By: Emily Holton
A new, one-year certificate program at St. Michael's Hospital offers clinical and administrative staff a different kind of professional development: how to support one's own wellness.
"To me, wellness is not just about the absence of disease," said Shivalee Paliwal, the performance and wellness consultant leading the program. "I'm talking about helping people reach their full potential for physical, mental and social well-being."
Paliwal said she believes that when staff's wellness improves, so do organizational outcomes – it's in everyone's best interest to nurture wellness at work. Her goal is to equip staff with the tools to better navigate stress, improve their physical and mental health and have stronger social interactions.
She began with weekly chair yoga and lunch-hour guided-meditation sessions in spare meeting rooms.
"I put the call out in the Daily Dose, hoping at least one or two people might show up," said Paliwal. "It's been so exciting to see such a great turnout every week, and a clear desire among staff to explore these topics more deeply."
In response, Paliwal has developed the I Am Wellness certificate program, 10 workshops offered to staff free of charge through Corporate Health and Safety Services. Topics include breathing and posture, meditation and mindfulness, building resilience and cultivating gratitude.
Participants can join as few or as many sessions as they wish, but those who participate in all 10 receive a certificate of completion.
A homework component is central to each workshop. It asks participants to pick a daily, personal practice and stick to it for 30 days. Examples include five minutes of deep breathing or a few pages of journal writing.
"It's about forming habits," said Paliwal. "People vary largely in how long it takes them to stick to something, but 30 days is long enough to see impact and help them decide how they want to proceed afterwards."