University News

Dr. Suzie Carmack Shows How to Optimize Well-Being and Work Performance

by Whitney Hopler, Communications Manager

Dr. Suzie Carmack, who serves on Mason’s adjunct faculty developing and teaching courses for the Department of Global and Community Health and the School of Integrative Studies, has authored the book Genius Breaks: Optimize Your Workday Performance and Well-Being and launched the Well-Being Online Academy. Both of those projects show people how to optimize their well-being and performance at work.

Genius Breaks describes how brief breaks of mindful movement can refresh people on the job. People who sit down for the majority of their workdays are at risk for developing many different kinds of health problems – from heart disease to cancer – but by taking breaks of two to 10 minutes long during work hours they can significantly reduce that risk while improving their energy and concentration levels, Carmack writes. Carmack, a movement scientist who teaches both yoga and mindful leadership, outlines four steps readers can take to design their own “Genius Breaks” for greater well-being on the job.

Not only can people strengthen their personal well-being by taking these breaks, but they can also and increase their productivity at work, says Carmack. In Genius Breaks, she writes: “Genius Breaks have the potential to benefit and improve your physical stamina (body), mental prowess (mind), and emotional resilience (heart). … Genius Breaks therefore have a potential triple benefit for your workday performance effectiveness, because you are experiencing all three benefits simultaneously. You are essentially improving your mind/body/heart operating system – enabling it to perform your work and to adapt to unforeseen stressors more efficiently.”

The online and in-person courses that Carmack develops for Mason cover a diverse variety of well-being topics, such as integrative health coaching, compassion in the workplace, and stress management.

Carmack has created some innovative ways for readers to apply what they learn by reading Genius Breaks. “I just launched a special five-day K-12 Teachers’ Challenge,” she says. “In it, teachers can learn how to design their own Genius Breaks (mini breaks of mindful movement with meaning) and integrate them into their class day.” In just the first week of the Teachers’ Challenge, 132 teachers from 32 states signed up.

She adds, “The challenge is part of a Well-Being Online Academy I have just launched as well. For now, it features my own work in mindful movement, but will also feature the work of other well-being scholars in the new year. The academy blends online courses with immersion experiences – so that people can study at their own pace and also connect with retreats, etc.”