Jason joined Illinois State University in 2000 and became a staff member in the School of Communication as a Chief Clerk in 2001. Among many administrative daily tasks, Jason also manages the front office. The role of employee Wellness Ambassador for Health Promotion and Wellness’ SEVEN program is relatively new to Jason, as his ambassadorship fell into his lap in 2017 when a colleague retired. However, Jason has been a fan of the SEVEN program for many years.
While discussing the SEVEN program, Jason notes, “I like how SEVEN is more than physical wellness, it’s more holistic. I really like the spiritual, emotional, social, and intellectual dimensions of SEVEN. We are emotional and spiritual beings.” Drawing from a French philosopher’s work, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Jason adds, “we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Referring to the Course of Miracles, Jason notes, “SEVEN is similar in that it is circular in concept and not linear.”
Even though Jason appreciates what the SEVEN program has to offer, he is honest in saying what many of us can relate to.
“Sometimes my biggest challenge can be consistency in prioritizing wellness,” he said. “But, I know I feel better, I’m more able to manage stress, I feel more clear, mindful, and grounded during my work day when I am consistent. I think when I take time for wellness, even 20 minutes in a day is worth the investment. I also think I don’t want to have arthritis, joint pain, a knee or hip replacement, or end up in a wheelchair.”
Those are certainly strong motivators to invest time in wellness. Sometimes it’s finding those motivators that can activate making wellness a priority. When asking Jason how he practices and tries to role model SEVEN for others, Jason shares “I like walking, stretching, doing curls, and using the stairs for physical activity. For intellectual activities, I like reading mysteries and non-fiction books that teach you things. I also do word finds and Sudoku puzzles.”
Jason also shares he tends to be more of an introvert, “The social and emotional dimensions of SEVEN has helped me participate in more social activities, like book clubs, the summer Wellness Walks, volunteering, taking time with friends, and attending church. Being a Wellness Ambassador, I can now attend the annual Wellness Ambassador retreats and meet other Wellness Ambassadors as well.” On a final social-emotional note, Jason adds, “I think being social can also help with depression. Being and doing for others can focus our minds on something else.”
Another aspect of wellness Jason mentions is engaging in mindfulness. “I’ve taken two Koru mindfulness courses here at ISU. I used to worry a lot and now I try not to. It has helped in reducing stress for me. I have more perspective on life and it has built in more awareness.” Jason continues, “I learned how to breathe deeply helping to bring more peacefulness. Meditation is important and it’s not as hard as people think it is. I really like the guided imagery from class, it helps in letting go of all the thoughts going on in your head.”
With Jason’s new role as a Wellness Ambassador, he noted, “I still have more to learn about the role. There is more I can do. The biggest challenge I can see is people taking time out of their busy schedules. Maybe a bulletin board in the break room with monthly information, or putting things up on the door in the copy/mail room will be helpful reminders.”
When asking Jason about any words of wisdom he may have for people seeking wellness, he advises, “Incorporating exercise and wellness in life doesn’t have to be difficult. Start small and work your way up. Even small steps are a good beginning and don’t give up! Be kind to yourself, a lot of us have this inner critic. Remember to breathe deeply and to take time to learn how to meditate.”
Jason brings realistic experience and knowledge to his new Wellness Ambassador role, personally understanding the challenges and benefits of taking time for wellness. Connecting with mindfulness also brings a unique grounding element to Jason’s experience. Academia is a community where thinking, analyzing, and doing can easily shift into an overdrive of constant noise, where stillness is a rare visitor, if at all. Drawing from Jason’s wisdom, consider consistently taking time to pause, investing in your wellness, breathing deeply and letting go. The work will still be there, but you will likely return to work with a different perspective, more energy, clarity, intention, and productivity.
Thank you, Jason, for sharing your story!