The New Year is the perfect time to set new goals, break old habits, and reflect on our experiences from the past year. And what a year it has been.
The pandemic continues to disrupt our lives both personally and professionally, which is weighing heavily on the mental health and well-being of many individuals. Throughout the last year, our Cigna Corporation colleagues have shared inspirational stories on how they are adjusting to the world we live in and the ways they have learned to prioritize their mental health and well-being in this “new normal.” We asked them to share their best ideas with all of you.
How will you prioritize your mental health and well-being in 2022? Read on for tips, experiences, and lessons learned from some of us at Cigna.
Eleanor Bloom, program management senior advisor at Cigna
I have two rescue dogs, one of whom is very nervous around unfamiliar people. I have also had struggles with anxiety, so this is something that we face together. Every Saturday morning we pick a location to hike for an hour minimum, ideally in the morning when it is quiet and people are sparse. I find that I look forward to these excursions all week and enjoy searching for new parks and trails for us to explore. Having a partner to explore with me and knowing that it is something that is good for both of us helps me make it a priority when I might otherwise not. We have hiked in snow, mud, and sun, and both of us come back refreshed and ready to take on new challenges and keep pushing forward on old ones.
Gaylynn Crosby, case management lead analyst at Evernorth, Cigna Corporation’s health services business
I’ve taken advantage of the Happify app. I’ve been using the app to work on my humor. I feel humor is a great way for me to improve my mental health. I’m very lucky that I married a funny man and we have been married for almost 41 years. He is really good about finding humor in things. He helps me by laughing at things and situations, but I never considered it natural for me. I’ve always been quick to think of the worst-case scenario. Helping me to change my mindset and practicing to think of humor in a situation has been fun and it does get easier. Thank you to Happify and Cigna for this great resource.
Gourav Diwan, senior manager, business product operations at Express Scripts, Evernorth’s pharmacy benefits manager
Reconnecting and sharing gratitude with those who I have not talked to in a while is a way that I prioritize my mental health and well-being. I try to reach out to two or three people a week, and it fills me with joy and happiness to catch up and listen to all the wonderful things that have happened since we last talked.
Matthew Fulkerson, operations support analyst at eviCore, Evernorth’s medical benefits manager
My favorite “go-to” to center myself and get grounded is to be creative. I have a passion for visual art and paint as often as I can. Studies have shown that being creative can reset the mind, and I am sure this is true for me. While I work on a painting I find myself with a singular focus. I fall into the work mentally, and once I complete it I find myself calm, restored, and refreshed. Even when the work does not turn out as I wanted there is still a great benefit from the process.
Leigh Geraghty, buyer enablement principal at Evernorth
In 2022, my goal is to focus on things that bring me joy. When I am not working, I have prioritized getting back to a workout class five times a week and hitting my 10,000 steps each day. For the steps, I have great coworkers who prioritize walking meetings with me whenever possible. And taking the time to give back has been fulfilling for my mental health. I volunteer at the local animal shelter and help foster animals. There is nothing better than kittens and puppies to help reduce your stress level and deliver happiness.
Lucy Hagar, business analytics advisor at Evernorth
For me, focusing on my daily environment and relationships has helped me improve my mental health and well-being. In 2021, I brightened up my home office with colorful furniture and painted the walls to make my workday cheerier. I’m now prioritizing more time outside the home to socialize with my close circle of friends. I’m making plans to do more scuba diving, which is an activity that removes all worries from my mind. I plan to make 2022 the year I spend more time at the gym, working on waking up the endorphins to increase my mood to a more natural healthier one.
Michelle Jones-Belgrave, service relationship director at Cigna
As a family, our plan to improve all aspects of our health during 2021 was successful. We simply looked for ways to creatively enjoy positive experiences, whether it was a weekly family game night, turning our lower level into a roller-skating rink, working out in our home gym, or enjoying the outdoors – we did it together as a family! We are continuing with the same plan during 2022, remaining creative and helping our family to appreciate and enjoy the wonderful things that can be enjoyed in life – it is all about creating positive and memorable experiences.
DJ T. Reinhardt, senior technical product owner, pharmacy network and supply chain at Evernorth
As a new mom of an infant and a toddler, it’s so easy to forget about taking care of myself. I have realized I have been giving so much of myself to others, not knowing that I have been running on empty. As I catch myself trickling on low battery, I have realized I need to take care of my needs first before I can take care of others. I began writing a journal as part of my morning routine, and it has helped immensely to quiet my mind. I write down exactly what I feel, and I surprisingly feel a sense of relief and clarity.
Jo Ann Vasquez, lead analyst, complex nurse case manager at Cigna
In 2022, I have three tips for anyone who wants to improve their well-being. First, acknowledge that mental health is a vital sign, just as the other vital signs play a role to help assess your well-being – assess your mental health on a regular basis so that you can be at your best. Second, use your paid time off and regularly decompress from work to avoid stress buildup or a sense of feeling overwhelmed. Finally, build your community of support – friends, family, co-workers, place of worship, community – so you know who to call and where to go for support when the time comes.
Sara Vincent, lead analyst, business modeling architect at Express Scripts
In 2022, I'm setting time aside on Sundays for self-care and doing things to get ready for the week. As a single mom of three kids, I find the weekdays so busy and overwhelming. Building out and prioritizing the time I need to get a jump start on the little things makes a big difference.
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