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5 Top Causes of Disability

Posted By Chuck Gillespie , Friday, May 17, 2019
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2019

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month

Each May for Disability Insurance Awareness Month, Unum releases its top causes of disability to shed a light on what causes one in four workers a career derailment. What are the top five disabilities?  The trend you will see is how much lifestyle plays a major role in disability.  What can we do better? A lot, but it begins with good training and education

 

Let’s review the top causes of a disability:

 
5.  Joint disorders 

Biggest prevalence of these types of claims are the result of higher rates of obesity and the aging workforce.  

 
4. Back Disorders

Over the last decade, long-term back injuries have decreased 14%. The fact that treatment has reduced the problems.  At the same time, the biggest causes of back strain are a lack of strength and poor lifting habits.  Still in that lifestyle category. 

 
3. Injury

90% of accidents and injuries are caused on the job.  Typically, this will cause insurance hits on your workers comp claims as well as hitting your health insurance.  Accidents will occur, but good safety program and keeping a focus on having employees, no matter their job, fit for duty.  

 
2. Cancer

This is the #1 cost factor for both short and long term disability.  Many cancers are lifestyle related, but the biggest concern is that cancer claims have increased 10% over the last decade.  

 
1. Pregnancy

This one is a “disability” that all of us should be excited about and a great way to help new parents out.  Technically, it is a lifestyle related disability, but the good kind.  

 

Lifestyle plays a huge role in your disability insurance coverage, but changing lifestyles goes beyond smoking cessation, physical activity and diet programs.  Leaders in health and wellness to understand how poor choices are affected by social, environmental, cultural, and personal issues that limits the ability to make these changes.  These social determinants of health have become a cornerstone in how insurance carriers are predicting outcomes.  How are you using social determinants of health? 

Expecting and realizing fiscal impact on heath and workers compensation claims by just offering a program is not going to net you substantial savings – the research is clear on this.  The programs must coincide with a healthy atmosphere at work and (if possible) at home – that is when you see the positive budgetary outcomes.  Wellness works, but only when wellness is a culture strategy and not a health care cost savings program.


Chuck Gillespie is Executive Director of the National Wellness Institute.


Tags:  Disability  Injury  Insurance 

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Systemic Regulation: A new understanding of the Wellness Approach applied to organizations

Posted By Ferroudja Meghenem, Friday, May 17, 2019
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2019

Systemic regulation has been widely used in the medical sector where it means the entire network of pathways by which the various systems of the body interact in order to allow an organism to live, move, and remain healthy.

It is also the term selected and used by the French company Wellness Values to address and explain the primary intended benefit of wellness approaches deployed within organizations.

 

Wellness model, individuals and organizations

In 1976, Dr Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute (NWI) developed the wellness model based on six dimensions (Occupational, Intellectual, Emotional, Social, Spiritual, Physical).

Seeking an appropriate balance between the multiple dimensions.Individuals are always seeking an appropriate balance between the multiple dimensions because each dimension contributes to individuals’ fulfilment. The importance attached to any one dimension depends on context and individual characteristics (identity, personal experiences and interests, culture etc.).

Through this Wellness model, individuals become aware of the interconnectedness of each dimension and are more likely to make some beneficial decisions to serve their health and well-being.

While this wellness model was contextualized for individuals, it can also be relevant to organizations:

  • Individuals want to achieve a certain level of fulfilment with respect to a given context;
  • Organizations which are "Wellness oriented” want to foster a culture of health, promote healthy behaviors in the workplace and support employees towards a common goal of achieving a healthier lifestyle. This will have a positive impact on the teams, which will in turn contribute to the development of the organization (growth, customer experiences, etc.)

However, regarding organizations, wellness should be addressed as part of a rigorous approach which considers the particular features of the organization (activities, culture, etc.) and the complexities of dealing with human beings and human relations within organizations. 

 

Appreciate the complexities of organizations

Research conducted by theorists from the Palo Alto group, suggest organization to be considered as a system composed of individuals which interact with each other; they have some form of hierarchy and their personal logic is sometimes contradictory.

Appreciate the complexities of organizationsThe system (the organization) evolves in a "change” environment composed of other actors (customers, competitors, etc.), and constraints (market, policies, etc.).

This means human systems are very complex by nature, and complexity mainly results from the multiple interactions which might exist between the different actors; a change to one component of the organization can have an immediate effect on another component.

 

Wellness approach and systemic regulation

Immediate and significant impacts on the behavior of team members.So, it is clear that if we implement a wellness approach at a strategic level of the organization (for instance, Managers), this can have immediate and significant impacts on the behavior of team members. In particular, we might find that team members work in a more serene atmosphere, and as a team achieve greater productivity (collective efficiency improvement).

Within the human body all components cooperate in one individual’s life. Within the human body all components cooperate in one individual’s life. Physiological mechanisms come into play in order to coordinate their functions, so that they meet the whole body’s needs at any time. This is what is termed "systemic regulation”.

The business case analogy here is that systemic regulation of the implementation of a wellness approach in an organization contributes to the dynamic achievement of the organization’s strategic and business objectives (organization’s needs). 


Ferroudja MeghenemFerroudja Meghenem, CEO of WELLNESS VALUES, is an Engineer of the highly reputed “Ecole Nationale des Mines” (France), who started her career in audit and consulting, advising groups for several years. She founded F@ME Days®, a wellness and fashion event concept, and also founded the company WELLNESS VALUES, a strategic consulting firm specializing in wellness, which assists companies to define and implement a wellness approach within their organization.


Tags:  International Wellness  Systemic Regulation 

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Career Trends: Who Are Wellness Professionals?

Posted By Suzanne Hunt, Friday, May 17, 2019
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2019

It’s no secret the wellness industry is growing at a rapid pace. Can you remember the last time you logged onto social media, glanced at a magazine, or went shopping (online or in a mall) and didn’t see some type of health and wellness ad? Whether it’s for a new health supplement, access to better wellness-related services, or ‘getting ready for bathing suit season (que the eye roll),’ there seems to be an increased push in marketing about pursuing holistic wellness throughout the world. 

Though “wellness” itself is a broad term, it can be highly complex for each of us. Oftentimes our personal wellness and how we care for ourselves can be cultural, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and even dependent upon our surrounding community. Wellness is a journey for each of us, and ironically, so is the wellness industry. I won’t bore you with the history of how we have transitioned in the past few decades to get to where we are now, with a shift to focus on holistic wellness (finally!). Although I am biased because I work in the industry, I do think it’s important to understand the wide range of professionals in the field that are shaping the way we take care of ourselves both now and in the future. 

The great thing about the wellness industry is that it doesn’t necessarily always require a straight and narrow path to become a professional in the field. It does however take time, knowledge, passion, and being willing to take chances in order to help others. On the flip side, the challenge with the wellness industry is that it often gets confused with bad marketing schemes and ‘fluffy’ work. I’ll admit, I have a tendency to walk around with a bit of a chip on my shoulder because I have worked with a lot of wonderful people who think what I do in higher education is simply ‘fluff’. I work to build and maintain collaborative partnerships to influence a culture of wellness on college campuses. Let me assure you—this requires a lot of time, data, and developing intentional initiatives that will empower people to change behaviors and make healthy choices. “Fluff”? I don’t think so! I can bet that many people in the industry have been mislabeled in similar ways as well. For example, as a Certified Health Coach and Weight Loss Management Specialist, I work with a lot of wonderful fitness professionals. Unfortunately, they often get perceived as people who just work out all the time. Again, this is not the case! It takes proper training, practice, passing difficult certification exams, and continuous learning about the wellness industry, as well as being on top of new evidence-based training methods. 

Even though I had a pretty typical rise into the wellness industry by pursuing my Master of Public Health, many people bring outside scopes and experiences into the field, which positively influence the rapid changes we have seen in the industry in the last few decades. From workplace wellness to teachers and scientists who focus on research, to doctors, mental health providers, and more, the industry proves the benefits of holistic wellness by providing professionals in a field that help us connect and make sense of our personal health. 

Below, you’ll see a variety of professionals with varying backgrounds and experiences who all contribute to the wellness industry in unique ways. Think you knew what the wellness industry encompassed? You might want to think again.

Peter Rives: Assistant Director of Wellbeing, Alcohol & Substance Abuse Prevention
Starting with an undergraduate degree in Psychology, Peter completed four years of doctoral study in Social Psychology. From there he worked in community-based public mental health, substance use, and intellectual/developmental disabilities services. Over the course of his career, Peter became an expert and consultant in integrated healthcare and Motivational Interviewing (MI), which is utilized in health and wellness coaching, among many other wellness fields of work. Recognized as one of the “Top 40 Under 40 Business Leaders” by the Business Journal in 2013, he now leads wellness and prevention efforts around alcohol and substance abuse prevention to reduce high risk behaviors and empower healthier lifestyles for students in higher education. 

Jillian Neil: Psychologist, Outreach Coordinator
Jillian has a unique background with starting out with an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Psychology. After graduation she completed her masters degree in Early Childhood Special Education and Human Development to teach special education in the area. It is during this experience that she realized her true interest was working from a psychology perspective—which led her to apply for and complete a Clinical Development Psychology doctoral degree. After a few moves around the country to complete her internship and postdoctoral experiences, she now works as a Clinical Psychologist and Outreach Coordinator in higher education. While she continues to make an individual impact in one-on-one sessions, she also works extensively with campus partners to develop and implement initiatives, programs, and awareness campaigns around mental health, resilience, bystander intervention, and more; which further impacts the campus community at large. 

John Lyon: BS, MA
Completed his undergraduate degree in Neuroscience, while playing football at Harvard University. Throughout this experience John knew that health and wellness was an imperative factor both academically and physically.  Upon graduating from Harvard, John began to work to combine both his interests and academic pursuits into a reality, by assisting in the study and development of nutritional supplements. After several years, he felt led to pursue his other passion: spirituality. While in the process of finishing up his Master of Arts in Religious Studies, John continued to pursue his passion for health and wellness, helping others as a Certified Personal Trainer while working as a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Wellbeing. After graduation he plans to continue to empower others through a combination of wellness and spirituality as a pastor. 

Romy Antoine: CEO, One Stop Wellness
With a background in biology and exercise science, Romy started as a personal trainer and nutritionist who witnessed his clients in corporate jobs struggle with work-life balance. This experience led him to make a transition to be in the employee engagement industry, where Romy builds technology to improve workplace happiness and incentivize behavior change for holistic wellbeing as the CEO of One Stop Wellness. His innovative work has led to many accomplishments, including being the inaugural Young Wellness Professional Award winner from the National Wellness Institute in 2018. 


Sabrina WalasekSuzanne Hunt, MPH, CWP is a public health practitioner focused on working within higher education. She is a Certified Wellness Practitioner, Certified Health Coach, and Weight Management Specialist. She recently worked as the Assistant Director of Wellbeing, Health Promotion at Wake Forest University, and continues to serve as an Associate Editor for the Education in Health Professions Journal. Suzanne contributes to research on health behaviors of graduate students in her role as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the N.C. College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as growing her experience in consulting work for various universities in the U.S.


Tags:  Career  Emerging Wellness Professionals  EWP  Wellness Professional 

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Wellness and Well-Being—It’s All About Connection

Posted By Chuck Gillespie, Friday, May 3, 2019

This article was originally posted in Aging Today


Six Dimensions of Wellness ModelWhen thinking about the terms wellness or well-being, multiple definitions come to mind. Wellness, according to the National Wellness Institute (NWI), is an active pro­cess of becoming aware of and learning to make choices that lead toward a longer and more successful existence—in other words, toward a life worth living.

So, how to achieve wellness? According to Gallup well-being research, physical activity provides adults ages 65 and older with a 32 percent higher positive emotional out­look than for those who are not active. But to have a life worth living, it is critical to look beyond physical wellness; Gallup research also identifies how there can be too much emphasis placed upon the physical dimension of health and well-being.

For example, Steven Hawking had been told in his 20s that he would never see age 30. In 2018, he died at age 76. In 2016, he noted that “however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” Hawking exemplifies someone whose physical health did not deter him from living. While doing his best to maintain his physical health, he also cultivated intellectual, so­cial, occupational, spiritual and emotional purpose—a life worth living.

The Six Dimensions of Wellness

The basis for such a life begins with focusing on the six dimensions of wellness, which were devel­oped by past and present leaders of the NWI. These dimensions—physical, occupational, social, intel­lectual, spiritual and emotional—strongly influence human well-being.

Physical wellness is the dimension often used to define wellness. Eating right and being active is the rallying cry. Young and old must get a yearly checkup by a primary care physician, a dentist, and an optometrist. People with chronic conditions must manage them, and everyone should avoid to­bacco. But there is so much more to wellness.

Anyone who has experienced the stress of being in an unsatisfying job, or who has been em­ployed by a company with a psychically poisonous work environment knows those situations con­sume significant amounts of energy; poor physical working conditions also cause harm. Thus, oc­cupational wellness is critical to well-being. For some, occupational wellness involves whatever work makes them happy. For others, a paid job provides their desired financial and material life, but a working hobby such as gardening, wood-working or fixing cars also can provide satisfaction and enrichment.

Close friends walking arm-in-arm

The social dimension involves connection to friends and family. Lack of a good social network, loneliness, feeling isolated and not fitting in at home, at work or in a community are major barriers to achieving wellness.

The intellectual wellness dimension means expanding knowledge and skills while allowing time to discover the potential for sharing one’s gifts with others. Humans must be constant learners, not necessarily in the sense of “book smarts,” but in learning to find their own unique ways to learn and to teach.

The spiritual and emotional dimensions both are critical to happiness and health. The spiritual dimension recognizes the human desire to search for meaning and purpose in life—exploring the ubiquitous question, “Why are we here?”

The emotional dimension aligns with the other five dimensions by recognizing how each person must try to cultivate a positive outlook—to create enthusiasm about one’s self and one’s life.

Each dimension holds equal value in a life worth living. But the concepts for each dimension need to be understood in the right perspective. For example, as Hawking overcame his physical obstacles, it is imperative for individuals to understand their own obstacles to overcome.

Social Determinants and Wellness

According to the recent survey by Waystar, “Consumer Perspectives on How Social Determinants Impact Clinical Experience”, 68 percent of respondents had social risk-factor obstacles. Healthcare access, housing insecurity, transportation access, food insecurity, safety, and health literacy lead the list. The survey shows that much more than medical care affects health and wellness. “The most commonly reported social determinants of health issues are finan­cial insecurity and social isolation,” the report’s authors write.

Research by the National Institutes for Health shows that with aging, individuals often decline in physical and cognitive function, causing a narrowing of social networks. Further, social isolation is prevalent among individuals who are far from family and friends or who are not near a cultural center to which they feel connected.

Not “fitting in” is an issue many people face. Civil rights legislation in the United States created legal prec­edent regarding discrimination (i.e., around race, religion, gender, disability, etc.) for protected classes, but prior to 1990, people with disabilities were not covered. Thanks to the American’s with Disabilities Act, wheelchair users now have access to many venues to which they were pre­viously shut off; this legislation opened up new avenues of social, emotional, and intellectual well-being.

Other factors such as geography (where one lives), healthcare access and personal priorities also play a part in individual well-being. For instance, workplace and community wellness initiatives may promote the need to prioritize 60 minutes of exercise per day, but for people living in unsafe neighborhoods who are worried about putting dinner on the table, exercise moves down on the priority list.

NWI Multicultural Wellness WheelA Multicultural Perspective

This type of situation is why the NWI developed the Multicultural Wellness Wheel. The wheel encourages individuals to look beyond their spheres of influence to understand how others might view life. How and where a person grew up, what they do for work, their family environment and “life moments” all influence individual perspective.

The Multicultural Wellness Wheel helps people to understand, without negative judgments, the worldviews of culturally different peoples, and to have respect and appreciation for human differ­ences that enable more positive and effective encounters. NWI Board President and CEO of Altur­native Linda Howard says, “One of the biggest issues we face across the globe is that we do not have a strong multicultural competency model from which to learn. Practitioners and organizations use models that are too focused on one particular issue like race or gender, and as such, fail to reach large segments of the population due to a lack of cultural competency. We see the opportunity to learn from each other through a wider lens that also incorporate such things like religion, disabil­ity, language, age, geography and other cultural factors that are a leading causes of social isolation.”

If people can become aware of their beliefs and assumptions about human behaviors, values, biases, stereotypes and personal limitations, they can open up and learn who different cohorts are as “cultural beings.” They can better see how cultural socialization shapes worldviews and enhances their ability to connect to and work with culturally diverse populations.

Wellness is a simple, though multi-pronged, concept, which emphasizes a mission of connection. Now more than ever, it is critical to consider overall well-being from a more holistic perspective—in terms of our social connections, physical health, intellectual capacity, occupations, and emotional and spiritual coping skills.


Chuck Gillespie is Executive Director of the National Wellness Institute.


Tags:  Accesibility & transportation  aging in community  creativity & lifelong learning  education  health & wellness  healthcare & aging  LGBTQ Aging  Mental health  Multicultural aging  spirituality  Technology 

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How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving

Posted By Wellsource, Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2019

This is the third post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Each post features a different dimension of wellness. This post will discuss physical wellness and the importance of combating a sedentary lifestyle.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing

Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program


woman working out with battle ropesWhen California resident Leigh Ortiz decided to give exercise a chance, she couldn’t imagine the transformation that would result. Workouts, combined with eating clean, and holding herself accountable, left her 100 pounds lighter. She feels powerful and confident.

 

“My attitude, confidence, and outlook on life all changed for the better because of my HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts,” Ortiz says. “I am loving the muscle tone that I have; I feel powerful and that I can do any activity instead of sitting on the sidelines. Working out is the highlight of my day and I have to force myself to take rest days now.”

We all know that we’re supposed to get a certain amount of exercise each week, as an inactive lifestyle causes risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and early death. But have you thought about how much time your population spends sitting each day? According to some research, four consecutive hours of sedentary behavior is enough to undo the benefits of one hour of exercise. Americans sit an average of 13 hours each day. At first this statistic can seem quite shocking, considering that when you add another eight hours of sleep, Americans are sedentary 21 out of 24 hours a day. But when you consider time spent sitting at your desk, eating, and commuting, the hours add up fast. Once individuals surpass 10 hours of sedentary time per day, their risk of cardiac problems increases substantially, but sitting less than three hours a day can increase life expectancy by two years. So what can you do?

The good news is that office workers don’t want to spend the whole day glued to their chairs. One study found that workers don’t want to sit more than four hours a day, or 53.8 percent of the work day, although they spend 73 percent of the day seated. This means there is great opportunity for you to enable your population to be more active.

The ergonomic solution

The first step is to give office workers the best possible experience at their desk, since they do spend so much time there. Consider investing in office chairs that reduce stress on the spine by keeping the body in an upright position with a backrest that supports the natural curve of the spine, a headrest that supports the neck (preventing arthritis of the neck), and height adjustment that ensures the knees are at a 90-degree angle. You can also invest in sit-stand desks, because research shows they boost productivity, reduce sitting time by over an hour each day, and improve musculoskeletal problems. An employee’s muscle activity is two and a half times higher when standing at work, and standing desks reduce risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 40 percent.

Man doing squats beside his deskSqueeze in a little desk workout

Okay, so the employees you work with are all set up with their ergonomic desk and chair (and maybe even a keyboard and mouse if you really want to go nuts!). Now what? Encourage employees to make the most of their time at their desk. This could mean sharing videos demonstrating workouts like leg lifts while sitting, desk squats during moments of down time, or lifting up out of one’s chair to exercise their core. Or hang posters around the office that remind employees, “How long since you last stood up?” and “Feeling sleepy? Stand up for a bit.”

Take it a step further

Now that your population has been using the standing setting of their desk for part of the day and has been doing minor exercises in their office or cubicle, they’re eager to really move. Great! There are so many opportunities throughout the day to engage your population with physical activity. Try holding walking meetings instead of sitting in an office. Invest in an onsite fitness center free to all employees. Encourage employees to go on walks during break time. You can motivate them by holding quarterly competitions to see who can contribute the most to Charity Miles (an app that donates to the charity of your choice based on the amount of miles you move) or conducting a month long step challenge. It can even be something as small as encouraging employees to walk over and talk to coworkers instead of messaging them. Every little bit helps.

What if employees don’t have time for long walks or workouts?

This is where the exercise routine that helped Ortiz go from a size 24 to a size 8 in just 15 months comes into play. HIIT is a form of exercise in which short periods of extremely demanding physical activity are alternated with less intense recovery periods. It originated around 1910 with the coaches of Finnish Olympic runners who wanted to train their athletes by focusing on alternating fast and slow runs. Since then the principles of HIIT have been applied to all kinds of workouts.

Benefits of HIIT

Only 23 percent of U.S. adults are getting enough exercise, which puts the majority at risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, and cancer. Many people cite time as their reason for not working out, but HIIT can be completed in just 10 minutes. This is a huge benefit for people who have busy schedules and is great for incorporating exercise into the workday without taking too much time away from work. A great workout can be accomplished during break time!

People doing HIIT training in a gym.And believe it or not, HIIT yields the same health and fitness benefits as long-term aerobic exercise, and in some populations works better than traditional aerobic exercise. One study found that HIIT improved cardiometabolic health as much as traditional endurance training while taking a fifth of the time. HIIT is superior to moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) in improving cardiorespiratory fitness and it increases the amount of oxygen a person can utilize during intense exercise (VO2 max). Another great benefit of HIIT is that after such an intense workout calories are burned for up to 24 hours in the muscle recovery phase. The employees you work with will love knowing they are burning more calories even after they return to their desks!

Vicki Griffin, RN, decided to give HIIT a try because of the cardiovascular benefits. At the start, she couldn’t run a lap or do more than a few pushups. But Griffin kept at it, and got more than she was hoping for. “I noticed the results of the endorphins almost immediately,” she says. “Even when I’m sore, I always have a positive attitude and a spring in my step! Plus, I sleep like a baby at night.”

So how can you reap the benefits of HIIT in the workplace?

HIIT is perfect to introduce into the workplace because it doesn’t take a lot of time, or require a lot of space or equipment. Try running a weekly 10-minute HIIT class during lunch hour/break time where employees exercise extremely intensely for one minute out of the 10 minutes. One study found that participants who did this three times a week over a period of six weeks improved their endurance by 12 percent. If you want to get creative hold a 50-yard dash at the next company picnic. Encourage employees to take the stairs every day. Organize a monthly jump rope day. Challenge employees to a contest to see who can do the most burpees in one minute. The options are endless!

Give your members the opportunity to experience HIIT for themselves and track their progress daily by sharing our Get Fit with HIIT health challenge with them. You can even turn it into a month long health challenge as a part of your wellness program.

Ready to get started?

Download our health challenge "Get Fit with HIIT” which includes:

  • A basic quiz for participants to see how much they know about HIIT
  • A personal account of how well HIIT-style workouts served one individual
  • The benefits of HIIT
  • Tips on how to best execute HIIT workouts
  • A calendar to track HIIT workouts each day

This is the third post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Below are links to the other published in this series.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing

Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program


About Wellsource

Wellsource, Inc. Wellsource, Inc. has been a premier provider of evidence-based Health Risk Assessments and Self-Management Tools for four decades, making us one of the longest-serving wellness companies in the industry. With a strong reputation for scientific research and validity, we offer an innovative family of products that empower wellness companies, health plans, ACOs, and healthcare providers to inspire healthy lifestyles, prevent disease, and reduce unnecessary healthcare costs. Our assessments connect lifestyle choices with healthy outcomes, measure readiness to change for maximum results, and drive informed decisions with actionable data.


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Quinn, Elizabeth. “Burn More Calories With High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).” Verywell Fit, 31 Jan. 2019, www.verywellfit.com/high-intensity-interval-training-benefits-3119149.

“Risks of Physical Inactivity.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/cardiovascular_diseases/risks_of_physical_inactivity_85,p00218.

“Sit Less Move More Posters.” Wellplace.nz, wellplace.nz/resource-library/sit-less-move-more-posters/.

“The Past, Present, and Future of Interval Training.” STRETCH EXERCISE EAT, 14 Apr. 2010, seeadamtrain.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/exercise-the-past-present-and-future-of-interval-training/.

Tigar, Lindsay. “Incredible Body Transformations That Will Convince You to Try HIIT.” Reader's Digest, www.rd.com/health/fitness/hiit-before-and-after-pictures/.

Weston, Kassia S, et al. “High-Intensity Interval Training in Patients with Lifestyle-Induced Cardiometabolic Disease: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine, 1 Aug. 2014, bjsm.bmj.com/content/48/16/1227.short.

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Missing the DX

Posted By Molly McGuane, Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

It’s estimated that every year 12 million people in the United States are affected by a misdiagnosed disease or condition. Incidences of cancer misdiagnosis can be particularly concerning, unfortunately altering the course of a person’s life. In the beginning stages of many cancers, symptoms can be vague and difficult to differentiate from more common illnesses. A misdiagnosis early on can be very detrimental and potentially lethal if the cancer continues to grow and spread. While the fault of a misdiagnosis of a disease doesn’t necessarily fall on a specific doctor or healthcare team, there are steps that doctors and patients can take to reduce the instance of a misdiagnosis.

Commonly Misdiagnosed Cancers

Melanoma

Woman with a tan applying sun blockAs an unfortunately common skin cancer, melanoma takes the lives of nearly 9,000 patients every year. Melanoma is caused by exposure to UV radiation that is generated from tanning beds and from exposure to the sun. Melanomas emerge on the skin as an irregular-looking mole or dark spot on your skin, but can be easily missed or misdiagnosed.

Health care providers and patients can be more vigilant about their skin by remembering the anagram ABCDE when looking at their moles and beauty spots. “A” stands for asymmetrical, “B” for irregular borders, “C” for abnormal color, “D” is for diameter, and “E” is for evolving in shape or size. These signs shouldn’t be ignored and moles or marks with these characteristics should be tested by a pathologist.

Primary care doctors and physician assistants should also recommend that patients see a dermatologist annually or biannually based on their risk. They should also encourage patients to perform “self check-ups” regularly to be alert of any new or changing skin lesions. Extra diligence could lead to a more accurate and early diagnosis, which is crucial in skin cancer and melanoma cases.

Colorectal Cancer

In many cases, cancer of the colon or the rectum often begins as a growths known as polyps, that grow in the walls of these areas over time. The best way to find colorectal cancer early is through screenings, but the problem of misdiagnosis comes when symptoms are misunderstood and screenings are done too late.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer can be uncertain, like unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and a change in bowel movements and symptoms like these can be misunderstood even by medical professionals, especially in younger patients. Most frequently, colon cancer can be misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis, and ulcerative colitis due to similar symptoms including rectal bleeding and abdominal pain.

If pain continues or new symptoms arise, a colonoscopy or CT scan might be necessary to check for any serious issues. It’s also important to keep in mind that colorectal can be genetically connected and 1 in 3 people who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer have a familial connection. Understanding a patient's family history is an important step in diagnosing disease and can provide additional insight into their symptoms. While it’s on the patient to know their family history, healthcare professionals can assist by impressing the importance of knowing that history upon their patients and making sure to ask when issues arise.

Lung Cancer

Man smokingThe most widespread cancer globally is lung cancer, and it can be caused by a number of environmental factors. The most obvious reason for developing lung cancer has historically been smoking and secondhand smoke, but cancers of the lung can also arise from elements in the air and invisible and odorless carcinogens we may not even realize that we are exposed to.

Symptoms of lung cancer, and related cancers of the lung like mesothelioma, often first appear as a persistent cough, pain in the chest, or shortness of breath. These symptoms could be easily misdiagnosed as asthma, COPD, or even a common cold. Lung cancer and mesothelioma are common occupational cancers, so knowing a patient’s occupational history can also lead to a better understanding of their condition. Those who have worked as firefighters, miners, and in the construction industry are more vulnerable to carcinogens like asbestos and silicates.

Breast Cancer

Understanding a patient's family medical history can also help in being vigilant about the beginning stages of breast cancer. Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in the United States and the risk of a patient developing breast cancer can nearly double if a mother, sister, or daughter has also been diagnosed.

The beginning stages of breast cancer develop as a lump in the breast tissue but can be missed entirely if screening isn’t done frequently enough. Breast cancer screens are done routinely at primary care and OB-GYN appointments, and self checkups can also be performed to check for any abnormal bumps.

If there are any abnormalities in a mammogram, a follow-up imaging screening, mammogram, or biopsy should be scheduled in a timely manner so that the potential cancer does not worsen. Those who are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer need to communicate that risk with their primary physicians and specialists as well as their family history for the most accurate and timely testing.

How are we Closing the Gap?

Missing a cancer or other disease diagnosis can have regrettable consequences for patients and their families. Both healthcare professionals and those they treat can play a role in a misdiagnosis and they are an unfortunate reality of human error. However, the medical community is taking the time to learn from mistakes and invest in technology that analyzes stored data and can close the gap on inaccuracy. Being able to log patient data from around the world can help better understand symptom patterns and allow for more accurate testing, including mammograms and lung cancer screenings.

The use of artificial intelligence and telehealth in the medical field is helping connect the dots on cancer symptoms, but there is still a lot of ground to cover in perfecting these technologies in the real world. Today, AI should just be used to augment the human work of healthcare and there is still an active role doctors and other professionals can take to avoid a misdiagnosis.

Physician's assistant going over a patient's medical history.

Discussing personal, family, and occupational history and impressing the importance of gathering and communicating that information on your patients is vital to their well being. The more information you know about their health and history, the more accurately you can understand their symptoms. Recommending patients to keep up with an annual schedule of appointments and cancer screenings is another way primary care physicians can help their patients be preventative and avoid a missed or late diagnosis. Communicating closely with every healthcare provider working with the patient including nurses, radiologists and lab technicians is important for everyone’s understanding. Attention to detail and thorough communications will ensure that no important information is missed.


Molly McGuaneMolly McGuane is a communications specialist and health advocate for the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center. She is passionate about informing others on cancer prevention and rare disease. Molly's areas of content expertise are cancer prevention, rare disease, occupational health, and asbestos exposure.

Tags:  clinical practice  emotional wellness  medical care  misdiagnoses  Physical Wellness 

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5 Things I Learned During an Unanticipated Job Search

Posted By Suzanne Hunt, Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

"Congratulations, you got the job!"

Everyone wants to hear those words, right? Well, in this case, I heard those words, except they were meant for my husband. In what I can only describe as a whirlwind, we were notified that my amazing husband obtained a promotion, and was being moved to a new location, in two weeks or less. I was proud, excited, and terrified all at once. Though this was a surprise to us both, my husband was going to remain with the same company, who would be there to support him throughout the process. I, on the other hand, had to turn in my resignation knowing the job search wouldn’t be an easy feat. Working in public health in the south is already difficult. Working in public health in higher education in the south is an even tougher job market. In the process of quickly moving, wrapping things up at my old job, and moving forward with an unanticipated job search, my plate was full! However, I managed to learn a few things along the way that have served as my roadmap during this process:

  1. Your resume is a living, breathing document; maintain it as such
    You wouldn’t go months, or possibly years without feeding your pet right? Well, the same goes for your resume. Don’t go months or years without updating it! Even if you can’t spare the time to work on it consistently as you achieve at your current job, make a continuous effort to maintain a document with your ongoing accomplishments. This ensures you will have something to go by when you are able to update your resume. Secondly, it’s 2019- make sure your resume doesn’t look like a word document from 1995. Regardless of what type of job or field you work in, your resume is the first way to market yourself, so you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot by having an outdated resume (regarding both content and visual appeal). There are free design websites where you can ensure your resume represents your personality, and performance in the field. One of my favorite sites is Canva, it’s free and easy to use!
  2. Establish and maintain relationships at your jobs
    Yes, I said jobs. Regardless of whether it was an internship, a graduate assistantship, or your first ‘real’ job out of school, it’s imperative to establish relationships with people during each experience. Arguably more important is maintaining these relationships because you never know when they can provide an amazing reference, letter of recommendation, or insight into a future job you’re looking into. After all, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. Keep these people in your corner, because they can help advocate for your skillset, and current or past successes. Further, you never know when you might need them! In my case, my connections have been a continual help during the relocation process.
  3. Do your research
    I know this sounds so cliché, but what I mean is to do your research on the people in your industry. One of my favorite supervisors taught me this, and I am forever thankful. Even if you love your current job, you should still be making strides to learn about the leaders in your industry and how they got to where they are. I took the time to look at bios, talk to direct contacts, and even made the additional effort to talk to them myself. I have also been lucky to establish trusting relationships with a few of my supervisors-to where I felt comfortable truly asking about their personal experiences, and opinions. This insight has served to my benefit by helping me understand the intersectionalities between different aspects of the industry and the all-important hierarchy of working in higher education. Having this understanding has helped lead to several consulting opportunities, which I am thoroughly enjoying, while I continue my search for a full-time job.
  4. Utilize your expertise and passions—outside of work
    I know what you’re probably thinking here- what about work/life balance? I am still (and will always) advocate for balance, and doing things you enjoy outside of work! However, I volunteer my time outside of work with the National Wellness Institute (NWI) Emerging Wellness Professionals (EWP) Task Force because I have been a part of this organization since I was in undergrad. I am really passionate about what they do to support professionals in the wellness field like myself, and it has not only provided me with more contacts in the industry across the U.S., but it has also helped me learn more about the field that I wouldn’t have been able to learn in my previous jobs. Moreover, I have learned new skills, expanded my leadership capabilities, and now have connections with this organization that continues to support me, no matter where I go.
  5. Utilize weak ties to network!
    There is an aspect of luck that can play an important role in being successful, particularly when it comes to networking. In fact, according to Eric Barker, the author of Barking Up the Wrong Tree, he concludes that some of this has to do with taking small steps to network, meet new people, and properly invest your time in establishing and maintaining those relationships. This requires stepping out of the ‘box’ of solely networking on LinkedIn, or via that email that gets lost in someone’s ever-growing inbox. According to Barker, there’s a theory of weak ties, meaning the people who aren’t your closest friends, but one degree out, are the people who make the best connections. A lot of new possibilities or opportunities come from these weak ties because these are the people that are hearing about things (job openings, new ideas, conferences, leadership opportunities), that you may not be hearing about, and therefore present the possibility of something new and beneficial for your career. Weak ties have hands down been the most successful aspect thus far in my ongoing job search!

Though none of these concepts are necessarily new, it’s important to refresh your lens and scope, in the event that like me, you embark on the adventure of an unanticipated job search.


Sabrina WalasekSuzanne Hunt, MPH, CWP provides leadership in the development of holistic approaches to wellbeing for students, faculty, and staff at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Tags:  job search  resilience  thriving  wellness career 

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NWI Joins GW4W at Philadelphia Event

Posted By NWI, Monday, April 15, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

NWI Board President Linda Howard participated at Global Women 4 Wellbeing's (GW4W) event on March 28, 2019.

Mental Wellbeing and the Workplace — Minding The Gender Gap  

GW4W President & CEO Mim Senft with NWI Board President Linda Howard in Philadelphia on March 28, 2019

GW4W President & CEO Mim Senft with NWI Board President Linda Howard in Philadelphia

For true gender equity in the workplace, we need to recognize how our mental health and wellbeing is connected to our ability to lead and how those issues impact how we are seen as leaders. That includes how bad stress and other barriers unique to women disproportionately impact the overall mental health of the workplace and its impact on getting more women into leadership.

On March 28, like-minded leaders attended the event at Parkway Central Library in Philadelphia, PA as part of a world-wide movement to empower more healthy female leadership at all levels. Their goal was to gain a deeper understanding of workplace strategies that can help women lead well.

Discussion focused on:

  • Workforce and the mental wellbeing challenge.
  • What organizations can do to help their teams thrive.
  • How leadership can better address personal stressors for both women and men to help them be more resilient and better innovators.
  • And you’ll have a chance to add your voice to the conversation.
GW4W event attendees on March 28, 2019

GW4W event attendees in Philadelphia in March

Featured Speakers:

Linda E. Yoo, MFT is the Head of Global Mental Wellbeing & Workplace Effectiveness, Johnson and Johnson. Prior to that, she was responsible for all National Accounts EAP & WorkLife and behavioral health sales activities for Aetna occurring in the Northeast & Southeast regions of the country and served as the Director of Operations for United Health Group/United Behavioral Health.

 

Shaillee J. Chopra runs a successful healthcare consulting practice, Lumina Health Partners, and has held positions as global leader Digital Health and Advanced Analytics; Chief Data Officer, VP Customer Success, IT Director Interoperability; and National Lead Business Services Transformation.  As Chief Global Strategist with Empower Billion Women Inc., Shaillee assists with development and execution of global strategy allowing EBW to expand its contribution and impact within domestic and international markets by financially empowering women to launch, grow and scale their businesses and support UN Sustainable Development Goal of gender equality.  She has a special interest in addressing mental health for women in the workplace.

Guest MC:
Lesley Jane Seymour has spent her life helping women change the world, having spent more than 30 years in the media industry and serving as Editor In Chief for publications such as Redbook Magazine, Marie Claire Magazine, and most recently, More Magazine and More.com. Currently, Lesley is the founder of CoveyClub, a membership supported online-offline experience that connects women around the world and helps them live their most authentic lives. 

Panel Discussion Facilitators:
Patricia Baxter, Ed.D has served as a leader in global organizations such as CITI, Sykes Enterprises, UNISYS, Deloitte & Touche Consulting, and Right Management. As an executive coach, Pat has worked with leaders in American Express, Dollar General, Comcast, Toyota, Quintiles Pharmaceuticals, and the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE).

Karyn Detje has spent her career helping organizations and people perform at their best. Her experience ranges from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, including Pepsi, Allied-Signal and Atlantic Richfield. Karyn has been the Chief Human Resources Officer at several global organizations including Quokka Sports, Publicis Group Media and Tory Burch.

GW4W panelists at Philadelphia event March 28, 2019

GW4W panelists in Philadelphia

Panelists:
Linda Howard, J.D., is chief executive officer of Alturnative, a health care compliance consultancy that helps build people-forward organizations and establish compliance and ethics standards for the health, fitness and wellness industries. She is president of the board of directors of the National Wellness Institute and a founding member of its multicultural competence committee. Howard has more than 30 years of combined experience in law, compliance and health care operations. 

Yuming Shen is the Director of Product Management at Archetype Solutions Group (ASG), a strategic consulting and venture firm. As one of the primary leads in ASG’s shared services division, she drives marketing and product development for both consulting partners and venture operations. Before helping to launch ASG in 2010, Yuming worked in alternative assets at BlackRock. 

Lynette Davis is a mental health advocate and peer support specialist trained by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and in Mental Health First Aid. She is the author of "Success To Die For" and the Executive Director of Love Yourself Love Your Business, a mental health organization that creates intentional spaces for small business owners and entrepreneurs. 

Marjorie Lau spent over 20 years in the beauty industry, where she served in several leadership roles at the Estee Lauder Companies Inc. She has also worked in a branding and marketing capacity across several sectors, including consumer products at Clorox, and technology at Google and Apple. Marjorie is currently the Marketing and Communications Director at the Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School...

GW4W works to empower healthy female leadership.

This accelerator event supported the mission of Global Women 4 Wellbeing (GW4W) and is organized in collaboration with Archetype Solutions Group.

GW4W is:

  • a cross-disciplinary membership association committed to empowering more healthy female leadership at all levels for a more sustainable world.
  • A diverse group of dedicated professionals, community leaders, researchers and entrepreneurs from around the world that collaborate to create positive change.
  • A connector organization that brings diverse VOICES together to address health, wellbeing and leadership equity.
  • A non-political organization. We strive to provide common ground to solve for pay equity, health equity and leadership equity for women from all backgrounds.

Have questions about Mental Wellbeing and the Workplace — Minding The Gender Gap? Contact GW4W

Interested in a GW4W membership? Members of NWI enjoy a 25% discount on an annual individual membership to Global Women 4 Wellbeing. Click here to Find out more.

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Czech Wellness Councils: When wellness wisdom comes from the community

Posted By Jana Stará and Eva Dittingerová, Friday, April 12, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

How can we encourage wellness lifestyles even in countries where the wellness profession is not yet established? How to build upon the current resources in our communities and create a space where both the facilitators and participants or clients can learn and feel connected?

Jack Travis's 12 wellness dimensionsIn this article we share our approach and experiences from a year-long series of Wellness Councils.

There can be moments when you realize that you are longing for a change. And moments when your life just doesn't seem right and your daily routine doesn't serve your needs. You may feel you need to slow down, move more, take a deep breath, eat healthier food, or just need a hug. Yet it seems difficult to do something about it. In moments like that, it's good to have someone by your side to share your wishes, expectations and worries. To encourage each other and to make commitments that will keep you motivated until you meet again.

Do they sound like reasons to engage a wellness coach? Definitely, but since wellness coaching as a profession is not yet established in the Czech Republic, we struck on the idea of Wellness Councils. With the intention to build upon the current resources in local community, we commenced by calling together a circle of people who cared about their own wellbeing and were open to sharing with peers once a month.. 

What is a Wellness Council?

Wellness Council is based on our belief that we can live every day genuinely, with contentment and honesty. According to the wellness philosophy, there is often but little change needed to make our lives more vivid, exciting, happier and healthy. Our council is an open space for exploring what good and healthy life means for each of us specifically, space for sharing, inspiring and motivation. 

Putting wellness and councils together in a framework of monthly meetings dedicated to each of the 12 wellness dimensions, based on the work of Jack Travis, gives a year-long opportunity to kindly observe one’s own state of wellness, to feel inspired by thoughts and experiences of others and receive a little push and support to change for better.

Each event is open to public and everybody is invited to join the group, which always creates a vibrant palette of age groups, backgrounds, life experiences and so on. This reach out to more distant social networks created space for sharing with different, yet likeminded people, who felt that they needed to take first steps towards change or those who were already on their wellness journey. This can be very supporting especially in moments when one lacks support in the closest circles. We can hardly count on help from a demanding boss or family members who live an unhealthy lifestyle. 

Example of a Wellness Council ExerciseWhat is happening in a Wellness Council?

Every session consists of an activity allowing us to explore more about the given topic - both practically (interview, exercise, drama improvisation, brainstorming, drawing, relaxation etc) and theoretically (sharing bits of up-to-date knowledge). We are offering simple ways how everyone of us can be more attentive, relaxed, active etc.

With these small steps the program encourages us to review our current needs and to bring awareness to them during our daily life. There is always an optional “homework” component - simple guidance, instruction for every day of the forthcoming month. For example: Close your eyes for a moment while eating. Take a deep breath when you notice the sky. Find a moment when you are experiencing something beautiful and acknowledge it.

And in every Wellness Council, there is time for stories, too. Sharing stories in a safe way that allows us to revisit our priorities, map our personal history and experience, inspire and call for action. 

Wellness Council ExercisesThe power of sharing stories in a Council 

Having experience with the Way of Council, we felt that its intentions (speaking from the heart, non-judgmental listening from the heart, being spontaneous, speaking the essence, confidentiality and sharing what servers me, the circle and higher good) encourage honest and compassionate expression and can be more than helpful in creating the safe environment for personal stories on wellbeing.

Note: Wellness Council (in the Czech Republic) can (sometimes) look like this. (author Jana Stará)

In council we use a “talking piece” to focus the attention on the person who is sharing their story and there is no one else speaking at the time. The others do not ask questions; do not give advice or comment in any way. During council we share our personal experiences, our own stories through which we can learn from one another and get the sense of belonging to one humankind, the members of which lives are the “same but different.”

Wellness Council ExerciseThe Wellness lessons from stories shared

Every day begins the same way for all. No matter who we are. We all do wake up. 
Not so for the stories we tell and hear – these are very different. You can be say a wellness coach and know general principles of how our bodies and days function. Yet it's always fascinating to remain still and listen to the stories of the days of others. No matter what the rules and advice, when it comes to the joys and struggles of everyday life our human nature and wisdom are being awakened.

Thanks to the stories and council, wellness professionals can constantly learn (just as storytellers, listeners or facilitators would do). Learn a lot about others and maybe even more about ourselves. Learn what it really takes to live well. We strongly believe that empathy, one of the principles of council, is essential not only for sharing safely, but especially for our feeling of being well and grounded in our daily lives. 


Eva DittingerovaEva Dittingerová is an educator, drama teacher, project manager and facilitator who is interested in education through art and nature. “Drama led me to psychosomatically oriented approach to dramatic culture and creation and my interest in stories and it's potential brought me to The Way of Council.”


Jana StaraJana Stará, PhD, is a wellness promoter who dedicated her research and lecturing practice to promoting the concept of wellness in her country. She seeks ways to develop and implement wellness programs with respect to different cultural environment and traditions in Europe. She teaches at the university, empowers individuals, consults companies and believes that better times for European wellness are yet to come.

Tags:  czech wellness council  education  emotional wellness  Eva Dittingerová  Jana Stará  story  wellness 

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Gratitude for Caregivers

Posted By Linda Roszak Burton, Thursday, April 11, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Gratitude Heals

John Henry Jowett quote says Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic. A vaccine against the invasion of a disgruntled attitude. An antitoxin against the poison of fault-finding and grumbling. A soothing antiseptic in the spirit of thanksgiving.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

When you read the phrase, gratitude for caregivers, what meaning do you apply? Is it a patient expressing gratitude to their caregiver for care and compassion shown to them during a recent health scare or recovery from an illness? Or, do you interpret it as an element of a positive and healthy work culture, where leaders and caregivers express gratitude to each other and their patients—genuinely, frequently, and value-based?

The good news is that it can, and based on research, needs to be interpreted both ways! We would assert that gratitude isn’t limited to any particular individual, profession, setting, or industry. Current research demonstrates that when gratitude is practiced, expressed, and received, the benefits are undeniable, significant, and multifaceted.

The POWER of gratitude:

  • Promotes healing, strengthens our immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces symptoms of illness, and increases pain thresholds;
  • Motivates philanthropic giving. Being grateful has been found to make us more charitable and giving of our time, treasure, and talents;
  • Creates resilience by fostering greater mental, emotional, and physical health and well-being, for both the caregiver and patient;
  • Improves employee engagement by recognizing the value and contributions of coworkers;
  • Generates more positive social behaviors, buffering against negativity-bias, bolstering civility, respect, and broadening our attention to positive emotions.

To read more about these benefits go to Discovering the Health and Wellness Benefits of Gratitude

man suffering from burnout

A Remedy for Burnout

A Google search on the subject of burnout yields 114,000,000 results and counting! Job burnout as defined by the Mayo Clinic is a special type of work-related stress - a state of physical or emotional exhaustion (EE), a sense of reduced personal accomplishment (PA), and a loss of personal identity or depersonalization (DP). This widely accepted definition and the prevalence of burnout in healthcare has given us staggering and sometimes shocking statistics about the negative impact on individuals, teams, and organizations. Even more astounding are studies linking burnout to physician suicides, a higher rate of emotional exhaustion in as much as one-third of all US nurses, and the association between burnout and poor patient safety and quality outcomes, including mortality.

In a 2018 article in STAT, comes an even more disturbing reference to burnout…moral injury! First used to describe soldiers’ responses to their actions in war is now linked to “physicians being unable to provide high-quality care and healing in the context of healthcare.”

The Journal of Nursing Management, recently published a scoping review using the terms gratitude and health professionals. This scoping review consisted of synthesizing and thematically analyzing existing evidence regarding gratitude in healthcare relationships with the specific focus on patients and families expressing gratitude to their health professional. Health professionals were defined as physicians, nurses, patient care teams, and other healthcare providers. This broad review of existing knowledge included empirical and non-empirical literature and was not focused on evaluating the quality of research studies.

beautiful stylized black and white sunburst mosaic with the word imagine in the middle of it

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

In this particular study, expressions of gratitude from patients and family members to their health professional indicated a positive impact on caregiver well-being, stress reduction, and a possible reduction in symptoms and consequences of burnout. In addition, this review suggests gratitude from patients and families could contribute to “motivation and retention among health professionals, and when nurtured, is associated with a healthy work environment.”

An article on physician burnout in the Family Practice Management Journal identified practicing gratitude and offering resilience training as potential burnout interventions. Additionally, a mental technique of reframing negative events was recognized as helpful when dealing with burnout. Articles published in the NeuroLeadership Journal suggests reframing or re-contextualizing the way we think about a situation as an approach to minimize a negative emotional impact. Reframing is also defined as a “cognitive reappraisal” of ideas and emotions with more positive alternatives.

Quote from Rick Hanson, PhD, Buddha's Brain that says what flows through your mind sculpts your brain.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Similar to the scoping review in the Journal of Nursing Management, a research article in Frontiers in Psychology looked at the positive effect of patient gratitude and support on nurses’ burnout. Of the findings, when support and gratitude was expressed by patients to nurses, improvements were seen in one or more of the dimensions of burnout: emotional exhaustion (EE); personal accomplishment (PA); and depersonalization (DP).

Another important study highlighting the positive impact of gratitude on organizational wellness is from the International Journal of Workplace Health Management. This study showed that gratitude was found to be a consistent predictor of these outcomes among nurses:

  • Less exhaustion and less cynicism;
  • More proactive behaviors;
  • Higher rating of the health and safety climate;
  • Higher job satisfaction;
  • Fewer absences due to illness.

Additionally, The Greater Good Science Center published an article recognizing several healthcare organizations that have turned to this innovative remedy of gratitude to reduce burnout. Healthcare organizations such as Sutter Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Scripps Health have instituted programming to cultivate gratitude as part of their healthy work cultures.

Woman relaxing by a window with eyes closed while sunlight washes over her

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Finally, perhaps the best way to wrap-up these insights and findings comes from research done by the National Research Corporation/NRC Health and Accordant Philanthropy. When asked what influenced their feelings of gratitude during a healthcare experience, thirty percent of participants said gratitude was spurred by the compassion, empathy, or kindness of caregivers. Similarly, when asked what would most likely make them feel grateful to caregivers, forty-one percent of the study participants indicated feeling genuinely cared about as a person.

Findings from these studies and others highlight the “perfect timing” for greater focus and attention to the important role gratitude plays in our healthcare settings.

Consider…

What one action can you take, personally, to tap into your own gratitude circuitry and that of your coworkers?

What learning opportunities can your organization or department initiate to promote gratitude as a cultural imperative?

Photos courtesy of Unsplash
Linda Roszak BurtonLinda Roszak Burton provides brain-based coaching and training programs to help healthcare organizations, their leaders and teams emerge stronger, more knowledgeable, and engaged for greater success and satisfaction. As a leadership coach, Linda utilizes the latest research and evidence-based practices from positive psychology, gratitude, and neuroscience to help her clients be at their best in todays stressful and overwhelming work environments. In addition, she supports various research initiatives and is currently conducting research on gratitude interventions for creating greater health and well-being for health care employees.

Tags:  caregiver  emotional wellness  gratitude  spiritual wellness 

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