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The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of extra stress on individuals and their families. At Moffitt Cancer Center, our Wellness Coordinator Debra Cheek looks for creative ways to connect with team members virtually to help alleviate the tension.

Listen to your body, move gently and avoid straining.
Inhale slowly and squeeze your shoulders up to your ears.
Exhale slowly through your mouth or nose and allow your shoulders to relax down.
Repeat these steps several times throughout the day to help relieve shoulder tension.

Those are some of the guiding principles of mindfulness yoga offered through Moffitt's Employee Wellness Program.

“We can’t always manage stress, but we can manage our perspective in dealing with life situations,” says Cheek.

Moffitt team members are traditionally invited to explore self-care and learn best practices for stress relief through weekly classes held at the cancer center, but COVID-19 changed that.  

“We wanted to continue helping our employees manage stress and stay connected,” said Cheek. “Working from home can lead to feelings of isolation. Movement can relieve some of the tension caused by spending more time in front of a computer, so we started offering the sessions via Zoom.”

Mindful movement uses simple head, neck, shoulder and back stretches to release tension, while flowing arm motion and coordinated breathing increase energy and focus. 

Sharen Lock is a certified yoga therapist and patient wellness coordinator in Moffitt’s Integrative Medicine Department. She encourages participants to listen to their body, move gently and avoid straining.

“Throughout the practice, we remind participants to stay connected to their breath, moment to moment; this is what relaxes the mind and builds awareness,” says Lock.  

Imagine something peaceful or beautiful in nature and savor it with all your senses. Hold this image for several breaths or longer.

Lock says, “Think of it as giving your mind a mini-vacation.”