Office of General Counsel
Heidi Klosterman has been a Wellness Connection Champion since the beginning of the program in 2015. She has always been an active member of the network, participating in our meetings, workshops, & programs, while promoting wellness opportunities to her friends and colleagues in the Office of General Counsel. During this recent time of upheaval, Heidi has approached her role of Wellness Champion with ingenuity, enthusiasm, and humor, providing a personal touch and building a community amongst her work peers. She does a great job of connecting her coworkers with university resources, such as:
- Farmer’s Market & CSA programs;
- MyWay to Health virtual workshops and individualized wellness consultations;
- Human Resources well-being resources;
- Move Into Mindfulness online sessions; and
- The new Champion sponsored webinar series.
I had the great pleasure of chatting with Heidi and learning more about her interest in wellness and how she positively influences the culture in her department.
What motivates you to volunteer as a Wellness Champion?
The university’s focus on wellness happened to coincide with a very stressful period in my life and I wanted to do something not only for myself but also to get involved and be in the vanguard of people promoting wellness in our WU community.
As a Wellness Champion, I participate in all the challenges, assessments, etc., and try to lead by example. I also promote all the programs and benefits to all of the employees in our office of general counsel. It is a privilege to work with the Wellness Connection team and Champion network to spread wellness throughout our WashU community.
Are there any unique aspects of your department that affect your role as Wellness Champion?
One of the primary difficulties I found was the fact that our office is split between Danforth and WUSM campuses. Although I always advised everyone in my department of all the wellness information, I was able to do more on Danforth (where I’m located) by posting news on our office bulletin board and having conversations with people in the office. I felt like my WUSM colleagues were getting the short end of the stick, so I reached out to a colleague at the Medical School Campus for support. Now I have a co-champion and both offices are engaged in wellness activities, which I’m very happy about.
How has COVID-19 affected your role as a Champion?
With respect to what I’m doing during the pandemic, that basically started after receiving a Wellness Connection email reminding Champions of all the resources and new/changed activities that are available to employees during this time. I forwarded the information to everyone in an email, but since we are apart it occurred to me that I should do something a little more proactive to ensure that people really are looking at the information; to make sure they know how to access the available resources and that they have the opportunity to ask questions.
Our General Counsel started having 30-minute check-in zoom calls each week so we could all see each other and stay updated on office business. I thought we could do something similar for wellness so during the first call, I pitched the idea of having an OGC wellness zoom group that could meet and just check-in with each other, share wellness ideas, etc. Several people were interested so we ended up creating a weekly zoom group that meets Fridays during lunch for an hour.
For the first half-hour or so we just check in with each other to see how we are doing, chat, and share our wellness activities as well as our highs and lows that week. Several of us have parents who are in assisted living facilities who have completely restricted access and we have a couple of members with kids graduating from college and high school. So we share our stress, concerns, and disappointments over things like that. But we also share successes, like what the parents are doing to celebrate graduation milestones personally. We also have shared exercise ideas, healthy recipes, wellness articles, etc. Around the 12:30 mark, Wellness Consultant Meg Krejci joins us and leads us in a 15 minute (approx.) mindfulness exercise that everyone really enjoys. Mental health wellness is something I’ve always been particularly interested in and it is even more important during this stressful and uncertain time. So it has been terrific of Meg to join our group and spend time with us.
In addition to the Friday meeting, I also send a group email each week. Sometimes this includes interesting articles about wellness that I’ve found or exercises that other group members have shared with me. Once I sent a funny COVID-19 meme that made me laugh. Recently I sent everyone a link to a YouTube video of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole performing Somewhere Over the Rainbow because it is so calming and makes me happy, and I wanted to share the feeling with others.
One of our group members came up with the idea of doing what she calls Creative Quarantine Cooking so we are going to turn that into a group challenge that consists of 4 weeks of cooking and 2 weeks of baking. One of our attorney’s husband is a chef, and for our challenge, he has graciously agreed to serve as our “Master Chef”. Each week of the challenge he is going to provide a list of ingredients we have to use in a single dish or baked good. We have a week to plan, shop, and cook or bake, and then post or email photos of the finished product, along with the recipe.
Heidi, thank you for sharing your story and working with your colleagues to foster a culture of health and wellness in your work area.
If you’d like to learn more about the Wellness Connection Champion network, check out our website: hr.wustl.edu/wellness-connection/champions/.