BeWell Champs Demonstrate Self Care Isn’t Selfish

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Friday, April 7, 2023

As the coordinator in Lehigh’s Health Advancement and Prevention Strategies Office, Jenna Rose (photo right) supports student health on campus through programs such as Lehigh After Dark and the Peer Health Advisors. “We also produce the Installments issues,” Jenna noted. “That's usually how people know us.”

Jenna Rose smiles as she stands outside Packard Lab on the campus of Lehigh University on a sunny spring morning.Jenna’s role at Lehigh allows her to combine her educational background in English and journalism with her personal interest in health. In addition to her day job at Lehigh, Jenna also teaches group fitness classes at Taylor Gym. So it’s probably not surprising that she’s one of this year’s BeWell top points earners at the Soar level. “I've been very health minded throughout my life,” she shared. “So I thought I should participate. It’s nice to get the wellness credit. That’s what really started my participation in BeWell.”

Earning rewards for the healthy active lifestyle she already leads was a bonus for Jenna, but she also enjoys digging into other aspects of the BeWell program. “Having been on Zoom for over a year and trying to still offer programs and have students maintain some sense of community and belonging was very difficult,” she explained. “The content about job burnout came at a very helpful time.”

If you’re aiming to reach the Soar level of BeWell this year, Jenna says it’s not as hard as it sounds. Even with a busy life that includes her day job, fitness instruction, and a young child, she makes time for herself. She gets away from her desk on campus at lunch for walks with colleagues, and she checks in on the BeWell program regularly.

“It's so easy if you take even just five minutes every day to look for things that you're interested in and click through and learn something,” she said. “I hear ‘I don't have time for that’ a lot. I know finding time for yourself takes a backseat to so many other obstacles and priorities in life. But there's a lot on BeWell that you might already be doing. Maybe it’s just about having more intention in something that you're doing now.”


Staying “On Mission” to Manage Stress

An Associate Professor and Program Director of the College of Education’s Counseling Psychology Program, Susan Woodhouse (photo right) researches stress response and recovery in children ages 1 through 3 and their parents. 

Susan Woodhouse smiles as she stands in her kitchen at home pouring liquid into jars in her yogurt maker.“Those early years are so important because they they set up the fundamental framework for how we manage our emotions and how we manage our stress,” she explained “And so my thinking is, if we can get in there early and really help parents and their children to have the best possible ways of regulating their emotions, that will prepare them for a life of better mental health. It will help parents enjoy their kids and be more present for them as well.”

Working on research in this field helped Susan recognize when she needed to make her stress management a priority. “This past year my own stress had gotten so high coming out of dealing with COVID, and all the extra responsibilities and stresses that brought, including spending some time supporting my daughter in home schooling,” Susan said. “I felt like I needed to do something to actively manage my own stress.”

Susan says she really responded to the BeWell exercise that involves developing a personal mission. “I wrote a mission that was about why I do all the work that I do,” she explained. “Then every day I would check in about my mood, what I was grateful for, and what I had done that was on mission.”

Acknowledging her emotions and spending time focusing on gratitude helped Susan feel like she was “on mission.” It put everything into perspective. The concept was so powerful for her that she began sharing it with her students. 

With the rewards she earned through the program, Susan invested in stress reducing activities. First she used her wellness credit to subscribe to Headspace to help her sleep better. Then, pursuing her interest in the gut microbiome and probiotics, she used a portion of her gift cards to purchase yogurt making equipment and cultures, as well as jars for growing alfalfa and bean sprouts for their prebiotic benefits. 

Susan’s life hasn’t gotten less busy. The regular stressors of work and home continue. But through the BeWell program, always right at hand on her phone, she is prioritizing self care. As a result she is feeling less negative stress and feeling more aligned with her mission.

“The BeWell program really helped me,” she said. “It was a great support.”


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