Wellness Mini-Challenge of the Month

The monthly wellness mini-challenge is designed to be a low commitment way for busy postdocs to engage with wellness initiatives. A new mini-challenge will be announced each month and will involve small activities such as spending time outdoors, trying a new hobby, or setting a new goal. Those who complete the mini-challenge will be eligible to win a prize!

The OPA Wellness mini-challenge for November 2022 focuses on gratitude!

Research suggests that a regular practice of gratitude can help increase happiness, optimism, and positivity. To participate in the mini-challenge, take a couple minutes each day to identify (at least) one thing you are grateful for from that day. (Pro tip: Write these down in one place to create an on-going list throughout the month!). When reflecting on the day, consider things both big and small that you may feel grateful for, such as a compliment from a colleague, a walk outside, or getting a job offer. See below for an example gratitude list.

Gratitude Examples:

1. I am grateful for the opportunity to do work that I am passionate about.
2. I am grateful for cute animal videos.
3. I am grateful for the cooler weather.
4. I am grateful to be able to spend time with my family.
5. I am grateful for the helpful feedback I received on my project.

Before the end of the month, share 5 things from your list in this survey to be eligible to win a wellness prize from OPA! Or if you want to share with others, post your 5 gratitude items on our Office of Postdoctoral Affairs LinkedIn page under our November wellness mini-challenge post!

**Share 5 of your gratitude items here for a chance to win a wellness prize!

At OPA, we are grateful for all the hard work the Columbia postdocs put into the research community each day! Thank you for all you do!

Past Wellness Mini-Challenges

This month OPA Wellness is focusing on environmental wellness! Environmental wellness refers to being and feeling safe in your surroundings. This can include occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being as well as involvement with nature and protecting our natural environment. 

Throughout October, we invite you to join your fellow postdocs in enhancing your environmental wellness by creating an environment that is more conducive to your needs and/or supports your larger community environment.

To complete this mini challenge, you are asked to participate in at least one activity to enhance your environmental wellness.

This can be related to your personal, work, or larger community environments. Examples of this include…

Visit the NIH Environmental Wellness Toolkit for other strategies to enhance your environmental wellness. 

Share a picture of your environmental wellness practice with OPA for a chance to win your choice of three ergonomic/environmental wellness prizes! Just fill out this brief survey to let us know you’ve completed this mini-challenge and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win your choice between three prize options: a house plant, an ergonomic cushion, or an eco-friendly paper towel set. 

This month OPA Wellness is focusing on appreciation! National Postdoc Appreciation Week is September 19-23 and we are hosting several events throughout the week to acknowledge and appreciate all that postdocs do throughout the year. Make sure to visit the OPA calendar for more information about these events.

This month we invite you to join in the appreciation by acknowledging and appreciating some of your own accomplishments! It’s easy for us to overlook our accomplishments, especially when there is more work to be done or other things to occupy our attention. However, it is a good practice to take some time to reflect on (and maybe even celebrate!) our accomplishments.

To complete this mini challenge, you are asked to create a list of your accomplishments and/or things that you are proud of from the past year.

This can be work or personal related accomplishments or situations where you felt proud of yourself. Examples include things such as:

  • I submitted the manuscript I’ve been working on.
  • I spoke up in a research team meeting to share my ideas.
  • I’ve been exercising more consistently over the past year.
  • I offered support to a friend during a challenging time.
  • I taught my kid how to play a sport.
  • … And anything else that is relevant for you!

Continue adding to this list throughout the month as new things come to your mind. Then you can revisit it anytime you’re feeling unmotivated, frustrated, or just need a reminder of all you have accomplished.

You can also share some items from this list with OPA for a chance to win a wellness prize! Just fill out this brief survey to let us know you’ve completed this mini-challenge and you’ll be entered to win a prize at the end of the month.

Thank you for all that you do!

This summer OPA Wellness is focusing on physical wellness! The wellness mini-challenge for this summer focuses on physical movement.

Join your fellow postdocs for the walk to wellness summer challenge!

Step up with your colleagues this summer with the Postdocs Wellness Step Challenge! For 4 weeks, you will compete in teams to see who clocks the highest average step count and racks up the highest number of steps by the challenge end. The individuals and teams with the highest number of steps will win a prize!

You can also join us for the Morningside Postdoc Group Walk on 6/14 or the CUIMC Postdoc Group Walk on 6/16 to get your steps in and meet some fellow postdocs.

This challenge will be facilitated by a free app, MoveSpring that will monitor your steps and transfer your other physical activity into steps. The app is also a great way to get connected with your fellow postdocs to set up group walks, offer encouragement, and share wellness tips.

Please note: The first session of this challenge will run from June 13th through July 11th. Make sure to register by June 13th to receive access to this challenge on the MoveSpring app.

Sign up here to join this challenge!

The wellness mini-challenge for May 2022 focuses on mental health and stress management.

May is mental health awareness month! Mental health is a critical component of well-being. We have regular check-ups for our physical health to make sure we are healthy, and it is just as important to ensure we are doing things to focus on our mental health to ensure we are healthy.

In our recent annual survey, 75% of respondents reported that they either "strongly agreed" or "somewhat agreed" with the statement, "I feel stressed".

Therefore, this month OPA wellness is encouraging all postdocs to continue the previous month’s mini-challenge to take steps to try out a new stress management strategy!

If you previously completed the April mini-challenge to try out a new stress management strategy, you can complete this mini-challenge again for another chance to win the wellness prize- just make sure you try another new stress management strategy.

In order to complete this mini-challenge, you will test out a NEW stress management strategy for one week.

Examples of stress management strategies include:

  • Journaling
  • Daily walks
  • Breathing exercises or guided mediation
  • Taking a mid-day break
  • Practicing encouraging self-talk
  • Using assertiveness skills to say “no” to activities and tasks you are unable to do without increasing stress
  • Practicing time management skills such as scheduling times to complete tasks and/or setting boundaries to your work day

These are just a few examples, but there are many other strategies that can help you manage stress

Once you have identified the new stress management tool you’d like to try, practice this tool daily for a week. It may be helpful to note your stress rating (on a scale of 0-10) at the start and end of your week to assess the utility of this new stress management tool. After you have practiced this new strategy for a week, tell us about it in this survey!

Everyone who completes this challenge will be entered in a drawing to receive a wellness prize! **Please note: In order to be eligible for the wellness prize drawing, you will need to complete this survey.

If it’s helpful to have accountability reminders, please register for the “May Wellness Mini-Challenge” here to receive emailed reminders to complete this challenge!

The wellness mini-challenge for April 2022 focuses on stress management.

April is stress awareness month! Everyone experiences stress; however, given the circumstances of the postdoctoral training period, such as competing time demands, long hours, uncertainty about future jobs, it's no wonder that the postdoctoral population reports experiencing stress and overwhelm.

In our recent annual survey, 75% of respondents reported that they either "strongly agreed" or "somewhat agreed" with the statement, "I feel stressed".

Therefore, this month OPA wellness is encouraging all postdocs to take steps to become aware of their stress indicators and responses to stress- and try out some new stress management strategies!

In order to complete this mini-challenge, you will test out a NEW stress management strategy for one week.

Examples of stress management strategies include:

  • Journaling
  • Daily walks
    • You can even join the Office of Work/Life’s Walk to Wellness program on Morningside or CUIMC!
  • Breathing exercises or guided mediation
  • Taking a mid-day break (On Wednesdays you can join the Office of Work/Life’s Stretch and Reset sessions)
  • Practicing encouraging self-talk

These are just a few examples, but there are many other strategies that can help you manage stress! For more details about stress management tools, please consider attending the Stress Management Workshop for Postdocs on Monday, April 11th at 3 pm.

Once you have identified your stress management tool, practice this daily for a week. It may be helpful to note your stress rating (on a scale of 0-10) at the start and end of your week to assess the utility of this new stress management tool. After you have practiced this new strategy for a week, tell us about it in this survey!

Everyone who completes this challenge will be entered in a drawing to receive a wellness prize! **Please note: In order to be eligible for the wellness prize drawing, you will need to complete this survey.

If it’s helpful to have accountability reminders, please register for the “April Wellness Mini-Challenge” here to receive emailed reminders to complete this challenge

The wellness mini-challenge for March 2022 focuses on nutrition and physical wellness.

March is national nutrition month! Columbia’s Office of Work/Life has developed an "EAT 5" initiative that is designed to help you integrate more fruits and vegetables into your diet and get you closer to reaching the goal of eating five cups per day. Therefore, OPA Wellness is encouraging you to explore new ways to integrate fruits and vegetables into your diet.

In order to complete this mini-challenge, you will need to cook a vegetable or fruit-forward meal. 

Ideally, this would involve exploring a new dish or food item but can also be a re-invention of one of your favorite vegetable/fruit-forward meals. If you aren't sure what to make, you can check out the Office of Work/Life's food and nutrition website for their "EAT 5 Recipes"- all of which are fruit or vegetable-centered meals!

Once you have completed the mini-challenge, share a picture of what you made on our Twitter (@Postdocaffairs) or LinkedIn (@Columbia University Office of Postdoctoral Affairs) page using the hashtag #CUpostdocwellnesschallenge or complete this survey!

Everyone who completes this challenge will be entered in a drawing to receive a wellness prize! **Please note: In order to be eligible for the wellness prize drawing, you will need to complete this survey or post a picture of your meal on the social media channels above.

If it’s helpful to have accountability reminders, please register for the “March Wellness Mini-Challenge” here to receive emailed reminders to complete this challenge!

The wellness mini-challenge for February 2022 focuses on social connection. Our social relationships can take a back seat during times when it's hard to connect, such as stressful, busy times of life or during the winter months when the weather sends us indoors.  However, social connection is important in cultivating a sense of wellness.

In order to complete this mini-challenge, you are asked to set aside at least 1 hour to connect with others. This can be connecting with family, friends, or even people you don't know!

Examples of ways to connect with others can include:

  • Schedule a phone call with a family member or friend you haven’t talked to in a while.
  • Volunteer with a local organization that allows you to interact with others.
  • Attend and participate in a virtual group gathering, such as the upcoming Virtual Game Night for Postdocs.
  • Schedule a date with a friend or significant other to go on a walk or check out an event celebrating Black History Month!

The above are just examples- winter months may require us to get a little creative, but there are many ways to connect with others!

Once you have completed the mini-challenge, tell us about it in this survey! **Please note: In order to be eligible to receive the wellness prize, you will need to complete this survey.

If it’s helpful to have accountability reminders, please register for the “February Wellness Mini-Challenge” here to receive emailed reminders to complete this challenge!

January wellness mini-challenge: goal-setting

The wellness mini-challenge for January 2022 focuses on goal-setting. Setting goals is important in making changes and maintaining progress. Whether you are setting a new goal or continuing to practice pre-existing wellness goals, having a S.M.A.R.T goal increases your likelihood of achieving your desired outcome.

In order to complete this mini-challenge, you are asked to set a S.M.A.R.T goal* related to your wellness practices. This can be a short-term or long-term goal.

Examples of wellness goals can include:

  • I will complete a 10-minute meditation exercise daily for the month of January.
  • I will develop a consistent nighttime routine by stopping my work no later than 9 pm so I have at least 1 hour of non-screen, relaxation time before going to bed at 10:30 pm.
  • I will attend two exercise classes each week for the upcoming three months.
  • I will schedule one monthly social meet up with friends for the next six months.

*If you are not sure what a S.M.A.R.T goal is or how to go about creating one related to wellness practices, please sign up for our SMART Goal Setting Workshop on January 20th at 12 pm.

Once you have set your goal, please share it with us in this brief survey. Then, make sure to make some progress on your goal before the end of the month on January 31st! At the end of the month, please complete this second survey to tell us about your goal progress and be eligible to win a wellness prize!

If it’s helpful to have accountability reminders, please register for the “January Wellness Mini-Challenge” here to receive emailed reminders to complete this challenge!

The wellness mini-challenge for December 2021 focuses on enjoyable activity scheduling. It can be difficult to find time to engage in the activities we enjoy, particularly during a busy time of year! Therefore, this month, we are challenging postdocs to schedule an activity that you enjoy but may not often include in your regular routine.

Examples of enjoyable activities can include:

You are encouraged to literally schedule this activity in your calendar to protect the time it will take you to complete your chosen activity. It’s easy to dismiss our own enjoyment when other things demand some of our attention and time, but scheduling a block in your calendar can help protect your time and ensure that you take time for yourself.

Once you have identified and scheduled your activity, please share your scheduled activity in this brief survey. Make sure to schedule the activity before the end of the month on December 31st! Then, after you completed the chosen activity, please complete this second survey to win a wellness prize for the month of December!

If it’s helpful to have accountability reminders, please register for the “December Wellness Mini-Challenge” here to receive emailed reminders to complete this challenge!

The wellness mini-challenge for November 2021 focuses on gratitude. Research suggests that a regular practice of gratitude can help increase happiness, optimism, and positivity.

To participate in the mini-challenge, at the end of each week, take a few minutes to create a list of 3 things you’re grateful for from that week. When reflecting on the week, consider things both big and small that you may feel grateful for, such as a compliment from a colleague, a walk outside, or receiving the grant you applied for. See below for an example weekly gratitude list.

Example Gratitude List (Week 1):

1.      I am grateful for the opportunity to do work that helps other people.

2.      I am grateful that my partner cleaned our home.

3.      I am grateful for the cool weather.
 

Submit your list at the appropriate link below or if you want to share with others, post it on our Office of Postdoctoral Affairs LinkedIn page at the end of each week. If you would like to receive accountability reminders to complete your gratitude lists, register hereThose who submit a list for 3 of the 4 weeks in November will win a prize!

Week 1 (November 1-7)

Week 2 (November 8-14)

Week 3 (November 15-21)

Week 4 (November 22-30)

**Please note: if you submit your lists using the links above, please make sure to include your UNI for each week in order to be eligible for the prize. These links will only be active during the timeframe listed. Please make sure to submit your weekly gratitude list before the end of each week.