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NWI Member Spotlight — October 2018

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Romy Antoine

Millennial Engagement Expert, CEO/Founder “Ones Stop Wellness, Inc
University of the Sciences Philadelphia PA

I have had a dream of helping people achieve optimal wellness from an early age. During college, I majored in biology with hopes of becoming a doctor. I was passionate about fitness as well, and became a certified personal trainer to earn extra money during school. I learned about fitness research, and began exploring the Wellness Minor at my school, taking courses in exercise science and wellness management.

My first project was starting my first company, RippedNFit, where I originally wanted to create a blog to become a trusted source of health articles online. I gained international recognition and published articles in many fitness magazines, including Men's Health. I did online health coaching with clients all over the world, gaining perspective on behavior change, motivation, and adherence.

Through RippedNFit, I hosted wellness networking events where I built a community of wellness professionals and health enthusiasts on a monthly basis. The focus of this was to engage younger professionals into a wellness network, something that had yet to exist. I volunteered at a nonprofit, working with overweight toddlers and children to get them to move more, as well as engaging with their parents on healthy eating on a budget. Working with unhealthy families in a low-income community was a new and rewarding experience, as I was able to improve community wellness as well as personal wellness for these families.  

I took on a new client who has having trouble with work-life balance — staying in shape while being productive at her new company. After working together for a few months and getting her back on track, she asked me to do a lunch and learn at her company, an experience that introduced me to corporate wellness.  

I began booking workshops at other companies and attending conferences to learn about the industry. Volunteering as a workplace health educator for the American Heart Association allowed me to network and learn what other companies were doing. 

After realizing that I could package what I was already doing with personal and community wellbeing and apply that to organizations, I started One Stop Wellness and made sure that the offerings were multi-dimensional and relevant to the current employees. I did organizational wellbeing consulting for a wide range of companies in different industries. 

I wanted to find my niche, and realized that millennials have redefined wellness to focus on multidimensional wellbeing. I eventually published my book on millennial engagement, and started doing presentations on the topic, including my talk at the 2017 NWI Conference. I was able to do a different style of workshop where I incorporated group activities into my session. What was great about my workshop was that it not only helped managers understand millennials, but gave millennials a new way to look at the workplace and better fit in. I also had the chance to network with the millennials at the conference while keeping in touch with and sharing the value of NWI to my colleagues working in HR, education, and healthcare. 

Currently, my team is building an employee engagement technology platform that caters to the personal and professional values of millennials. Instead of focusing only on physical health, we focus on engagement, recognition, professional development, community, financial, and mental health. This is a one stop shop for workplace wellness. The platform is built with the latest research and methods in employee engagement, organizational psychology, and behavior change strategy.

My efforts in the wellness field were noticed and I made the 2017 Black Enterprise BE Modern Man 100 list. With this recognition of my wellness industry and business contributions, I was becoming an influence, and was nominated for the Top 10 Healthcare CEOS of 2018 by Smart Health. 

I believe my journey over the last seven years has allowed me to work in various aspects of wellness and then fuse all that experience together to create an effective workplace wellness company. Had I just gone to medical school, this experience would never have been achievable.  

Awards:

  • 2018: National Wellness Institute Board Internship
  • 2018: Young Wellness Professional - National Wellness Institute: Providing effective leadership to engage young generations in the healthcare and wellness industry via NWI. Show proven leadership on a project that impacts personal, community, organizational or corporate wellness.
  • 2017: BE Modern Man 100 - Black Enterprise Magazine - BE Modern Man 100 Features: showcasing 100 diverse men of color (African American, Afro Latino, African, West Indian, Indian, Indian-Asian, etc.) who have done or are doing exceptional work within their communities, within their respective industries and/or globally.

 

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Social Media and the Hiring Process

Posted By Lindsay Born, Monday, October 1, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2018

As social media becomes increasingly prevalent in our culture, it not only affects our personal relationships but also our jobs and career opportunities. As Phil Garver advises in “Fit for Hire,” the first step to prepare for a career — and the rest of your life — is to clean up your social media presence. This means reviewing your posts, likes and photos for anything that can make a bad impression to an employer. In fact, social media is designed to enable you to promote yourself and give a first impression, so it makes sense that to an employer, our profiles are representations of ourselves — our daily lives, the activities that we enjoy, and the beliefs we support. Even if you are a “non-poster” the friends we tag show who we want to be associated with. Our comments and likes show what our interests are and where our support lies behind products and topics. 

Maintain a great online presence when preparing for an interview

We should also consider the content we are tagged in, as these posts still appear on our social media and show employers what our friends think about us. Additionally, proofread before you post; a spelling or grammar error in a 50 character tweet may look sloppy or uneducated to a future employer. All this information in your web presence combines to allow your future employer to evaluate your judgement, maturity, filtering ability, attitudes, and lifestyle during the hiring process.

Here are some tips and tricks for maintaining a great online presence:

  • Remove anything that doesn’t present you in a mature or positive manor.
  • Post positively and avoid negativity.
  • When in doubt, don’t post it.
  • Proofread! And proofread again!
  • Profile photos and appearance make huge first impressions, choose them carefully. It is best to look clean and polished.
  • Avoid drama and offensive posts.
  • Consider your profile from an outsider’s view. If you were a stranger looking at your profile, does it look like you are responsible? Like you spend many of your nights out partying? Like you use appropriate language? An employer doesn’t know that a carefree post about a night out on the town only happened one time. They may assume it is one of your regular activities. 

Lastly, while it is important to edit and clean up your online presence, you can also enhance it to stand out and shine. Use a photo or post to boost the most impressive points on your resume. Sharing posts about community involvement or service may score points with employers. 

What you post is not private. Employers can and will use your social media as a factor in the hiring process. Let your social media help you positively stand out from the pool of applicants.  

Remember to think before you post! It can reward you with a job — or save your career.

Source: Permission granted by Garver, P., Ed.D. (2016). Fit for Hire (3rd ed.). Garver Publishing.


Lindsay Born is a Health Promotion and Wellness major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Her minor is in psychology. Lindsay is currently an intern at the National Wellness Institute, engaging in marketing, writing, planning, and communication projects.


Tags:  job seeking  social media  worksite 

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How Do You Know What Meditation Technique is Right for You?

Posted By Will Williams, Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2018

To the great joy of us meditation enthusiasts, in the last few years meditation has truly found its way into the mainstream. Having been viewed for many years as the preserve of dedicated monks and counter-culture hippies (if people thought of it at all), it’s now been embraced as a useful and wellbeing-boosting part of the modern world. 

Yet despite hundreds of articles, the growth of mindfulness apps and increasing numbers of corporate meditation programs, there are probably more meditation techniques out there than most people realize. Mindfulness is perhaps the most well known, but for people interested in meditation there’s lots of others to try —  it’s knowing where to start which can be the challenge. 

This short introduction to the major meditation techniques is here to help you pick what meditation technique most resonates with you, and give (a very short!) overview of each practice. 

There are probably more meditation techniques out there than most people realize.

 

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is arguably the most famous technique.  By teaching students to pay attention to the present moment through simple breathing and meditation practices, Mindfulness increases our awareness of our thoughts and feelings. This is usually achieved through an attempt to notice the things around us, such as the feeling of a breeze in our hair, sounds of distant traffic and shades of green in the trees - all acknowledged without judgement. This is known as “open monitoring” meditation. 

As a simple concept, Mindfulness can be a great way to introduce people to meditation before they move on to a more structured and guided practice. It is a particularly freeform technique with an abundance of different ideas and advice on how best to go about it, so finding a teacher is important for those who want to advance. 

Mindfulness is also a great “gateway” meditation because there’s so many brilliant apps, such as Headspace and Calm, which can help you easily bring meditation into your life. Once they are introduced to the concept, many people embrace mindfulness as a new way of looking at the world, trying to exist more in the present moment and appreciating the small pleasures in life. 

 

Transcendental Meditation 

Transcendental meditation (TM) is best known in its branded form. TM was popularized in the 1970s, with famous practitioners including The Beatles, David Lynch and other enthusiasts bringing this millennium-old practice into the modern world. However, TM does not sum up transcendental meditation in its entirety; it’s simply a consumable version of the technique which was created by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Transcendental meditation is part of the ancient Vedic culture of Northern India, and is a form of “focused attention” meditation. Focused attention requires it’s participants to focus on a particular thing, such as their breath, part of their body or external object. In the case of Transcendental meditation, people focus on a personalized mantra that’s been allocated to them by an experienced guide. This helps act as a vehicle into a physiologically restful and neurologically powerful state, that the ancient sages of India called turiya.

Transcendental (or Vedic) meditation is perhaps most suited to people looking for simplicity. Focused attention meditation techniques are arguably easier than mindfulness, because there is something clear to direct your thoughts to. This technique can also be effortlessly integrated into everyday life, and practiced in all sorts of environments - even the noisy setting of a cafe or commuter train. 

 

Loving Kindness Meditation 

While transcendental meditation has its roots in India and Hinduism, Loving Kindness Meditation is a Buddhist practice that can be sourced to Theravada (which is sometimes known as “Southern Buddhism” and strongest in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Burma) and Tibetan traditions. As is suggested by its name, this is a meditation technique which revolves around developing compassion and cultivating love. 

A person who wants to pursue Loving Kindness Meditation would sit quietly and attempt to generate feelings of kindness and benevolence. You start by focusing on yourself, establishing self-directed altruism, before extending this out to family, friends, strangers , and eventually all of humanity.

For people who want to cultivate their sense of empathy, and nurture positive feelings, Loving Kindness Meditation could be perfect. This meditation technique increases your compassion, both for other people, and for yourself - quieting that inner critic which can be a huge source of low self-esteem and anxiety. 

 

Zen Meditation 

Zen meditation has a long history, originating with Indian monk Bodhidharma in the 6th century CE and becoming established in China and Japan. It’s a simple but strict meditation, where maintaining the correct posture is vital - unlike mindfulness and transcendental meditation, which can be practiced in whatever position is most comfortable. You sit on a “zafu” (a kind of cushion) in the half lotus position, with your knees pushing into the floor, and your head pushing into the sky, with your back as straight as possible. 

This is pretty uncomfortable for beginners, but it is meant to get easier as you become more flexible. Practiced with your eyes open, the meditative state of mind is achieved through the deep concentration required to maintain your posture and focus on your breathing. The Zen master, Taisen Deshimaru said: “By simply sitting, without looking for any goal or any personal benefit, if your posture, your breathing and your state of mind are in harmony, you will understand the true Zen; you will understand the Buddha's nature.”

Rather than offering temporary solutions to life’s problems, Zen and other forms of Buddhist meditation look to address core issues - and delve far deeper than mindfulness apps. This is a good form of meditation for people who are committed to following a spiritual journey, one that goes beyond simply searching for a way to relieve stress. 

 

Yoga

The tradition of yoga is extremely old, going back to at least 1700 BC by most estimations, and has many different lineages and forms. The yoga we recognize in the West can be as spiritual and meditative as you like, or just a form of helpful exercise - it completely depends on your preferences and which teacher you choose. 

Yoga is a way to combine a meditation technique with a form of physical exercise. While meditation in all its forms has health benefits - usually related to reducing stress - yoga can be a way to ease problems like low back pain, and has the additional benefits of building strength, balance and flexibility. 

However, yoga may be a little less immediately accessible than other, less active, forms of meditation (especially for anyone with physical impairments). People facing particular health issues will need to access the services of a yoga therapist in order to ensure the practice is tailored to their needs, and doesn’t exacerbate any problems. 

These are just a few of the many kinds of meditation out there, and with some experimentation you should be able to find the technique (or combination of techniques) which suits you best. 


Will WilliamsWill Williams is one of Europe’s leading Vedic meditation experts, and a wellbeing advisor to the OECD working group on Education. He has worked with the BBC, American Express, Spotify, Uber and many others in implementing corporate wellbeing programs, and his first book, The Effortless Mind, is available on Amazon.
You can contact him at willwilliamsmeditation.co.uk.


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Identifying Mental Health Issues and Taking Proper Measures for Better Productivity

Posted By Toby Dean, Thursday, September 20, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mental health as per the definition of World Health Organization is “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. (WHO, 2007).”  Mental health is vital for any workplace around the world to function properly. It is believed as a workplace asset. However, the stressful work environment has been drastically affecting the productivity of the staff all over the world. In the UK one out of four employees are looking to leave their job, and many frequently are bound to take sick days due to stress, anxiety, and depression. Mental health is causing the UK 70 billion pounds per year, so this is not something that can be taken lightly.

This infographic from Maximillions hows the official government statistics that discloses the impact the employees’ mental health has on productivity and the loss that the companies are suffering because of this. These statistics will help you gain knowledge about the importance of proactive team building is for a better workforce mental health. The infographic also provides some important recommendations for managing mental health in the workplace.


Toby Dean works on behalf of Maximillion in content creation and marketing. He creates engaging graphics and content that help businesses stand out from the crowd. Over the past 7 years has worked with dozens of SME's in both an agency and freelance capacity.

With 25 years of event management experience, Maximillion has delivered over 5000 corporate events and hosted more than a quarter of a million guests across the spectrum of Team Building, Event Management, Learning & Development and Challenge Events.


Tags:  Coping  Mental Health  Productivity  stress  workplace wellness 

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Doing Less But Getting More Done. Possible?

Posted By Nicholas Alchin, Thursday, September 13, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2018

 

We’ve been orienting our new and returning colleagues over the last ten days. The mood is optimistic and energetic, as it always is at this time of year, and we’ve been thinking about tackling some issues that just seemed too hard towards the end of last term. It’s going to be a great year ahead! Nothing remarkable there really; we’re all fresher after a break, of course.

But I’ve been wondering how we can maintain not just the positivity, but also the increased capacity that we have now; and not just for staff but for students too. How can we all maintain functioning at our most capable, and be managing to do our best work we are tired?

This is a big issue – if a rather obvious one – because the difference in schools between the start and end of term is vast. And it’s difficult because we also want to excel; to somehow maximize the experiences and learning that we can have in any given term – so we cannot just ever take it easy; we need to squeeze the juice from each minute. For teachers, the pressure is managing 100 students each week, being alive to each individual, responsive to all parents, remaining caring and inspirational, in and out of the classroom. For students it means managing many difficult subjects, each with their own methods, courseworks, pressures as well as College applications, sports, drama, music, dance, and adolescent social life. Small wonder there is weariness, and even burnout as the term goes on.

So what can we do? How do we approach this mid-term, when the break is a long way off and folk are tired? This is not a question unique to schools - all organizations face it, as we increasingly find that working/studying lives are complex and intense - so much so that stress has been called the health epidemic of the 21st century by the World Health Organization.

There’s some truth in the old work smarter not harder mantra – but the trouble is, if we knew how to work smarter, we would surely do it! And even then, this approach seems to me to be a potential band-aid at best; for teachers teaching, and for students learning, there is always more that can be done – so working smarter can simply mean seeking to get more done in a given amount of time, which does not avoid the overload issue (I think that’s what IT has generally done – we are far, far more productive than we ever have been, but we do far, far more with the time - that is to say, we work so much faster, with consequent overload.  Additionally, IT has opened up so many new possibilities that we are in fact even more aware of all the things we could be doing, and feel even worse that we are not doing them).

So with all this in mind it was fascinating to read the World Economic Forum article about a NZ businesses that experimented with a four day week for employees, with no change of pay. It turns out that each employee got through just as much work, with an extra day of leisure each week, and was much happier.  An unmitigated success, no less.  The article notes that it may be a case of Parkinson’s law which states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. Or to put that a slightly different way, workers will become more efficient if there is less time to complete a task.

There seem to be many competing and sometimes contradictory answers here; involving balance, boundaries, storytelling.

So can we free up extra time in schools, with no loss of productivity (learning)? I am not sure.   The idea of getting through more material fits a factory metaphor but the factory metaphors may not be the best one: if we think of education as flowering (which seems right for students, at least some of the time), then we know that sometimes, things have to happen at their own pace.  But it is certainly worth looking at simply using less time; could we shorten the deadlines for some assessments with no loss whatsoever?  The notion that giving students less time to complete some tasks would relieve pressure is counter-intuitive, but worth considering. Of course, if we did this, we would need to avoid the temptation to simply fill the space created with other things!

Ultimately, contrary to what I wrote earlier, perhaps we do not need to squeeze the juice from each minute.   And there, perhaps, is the real root of the issue: Are we prepared to be satisfied with less? Are we prepared to forego some experiences and opportunities to enhance the ones we do have? Do we have the courage to do that when others are filling their times with a greater variety of experiences?  When I put it like that, it sounds a bit like the decision to get married (!)  - and I mean that in two ways; firstly, sometimes you have to give up some things to gain others.   Secondly, and more importantly for any organization, there may be a lot of individual variation here - there may be  maybe no universal answer.  So we'll start the year as we always do - seeking to work with individuals; to meet them where they are, and to support them as best we can.  And we will not lose sight of the fact that we may need to ask some hard questions about what we do if we are serious about wellbeing for the community.


Nicholas Alchin is a Sino-Celt who has been working in K-12 International Education for too long to remember. Father of three and wife of one; currently Deputy Head at UWCSEA in Singapore. Avid reader and traveller; keen and competent breadmaker; keen and incompetent uni-cycler. 
https://nickalchinuwcsea.blogspot.com


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