IT Spotlight: In Conversation with UITS’ Wellness Ambassadors Grishma Chitrakar and Matt Shimel
The role of wellness in the workplace and becoming Wellness Ambassadors
Well-being is an important aspect of our lives, both at home and at work. Often, we all need the encouragement and shared experiences to begin or continue the journey towards good health. UITS is motivating its staff to focus on their well-being through our Wellness Ambassadors Grishma Chitrakar and Matt Shimel. Wellness Ambassadors advocate for their unit’s wellness needs with Life & Work Connections to help share wellness services and invite co-workers to participate in wellness activities.
In the recent months, our Wellness Ambassadors have initiated and promoted the Well-being Challenges—monthly challenges designed to keep ourselves healthy through avoidance and physical activity. We sat down to talk with Grishma and Matt to talk about these monthly challenges, the role of the Wellness Ambassador, and different ways they promote well-being in the workplace.
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IT Spotlight: The both of you kicked off the year with the Well-being Challenges. February was focused on avoiding deep-fried foods, and now in March, we’re trying to avoid sugar. How did the first month go for the both of you?
Matt Shimel: For myself, I knew it going to be hard for me because I love french fries and onion rings. I can't say that I was perfect the whole month. but I did try. I did put in the effort. It’s a challenge, so it's not meant to be easy, right? It's meant to help you get out of your comfort zone. It was a good excuse for me to try something new and do something a little more healthy.
Grishma Chitrakar: I usually I don't eat fried foods. Most of what I eat is homemade and doesn’t involve processed foods—so I’ve been pretty healthy! The challenge for March is avoiding sugar. I don't like chocolate, so it’ll be easy for me to not to have any desserts or added sugar.
IT Spotlight: Have you had any good responses from other UITS staff about their experience with no-fried-foods-February?
Matt: Yes! I did have a few people talk to me and say they were successful. Someone came to me to say that they had a party for Super Bowl Sunday, and instead of having food you would normally have at one of these get-togethers, they had made a lot of snacks in the air fryer.
It's one of those things where I hoped these challenges would have an impact on people So, when you find out that what you're doing does have an impact, it really makes you feel good.
IT Spotlight: Both of you have been Wellness Ambassadors for UITS for some time now, what led you to becoming an ambassador?
Grishma: I got connected with Life & Work Connections during the time of COVID. A lot of people were forced to stay at home and not socialize with anyone. That brought up many, many challenges to a lot of people who were now by themselves.
Matt: Years ago, when we were all on campus in the Computer Center, I was already leading Walking Wednesday. We would all just meet in the front of the building there and just go for a walk around to different places on campus. I also organized webinars and in-person presentations from Life & Work Connections.
Grishma was actually the one that said, "Hey, Matt, you should become a Wellness Ambassador!" So, I went to their website and saw what ambassadors do and realized I was already doing it already!
IT Spotlight: How does one become a Wellness Ambassador?
Matt: Well, the requirements are on their website. As an ambassador, we're responsible for creating an action plan every semester. Last semester, I had done a webinar and this semester I'm doing Move Arizona. Then, when you complete the goals of your plan, you do have questions that you have to answer and talk about. You know: How did it go? What would you do differently?
Grishma: The goal is really to have a Wellness Ambassador in each department and team so that they can encourage their teammates with upcoming activities, sharing wellness articles, and ensuring the wellness of their team. As a university, they are really promoting wellness and health for all the employees. The impact that you are making into the lives of the people that you work with is huge.
Right now, there are only two of us acting as Wellness Ambassadors for UITS—which has at least 350 employees. If you have a passion for well-being and you want to help other employees, we would love for you to sign up and join us!
IT Spotlight: So, right now we have the Well-being Challenges going on every month, what other events do you have planned to help promote wellness?
Matt: Well, we have Move Arizona going on right now. It’s basically eight weeks of encouraging you and your team to meet a goal of 150 minutes of movement each week. UITS has three teams right now trying to meet that goal. We also have three webinars coming up: Time Management Skills on March 29th, Stress Management on April 26th, and Redefining Productivity in the Remote Workplace on May 10th.
What I like about Life & Work Connections. is that they have so many resources. They've got financial education, health and wellness webinars, help with childcare or, if you’re taking care of older parents, they have help with that too. These are great resources that I want to let other folks know about. All of these programs are available to you and it's all part of your benefits. It's there for you to take advantage of.