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Being a leader takes practice. We’re excited to share our latest experiments and lessons learned.

Hoo's Well
Friday, November 3, 2017

The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. I love being bundled up in sweaters and blankets, seeing the trees and rooftops covered in snow, and having the excuse to have that extra cup of coffee just to stay warm. But along with the holiday season comes stress, lack of sleep, warm and cozy (and not so healthy) comfort food, and less time spent being active and outside. This could explain why on average, even if you are in good health, people tend to gain between two to five pounds during the holiday season1. Although this may not seem like a big deal now, as the years go on, these extra pounds can add up.

Then, after each holiday season, it’s time for the annual “New Year’s resolution.” The time where, after we’ve gotten through the holiday slump, we recommit and create new goals to a healthier lifestyle and better wellbeing.

This year, I challenge you to commit to yourself before the holiday temptations and craziness begin. Take a moment to think back on the holidays. What is one way you can keep your health and wellness goals in check during these next two months? For inspiration, check out these three goals to stay on top of your health and wellbeing this holiday season:

Plan ahead.
Whether it be planning your fitness routine, your meals for the day, or your to-do list for your holiday party, planning ahead and being prepared helps calm the chaos during this time of year. Research has shown that those who plan ahead and schedule their time have reduced levels of stress, are more efficient, and are more likely to stick to their goals. 3,4.

Don’t forget to schedule time for yourself! The holidays tend to be about others. Whether it be driving your kids around during winter break, trying to find the best present for your loved ones, or even being stuck in traffic around hundreds of other people when running errands – it can be hard to find time for yourself. As you are planning your time, I challenge you to schedule ten minutes per day to do something for you.

Find time to be active.
Fitness goals are easily pushed aside during busy times of the year. But don’t forget, exercise has been shown to reduce stress, provide energy, and help prevent weight gain (all things that are prevalent during the holiday season).2 Even if it’s getting a few exercises done during commercial breaks, or taking daily ten-minute walks, try to meet the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week throughout these next few months.

Take a deep breath.
In the midst of chaos, stress, and fun, don’t forget to take a few deep breaths. Deep breathing helps to lower stress, lower blood pressure, and clear and refocus the mind. Simple breathing techniques, such as 4-7-8 breathing5 (which involves inhaling for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and exhaling for eight seconds), have been shown to be beneficial.

Looking for help managing the stress of the holidays? Check out UVA’s FEAP’s seminar on Tips for Coping with Holiday Stress on December 13th. Click here for more information and to register online! 

Hoo's Well
Friday, October 6, 2017

Everyone has a friend that they love to be around because they are genuinely a positive person. Typically, we like to be around these types of people because when you’re around a positive and happy person, their mood and expressions will begin to uplift your mood as well.

However, current research is telling us that a positive attitude goes far beyond smiling at someone as they pass you on the street or feeling good when you have a good day at work. Yes, these things are still important – but it has been shown that when you see more joy, contentment, and love, you will also see more possibilities in your life and open your mind to new opportunities!1

Positive psychologists have seen trends that suggest positive thinking can build skills such as social and creative skills, as well as help individuals cope with times of stress and during hardships.2 A study at a hospital in Denmark found that patients with a more positive attitude/mood were 58% more likely to live at least five years longer.3

Consider adding a few of the following tasks into your daily life to increase your personal positivity:

Meditate daily
Start your morning off with meditation. Remember last month when we mentioned the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod? Well he, as well as many others, recommend starting your day off with a little daily meditation. Meditation is a great way to refocus, set intentions for the day ahead, and to reduce stress before the day even begins.

Write down daily positive experiences 
At the end of each day, take five minutes to write down three positive experiences or three things you are grateful for from that day. Check out the “5 Minute Journal” app for daily reminders and journal space right on your smartphone!

Help others
Studies have shown that people who volunteer tend to be happier than those who do not. Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community, spend time meeting new people, and get together as a family.

Schedule time to do something you enjoy each day and HAVE FUN
It is so easy to let our days fill with to-do lists, work, and chores. Focusing only on things you have to do, deadlines, and the obstacles in the way is a sure-fire way to get stressed, overwhelmed, and let negativity into your life. Instead, spend time with your family, play outside, read a good book, dance to your favorite song, or anything that makes you happy. Don’t forget to have a little fun!

Increase your positivity this month by giving back or getting involved. Check out the Hoo’s Well Schedule for volunteering events and ways to get active in the community! Visit the Health & Benefits Expo on October 11th at Newcomb Hall from 8:30am – 2pm for more ideas and activities to benefit your well-being.

Hoo's Well
Friday, September 1, 2017

I used to envy the people who could get up and accomplish over half of their to-do list before my alarm had even gone off in the morning. I would visualize myself getting up early, drinking a cup of coffee in the quiet of my home, and being productive. I used to want the life of a morning person. Now, I have it.

We’ve all heard the expression “the early bird gets the worm,” but is it actually true? Are early risers more productive than those who sleep in? The answer is yes; early risers really are more productive than night owls because they tend to be more proactive, research says. According to a 2008 Harvard study, those who woke up earlier were more likely to value actions such as spending more time creating goals and taking charge of their lives2. Research has also shown that waking up early helps you maintain a healthier diet and exercise routine, improves your quality of sleep, and can result in an overall increase in mood1.

However, even with the promise of increased productivity and improved general wellness, the problem for most is in the actual act of transitioning to become a morning person.

I began my transition to become a morning person with the help of the book “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod. Elrod explains how it helped him personally have the best year of his life.

Here are a few of the most successful tips I have gained over the last two years of finding my “miracle morning”:

  1. Just get up – instead of pressing snooze, or reading email in my bed, as soon as my alarm goes off I stand up, brush my teeth, and drink a glass of water.
  2. Exercise – I have found that if I exercise in the morning, not only do I start my day with a new level of energy, but I can’t let my end-of-the-day excuses hold me back from my fitness routine if I’ve already gotten my 30 minutes in for the day.
  3. Fall in love with breakfast – I can’t tell you how many times I have to bribe myself to get out of bed for that hot cup of coffee and a delicious morning meal.
  4. Start small – instead of trying to get up an entire hour earlier and then crashing the next day/failing on the first try, start by getting up in ten-minute increments. Rise earlier and earlier each day until you reach the goal time you wish to wake up each morning. This will help your mind and body adjust to the earlier start time. Remember, the earlier you rise, the earlier you should head to bed to ensure you get enough sleep to rest and refuel your body!

Need some morning motivation? Check out Hoo’s Well’s schedule for early morning classes and programs that you can attend! Put your “extra” minutes toward the Fall Fitness Challenge. Earn up to $500 for completing three steps toward your good health. Details available at