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Unleashing your inner Scarlett: building resilience in turbulent times

Posted By Ruth Kelly, Friday, March 15, 2019
Updated: Friday, March 15, 2019

Our 2019 articles have been moved to the Wellness News You Can Use blog. Click here to read this article.

Tags:  Resilience  Resiliency 

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Health Consciousness and Resilience Training is More Than "Check the Box"

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 2, 2018

The Roles of Resilience and Empowered Health Consciousness

Resilience is operable in a window of time; it is the “bounce back” from adversity. Health consciousness is an ongoing process. It comes before resilience, is at play during resilience, and continues after the resilience. If you are not conscious of what’s happening during the stress-inducing event, you are not going to be resilient. Being present and aware during an adverse experience enables you to learn from the difficulty, promoting a resilient response.

Resilience and health consciousness work together to create a culture of awareness and learning in which people respond more positively to adversity.

Resilience vs. Empowered Health Consciousness

A course in resilience and stress management will not help your staff if they return to a toxic work environment. Empowered Health Consciousness is a route to addressing resiliency work in a conscious, mindful way to stimulate growth and health in the work culture, the work climate, and the work environment. Health consciousness and resilience work together.

The National Wellness Institute offers two facilitator certificate courses in partnership with Organizational Wellness and Learning Systems (OWLS):

Resilience & Thriving: The Secret Power of Stress
Empowered Health Consciousness

Individuals who earn a Facilitator Certificate through NWI will be able to use the tools, resources, and techniques provided in the certificate course to train students, employees, and clients in various settings in the topic presented.

Tags:  Emotional intelligence  empowered health consciousness  resilience  thriving 

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Simply Defining Health Consciousness

Posted By Joel B. Bennett, PhD, Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Because of his team’s recently published research paper on how to improve health consciousness, Dr. Joel Bennett has been asked for a simple definition. This is a challenge because health consciousness can be as much a process as it is a fixed trait or a steady state. Think of other processes like resilience or intimacy. Resilience is the process of bouncing back and continually learning and growing. Intimacy is the process of getting to know someone at deeper and deeper levels. The strength and the joy can lie more within the discovery and the journey than in arriving somewhere.


Health Consciousness step 1

Similarly, health consciousness has processes and levels. When we understand the idea that we can have different levels and that health consciousness is a process, we can start off with a simple definition.

Waking Up. The simplest definition is “Paying attention to what we ingest.” As adults, most of us know we should be aware of what we ingest or put in our bodies. While we usually think of food, many thousands of adults a year experience poisoning due to food, drugs, or alcohol (with pain medications as the most frequent). Paying attention to what we eat is especially important in a culture given to gluttony, fast-food, and major growth in ultra-processed foods and food varieties due to innovation in food flavoring and ingredient technologies. But it isn’t only food or sugar-laced drinks. Many people have health problems when they mindlessly use tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Since the early 1900s, there have been a number of fads in OTC or non-prescription products for weight loss that have led to disease. This includes Amphetamine, Gelatin diets, Phen/Fen, PPA, and Ephedra. The most recent opioid epidemic is partly due to strong and not always ethical sales strategies in the pharmaceutical industry. So, the first definition is waking up to the fact that we need to pay attention to what we ingest.

Tuning Up: A Quick Health Consciousness Exercise

(adapted from Raw Coping Power, by Joel Bennett)

Journal your responses to these four questions

  1. Am I healthy?
  2. How do I know I am healthy?
  3. Could I be healthier?
  4. What would it take?

Health Cosciousness step 2Leveling Up. This next definition adds “… and how I treat my body.” At this next level, we begin to realize that what we put in our body may be due to other factors. Are we tired? Are we under stress? When was the last time we ate? Are we at a party where there is cake? Do we have a condition that requires us to pay even more attention (e.g., diabetes, obesity)? We are not only paying attention to what we ingest but also to the general condition of our mental and physical state and the situations that may be a risk factor. When we “level up” we start going down a path of a healthy lifestyle. We make some commitment. Many of us attempt to level up when we make New Year’s resolutions. We know that our habits and paying attention are not functioning at the level they should be.


Health Consciousness step 3Tuning Up. At this next level, process consciousness really kicks in. We come to the realization that leveling up is important but we have to keep leveling up; it’s a continuous process. We keep correcting ourselves in the face of risk. When it comes to lifestyle, the vast majority of us just don’t level up once. Many people cycle through stages when changing a habit: from not doing anything, to taking action, to relapsing, to starting over again. The more we cycle, the more aware (conscious) we are that we need to watch out for—stay attuned to— certain “triggers.” These triggers include cravings, difficult emotions (see NWI's Understanding Emotional Triggers Tool), and certain places (e.g., restaurants or bars). The acronym of HALT (Hungry, Angry/Anxious, Lonely, and Tired) has been used in many 12-Step or addiction recovery programs. It means it is time to pause, to halt, and stay on top of our game. In a way, when we keep waking up to our vulnerability, we are tapping into and strengthening our health consciousness.

Going Meta. “Meta” refers to going beyond the details and seeing the big picture or integrating all the levels at once. All three previous levels really work together. As we grow in health consciousness, we keep Health Consciousness step 4waking up, leveling up, and tuning up. At a deeper level, we value our health, we value staying conscious, and we value staying conscious of our health. Essentially, we value self-care. These values: (1) help us to recognize when our behavior puts at risk; (2) lead us to correct our behavior (tuning up); and (3) also find – or prepare ahead of time – resources and alternatives before we get into trouble. We lead a protective lifestyle. We have our shield up. We don’t go it alone. In the figure above, we see examples of different resources: talking to someone (getting support), exercising, getting rest, and taking time alone for contemplation or meditation (spirituality). These are just some examples and there are dozens of others.

Click here to learn more about our Health Consciousness Facilitator Certificate course .

Joel Bennett, PhDJoel Bennett, PhD, is President of Organizational Wellness & Learning Systems (OWLS), a consulting firm that specializes in evidence-based wellness and e-learning technologies to promote organizational health and employee well-being. Dr. Bennett first delivered stress management programming in 1985 and OWLS programs have since reached close to 50,000 workers across the United States and abroad.

He is primary developer of “Team Awareness” and “Team Resilience,” evidence-based, culture of health programs recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Health as effective in reducing employee behavioral risks. Team Awareness has been adapted by the U.S. National Guard as one of their flagship prevention programs and it has been used by municipalities, hospitals, restaurants, electrician training centers, small businesses, Native American tribal government, and in Italy and South Africa.

Tags:  facilitator certificate course  health consciousness  Joel Bennett  resilience 

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2 Powerful Stress Busting Techniques—Backed by Research

Posted By Theona Layne, Friday, June 29, 2018
Updated: Thursday, June 28, 2018

You feel the strain every day don't you?

Whether it's work, finances or taking care of the kids, stress is an unwelcome visitor that never seems to leave. Well, you're not alone.  According to a recent Gallup poll, 8 in 10 Americans report feeling stressed out.

Over time, stress can contribute to a plethora of health issues like chronic headaches, heart disease, depression, anxiety; the list goes on. Managing stress levels, on the other hand, ups your chances of living longer and healthier, provides clarity of mind and sharpens cognition.

Try these two effective stress blasting techniques to help you find your Zen. 


1. Tap Away the Stress

With the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), the power to melt away stress is literally at your fingertips. The principle behind EFT is relieving negative emotions by gently tapping specific meridian point on the body.  Tapping while focusing on a negative feeling or a particular problem helps the body release stress hormones.

Tap Away the Stress

According to Eileen Lichtenstein, a level two certified EFT practitioner, "Doing EFT brings serotonin, which is a feel-good hormone, up to the section of your brain called the Amygdala." The Amygdala is the part of the brain which deals with feelings and emotions.  

EFT is so effective that it's even used to help war vets suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. In a recent study, published in the Permanente Journal, the technique reduced PTSD in war veterans by over 60 percent after 5-10 sessions.

Tapping is quick and painless. You can do it anywhere and at any time to help resolve negative emotions like anger, depression, anxiety and of course, stress.  All you need are your fingertips, a tapping chart and a few minutes.  


Tapping Points ChartFollow these simple steps to tap way stress and anxiety. 

  1. Start by identifying the problem.  Are you worried about someone? Are you anxious about giving a speech, plagued by bad memories? Do you suffer from panic attacks?
  2. Rate your stress on a scale of 1-10. Ten = very anxious, and zero = no anxiety at all. 
  3. Focus entirely on one issue. 
  4. Use two fingers to begin tapping the Karate Chop point while using a setup statement.  (See Chart at right)

A setup statement looks like this: “Even though I’m stressed out about [insert problem here], I deeply and completely accept myself.”

So, for example, if you're anxious about giving an upcoming speech, you can use the following set up statement. 

“Even though I'm anxious about the speech I'm giving next week, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

Now continue to tap while saying the following statements. Of course, you can adjust this script to suit your specific situation. 

Top of the Head:  "This anxiety is giving me knots in my stomach." 
Eyebrow: "I'll probably forget my speech."
The side of the Eye:  "What if I make a fool of myself in front of everyone?"
Under the Eye:  "Just the thought of giving a speech in front of all those people makes me break into a sweat."
Under the Nose: "Maybe I can pay someone to give the speech for me."
Chin: "I  really hate giving speeches!"
Collarbone: "This anxiety is too much!"
Under the Arm:  "The thought of giving this speech makes me want to throw up."

Now, take a deep breath.
On a scale from 1 to 10, how intense is your stress?
Tap through the script again until your stress levels disintegrate. 


2. A Walk Among the Trees

For 20 seconds, close your eyes and imagine walking in a lush green forest with sunlight streaming on your face and a babbling brook flowing in the distance. Now open your eyes. Do you notice how much more calm and centered you feel?

That's one of many benefits you can expect from participating in Shinrin-yoku, the Japanese term for forest bathing, or spending time in forested environments.

A Walk Among the Trees

As Amos Clifford, author of the book Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature, puts it, "forest bathing is about slowing down, coming into our bodies, and coming into our senses. The forest in a way gives back the gift of ourselves, of who we are, who we tend to forget on a daily basis."

Amos could be on to something.  Spending time in nature, not only reduces stress but provides additional health benefits.  According to a recent meta-analysis study of 700 people, individuals who practiced forest bathing had significantly lower blood pressure and cortisol levels than non-forest bathing participants.

Don't live near a forest?  No problem.  City dwellers can still reap the benefits of connecting with nature by visiting local urban green spaces.  Urban green spaces are part of, you guessed it, urban areas. 

Urban green spaces are usually entirely or partially covered with grass, trees, shrubs and other vegetation.  Examples of green spaces include parks and community gardens.  Studies show a direct correlation between green space availability with increased physical activity and improved mental health.


If there isn't a green space near your home, consider using the following resources.   

  • Call your community recreation center and ask about area parks and trails.  You can also check out your state government's website for similar information.
  • Find protected areas in your region by visiting the Nature Conservancy website at nature.org.  
  • Visit FindYourPark.com. It's a website sponsored by the U.S. National Park Service and the National Park Foundation that serves as an online directory for national park areas.

Use one or both of these natural stress busters to chill out and find your Zen.  

EFT Tapping Chart used with permission from Thriving Now.
Telephone Interview with Amos Clifford, author of the book Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature
Telephone Interview with Eileen Lichtenstein, a level two certified EFT practitioner

Theona LayneTheona Layne is a Pittsburgh-based freelance health and wellness writer. For the past four years, She’s provided reader-friendly, scientifically grounded researched articles for businesses and publications helping individuals achieve optimal health. She has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Writing as well as a certification in Medical Terminology. Her work has appeared in publications like Clean Eating Magazine and Health and Wellness Magazine. Writing samples are available on request, or you can read a few writing samples right now. When she isn’t writing, Theona enjoys staying on top of the latest health-related news and information. Connect with Theona Layne by visiting her website.

Tags:  EFT  Emotional Freedom Technique  forest bathing  PTSD  resilience  Shinrin-yoku  stress  thriving 

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