Featuring Emma Maurer, Vice President at Peerfit; Ashley Karpinski, Director of Behavioral Health Strategy and Innovation at Aetna; and Michelle Bledsoe, Head of Sales at Meritain Health. Hosted by Bridgette Cassety from the Broker Engagement department at Meritain Health.
How can we find ways to take care of our physical and mental health? Female leaders share their thoughts:
· Make time to acknowledge the importance of taking care of yourself.
· Try not to feel guilty about taking care of yourself; make it a priority.
· Consider making physical activity a social activity, instead of something that could isolate you.
· Set aside time, make a plan, have a strategy and be sure to have some fun.
Welcome. My name is Bridgette Cassety, I am pleased to be joined today by Emma Maurer, who is the vice president of business development and partnership at Peerfit. Ashley Karpinski, who is Aetna’s director of behavioral health strategy and innovation. And our own Michelle Bledsoe, who head of sales of the West region here at Meritain. As part of our women's podcast series today, we are going to be talking about the importance of taking care of ourselves. We all know that in our industry and in our daily work, we talk a lot about this with our clients and with our customers. The question is, are we always so good about practicing what we preach and taking care of ourselves individually? That is the conversation that we are going to have today. I want to thank you all for joining me for what I am sure is going to be a great discussion and a great takeaway for our listeners. Michelle, I thought I would start out with you and have you talk a little bit about why this matter. Why it is important to you? Why is it especially important for us as women, because you certainly have a lot of passion around this topic inside our organization. So, can you sort of share with our listener listeners, why you think this is so important.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I purposely chose the healthcare industry due to my own journey of combining my beliefs and my passion around health and wellness. I love the fact that I am in an industry that allows us to be advocates for healthier living, and work with different providers to bring these to our customers, to employees, to their families. I think this is such an important topic for women as we are typically caregivers to many, but it's also an important topic to anyone and everyone. Especially in the timeframe that we are in right now in our current environment where we have further isolation from people and events. We are working in different norms outside of our normal way that we work. Someone said the other day to me, we are no longer working from home, we are living at work. That really resonated with me. We are all limited to the availability to do what we normally do to prioritize our self-care. I think that as women, we always need to be reminded to put ourselves first and to have prioritize that self-care, but we also need to remind one another. My sister and I, and my mom, we send each other texts randomly to say, what are you doing for self-care today? Or how are you being kind to yourself today? I think it is still important as women to not only remind ourselves of that, but to also remind the people we care about and love and remind them of that. Also as a leader, I think it's important to remind our teams, of the resources and tools that they have available to prioritize their self-care emotionally, physically, mentally, socially, and all the other ways that we need to make sure that we're putting ourselves first. There's up plaque my mom used to have in her house that said, “if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy”, and I think that resonates a little bit with women. If we are not being able to take care of ourselves, are able to be able to take care of others the way we want to?
That is well said Michelle. When I listen to you talk, I sort of think about the oxygen mask. When you get on an airplane, you have a child, they say, put yours on first. That seems counterintuitive. But when I hear you talk, I hear that theme go through my own head. With that Emma from Purefit, I thought I would bring you into the conversation. That is because obviously at Purefit, you are trying to make physical activity easy to engage in. Could you talk a little bit with our listeners about why it is so important for all of us and specifically women to prioritize this in our lives?
Yeah, I think it is also really important to point out that when we say physical activity, we shouldn't get caught up in kind of what that is. It does not necessarily mean that you have to go to the gym for an hour. By being physically active we are just saying move more right based stationary left. And so how you choose to move more is also as much about self-care as anything else to the other great points that Michelle's already made today. But I think it is also about finding something that you like to do. If you are not going to like to do it, you will not engage in it at all.
What advice would you give or what a couple of things do you think are important for people to do to be successful in incorporating physical wellbeing into their busy lives? Cause a lot of people say, Hey, I am just too busy. I do not have the time. So, what advice do you have for folks that want to do it? They are just struggling to try to make that work here.
Everyone is too busy, right? So, there is a few things that I would say to that. The first is about making physical activity a priority. You have got to put it above and beyond kind of watching your favorite reality shows. Fitness has to fall into your routine more than that. I would also say there needs to be some element of establishing a routine about around physical activity. Can you do it at the same time every day and finding again, something that you love to do? I spent many years as a personal trainer and the one thing that I found in all of my clients were those clients that had appointments early in the morning, like before work those were the most consistent. Those were the folks that never canceled their personal training session, because no one's calling them at 5:30 AM and saying, Hey, let us meet for breakfast. Whereas if you try and schedule your physical activity later in the day, it is very easy to say I have had a stressful day. It is just not what I am in the mood for. Or your friends are gonna call and say, Hey, let us go to happy hour. If you have already done it, you are free to kind of now adjust your schedule for the rest of the day as you need. And then the last point I would make to that question would be that you have got to make it social. We've talked about finding things that you like to do, but maybe it's about also about inviting your friends to do it with you, whether that be walking, yoga, CrossFit, bootcamp, any of those activities, it could be a game of tennis, but find friends that like to do things also and make it social.
I think those are excellent points, Emma. We talk a lot about physical wellbeing, but I think the other aspect of it that we do not talk enough about is really is the mental health wellbeing of our total wellbeing strategy. Ashley, I think that you would be the perfect person to bring into conversation now because Emma just talked about the importance of physical activity and making it a priority, but for complete health and wellbeing, certainly mental health is an important aspect. Can you tell us why that is so important that we pay attention to that as well?
Absolutely. We are in unprecedented times. We are all unsettled, the stress levels are higher. It is so critical right now. I love what Michelle said about living at work. I mean, not only are we working differently, we are now home are being told to socially isolate. We are pretty much changing. Not only the way we work, but the way we live, the way we raise our families, the way our families are educated. We are asking ourselves to adjust and acclimate at such a rapid pace. We are not all used to that. I mean, it is bigger than us, right? It is changing the way we shop and celebrate life events. Even in our car, we have a gas gauge, right? That tells us when we are nearing empty, or it tells you when you are half full. I often talk to folks about what is your gauge for mental health. How do you know when you are half full or almost hitting empty? How do you make sure you are investing in yourself so that you have gas in your tank? The reference earlier about being caregivers, women spend most of their time caring for others and often neglect themselves. Two out of every three caregivers in the United States are women. Without a reminder or a text like Michelle shared to tell us to take time to prioritize our bodies and our minds. It is very often the last thing we think about until it catches us off guard very much like going to an ATM and forgetting to put money in and bouncing, there is no cash left. That is really what I encourage folks to do is really monitor how you personally address stress and how do you prioritize your mental health? Because under stress we all regress and that's really an important thing to remember.
It starts to impact relationships and our own mental wellbeing.
Ashley I think that your spot on. I like your analogy of the gas tank. To create that awareness of when we are running on empty, because you cannot give to other people if you do not have anything inside in which to give. I think that is an excellent point. Michelle as we sort of wrap up our discussion here today, which I think has been tremendous. What did you done to sort of total wellbeing in your life and what do you do to encourage others? I know you gave us a little bit of examples earlier around, the be kind of with your mom and with your sister, but beyond that, how else do you embrace that and share those ideas with others?
Yeah, great question. As both Emma and Ashley have said, but it is something you have to really work at. Especially these days being able to do it. Some of the things that they both have mentioned, I think are great ways to do that, that I have done, is incorporating physical activity with social activity. and even just recently, I've I joined some different workout apps and bought some different equipment. So I could combine that physical activity with the social aspect of working out with people when that's something that I've done in the past that I'd love to do, but not able to do due to the current restrictions. So I think it's really about, for me, it's about finding alternative and creative ways to ensure that that I'm being kind to myself, that I'm doing something for myself and honoring my total wellbeing and being able to have that social part of it that I enjoy and not being isolated and also the physical part to maintain my wellbeing physically, but also being part of the physical activity is also helps me emotionally. So those are the things that I am doing to try and stay balanced as balanced as I can.
I think we have hit on a lot of not only important issues, but strategies to think about. Some of the things that I have heard you all talk about is to not feel like you are taking time away from somebody else. Do not feel guilty about taking care of yourself, make it a priority. I also heard you talk about make it fun do it with other people, make sure that it is a social activity, not just something that continues to isolate you. Take the time, make a plan, have a strategy, and have some fun while you're doing it. I want to thank you all for, for joining me today for sharing your thoughts and ideas for giving us some tools and tips to paying attention to this on a daily basis. I look forward to all of our listeners joining us for another podcast.