Meet Olivia Albrighton-Vanway

This month, we talked about wellness with Olivia Albrighton-Vanway, Coordinator of Faculty Affairs and Communications, AND also Yoga Teacher at Yates Filed House.  Olivia is a shining light for those who know her, work with her and take her class.  The GU community is fortunate to have her.  

What does “wellness” mean to you?

To me, the definition of wellness is simple: it’s actively taking care of yourself. Although the definition is simple, how we go about “taking care of ourselves” is a very complex and active task. Wellness, of course, means being sure to have food, water, and shelter, but so many people stop there. Wellness also means giving your body, mind, and spirit the attention and love it craves and needs. Things like eating a healthy, balanced diet, getting exercise, learning how to cope with your emotions in a safe and loving way, setting boundaries in order to manage stress, having a strong community and support system, and, ultimately, finding joy in your life- regardless of your life situation. Once someone actually gives their body, mind, and spirit what it needs, which is unique to each individual, you start to be well. You stop “doing” life- going through the motions and wishing your time away; and start living life. This, to me, is wellness.

What wellness opportunities do you participate in at GU and are proud that GU offers?

I actively participate, and love, the mind Body Connections workshops offered through GU. It’s is such an amazing group of individuals who get together and bring to light things people may not feel comfortable talking about or- hey- don’t know how to begin talking about. It’s safe, fun, informal, and so very helpful. I’ve also gone to group meditations in the John Main Center/ Remembrance Hall, which are a nice way to decompress and reground. I have participated and taught (subbed on an occasion) the faculty-staff yoga class on Fridays at Yates, and also teach yoga classes throughout the week at Yates. I try to participate in some of the fitness challenges that pop-up throughout the year, and although some don’t consider it wellness, I love the farmers market in Red Square on Wednesdays! Hey, Kombucha is wellness, right?

What suggestion would you give to someone who wants to “be well?”

First of all, do not overthink it. I suggest writing down 3 things that you believe will allow you to “be well.” Again, this is unique to all of us, so be truthful with yourself. After stating those three things, set some short term, realistic goals. You cannot have an extravagant, long term, unrealistic goal completed in a week. It’s simply not possible and ends leaving us discouraged and feeling like a failure. So start small! For example, I wanted to have less stress in my life. I made it my goal to start “saying no” to things I knew were out of my bandwidth or that I simply did not want to do. This small modification didn’t eliminate my stresses, but it did allow me to have power over my decisions. A little extra time to read, sleep, or laugh. To be well.

Once you tackle the smaller goals, you will realize how amazing you are, how good it feels to listen to that inner voice that’s been begging for your attention, and it will becomes easy to start listening to it!

What do you envision the future of wellness to be on campus and in our world?

I envision the future of wellness on campus and in our world to be a part of our everyday life. As children, we learn how to eat, write, interact with people, and so on. But why aren’t we teaching children to really be well? How about students learning how important it is to tend to our own happiness and how to effectively manage stresses?   And what about bosses knowing that a happy, healthy, WELL, staff is way more productive than an overworked, stressed, unhappy staff? I see wellness being a norm in the future. I see this already beginning to happen when I hear of office yoga classes, interoffice health and fitness activities, and wellness coaches being a part of the HR staff. The fact that Georgetown has a wellness program shows that’s it’s proving to be effective and is widely beneficial. One day “wellness benefits” will be a part of employee compensation packages for every organization.

(*Fantastic, Olivia!  You are on the cutting-edge of nourishing our GU community of wellness!)