Wellness coaching: Switch from surviving to thriving


E And Family

Editor’s Note: The year 2020 has demanded the best of us at work and at home. The pandemic presents barriers to things we crave like personal connection, balance, peace of mind, achievement, exercise — normalcy. In addition to getting sound advice from Notre Dame's Wellness Coaches, NDWorks asked faculty and staff for examples of personal growth in the face of challenge. Here is one story. 

Like so many others, it took weeks of juggling the duties of home, work, online school and being a mom and wife full time for Elissa (E) Chudzicki, senior graphic designer with Notre Dame’s Marketing Communications team, to begin the steps toward thriving. 

“Rewind to six months ago and the reply, ‘Surviving’ might have been my initial answer to ‘How are you doing?’” she said. “All of those buckets needed and deserved all of me and my attention. And let’s be real, the phrase ‘we are given what we can handle’ was not what was going through my head at that time.”

Making the transition to thriving has taken time and intention. With a focus on being positive and present for her three daughters — twins in the second grade and a fourth grader — she has moved out of survival mode and is able to look toward the future.

“I’ve been more present in my girls’ lives than I ever have been;  I have been very blessed in this setup.”  Chudzicki said. “These times have given me a sense of empowerment and reminded me of just how resilient we can be when challenged. Knowing now that, in fact, I am given what I can handle.” 

For those of us who are striving to thrive, but still in survival mode, there are many resources available at Notre Dame, from hotlines to health and well-being professionals like Wellness Coaches Martha Vanderheyden and Mary Shafer who can guide us through the challenges.

The coaches agree that starting with a clean slate for routines and staying present while remembering there is hope in the future are important steps in the transition from surviving to thriving.

Here are more tips from the Wellness Coaches:

Disrupted habits equal clean slates: Many of us have been piecing life together any way we can for many months now. This amount of time spent surviving may have us feeling exhausted and burnt out. Our usual habits of the past have been disrupted and drifted away with the passing months. However, this leaves us with the excitement of a clean slate! With a clean slate, new habits have the space to emerge and evolve, giving us the opportunity to thrive.

Self-compassion is required: How do we grasp the opportunity to thrive? First, start by meeting and accepting yourself where you are today. This gives us leverage to expect more from ourselves with more compassion. We must recognize that both healthy and unhealthy habits have been formed during the disruption of our previous habits. This recognition allows us to be realistic and kind about what we can do in our circumstances. Challenge yourself with the question of “How can I  do better?” By ‘do better,’ we mean how can we have a positive impact on our happiness to improve our life satisfaction? Focus on the things that feel within your control and areas of life where your energy is the highest. Less guilt and more compassion along this journey will result in better long-term success.

Thriving is about the future: Remember that although many parts of life remain uncertain and out of our control, we can make this time count. What we do now will have consequences for our future and we have the ability to make them positive. A question to ponder is, “In the future, how will we wish to have handled ourselves during this time?” Although the future seems unimaginable, it will one day become our present. By taking the opportunity to start to thrive now, we can make the future a better experience for ourselves. Thriving does not need to be a big sweeping change and it doesn’t happen overnight, but little by little, as you feel ready. The things we do every day matter more than what we do every once in a while. Approach thriving with an open, excited mindset and the future has no bounds. 

For a private consultation with a Wellness Coach, call 574-631-2366.

~Carrie Stone in Internal Communications contributed to this story written by the Wellness Coaches.