Employee Wellness Newsletter

Support the Spread of Wellness

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The EWS Newsletter

This newsletter will provide information on emotional, mental, physical and nutritional health. We will focus on a proactive approach to health and well-being. The EWS Newsletter will also offer support & guidance resources and suggestions that we hope will reduce anxiety and stress.

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Self-compassion involves treating yourself the way you would treat a friend who is having a hard time, feeling inadequate, or is just facing a tough life challenge. The more complete definition involves three core elements that we bring to bear when we are in pain: self-kindness, common humanity (the recognition that everyone make mistakes and feels pain), and mindfulness.

Source: Mindful: Healthy Mind, Healthy Life

Self-Compassion Exercises

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Click on exercise title to access information.

Exercise 1: How would you treat a friend?

How do you think things might change if you responded to yourself in the same way you typically respond to a close friend when he or she is suffering? This exercise walks you through it.

Exercise 2: Self Compassion Break

This exercise can be used any time of day or night and will help you remember to evoke the three aspects of self-compassion in the moment you need it most.

Exercise 3: Exploring self-compassion through writing

Everybody has something about themselves that they don’t like; something that causes them to feel shame, to feel insecure, or not “good enough.” This exercise will help you write a letter to yourself about this issue from a place of acceptance and compassion.

Exercise 4: Supportive Touch

In this exercise you will learn how to activate your parasympathetic nervous system by using supportive touch to help you feel calm, cared for and safe.

Exercise 5: Changing your critical self-talk

By acknowledging your self-critical voice and reframing its observations in a more friendly way, you will eventually form the blueprint for changing how you relate to yourself long-term. This exercise will help you learn how to do it.

Exercise 6: Self Compassion Journal

Keeping a daily journal in which you process the difficult events of your day through a lens of self-compassion can enhance both mental and physical well-being. This exercise will help make self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness part of your daily life.

Exercise 7: Identify what we really want

Remember that if you really want to motivate yourself, love is more powerful than fear. In this exercise, you’ll reframe your inner dialogue so that it is more encouraging and supportive.

Exercise 8: Taking care of the caregiver

This exercise will allow you to keep your heart open and help you care for and nurture yourself at the same time you’re caring for and nurturing others.

Source: Self-Compassion Exercises by Dr. Kristin Neff

Give Yourself a Break

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Behavior is a form of communication

People with high levels of self-compassion demonstrate three behaviors: kind rather than judgmental about their own failures and mistakes; recognize that failures are a shared human experience; take a balanced approach to negative emotions when they stumble or fall short—they allow themselves to feel bad, but they don’t let negative emotions take over.

A Growth Mindset

One of the key requirements for self-improvement is having a realistic assessment of where we stand—of our strengths and our limitations. Convincing ourselves that we are better than we are leads to complacency, and thinking we’re worse than we are leads to defeatism. When people treat themselves with compassion, they are better able to arrive at realistic self-appraisals, which is the foundation for improvement.

Source: Harvard Business Review

The Transformative Effects of Mindful Self-Compassion

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Does Self-Compassion = Self-Pity?

Many people fear self-compassion is really just a form of self-pity. In fact, self-compassion is an antidote to self-pity. While self-pity says “poor me,” self-compassion recognizes that life is hard for everyone. Research shows that self-compassionate people are more likely to engage in perspective taking, rather than focusing on their own distress. They are also less likely to ruminate on how bad things are, which is one of the reasons self-compassionate people have better mental health.

Fear vs. Truth

Fear: Self-compassion will make us weak and vulnerable.

Truth: In fact, self-compassion is a reliable source of inner strength that confers courage and enhances resilience when we’re faced with difficulties. Research shows self-compassionate people are better able to cope with tough situations like divorce, trauma, or chronic pain.

Fear: Self-compassion is really the same as being self-indulgent.

Truth: It’s actually just the opposite. Compassion inclines us toward long-term health and well-being, not short-term pleasure (just as a compassionate mother doesn’t let her child eat all the ice cream she wants, but says, “eat your vegetables”). Research shows self-compassionate people engage in healthier behaviors like exercising, eating well, drinking less, and going to the doctor more regularly.

Fear: Self-compassion is really a form of making excuses for bad behavior.

Truth: Actually, self-compassion provides the safety needed to admit mistakes rather than needing to blame someone else for them. Research shows self-compassionate people take greater personal responsibility for their actions and are more likely to apologize if they’ve offended someone.

Fear: Self-criticism is an effective motivator.

Truth: It’s not. Our self-criticism tends to undermine self-confidence and leads to fear of failure. If we’re self-compassionate, we will still be motivated to reach our goals—not because we’re inadequate as we are, but because we care about ourselves and want to reach our full potential. Self-compassionate people have high personal standards; they just don’t beat themselves up when they fail.

Source: Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer

Take Action

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Learn a New Way to Deal

1. Think of a situation in your life that is difficult and is causing you stress.

2. Call the situation to mind and see if you can actually feel the stress and emotional discomfort in your body.

3. Now say to yourself, “This is a moment of suffering.” This acknowledgment is a form of mindfulness—of simply noticing what is going on for you emotionally in the present moment, without judging that experience as good or bad. You can also say to yourself, “This hurts” or “This is stress.” Use whatever statement feels most natural to you.

4. Next, say to yourself, “Suffering is a part of life.” This is a recognition of your common humanity with others—that all people have trying experiences, and these experiences give you something in common with the rest of humanity rather than mark you as abnormal or deficient. Other options for this statement include “Other people feel this way,” “I’m not alone,” or “We all struggle in our lives.”

5. Now, put your hands over your heart, feel the warmth of your hands and the gentle touch on your chest, and say, “May I be kind to myself.” This is a way to express self-kindness. You can also consider whether there is another specific phrase that would speak to you in that particular situation. Some examples: “May I give myself the compassion that I need,” “May I accept myself as I am,” “May I learn to accept myself as I am,” “May I forgive myself,” “May I be strong,” and “May I be patient.”

This practice can be used any time of day or night. If you practice it in moments of relative calm, it might become easier for you to experience the three parts of self-compassion—mindfulness, common humanity, and self-kindness—when you need them most.

Source: Greater Good in Action – Science-based Practices for a Meaningful Life

Your Valentine's Day Gift

Simple Ways to Practice Self-Love on Valentine's Day (and everyday)

Exercise - working out on Valentine's Day doesn't seem so romantic, but the benefits of sweating out anxiety and stress are numerous.

Write yourself a love letter from your higher-self - this may sounds weird, but it helps. It can take 30 seconds or 30 minutes, from a quick note to a letter that reveals the affirmation you need to hear from yourself, and no one knows you better.

Laugh with yourself - watch a funny sitcom, ready a funny book or magazine, call a friend that makes you laugh. The joy of laughter reminds us that when we laugh it lightens our mood and we feel more hopeful, friendlier, and resourceful.

Forgive yourself of recent mistakes and shortcomings - Yes, you made poor judgement, but instead of holding on to those feelings of regret, just let them go and resolve to do better next time.

Rest - whether it's a short nap or a full-blown mental health day from work, give your mind and body time to slow down.

Source: A Cup of Catherine

No Cost Online Workout Routines

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Eating Healthy

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Shredded Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa and Avocado Crema

Makes 4 Servings

Chicken Ingredients:

· 4 small breasts

· 1 T avocado or canola oil

· 1 t paprika

· 1 t onion powder

· 4 t chives

· garlic powder (about 1 t)

· salt and pepper to taste

Mango Salsa Ingredients:

· 1 cup chopped mango (about 1 small mango)

· 1/4 large sweet onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)

· 1 c chopped pearl tomatoes (about 4-5 pearl tomatoes)

· 8 basil leaves, chopped

· 2-3 T lime juice (about 1 small lime)

· Chili powder or red pepper to taste (½ to 1 t)

· Salt to taste

Avocado Crema Ingredients:

· 2 medium avocados cut into cubes (about 1 ½ cups cubed avocado)

· 3 T pesto

· ½ cup sweet onion, chopped or minced

· ½ cup unsweetened dairy free milk (to desired thickness)

· 2 t minced garlic

· 8 basil leaves, torn

· 3-4 T lime juice (about 1 lime)

· Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for Serving:

· 8 small whole grain tortillas

· 2-3 cups of greens (romaine or arugula)

· Optional garnish: 8 chopped basil leaves


1. Preheat the oven to Convection Bake 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Chop chicken into large pieces and place on a baking sheet.

3. Coat the chicken in the oil then cover in spices, enough to coat both sides.

4. Bake the chicken for 8-10 minutes, or until it feels slightly firm.

5. While the chicken is cooking- chop the mango, onion, tomatoes, and basil. Combine all salsa ingredients in serving bowl.

6. Then put avocado creme ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until creamy.

7. When chicken is done cooking, remove from stovetop and place on a cutting board. Let sit for a few minutes then shred using two forks.

8. Warm tortillas in pan on stovetop. Top with each taco with greens, 1/4 cup of mango salsa, 1/2 shredded chicken breast, and 2 T avocado creme. Optional: garnish with basil.

If you do not use the convection setting on your oven the chicken will take a few more minutes to cook.

You can also cook it on the stove top:

  1. Cut breasts into chunks and coat in seasonings in a bowl.
  2. Heat oil in pan.
  3. Add the chicken breasts to pan and cook for 5-6 minutes on the first side. Flip the chicken breasts using a pair of tongs and cook the other side for 5-6 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and allow chicken breasts to rest in pan for at least 5 minutes before cutting.

by Nicole Finken, RD, LD

Nutritional Counseling

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Covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield as well as other insurance groups.

Cigna Life Assistance Program is our Irving ISD Employee Assistance Program. Cigna LAP resources range from health and wellness to financial planning to legal advice. This program is available to all IISD employees. Also included are 3 free counseling sessions with a counselor/therapist in your area. You do not need to be insured by the school district to receive this benefit. Click on the link above for more information.
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Our mental health benefits through the TRS-ActiveCare plan include psychiatry, therapy, inpatient and outpatient care, and virtual care through Teladoc® and your current providers. Click on the button above to receive more information.
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Assurasource Behavioral Health Services is offering IISD employees 3 months of free virtual counseling this school year. Click on the link above for more information about Assurasource including their webpage and phone number. If interested call and let them know that you are employed by Irving ISD.

Support the Spread of Wellness

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About Us

Our Employee Wellness and Support Services provides opportunities and resources for employees to develop and maintain healthy emotional, mental, and physical well-being through support and guidance, as well as promoting personal and professional productivity through educational engagement.

For more information about Employee Wellness and Support Services visit our website:

Employee Wellness and Support Services or contact Jose Villasenor, EWS Coordinator:

jovillasenor@irvingisd.net | 972-600-5217 Office | 469-781-1843 Mobile

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Questions, Suggestions, Comments


Jose Villasenor


972-600-5217 O | 469-781-1843 M

Employee Wellness Webpage

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