The Wellness Word

November 2016

Big image

Destress your Holidays

Not having enough time, not having enough money, and the pressure of gift giving are the three main drivers of holiday related stress. This overbearing stress can lead to anxiety, depression, headaches, sleep problems, weight gain, lack of focus, and even heart disease.

So what really happens to your body when you are stressed?

The human body is designed to respond to short bursts of stress, like when a dog barks at you while you're out for a jog. These threats stimulate your hypothalamus, a part of your brain designed to communicate to the other areas of your body. Your body releases hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones increase your heart rate, raise your blood pressure, and increases the sugar in your blood stream. You're food digestion and all other nonessential functions stop at this point. This is called the fight or flight response.

The good news is that this is a short term response. When the threat is gone, your body stabilizes and returns to its normal state. But, when you are constantly stress, the fight or flight response stays active.

How do you combat stress?

1. A healthy diet and regular exercise

2. Setting a strict sleep schedule to make sure you get your 8 hours

3. Set time to explore and enjoy your hobbies

4. Laugh

5. Make a budget and stick to it

6. Say "no" when you feel overwhelmed and don't want to tackle any more tasks

7. Relax with a hot bath, massage, soothing music, yoga, or deep breathing exercises

8. Acknowledge your feelings. Sometimes you just need to vent!

9. Be realistic with yourself and understand that sometimes holiday traditions change as families grow

10. Don't be afraid to seek help from a friend or a mental health professional.

If you don't feel comfortable asking for help, check out "This is a free, anonymous, and confidential online chat with trained listeners, therapists, and counselors." You can chat about anything you want, or find a specialized listener for work related stress, exercise motivation, financial stress, grief, and more!

For more information and tips, visit

November's Staff Spotlight is Rachel Gerhardt!

"Variety and moderation is the motto I follow as I try to demonstrate healthy living. In my daily life, health and wellness are most prominent through exercise and healthy eating. I love going for walks and especially enjoy the brisk and colorful Autumn weather. In the kitchen, I enjoy preparing healthy meals and exploring new recipes. It is my hope that others will see how fun and easy healthy cooking can be!"

Thanks for sharing, Rachel! Below, you can find one of Rachel's favorite recipes.

Oatmeal Chocolate-chip Pancakes


  • 2 C oat flour (ground up oats)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 C plain Greek yogurt
  • 1C milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/3 C mini chocolate chips


  1. In a large bowl, combine oat flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon
  2. In a separate bowl, combine Greek yogurt, milk, egg, vanilla extract and 1 T maple syrup
  3. Combine and stir the wet and dry ingredient mixtures
  4. Stir in chocolate chips
  5. If the batter is too thick, add more milk
  6. Spray or oil a large pan over medium heat
  7. Add 1/3 C of batter to form pancakes
  8. Cook until all bubbles have popped (~3 mins) and flip over for an additional minute
  9. Serve warm with maple syrup, nut butter, or preserves

Brain Breaks

Go Noodle

Go Noodle is a great website for interactive videos to get your kids moving. They have videos for deep breathing, exercise, nutrition, hygiene, bullying prevention, and more! They will have your kids running in place, dancing, and answering important questions about their health!

Signing up is free, and once you create your account, they will tailor their videos to your preferences and grade.

Videos are anywhere from 2-8 minutes long, so you can choose your video based on how much time you have!

Forget Quiet as a Mouse, and Adopt Silent Simon Says

Quiet as a Mouse is a great game to play to keep kids quiet for awhile. While the game may keep mouths closed, it doesn't keep students hands to themselves. Silent Simon Says is interactive, and encourages appropriate movement. To play the game, the teacher will start as "Simon". Choose a series of physical movements for students to copy, such as patting your head, hopping on one foot, or even yoga poses! After a minute or two, the teacher may select another "Simon" by pointing at them. Once kids learn how to play this game, it is a great game to play while walking to the bathroom or lunch. Students are able to stand up, get their blood pumping, and all while being silent and attentive! Remember, no talking!

"10 Alternatives to Taking Away Recess"

"We believe that unstructured free play is the most ideal way for kids to spend their recess time. But when discipline is necessary, there are alternative punishments that can still provide opportunities for kids to move and get sensory input rather than standing or sitting to the side during recess.

Here are some ideas:

1 || Walking laps around the track or playground with the teacher.

2 || Cleaning up 10 pieces of litter or wiping down slides on the playground before being allowed to play.

3 || Raking leaves or pulling weeds in the school garden.

4 || Complete 10 designated motor or sensory activities to complete before joining friends on the playground. Check out this visual choice board for brain breaks.

5 || Participate in a job that incorporates movement (e.g. stacking chairs, helping in the library or cafeteria, delivering items around the school, sweeping floor, wiping tables, washing a window) before going out to play.

6 || Losing a specific (favorite) piece of playground equipment or a specific playground activity (e.g. no football today, no jungle gym today).

7 || Losing screen time instead of recess time.

8 || Designate a recess “break space”. Draw a large rectangle on the ground with sidewalk chalk. Inside the rectangle, draw lines/paths/shapes. Instead of standing/sitting, kids can walk/run on the paths or jump/hop from shape to shape.

9 || Earning a recess reward! Instead of taking something away, what about having students work toward earning a special outdoor recess game, toy, or even extra recess for completing work or staying on track with behavior?

10 || Be the leader! Turn that negative behavior into something positive. Have the student come up with 2 games involving movement and have them lead the entire class (a unique game of tag, an obstacle course, etc)."

Remember, taking away recess isn't considered a punishment to some children. Some kids don't mind being held from recess, making the punishment ineffective.

Skate with Santa

Saturday, Dec. 17th, 1-2:30pm

2100 South Henderson Street

Bloomington, IN

This is open for all ages! The cost is $6 per person and $3 per skate rental.

Celebrate the holiday on the ice with Santa and his elves. Photo ops are available with cookies and punch. Come dressed in your best ugly sweater for a chance to win prizes!

Bloomington Community Farmers Market

Saturday, Nov. 12th, 9-11am

401 North Morton Street

Bloomington, IN

Find fresh and locally grown farm products every Saturday morning! There are vegetables, annual and perennial plants, products from small dairies, flowers, meats, cheeses, and more! You can use your EBT card to exchange SNAP benefits for Market Bucks. The value of your EBT/SNAP purchase is doubled at the market. You can spend up to $18 with your card, and receive $36 of fresh food per visit. Restrooms and an ATM machine are available in City Hall. This is a smoke and pet free zone. To find more information about vendor profiles, schedule, and product availability, visit The market is open Saturdays through November from 9am-1pm.

Action for Healthy Kids Webinar

Wednesday, Dec. 14th, 4pm

This is an online event.

Wellness Wednesday: Nudge Kids to Eat Better at School: Smarter Lunchroom Strategies that Work

Do students at your school regularly select healthy options offered with school meals? If not, don't fret! We can nudge students to make healthy choices by making our lunchrooms smarter. Join Action for Healthy Kids for our December Wellness Wednesday Webinar to learn about the Smarter Lunchrooms movement and explore strategies to spruce up your school cafeteria to encourage kids to choose the healthiest options available.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 | 30 minutes
4:00 PM (ET), 3:00 PM (CT), 2:00 PM (MT), 1:00 PM (PT)

Register at