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June 2023

Wee Bits of Wellness: Finding Renewal Outdoors

The sun rises over trees at Swan Creek Metropark.

By Jennifer Lewis, Wellness Coach, Academic Enrichment Center (AEC)

Briana, author of the Half-Past Hungry blog, has some great suggestions for us now that the weather is beautiful, and we can get outside more often: 

  1. Stay hydrated: Whether you are gardening, playing golf, or just reading outside, it’s important to keep your water bottle close by to help stay cool. 
  2. Soak up the Sun: Remember the cold of winter when we hid inside and lacked the Vitamin D? Now’s the time to soak it all up. Aim for at least 10-15 minutes a day (if longer, make sure to read the next tip). 
  3. Wear sunscreen: While some of us can’t wait to watch our skin lose the pasty white color of winter, it’s still important to use sunscreen. You don’t want to go from Ghost to Lobster in a matter of hours. 
  4. Visit the local farmer’s markets: Nothing tastes better than home grown fruits and veggies.Take advantage of the in-season food by shopping local and stocking up! Besides it’s good for you, too. 
  5. Find a new nature spot: There are so many amazing spots to discover- whether it be a park, a botanical garden, or a waterfront area.  Google “nature spots” around your area and see what you can find.
  6. Unplug: While it may be tempting to scroll outside on a chair, or take a million pics of things you find, it’s ok to just take in the outdoors and be in the moment- hands free!  You’ll see things differently for sure. 
  7. Spend quality time: Meet up with friends or family you’ve been promising to connect with. Just choosing an outside table to sit around at a restaurant can be beneficial. 

May 2023

End-of-School-Year Wellness Recap

Blue background with yellow and white text: "If you don't make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness. Read that again."

By Jennifer Lewis, Wellness Coach, Academic Enrichment Center (AEC)

Wow! We made it!

Another school year is ending. Another class is graduating, moving on to the wonderful world to share their knowledge and skills. And other classes rise to the “next” year, full of excitement and exhaustion.

Here we are, all of us, impacting lives! Whether we are a student, staff member, or faculty, we impact lives every day. That can take a toll if we keep moving forward and forget to take care of ourselves.

Since August, we have provided you with snip-its of the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, as defined by The University of Toledo as well as SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).  

Our hope is that you learned a few facts as well as some ideas about Wellness and how to incorporate it in your own life. We’ve always heard “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” and yes, that applies to all of us!

Please take the time when campus isn’t so busy to reflect on your own life, and how “balanced” you are.

Perhaps there is a dimension that needs some tending to. Set aside 15 minutes to learn and do something for YOU! We are all givers, but it takes a special person to recognize the need to refuel in a certain area, and actually DO IT!  

But don’t forget to acknowledge your strengths: yes, the ideas and actions that you already incorporate in your life that make a difference in your overall health.

Here are the UToledo Eight Dimensions of Wellness, supplemental video, and a self-guided “quiz” to aid in your growth. Be Well!

  • Emotional Wellness: Coping effectively with life; Creating satisfying relationships 
  • Environmental Wellness: Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being 
  • Financial Wellness: Satisfaction with current & future financial situations 
  • Intellectual Wellness: Recognizing creative abilities & finding ways to expand knowledge & skills 
  • Physical Wellness: Recognizing the need for physical activity, sleep, & nutrition 
  • Professional Wellness: Personal satisfaction & enrichment derived from one’s work 
  • Social Wellness: Developing a sense of connection, belonging, & a well-developed support system 
  • Spiritual Wellness: Expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life 

8 Dimensions of Wellness Questionnaire

May 2023 – Wellness Recap Calendar (Academic Year 2022-23)

Wellness Calendar for May

  • May 1 - Send a friend a photo from a time you enjoyed together (Social) 
  • May 2 - Get outside and notice the beauty in nature (Environmental) 
  • May 3 - Find 3 reasons to be hopeful about the future (Emotional) 
  • May 4 - Find out about the values and traditions of another culture (Intellectual) 
  • May 5 - Reflect on what makes you feel valued & purposeful (Spiritual) 
  • May 6 - Take 30 minutes to get in some physical activity today- inside or outside (Physical) 
  • May 7 - Wellness TED Talk 
  • May 8 - Develop a plan to live within your financial means (Financial) 
  • May 9 - Enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy!  (Professional) 
  • May 10 - “A sad soul can be just as lethal as a germ.” – John Steinbeck 
  • May 11 - Notice how positive emotions are contagious between people (Social) 
  • May 12 - Eat food that makes you happy and really savor it (Physical) 
  • May 13 - Find joy in music through singing, dancing, listening, or sharing (Intellectual) 
  • May 14 - Weekend warriors: Organize an area of your house for 15 minutes. (Environmental) 
  • May 15 - Start the week strong and set yourself a step target!  Aim to fit in 7,000 steps today! (Physical) 
  • May 16 - Grati-Tuesday: Write a list of 3 things you've achieved this month, no matter how small! (Emotional) 
  • May 17 - Check out this blog post regarding overall wellness 
  • May 18 - Take 5 minutes just to sit still and concentrate on your breathing (Spiritual) 
  • May 19 - Set a professional goal to achieve in the next 2 weeks (Professional) 
  • May 20 - Do you have "fun money" set aside? If so, treat yourself (Financial) 
  • May 21 - “Wellness is a connection of paths: knowledge and action.” – Joshua Holtz 
  • May 22 - Say positive things to the people you meet today (Social) 
  • May 23 - Set boundaries to keep work from taking over your life (Professional) 
  • May 24 - Exert energy in a new way today!  Jump on a bed!  Skip down the sidewalk (Physical) 
  • May 25 - Here’s a fun TED talk on Wellness! 
  • May 26 - When a negative emotion grips you, name it out loud (Emotional) 
  • May 27 - Practice a body scan meditation using the Balance app (Spiritual) 
  • May 28 - Start a new game for fun- either an app or in person. Set your timer for 15 min. only though! (Intellectual) 
  • May 29 - Use the OHIO Method for decluttering:  Only Handle It Once (Keep, Donate, Trash) (Environmental) 
  • May 30 - Review your spending for the month.  Set up your budget for June (Financial) 
  • May 31 - Wellness Wednesday thought: Wake up and ask yourself, "What do I need today?" 

April 2023

Earth Month

By Jennifer Lewis, Wellness Coach, Academic Enrichment Center (AEC)

A photo of campus, featuring green trees and grass, with the bridge between Mulford Library and Wolfe Center in the background.April 22nd is commonly known as Earth Day. The purpose of Earth Day is to "raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the various environmental challenges facing our planet. This day is also a time to celebrate those who have done a lot to help the environment" (

This is the perfect opportunity to look at Environmental Wellness and how it applies to our lives. According to SAMHSA, Environmental Wellness is defined as being able to be safe and feel safe. This can include:  

  • Accessing clean air, food, and water 
  • Preserving the areas where we live, learn, and work 
  • Occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support our well-being 
  • Promoting learning, contemplation, and relaxation in natural places and spaces 

The following chart can provide a foundation for where to begin the process of each area:

Where to Begin

Green Living

Think About:

  • Are you recycling whenever possible, and buying recycled products?  
  • Do you check your car’s emissions every year, even if not required by law? 

Ideas & Resources 

Change of Scenery 

Think About:

  • Are you spending as much time outdoors as possible?  
  • Have you visited a public park to either play a sport like tennis or basketball or just take a walk? 

Ideas & Resources:

  • Figure out what outdoor activities make you feel good, and then find a few options that make it easy to do that 
  • During work hours, take a break to walk around the block 

Home and Work Environment

Think About:

  • Are you going through mail and other paperwork frequently to get rid of clutter? 
  • Do you organize your work space from time to time and add things that make you happy?  
  • Is your living space filled with styles and textures you enjoy? 

Ideas & Resources:

  • Make a schedule to clean up your home or living space. It could be by room or activity (bathrooms on Sunday, dusting and sweeping every Wednesday, etc.) 
  • Look online for inspiration to decorate your home, then shop thrift/discount stores or repurpose your own 

Keep in mind that Wellness is about creating balance in our lives within the eight dimensions. While we tend to focus a lot on our Physical & Emotional Wellness, there are other dimensions that need our attention as well. Creating a wellness lifestyle can be challenging, but finding the right information, support, and resources and tracking our progress can help us get there. 

Source: Creating a Healthier Life: A Step-by-Step Guide to Wellness (PDF). SAMHSA, 2016.

Earth Month Calendar: Environmental Wellness

Wellness Calendar for April

  • Apr.1 - Find something in nature that makes you smile (take a picture of it and save it to your phone) 
  • Apr. 2 - Do something active today (ideally outside) 
  • Apr. 3 - Take a different route today and see what you notice 
  • Apr. 4 - Look around today and notice 5 things that are beautiful 
  • Apr. 5 - Find a spot in nature that helps you connect to yourself and the earth 
  • Apr. 6 - Quote: “Our very being, essence, health and happiness depend on mother earth”. — David Suzuki 
  • Apr. 7 - Get some early morning sunlight to help combat the grey days 
  • Apr. 8 - Check out this Environmental Wellness Toolkit from the NIH 
  • Apr. 9 - Connect with your surroundings with each of your 5 senses 
  • Apr. 10 - Create a happy, healthy living space 
  • Apr. 11 - The core principle of environmental wellness is respect — respect for all nature and all species living in it 
  • Apr. 12 - Use as much natural light as you can during the day to help yourself and the environment 
  • Apr. 13 - Go exploring around your local area and notice new things 
  • Apr. 14 - When you become environmentally aware, you will be able to realize how your daily habits affect the environment 
  • Apr. 15 - Be active outside today.  Dig up some weeds or plant some seeds 
  • Apr. 16 - Get active in nature. Feed the birds or go wildlife-spotting 
  • Apr.17 - Take a break in your day and walk outside for 15 minutes. It will help you reset for better productivity 
  • Apr. 18 - Meet a friend for a walk today 
  • Apr. 19 - Take notice of your surroundings. What about nature do you appreciate? 
  • Apr. 20 - What area of your house can you spend 15 minutes cleaning today? Set a timer and repeat each day. 
  • Apr. 21 - Look up at the sky. Remember we are a part of something bigger. 
  • Apr. 22 - Appreciate all of the beauty and excellence around us this Earth Day 
  • Apr. 23 - Today do something to care for the natural world- recycle, clean up trash, fill a birdfeeder 
  • Apr. 24 - Looking for a way to get the whole family active?  Try planting a garden together or helping at a community garden. 
  • Apr. 25 - Switch out your screensaver for that picture you took on April 1 
  • Apr. 26 - Add a bit of color to your favorite room- a new picture, paint, or even flowers! 
  • Apr. 27 -Combat noise pollution with a white noise machine or instrumental music 
  • Apr. 28 - Pick up a fresh plant or flowers to bring in some natural fragrance! 
  • Apr. 29 - Have you ever taken a "forest bath"? Read here for more info 
  • Apr. 30 - Designate a place inside your house that you can go to and recharge! 

March 2023

National Nutrition Month

By Jennifer Lewis, Wellness Coach, Academic Enrichment Center (AEC)

A stock image of a variety of fresh food options, including vegetables.Happy National Nutrition Month 2023! This year’s theme, announced by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, is “Fuel for the Future.” While there is not a “Nutrition” dimension in the UToledo Wellness Wheel, it does impact each of the eight dimensions in one form or another. American biochemist and nutrition expert, Dr. T. Colin Campbell said it best: “Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts are interconnected."  

There are many areas that fall under the topic of nutrition and for many that may be reading this article, it may seem like “we’ve heard it all.” My hope is to provide you with simple resources if you are looking for small ways to incorporate something new in your routine (I.e., “Newtrition”). Many thanks to the wonderful dieticians and food service workers here at UTMC who work tirelessly each day to educate and serve us regarding healthy food choices for our picky palate. 


Do you want to make a change in your lifestyle but are unsure where to start? Here are some resources to help: 

Podcasts: Very Well Fit published its "Best Nutrition Podcasts of 2023”. Here are some of their suggestions: 

Websites with Affordable, Healthy Meals:
(most of these sites also have posts on social media) 

Other Small Changes to Try: 

  • Before making a change, write down your “why” (“Why do I want to try _______?”) Keep it somewhere that you can reference and review at least once per week to hold yourself accountable. 
  • Try mindful eating: Pick one meal or snack and eat it mindfully (watch this one-minute video of children teaching us how to eat mindfully) 
  • When grocery shopping, choose one fruit or vegetable to include in your day for a snack or lunch for one week (Hint: to save money, buy what is in season) 
  • If you are too tempted when grocery shopping, order online and pick-up/ have it delivered. This will help resist those snacks right inside the front door. 
National Nutrition Month: “Fuel for the Future”
  • Mar.1- Rename this month "Newtrition" month and incorporate one new healthy eating habit. 
  • Mar. 2-National Nutrition Month began as a week-long endeavor in 1973 to educate people about nutrition. 
  • Mar. 3- As a family, commit to trying a new fruit or vegetable each week of the month. 
  • Mar. 4- Presidential food fact: Ronald Reagan munched on jellybeans as his way to quit smoking. 
  • Mar. 5- 6 ways to practice mindful eating 
  • Mar. 6- "To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art." – La Rochefoucauld 
  • Mar. 7- Bring out the flavors of food by trying new herbs, spices, or citrus fruit like lemon or lime. 
  • Mar. 8- Soda or sugary drink lover?  Replace with these alternatives 
  • Mar. 9- Involve everyone in your house with meal planning. The more everyone gets a voice, the better the buy-in to healthy eating. 
  • Mar. 10- Drink coffee!!! But don't go over 4 cups and use natural sweeteners (honey, agave). 
  • Mar. 11- People who do not get enough sleep tend to make food choices that are higher in fat, sugar, and calories. 
  • Mar. 12- Don't forget- less sun here in NW Ohio winter = less Vitamin D. Make sure to include some every day 
  • Mar. 13- Ted Talk: Healthy eating isn't just about the food 
  • Mar. 14- Presidential food fact: Thomas Jefferson introduced America to European foods such as mac & cheese, french fries & waffles. 
  • Mar. 15- The Dietary Guidelines for the US recommend sugar intake to be below 10% of your daily calorie intake. 
  • Mar. 16- "Eat less from a box and more from the earth”. - Anonymous 
  • Mar.17- Meditation can improve physical health as well! 
  • Mar. 18- Try to include 30 minutes of movement (any type) in your day. 
  • Mar. 19- Don't set your nutritional/exercise standards so high that you fail quickly. Start easy or you'll keep avoiding it. 
  • Mar. 20- EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) has been shown to help blood pressure, weight, and the heart. 
  • Mar. 21- "Every time you eat or drink, you're either feeding disease or fighting it." - Heather Morgan 
  • Mar. 22- Presidential food fact: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt served the King & Queen of England their 1st hotdogs! 
  • Mar. 23- Read about Gut Microbiome Research and Benefits right here at UTMC 
  • Mar. 24- Curcumin in turmeric is anti-inflammatory and may have protective effects on health. 
  • Mar. 25- If you tend to take large servings of food, try using a smaller plate/bowl to cut down on serving size. 
  • Mar. 26- "Fast-food restaurants' portion sizes more than doubled (226%) from 1986–2016." 
  • Mar. 27- Use a food tracker app to get started. Here are some recommendations for 2023. 
  • Mar. 28- Check out the vendors at the Year-Round Toledo Farmer's Market- Eat fresh, support local. 
  • Mar. 29- "It's never too late or never too early to work towards being the healthiest you”. – Anonymous 
  • Mar. 30-Limit screen time when eating. We tend to overeat when scrolling or binge watching. 
  • Mar. 31- Presidential food fact:  Calvin Coolidge at roast beef, no matter what was served to others. 

February 2023

Intellectual Wellness Month

By Jennifer Lewis, Wellness Coach, Academic Enrichment Center (AEC)

A stock photo of Rubik's cubes. As I sit here and draft this monthly article, I realize this is like "preaching to the choir"  Here at UTCOMLS, all of us practice Intellectual Wellness every day. Whether we are students, staff members, or faculty, we are all learning every day. Perhaps we learned a new concept in lecture. Or maybe we took part in a professional development course related to our job. Or maybe we were even in the lab continuing our research and we discovered an easier way to gather data. All of us continue to "keep our brains active and our intellect expanding" (, 2016).

Basic tenets

However, as I look at wellness as a whole, I think it is important to keep in mind the basic tenets: creating balance, embracing support from others, and valuing routines and habits. When we look at intellectual wellness from this perspective it may look a little different. While we practice intellectual wellness at work, how many of us do activities that encourage our intellectual wellness OUTSIDE of the workday? For example, how many of us took the time over the winter break to perhaps play games with family or friends? Did anyone attend a December event about something you were interested in (i.e., a musical performance, a lecture/speaker, an activity at a church)? These are some examples that involve feeding our souls with activities/topics we are interested in. 

My story

In our house, I took notice of moments such as these. Here’s my own story: For Christmas each of us received something that we love to do in our spare time such as books (for fun reading), new video games, soccer balls (because apparently you can’t have too many- lol!), and tools.

A photo of a book of puzzle, 3 in 1, 36 puzzles in all. Crossword, Word Search and Sudoku.And while everyone took advantage of these novel items, there was one item that changed the course of our break: a free book of puzzles that my mother received in the mail and passed on to us. This book included crosswords, Sudokus, and word searches- nothing fancy, and about 10 examples of each. Well, I sat down one day to complete a word search (feeding my love of word searches) and soon after my son (15) came in and joined me (which never happens!). My daughter (21) is watching us across the table and starts to point out words from her angle, and the next thing you know, we finished the word search and moved on to the crossword puzzle.

We stayed there for almost an hour!! No phones, no TV, no technology of any kind, which is what we normally fill our time with. This happened again and again throughout the week, until we finished the book! And each time we actually had CONVERSATIONS with each other (another type of intellectual wellness) – WOW! I can’t remember the last time that happened. Those moments will be etched in my memory forever. Sometimes, I think we humans crave something simple, yet challenging, to feed our souls. 

In summary, intellectual wellness is something we experience every day here at UToledo. But also take notice of the times outside of your workday that you are continuing to learn or be creative, while having fun moments with people around you.

One book of puzzles turned into one week of bonding, creativity, and conversations I will never forget. Apply your knowledge in a fun way with people that you care about. That is intellectual wellness at its best! 

Intellectual Wellness Month

Wellness Calendar for February

January 2023

Financial Wellness Month

By Jennifer Lewis, Wellness Coach, Academic Enrichment Center (AEC)

A stock image of a piggy bank surrounded by a stethoscope. Financial Wellness involves things like “income, debt, savings, and a person’s understanding of financial processes and resources. A person’s satisfaction with their current financial situation and prospects also come into play.” (SAHMSA, 2021) 

According to National Today, Financial Wellness Month is observed throughout January as a reminder to pay attention to our financial well-being. The irony being that it generally follows the month that we usually spend the most due to the holiday season. However, this is the perfect time to review our finances and set an intention for the new year. Perhaps there is something you would like to save for, or you already know in advance of an upcoming expense. Let’s view January as a time for reflection and intention, setting us on the path to success for 2023.  

3 Benefits of Financial Wellness  

  1. It helps us budget better. When we can sit down and be honest about how much we are spending each month on necessities and extras we can start to allocate for those items each month or decide we don’t need them like we thought. 
  2. It reduces anxiety. This goes hand in hand with budgeting. If we assign each incoming dollar to an account, be it utilities or fun, then we know exactly where our money is going. There is less fear and anxiety over wondering if we can pay the bills or buy groceries because we have set money aside ahead of time. 
  3. It encourages financial stability. Let’s face it... we all want more money. If we can start with small steps this month, and continue them one month at a time, we are on the road to financial success and stability.  

How to Start 

  • Conduct a credit card spending review. Look at each of your credit cards and review the categories where you used them this last year (i.e., groceries, gas, eating out). Most credit card companies will have this information for you. Check to see if your spending matches up with your financial goals. This is an easy visual for expenditures. 
  • Prepare a budget and hold yourself accountable. Use online apps so that you don’t forget that coffee you needed or the last-minute birthday gift. Popular ones are Every Dollar, YNAB, Mint, and Good Budget. 
  • Start an emergency fund. You never know when the car will act up or when a medical issue takes precedence. Having an emergency fund allows you to have money on hand for unexpected events but doesn’t take away from other funds or add to your debt. Start by putting $10/week in an envelope or separate account (you can barely get 1 take-out meal for that amount). 

Financial wellness plays a role in each of the other seven dimensions. How will you use your financial wellness to keep the other dimensions balanced? (Start balancing your dimensions today and watch your overall wellness increase). 

Financial Wellness Month

Wellness Calendar for January

  • Jan.1 - Goal Day!! Start the new year by setting a S.M.A.R.T. Financial goal! Watch this video to get started! 
  • Jan. 2 - Download a budget app to track all expenses. Here are the top  ones. 
  • Jan. 3 - Split your income into 3 categories -> necessities, savings, and wants. Budget using the 50/30/20 method. 
  • Jan. 4 - Audit your subscription services- How much do you use each of them? Can you afford all of them? 
  • Jan. 5 - TED talk series- minor changes lead to $$ 
  • Jan. 6 - Make today a "no spending day". (Get creative with your meals) 
  • Jan. 7 - "A budget is telling your money where to go, instead of imagining where it went" - Dave Ramsey 
  • Jan. 8 - Check your credit score here 
  • Jan. 9 - Before grocery shopping, see what you already have on hand. Perhaps you already have enough for a meal or 2. 
  • Jan. 10 - Use these tips to pay off debt 
  • Jan. 11 - Pay yourself, but don't overspend. Set aside the 20% (wants) to use for a night out with friends/family. 
  • Jan. 12 - "Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a big ship"- Benjamin Franklin 
  • Jan. 13 - Set up automated bill payments so you are not charged interest for being late 
  • Jan. 14 - Have a money date- time to check in with your finances 
  • Jan. 15 - Trying to remember all your passwords for your financial info? Try Dashlane or Keeper. 
  • Jan. 16 - Are you a podcast listener? Check out this financial wellness podcast 
  • Jan. 17 - "Money, like emotions, is something you must control to keep your life on the right track." ~Natasha Munson 
  • Jan. 18 - Make today your 2nd "no spending day" of the month. Leave the credit cards at home. 
  • Jan. 19 - Credit card evaluation: Use this tool from NerdWallet 
  • Jan. 20 - Start an Emergency Fund! - Save 3-6 months' worth of expenses in a separate account. 
  • Jan. 21 - Are there items you no longer use that you could sell? Read this article to see. 
  • Jan. 22 - Automate your savings. Funds will automatically go into your savings so you can start to build. 
  • Jnn. 23 - Keep a list on hand of the gift cards you have and the amount they are worth. Use them when the opportunity presents itself. 
  • Jan. 24 - Tackle a financial goal you've been putting off or one you haven't done yet this month. 
  • Jan. 25 - "When it comes to your finances, ignorance is not bliss. The less you know the more you pay" Jason Vitug 
  • Jan. 26 - James Altucher has a great podcast about people who have defied the odds to achieve financial comfort. Listen here. 
  • Jan. 27 - If 2023 blesses you with more money, use it to pay down debt and save. Live on the same wage you did for 2022. 
  • Jan. 28 - Begin gathering your tax information (1099, charitable receipts, student loans) and set a date to complete them.  
  • Jan. 29 - Evaluate your S.M.A.R.T. goal for the month. Set a goal for February.  
  • Jan. 30 - Use coupons or store sales to get the best deal on items you NEED.  
  • Jan. 31 - Review your budgeting app and see how you did. List a success aloud so you can hear it!!!! 

December 2022

Spiritual Wellness Month

By Jennifer Lewis, Academic Enrichment Center (AEC) Wellness Coach

Spiritual Wellness is: “representing one’s personal beliefs and values and involves having meaning, purpose, & a sense of balance and peace.” (1)  

Some people may look at the word “spiritual” and immediately attach the synonym “religion” to it. While the two can be connected as religion affects a person’s core values and moral compass, the basis for spiritual wellness is a person’s values and purpose. Values develop early in our lifetime, taking shape through the influence of relationships, events and firsthand experiences. Values can shift over time and a spiritually well individual will notice the shift, as well as question and clarify his/her/their values at times.  

Do you currently know what you value and why? What is your purpose in life right now? Take a short online “quiz” to look at where your values currently lie. Signs of spiritual distress can often mimic burnout. According to, these signs include loss of direction, sense of emptiness/feeling alone in the world, hopelessness/helplessness, withdrawal from family and friends, and/or anger at God or a Higher Power.  

How can you increase your spiritual wellness? It takes some self-reflection and honesty but can lead to growth. Here are some suggestions on where to start: 

  1. Find some quiet time in your day. This will allow you to pray, read something uplifting, or just recharge your batteries by observing where you are in the present moment. 
  2. Say something, preferably aloud. Speaking your intentions aloud via prayer, affirmation, or mantra can start to change your thinking and mindset. 
  3. Ask the BIG Questions: What is my purpose? What am I doing here? Contemplating your life’s meaning is important in learning how to “be” in the present moment. 
  4. Find out what you believe. As aforementioned, decide what is important to you by defining your values. This will give you a framework to live by. 
  5. Be true to yourself. Live and love authentically. The benefits can be seen by you and those around you. 

The idea of spiritual wellness is captured so eloquently by Viktor Frankl, Austrian psychiatrist who authored, Man’s Search for Meaning, and founded Logotherapy. He expressed the view that all of life has meaning, but people must find it. Frankl noted,“we must have faith in meaning as we pursue it, even though the meaning is beyond our comprehension and must stay so.” (2) Keep in mind, life happens for you, not to you.  There are many paths to spiritual wellness, and no matter which path you take, it always involves the desire to do good (purpose), to live with gratitude, and bring positivity to the world. 

Spiritual Wellness Month                                                  

Wellness Calendar for December

  • Dec. 1 - Watch the TED Talk: Seeking Spirituality in Today’s Material World 
  • Dec. 2 - Thought of the day: “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” -Dalai Lama 
  • Dec. 3 - 4-7-8 Breathwork for relaxation 
  • Dec. 4 - Take a 15-minute conscious walk in nature 
  • Dec. 5 - Remember:  Spiritual Wellness + Health = Love  
  • Dec. 6 - Start and end your day with this loving-kindness meditation 
  • Dec. 7 - Meditation for times when you need to focus 
  • Dec. 8 - Happy Bodi Day! 
  • Dec. 9 Repeat this mantra throughout the day: "I forgive myself for not being perfect because I know I'm human." 
  • Dec. 10 - Welcome a warm, uplifting scent into your home today (think candles, essential oils, baking) 
  • Dec. 11 - Create a vision board to illustrate your dreams and goals. Click here for some online versions 
  • Dec. 12 - Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Here is some information about the feast day 
  • Dec. 13 - Share this quote today: Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” -Chinese Proverb  
  • Dec. 14 - Repeat this mantra throughout the day: "I have control over my thoughts, feelings and choices." 
  • Dec. 15 - 4-4-4-4 Breathing (aka Box Breathing) for concentration & energy (in the middle of the page) 
  • Dec. 16 - Today begins the annual Posadas Navidenas in Mexico (Dec. 16-24) 
  • Dec. 17 - Take a gratitude moment: Look around and list the people and things you are thankful for and why 
  • Dec. 18 - This is the first day of Hanukkah- the festival of Light (Dec. 18-26) 
  • Dec. 19 - Create an uplifting playlist 
  • Dec. 20 - Connect with an animal today. if you don't have one of your own, visit a neighbor, friend, or even the animal shelter 
  • Dec. 21 - Winter Solstice 
  • Dec. 22 - Thought of the day: “If you want to heal your heart’s wounds, start healing your thoughts" – Alexandra Vasiliu 
  • Dec. 23 - 5-5 Breathwork for Calm throughout the day (at the bottom of the page) 
  • Dec. 24 - Repeat this mantra throughout the day: "I practice patience, understanding and compassion with others as well as myself." 
  • Dec. 25 - Christmas Day (Chrisian holiday) 
  • Dec. 26 - Today begins the celebration of Kwanzaa of the African American culture  
  • Dec. 27 - TED Talk: How to Speak the Language of Spirituality 
  • Dec. 28 - Declutter a designated space of things you no longer need. Read this article to get started 
  • Dec. 29 - Thought for the day: "Endurance is a key indicator of spiritual fitness.” -Alistair Begg 
  • Dec. 30 - Take a break from negative media today and feed your soul something uplifting (something that makes you feel loved) 
  • Dec. 31 - Happy New Year’s Eve. Look back on your year and smile. Recognize the joyous moments- even ones that may have come from unexpected places.  


  1. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. (2021). Creating a healthier life, a step-by-step guide to wellness. 
  2. Pattakos, A., & Dunden, E. (2017). Prisoners of our thoughts: Viktor Frankl's principles for discovering meaning in life and work. (3rd ed.). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. 

November 2022

National Gratitude Month

By Jennifer Lewis, Academic Enrichment Center (AEC) Wellness Coach

Journal with "Today I am grateful" written on the cover.Hello! This month’s focus is gratitude, which can be found in ALL the wellness dimensions. Gratitude is a noun, defined as, “a feeling of appreciation or thanks.” Synonyms for gratitude include appreciation, gratefulness and thankfulness. 

National Gratitude Month started in 2015 because Stacey Grewal believed gratitude to be “an essential ingredient of a happy and fulfilling life. When one embraces gratitude, they immediately shift their focus from the negative to the positive things in their lives.” She stated, "Research shows that practicing daily gratitude can enhance our moods, decrease stress and drastically improve our overall level of wellbeing” (see Benefits of Gratitude above).  

If we can take 5 minutes to show gratitude for something that happened in our day, then our minds begin to look for the positives in things. In the crazy world around us, who couldn’t use a little positivity? Let’s not wait until Thanksgiving to tell people that we appreciate them or something they have done. We can start now and make it last the whole month of November. Perhaps it could be in the car ride home at the end of the day, while you're doing a menial task that doesn't require a lot of thought, or even right before you doze off to sleep. 

Try one or more of these today, and add a little sunshine to your (or someone else’s) day: 

  1. Give someone thanks in person or an email.
    Recognition, even for something small, goes a long way 
  2. Write down or record a voice memo with your "Thankful Thoughts.” Use the Notes or other apps on your phone if short on time. Use a journal for longer thoughts.
  3. Mindfulness Walk (use your senses to appreciate the things around you) 
  4. Here are other exercises to try 

Happy National Gratitude Month. Thank you for reading!

National Gratitude Month                                                                       

Wellness Calendar for November

  • Nov. 1 - Text and thank a friend out of the blue 
  • Nov. 2 - Write at least 3 things you like about your body 
  • Nov. 3 - Send a quick appreciation text to a family member 
  • Nov. 4 - Write down at least 3 memories that you are thankful for 
  • Nov. 5 - Today, remind yourself "There is always, always something to be thankful for" 
  • Nov. 6 - Watch:  How Gratitude Rewires Your Brain 
  • Nov. 7 - Write down 3 affirmations 
  • Nov. 8 - Hold the door open for a stranger today 
  • Nov. 9 - Take a photo of 1 thing you are grateful for every day for 1 week 
  • Nov. 10 - Write down a simple pleasure that you are grateful for 
  • Nov. 11 - Support Veteran owned businesses today #Veterans Day 
  • Nov. 12 - Go for a walk today and make a special effort to appreciate your surroundings 
  • Nov. 13 - Share this quote today: "Be grateful, not only for others, but for yourself"  
  • Nov. 14 - Acknowledge 1 ungrateful thought today and transform it into a grateful one 
  • Nov. 15 - Say “Thank You” to 5 people today 
  • Nov. 16 - Smile at everyone you see today 
  • Nov. 17 - Give a compliment to a cashier at a store/drive thru you use today 
  • Nov. 18 - Drop off any Operation Christmas Child gifts today 
  • Nov. 19 - Thank the men who have made a difference in your life #internationalmensday  
  • Nov. 20 - Show gratitude for YOURSELF today. Take a long walk, watch a movie, rest, read, or other ideas that foster self-care 
  • Nov. 21 - Forgive someone today 
  • Nov. 22 - Appreciate the beauty of nature with this TED talk today 
  • Nov. 23 - Send a gratitude text or email to 2 people on your "grateful list" 
  • Nov. 24 - Mindfully eat your Thanksgiving meal today, & practice gratitude for the food you have to eat 
  • Nov. 25 - Practice maintaining eye contact when you say thank you. Do the same to someone who thanks you. 
  • Nov. 26 - Think of someone who has been kind to you. Take a moment to PAUSE and feel your gratitude for 30 seconds 
  • Nov. 27 - Write a thankful note today for the mail carrier. Leave in the mailbox for tomorrow. 
  • Nov. 28 - Look at your pictures of people that have supported you 
  • Nov. 29 - Take someone's cart back inside the store or to the cart corral for them 
  • Nov. 30 - Find an inspirational phrase to keep on your phone as a reminder to practice daily gratitude 

October 2022

Emotional Wellness Month

By Jennifer Lewis, Academic Enrichment Center (AEC) Wellness Coach

It’s October everyone! As I write this to you, Fall has started, and the temperatures are fluctuating daily, just like our emotions. Emotional Wellness is defined as “coping effectively with life” and “creating satisfying relationships.” (1) 

Emotional Wellness is one of the most popular wellness dimensions, and usually the one people think of the most when asked, “What is Wellness?”

3 Emotion Regulation Systems

Paul Gilbert, renowned clinical psychologist, founded the theory of the “3 Emotion Regulation Systems” (2) and how each plays a role in our lives. The three systems are: Threat, Drive, and Soothing.

If someone is “balanced” all three systems are said to be the same in size and value. However, when a person becomes stressed, s/he is usually bouncing between the Threat and Drive systems (think Ping Pong), while neglecting the Soothing system, causing difficulty managing emotions (i.e., imbalance). As you read the following descriptions, take a moment to assess how much time you spend in each system, and then make a conscious plan to balance out the systems to support your emotional wellness (Awareness of self is the 1st step in developing healthier lifestyle habits). 

Compassionate Mind chart showing different bubbles for Incentive and Resource-Seeking System; Soothing, Caring and Contentment System; and Threat and Self-Protection System.

Threat System (Red)

Most powerful of 3 systems; Focuses on surviving, managing threats, seeking safety, and self-protection. Responds to both real and perceived threats.

Drive System (Blue)

Focuses on achieving goals. Linked to release of dopamine and reinforcement, both of which are satisfying (Social media apps are geared towards the drive system).

Soothing System (Green)

Focuses on alleviating stress, promoting rest, contentment, and connection with oneself and others.

We are motivated to succeed (Drive) but become anxious or angry when we don’t achieve the level we envisioned in our head (Threat).

Most of us ping-pong between the Threat and Drive Systems in life. We are motivated to succeed (Drive) but become anxious or angry when we don’t achieve the level we envisioned in our head (Threat). Instead of stepping away from the situation and taking some time to relax and reevaluate, we try harder (Drive) hoping the result will be different. We need to incorporate the Soothing system to help balance out again. Dr. Gilbert follows up by adding the idea of Compassion (to self and others) to assist in the balance. If you would like more information, please check out this article, "The origins and nature of compassion focused therapy." Also, here is a YouTube video that summarizes the information.

Here are 5 ways to build up your Soothing system:

  1. Soothing rhythm breathing
  2. Simple body scan & relaxation
  3. Creating a safe place
  4. Take a nature walk (and see the AMAZING fall colors!)
  5. Find something in each day to give gratitude to

Read the attached calendar for more suggestions on enhancing your Emotional Wellness. Enjoy this month! There is so much beauty to be found both inside yourself and out in nature.

Emotional Wellness Calendar

Wellness Calendar for October

  • October 1 - Host a game night with your family or friends. Board games are a fun way to reduce stress while keeping your brain engaged. 
  • October 2 - TEDx: Emotional well-being affects personal growth (video) 
  • October 3 - Encourage someone today :) 
  • October 4 - Watch comedies or shows that make you laugh 
  • October 5 - Learn to acknowledge your negative emotions 
  • October 6 - Smile! The physical act of smiling can boost your mood & immunity! :) 
  • October 7 - Create/Stick to a daily routine to not feel stressed about the little things 
  • October 8 - Break out the jack-o-lanterns and Fall decorations! Decorating can relieve some stress and promote family/friend bonding 
  • October 9 - Write down 2 things that you are proud of yourself for. Keep in a space where you can see it often 
  • October 10 - It is World Mental Health Day! Here is a list of UToledo’s resources if you need it
  • October 11 - Today your mantra is “Be patient. Nothing blooms in nature all year long.” 
  • October 12 - Carve out 30 minutes of self-care time to recharge 
  • October 13 - Stay on task with classical music. Studies show it can increase focus and productivity 
  • October 14 - Check in with a family member/friend who has been on your mind 
  • October 15 - Say “Thank You” to 5 people today 
  • October 16 - Take a pause from the news so that the negativity doesn’t affect your mood today 
  • October 17 - Forgive yourself for the negative thoughts you’ve had today 
  • October 18 - TED talk on emotions and control- Lisa Feldman Barrett: You aren't at the mercy of your emotions -- your brain creates them  
  • October 19 - If you notice your mental health slipping, don’t wait. Make a plan to talk with someone today 
  • October 20 - Find emotional support in an animal (Study: Emotional Support Animals Benefit Those with Chronic Mental Illness)
  • October 21 - Plan a lunch date with a friend/family member who makes you happy 
  • October 22 - Attend an event in the community 
  • October 23 - Carve those pumpkins! Let your creativity show! 
  • October 24 - Try out one of these Mindful Monday videos 
  • October 25 - What do fatty fish, dark chocolate, bananas, & berries have in common? They are all foods to boost your mood. Try some when you need a pick-me-up 
  • October 26 - 10-15 min. Of sun a day can increase your Vitamin D level and your mood. Sneak outside for some sunshine today 
  • October 27 - Play some of your favorite music from your childhood that you danced to! 
  • October 28 - Today's mantra: “It’s not about being the best.  It’s about being better than you were yesterday” 
  • October 29 - Give yourself credit for the good things you did today 
  • October 30 - Look back on your calendar and find the positives for the month 
  • October 31 - “Carve” out some time to hand out some candy to youngsters and see them smile! 

1. Swarbrick, P. & Yudof, J., (2014). Wellness in eight dimensions. Collaborative Support Programs of NJ, Inc. 
2. Gilbert, P. (2009). The compassionate mind. Little, Brown Book Group. 
3. Gilbert, P. (2010). The compassionate mind: A new approach to life's challenges. Constable and Robinson. 

September 2022

Self-Care Awareness Month

Stock photo of roses with a letterboard saying Love Yourself.

By Jennifer Lewis, Academic Enrichment Center (AEC) Wellness Coach

Last month, we started the Wellness conversation by introducing the UToledo Wellness Wheel and each of its eight dimensions. Each month, we will dive a little deeper into the idea of wellness and how to make it applicable. 

September is Self-Care Awareness Month

The timing could not be better. As our first- and second-year medical students have been on campus for a few weeks, we now welcome all students back to campus. Most of you have a general idea of self-care, thanks to the media during the COVID pandemic. So perhaps the information here will allow you to "dive a little deeper" and discover what you need. 

Evolve to Live founded Self-Care Awareness Month in 2016 to "raise awareness of the incredible benefits of individual self-care. When practiced regularly, self-care creates significant personal, social, and economic benefits" — hint: Wellness. They described Self-Care in a single phrase – becoming an advocate for yourself! Diving deeper, it is about: 

  • Paying attention to you, your body, and your emotions 
  • Checking in with yourself in each moment  
  • Setting healthy boundaries  
  • Learning and practicing clear and direct communication 
  • Learning to appreciate and love yourself  
  • Living your life with joy… guilt free!   

Did you notice how all these phrases are ACTIVE? (Reminder: Wellness is an ACTIVE process) 

How do YOU increase your Self-Care Awareness?

According to, three questions to ask yourself are:  

  • Who am I?  
  • What do I want?  
  • How do I want to be in my life?  

Self-reflection can be challenging work, and it is often avoided for many reasons. However, being intentional and active in answering these questions allows you to create the life you want for yourself (even in medical/graduate school)! Rather than just thinking about these answers, write them down somewhere — your phone, a journal, on the refrigerator (if you live by yourself) and look for themes in your answers such as: 

  • Labels you place on yourself 
  • Negative thoughts and beliefs you have about who you are 
  • Your personal values — what is important to you 
  • Your unique character strengths 
  • What you are doing well and what you want more of 
  • What changes you want to make 
  • Your immediate goals 
  • Your life goals 

Use September to set yourself up for success!

Now that you are here at the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, it is time to set some self-care goals and GO FOR IT!!! Let go of what holds you back, and grab on to what sends you forward, because as Dr. Seuss once said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” (Dr. Seuss, "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" New York: Random House, 1990).

Take care of yourself.

Each of the days on this calendar gives you an idea of how to practice Self-Care or provides educational resources to learn more.  Feel free to set a goal to try complete at least 1 activity per week (or more)!  You never know when you can add another "tool" to your "toolkit for living."

Self-Care Calendar
Wellness Calendar for September
  1. Find time for Self-Care at least 15 minutes per day. It's not selfish – it's essential! :)
  2. Use this 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding technique to assist when stressed.
  3. Create a list of things you want to accomplish this month.
  4. Try "The Maui Habit" by BJ Fogg.
  5. Dance it out to your favorite pump up jam.
  6. Forgive yourself when things go wrong. Everyone makes mistakes.
  7. Notice 3 things that you do well, no matter how small.
  8. Savor your morning cup of coffee or tea this morning.
  9. Watch this 10-minute TED Talk on Self-Care.
  10. Suicide Awareness Day – Be grateful for your existence.  
  11. Create a personal mantra  that brings you comfort.
  12. Get rid of 5 things you never use.
  13. Invite someone for a nice outdoor walk.
  14. Look for one new uplifitng social media account today.
  15. Don't compare how you feel inside to how others appear outside.
  16. Give a sincere thank you to anyone who helps you today.
  17. Order takeout!
  18. Find a photo you like of yourself.
  19. Watch another 10-minute TED talk on Self-Care.
  20. Let go of other people's expectations of you.
  21. Aim to be GOOD ENOUGH, rather than perfect.
  22. Tell someone how much you care about them.
  23. Stretch for 10 minutes before you go to bed.
  24. Spend sometime in quiet & solitude.
  25. Prepare your lunches for the week.
  26. Give yourself permission to say "no" at times (without guilt).
  27. When you find things hard, remember it's ok to not be ok, just don't stay there.
  28. Do something kind for someone else today.
  29. Learn about your sleep hygiene so you can get the best sleep.
  30. Reflect on the month and name 3 of the best moments 

August 2022

Focus on Wellness artwork with heartbeat icon.

By Jennifer Lewis, Academic Enrichment Center (AEC) Wellness Coach

August is National Wellness Month! 

Happy New Year (school style)! As we begin the 2022-23 school year, it is only fitting to begin the discussion of Wellness by letting you know that August is National Wellness Month!

This month will center on the definition of Wellness as we view it here at UToledo College of Medicine & Life Sciences, as well as how you can measure your own wellness in each of the 8 dimensions.

Set a goal to be intentional this month: decide on one (small) idea that you can maintain (form a habit) that brings you joy. This is the start of your Wellness lifestyle. Wellness, here at The University of Toledo, is based on 8 Dimensions (Swarbrick, 1997).

These dimensions include: 

  • Physical Wellness 
  • Emotional Wellness 
  • Environmental Wellness 
  • Social Wellness 
  • Spiritual Wellness 
  • Professional (Occupational) Wellness 
  • Financial Wellness 
  • Intellectual Wellness 

Wellness wheel with the eight dimensions of wellness

All the dimensions are interconnected. For example, when we have increasing debt (Financial), we experience anxiety (Emotional), sometimes leading to illness (Physical), feel less effective at work/school (Professional), and maybe even question our own meaning/purpose in life (Spiritual).

Wellness involves being aware of ourselves as a whole (holistic), which includes a sense of contentment and self-defined balance. Wellness is an ACTIVE process in which you are aware of yourself and make choices for a more satisfying lifestyle. Wellness is the presence of:

  • A purpose in life
  • Active involvement in satisfying work and leisure
  • Joyful relationships
  • A healthy body and living environment
  • Happiness

Where can you start?

Wellness and balance are defined by YOU, so it is important to be honest about your strengths and limitations in each of the wellness dimensions. 

  • Wellness involves a sense of Empowerment (taking responsibility for our day-to-day choices and our lives)
  • Habits: Habits affect what we do, how we feel, how we work, how we fuel our minds and bodies
  • Answer the questions: What do you do now (daily routines, habits, valued life roles/activities), what else can you learn to do, and what types of supports do you need to focus on your wellness/balance?

See the 2021-2022 Archive

Read the Dean's Update newsletter for more content. 

Last Updated: 6/5/23