Provost Ferme kicks off Campus Recreation's new series about purposeful well-being

Mindful momentum: Stories of well-being in action

Mental and physical wellness is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but that doesn’t mean we always know how to refill our own cup. Campus Recreation is talking to some of our busiest Bearcats to understand how they intentionally carve out time in their day to recharge.

UC’s Provost, Valerio Ferme, PhD, knows a thing or two about what it means to have a lot on your plate. Ferme joined UC in 2019 as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences before being appointed Provost in August of 2021. He plays a massive role in regard to UC academics, and Ferme is also well known for his heartfelt and sincere monthly Provost Updates that are always focused on his genuine interest in each of our campus groups. So, we thought, who better to kick off this series than the Provost himself?

You’re in a high demand role, tell us how you’ve been able to set up routines to prioritize physical and mental well-being.

Growing up, physical activity was engrained in the way my parents envisioned my health. There is a Latin saying ("mens sana in corpore sano") which we have translated in English as, "a healthy mind in a healthy body." The two go hand in hand.

What I try to do, daily, is create a space for me to practice this saying. Whether it is by taking a walk, using the elliptical machine at the gym, or going through a yoga/meditation routine, I want to start the morning by thinking outside the box of my daily tasks at home and at work. This must be intentional and repetitive. Once the rhythm is set by applying oneself, it is easier to see how you cannot do without it.

Also, during the day, especially when things get stressful, I try to take 5 minutes for some deep-breathing exercise that clears my mind of anxiety."

In your role, people often look to you to be the example. What would you want them to learn from you regarding well-being?

As I said before, it is important that we are intentional about it, not leave it to chance. Not only is it about exercising the mind and body to have their role in our daily activities, but also eating a little better and interacting better with others each day.

Taking a moment to acknowledge those who work around us, maybe by asking how they are doing in their personal lives, gives us an interest and opportunity to think about other people’s lives. If we are stressed, so are they. Acknowledging this, makes us better partners, but also helps us see that others might have similar challenges and we can heal together.

We hear a lot about taking time for our own health and well-being but rarely have the opportunity to see examples of this in action. How do you refill your energy or decompress?

This question made me laugh, because I think people are starting to see me walk around campus during the day. When possible, if I have 30-40 minutes, I leave the office and walk around the perimeter of West Campus. Not only does this give me a chance to get some exercise, it also serves to break up my routine of sitting in offices for meetings and provides some ‘distance’ from these conversations and professional challenges.

That ‘distance’ is very useful because it allows me to think about follow ups and solutions (unless I start looking at new emails and try to answer those while I am walking… that can be damaging both to the mental and physical health, especially when I run into things because I am distracted…).

What is your why?

This question is essential for all of us. My why is simple: I want to make a difference in people’s lives, enabling them to achieve their goals more easily and with a purpose of their own. Working in support of other people’s ambitions and expectations within a society and social group is what drives me.

Do you know someone who actively prioritizes their mental and physical well-being? Nominate them (or yourself!) to be featured in the next Mindful Momentum series!

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