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November Wellness Ambassador of the Month | Brianna Gunnarson

Quick Summary

  • I think of wellness as a measure of the overall healthiness of my life. This includes all aspects not just physical, although that definitely plays a big part, but also emotional, relational, and mental healthiness too.

Wellness Ambassador of the Month
Brianna Gunnarson of California Animal Health and Food Safety Lab - Turlock Branch

How long have you worked at UC Davis?

I've worked for CAHFs for about 1 year.

What does Wellness mean to you?

I think of wellness as a measure of the overall healthiness of my life. This includes all aspects not just physical, although that definitely plays a big part, but also emotional, relational, and mental healthiness too. When I'm enforcing healthy boundaries that's a part of wellness. When I get up and walk that's a part of wellness. When I use my finances well that's a part of wellness. When I take rest time for my emotional health that's a part of wellness.

Why did you become a wellness ambassador?

I wanted a way to get further involved at CAHFs beyond just my usual job duties and this seemed like a fun way to promote a better work environment and the health of my co-workers. I also really like being active (hiking, scuba diving, yoga) so any excuse to get myself and other people moving is fantastic, in my opinion.

How long have you been a wellness ambassador?

I've been a wellness ambassador for about 10 months.

What has been the most rewarding or positive about your experience thus far?

I love how excited people get about our Walker Tracker events. It is so amazing to see people being active. I also really love hearing people contribute to the conversation about health and well-being. Everyone is different so what works for one person may be completely different for someone else. I've found being a Wellness Ambassador is more about facilitating that conversation than about dictating how to be healthy.

What are some challenges you face as a wellness ambassador, especially through the pandemic this past year?

In the beginning I had no idea what I was doing or what would be useful to my co-workers. I was just pushing every challenge that came through the newsletter, but I found I didn't have great participation that way. However, once I started asking and listening to what people actually wanted, my co-workers were enthusiastic about sharing what would benefit and interest them most. Another challenge is that Turlock is a branch location. We are two hours away from Davis so many of the campus specific resources and activities aren't available to us here in Turlock. Finding alternatives or substitutes is sometimes a challenge.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with new wellness ambassadors?

Ask your co-workers what things would best support them and what things they would actually participate in. Also tailor what you send to your co-workers via email. Don't just inundate people's inboxes with forwarded emails. People don't read them. I have a one page summary document of the resources and things that could benefit Turlock and I send that one email one time per month.

Staff and Faculty Health and Well-being aims to build an environment that makes the healthier choice the easier one, while providing staff and faculty with the required support to make UC Davis the healthiest community. How do you feel you have contributed to our mission?

Before I started being the Wellness Ambassador, there didn’t seem to be much discussion about health and the different ways we can support each other. One of the best ways to make health an easier choice is by fostering a community that discusses and promotes the health and well-being of everyone. Part of the way you create that community is through doing activities together and providing resources that will help your co-workers specifically. It has been so fun to see people get excited about how many steps they are taking for the Walking Challenge, or going to the Turlock Farmers Market or hearing about people taking part in the financial wellness class. I feel our health-centered community is in the earliest stages, but just by starting this conversation we have opened so many doors and I hope to continue to see people pursue health and flourish in life.

What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?

Right now my favorite thing to do is scuba dive in Monterey. I got certified this summer and I absolutely love it! I love how you get to be active and be a part of nature and explore a world that few people get to see. A lot of people I talk to say it sounds terrifying, but I recommend going to a reputable scuba school and doing a Discovery Scuba class. It's a great way to try a new activity in a safe environment and see if you want to go through the process of getting certified without having to commit to the full classes. There is nothing like it it! It's like flying, but underwater. I also love to read. I've read 70 novels this year. And I love to hike with my two Standard Poodles, Felix and Diana.

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