know them better, teaching valuable skills, and getting buy-in (maybe kiddos will try a new veggie if they’ve chosen it and had a hand in preparing it!).”

Maggie Danforth, RD, LD, MyWay to Health wellness consultant

WashU offers resources to help you boost happiness
MyWay to Health provides evidence-based opportunities to help you on your wellness journey:

  1. Wellness Workshops | Go with your gut – nutrition and digestive health. Registered dietitians will discuss nutrition & digestive health and showcase recipes & strategies to boost immunity through nutrition as we move into cold and flu season. Register to attend the Nov. 10 workshop virtually or in person
  2. Individualized Consultations | Take advantage of our in-house experts and meet with a MyWay to Health consultant to create your individualized wellness plan. Learn more about the free program and schedule your consultation
  3. Expert Advice | Learn how to find nourishment through nutrition

Dive Deeper 

If you’d like to learn skills to boost happiness and haven’t already done so, consider participating in WashU’s current wellness challenge, Renew, which runs from Oct. 24 to Nov. 20, 2022.  

Week 3 – November 8 | Sharpen Focus

Reduce clutter for better sleep, mood, productivity

The physical state of your space – whether at work or at home – can have a major impact on your health. Clutter can increase stress and make it difficult to relax. Getting organized may offer a wide range of health benefits, including: 

  • Better sleep 
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Increased productivity
  • Less depression
  • Healthier food and exercise choices 

When clutter piles up on surfaces and laundry baskets overflow, it can feel overwhelming. Try these simple tips to get started; once you’ve made a little progress, your organizing efforts will gain momentum: 

  • Break it up. Turn your large long-term goal into several smaller tasks. Tackling the garage or your closets over a weekend may be too much. Instead, begin by sorting a single category, like tools, gardening items or sports equipment.  
  • Limit yourself to avoid burnout. Plan to work toward your goal for an hour or so at a time. That way you’ll feel accomplished and ready to tackle more later.  
  • Categorize to ease decision making. Separate items into recycle, trash, donate, sell, or keep. This can help you maintain focus.  
  • Schedule time to organize your calendar. Block your calendar for 15 minutes to organize yourself and your loved ones. Take this time to make any necessary preventative wellness exams, such as your annual doctor’s appointment, dental or eye exam.  

Consistency is the key. Maintaining your tidy space will come easily when you do a little, more often, rather than allowing clutter to build up.  

Getting organized doesn’t just have to be for clutter around the house. You can also take control of your health by organizing and mapping out your regular well-being appointments. Meet with our new UnitedHealthcare Nurse Advocate to talk about which screenings may be appropriate for you and participate in the annual health screenings which are free to benefit-eligible faculty, staff, postdoctoral appointees and clinical fellows. 

“Can you believe it’s November already? Take time now to get organized by planning your annual wellness visit with your primary care provider and scheduling recommended preventive care screenings. This United Healthcare site can help you determine which screenings might be appropriate for you. If you need help finding a provider, knowing where to go for screenings, or just have general questions, contact me at or by phone at 314-440-3882. I’m more than happy to assist you.” 

Bridgette Sims, BSN, RN, United Healthcare nurse advocate

WashU offers resources to help you sharpen focus 

Dive Deeper 

If you’d like to learn skills to sharpen focus and haven’t already done so, consider participating in WashU’s current wellness challenge, Renew, which runs from Oct. 24 to Nov. 20, 2022.  

Week 4 – November 15 | Increase Energy

Exercise Early for Maximum Rewards

Start your day with physical activity for a range of benefits

Exercise at any time of day makes you feel great, but when your schedule allows, moving your body in the morning can provide bonus perks:

  • Get it done. Good intentions can easily be waylaid by work, social obligations, and flagging motivation. If you leave it to the end of the day, exercise is easy to put off until tomorrow. If you make it your first priority, you’re apt to fit in physical activity more often.
  • Set the tone. Starting your day with exercise is a positive step that creates momentum for healthy choices throughout the day.
  • Sleep better. Morning workouts provide big benefits to quality sleep.

Energize your fitness routine by incorporating short bursts of activity to improve your workout efficiency. 

Many people cite lack of time as their #1 excuse for missing workouts, but you don’t have to spend hours at the gym to experience the rewards of exercise. Interval training – alternating short bursts of intense activity with longer intervals of lower intensity exercise – gives you a quick effective option. You’ll maximize the time you do have by building fitness and muscle strength efficiently. Try gradually increasing periods of higher intensity and whittling down lower intensity until you reach a balance that’s doable but still challenging.  

“No matter your schedule or fitness level, there are a couple of things that anyone could do before they really get going with their day that would help to increase their energy throughout the day. Waking up just 10 minutes early to move your body can have a positive impact on your health, even if that’s just gentle stretching or a short walk around the block.”

Meghann Feely, associate director of fitness & operations at Sumers Recreation Center

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. 

WashU offers resources to help you increase energy 

Dive Deeper 

If you’d like to learn skills to increase energy and haven’t already done so, consider participating in WashU’s current wellness challenge, Renew, which runs from Oct. 24 to Nov. 20, 2022. 

Renew is a four-week opportunity to refresh and reinvigorate yourself through a holistic approach to well-being, including physical & mental health and community engagement. This is a different kind of challenge; it’s a chance to wind down and renew our energy and ourselves. Benefits-eligible employees can join the challenge at any time before it concludes on Nov. 20, 2022. Learn more about and register for the Renew challenge