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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.


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NIH’s Guidelines on Complementary and Integrative Approaches for Quitting Smoking

Posted By NWI, Monday, March 2, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has several guidelines and recommendations for individuals who would like to try alternative smoking cessation techniques. Because March is host to Kick Butts Day (March 18) sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco–Free Kids (www.kickbuttsday.org), NIH guidelines were well timed!

According to NIH (https://nccih.nih.gov/health/tips/smoking), conventional quit-smoking treatments such as counseling and medication, can double or triple the chances that a smoker will kick the habit successfully.


But NIH also took the time to address some of the less conventional, complimentary health, approaches to quitting.

  • There is evidence to suggest that mind-body practices can aide individuals who are trying to quit smoking. Examples of these practices include meditation-based therapies, yoga, and guided relaxation to reduce the urge to smoke.
  • Acupuncture and hypnosis, according to NIH, are supported by little evidence of benefit.
  • There is no current evidence that dietary supplements or a certain supplement are effective.
  • Mind-body practices are generally considered safe when performed by healthy people, but individuals should always consult a doctor or complimentary heath practitioner before starting any regimen.
  • Dietary supplements, although labeled “natural,” are not always safe. Some supplements can interact negatively with other medications.
  • For more quitting resources visit www.smokefree.gov

Tags:  Alternative Medicine  Emotional  March 2015  Physical  Smoking  Spiritual 

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Mindfulness: The Next “Big Thing” for a Restful Sleep

Posted By NWI, Monday, March 2, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Published last month (February 2015) in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a new study shows mindfulness meditation practices have a significant ability to aide sleep.

Mindfulness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a famous teacher of mindfulness meditation and the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” In the case of sleep, an individual might work on being aware of all of the sensations in their body as they are lying in bed. They might consciously work to notice their breathing, the rise and fall of their chest, the feeling of the skin against the bedding, muscles relaxing and so forth. As their mind begins to wander, the practice of mindfulness is to bring the mind back to all of the immediate feelings associated with resting and being present in the restful moment.

According to this most recent study, mindfulness practice helped older adults who had moderate sleep difficulties. According to the study’s authors, sleep disturbances are a medical and public health concern with 50 percent of individuals 55 years and older experiencing some sort of sleep problem. These disturbances are tied to fatigue, disturbed mood, depression, and a decreased quality of life.

The study compared individuals who practiced mindfulness with a group that practiced sleep hygiene techniques (going to bed at a set time, avoiding stimulants after a certain hour, using the bed only for sleep and not watching T.V., etc). The mindfulness group showed greater improvement compared to those in the sleep hygiene group. In addition, the mindfulness group showed less of the associated symptoms of insomnia, depression, and fatigue symptoms.

 For more resources on mindfulness visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoLQ3qkh0w0

For more information on sleep Awareness visit: National Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org.

 Black, D.S. Mindfulness meditation appears to help improve sleep quality. Retrieved February 16 from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-02/tjnj-mma021215.php

Tags:  Emotional  March 2015  Mindfulness  Physical  Sleep  Spiritual 

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Inspiration: Quotes to inspire gentle interactions with those around us

Posted By NWI, Monday, February 2, 2015
Updated: Thursday, January 22, 2015

It is not for me to judge another man's life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone. ― Hermann Hesse,  Siddhartha

 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. [Matthew 7:1-2] 

  You will face your greatest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.― Shannon L. Alder

 Even god doesn't propose to judge a man till his last days, why should you and I? ― Dale Carnegie

 When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself. ― Earl Nightingale

 When we make judgments we're inevitably acting on limited knowledge, isn't it best to ask if we seek to understand, or simply let them be? ― Jay Woodman

 All of us sport an invisible sign around our necks -- “AS IS.” It means, take me as I am. I may not become what you want me to be. And I’m far, far from perfect. But I have some great qualities, too, as well as my share of faults. You will have to take me “AS IS” and I’ll take you that way, too.  ― Steve Goodier

 In letting God sit in judgment they judge themselves; in glorifying God they glorify themselves. ― Friedrich Nietzsche,  The Anti-Christ

 As your consciousness, refinement and pureness of heart expands you will become less judgmental, less corrective, less reactive, less black-and-white, less critical, less apt to blame and less tormented by others and their faults and views. ― Bryant McGill,  Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life

The sad reality is, it's not just the people I go to school with that are doing it. It's their parents too. Their noses are all turned up at me, like because of my diagnosis; I'm an alien to them. I'm not like their son or daughter so that means I'm not worthy of respect. ― Melyssa Winchester,  Count On Me

 The more judgmental a person is the sadder they are. ― David W. Earle

Tags:  Emotional  February 2015  Inspiration  Kindness  Social  Spiritual 

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Alcohol and Reduced Risk of Heart Failure, Research

Posted By NWI, Monday, February 2, 2015
Updated: Thursday, January 22, 2015

New research (January 2015) released by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) provides evidence that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol is linked to reduced risk of heart failure.

According to the study’s authors, evidence already exists linking moderate amounts of alcohol consumption to reducing the risk of developing heart conditions, but this research goes farther to show how moderate alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of developing heart failure specifically.

Moderate consumption for this study is defined as one drink per day or 14g of alcohol (one small glass of wine, less than pint of beer, and less than a shot of liquor).

The researchers, for a period of 24-25 years, looked at nearly 15,000 men and women in early to middle age (45-64) who drank no more than seven drinks per week.  This rate of consumption was associated with a 20% lower risk of men and 16% of women developing heart failure in the future when compared to people who did not drink at all. According to the study’s authors, the difference between men and women was associated with the differences in how men and women metabolize alcohol. Additional findings included an increased risk of death of 47% for men and 89% of women who reported consuming 21 or more drinks a week at the start of the study.

Heart failure describes a state when the heart can no longer pump blood around the body. Heart failure is often the result of heart attacks, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart valve problems, an irregular heartbeat, viral infections, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, consuming recreational drugs, and the side-effects of radiotherapy treatment for cancer.

 Journal Reference:
Goncalves, A., Claggett, B., Jhund, P.S, Rosamond, W., Deswal, A., Aguilar, D., Shah, A. M., Cheng, S., Solomon, S.D. Alcohol consumption and risk of heart failure: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. European Heart Journal, 2015; DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehu514

Tags:  Alcohol  Emotional  February 2015  Heart Failure  Moderation  Physical  Social 

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Social Wellness: After stroke, men who live alone at higher risk of dying prematurely

Posted By NWI, Monday, February 2, 2015
Updated: Thursday, January 22, 2015

A recent (January 2015) study followed 1,090 men who recently suffered from a stroke. The doctoral thesis indicated that men who live alone have a  considerably greater long-term risk of dying prematurely than other patients.

The thesis, done in Sweden as part of a Sahlgrenska Academy Study on Ischemic Stroke (SAHLSIS), looked at individuals who had suffered from stroke before the age of 80.

The findings showed 36% of patients who were living alone, as opposed to 17% of those with partners, died within 12 years after stroke. Among men, the gap widened to 44% vs. 14%. The severity of the original event, diabetes and/ or coronary artery disease were also shown to hasten mortality rates. Physical inactivity increased the risk of cardiac infarction after stroke.

Excess mortality associated with living alone was still found after adjusting for physical inactivity, high alcohol consumption, low educational level and other known risk factors.

The authors speculated that people who live alone may lead less healthy lives, may be less prone to take their medication, and may tend to wait longer before going to the emergency room. This information is important because it highlights the importance of the social aspect of our overall wellness. In addition, it serves as evidence surrounding the importance of not only medical follow-up after a stroke event, but also of social support offerings and follow-up after a stroke.

The thesis,  Long-term Post-stroke Outcome -- the Sahlgrenska Academy Study on Ischemic Stroke,  was defended on November 28.

University of Gothenburg. "Men who live alone run a greater risk of dying prematurely after stroke." ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150120085923.htm.

Tags:  February 2015  Social  Stroke 

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The Asthma Epidemic: Inner city vs. income, race, and ethnic origin

Posted By NWI, Monday, February 2, 2015
Updated: Thursday, January 22, 2015

What increases an individual's risk of asthma? If you have ever lived in a city and experienced a “Red Alert” smog day, you might be tempted to say the city itself is the major contributing factor to the asthma epidemic. However, new research (January 2015) from Johns Hopkins University challenges this long-held belief.

The results of the new study of more than 23,000 U.S. children reveals that income, race, and ethnic origin may play far more substantial roles in asthma risk than a child’s physical surroundings.

The study’s researchers looked at asthma rates in cities and the areas outside of cities. No differences in asthma risk between children living in urban areas and their suburban and rural counterparts was found.

What the research did show was a stark and uneven distribution of asthma. Specifically, the researchers found a correlation between poverty, individuals of African American or Puerto Rican dissent, and childhood asthma risk.

More than 50 years ago, recount the researchers, the idea that certain aspects of urban living fuled asthma cases was formed. Those factors included pollution, cockroach and other pest allergens, higher rates of premature births, and exposure to indoor smoke. While those risk factors continue to be valid, they may no longer be as substantial as race and poverty level.

Due to increasing poverty levels outside of cities and the movement of racial and ethnic minorities out of cities, the old theory that a high risk of asthma was tied exclusively to city living is being challenged.

The researchers describe their findings as baseline and caution that additional research should be done in the areas of whether a child living in the city is more likely to have asthma than a child living in the suburbs or in the country.

Additional findings included that a child living in a family below the national poverty threshold was more likely to be diagnosed with asthma and have an asthma attack that required emergency treatment than the children of families with higher incomes. Of note, the researchers say, was the finding that family poverty had a stronger influence on asthma risk than overall neighborhood poverty.

African-American children and those of Puerto Rican descent had disproportionately higher asthma rates, at 17 and 20 percent respectively, compared with their white (10 percent), other Hispanic (9 percent) and Asian (8 percent) counterparts. The study was not designed to uncover the “why” behind these findings, but the researchers noted that both African Americans and Puerto Ricans have a well-known risk for developing asthma, partly due to biologic and genetic differences.

Journal Reference:
Keet, C.A et al. Neighborhood poverty, urban residence, race/ethnicity, and asthma: Rethinking the inner-city asthma epidemic. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2014.11.022

Tags:  Asthma  Children  February 2015  Multi-Cultural  Physical  Social 

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Get Up!: Yet more research that sitting is “an epidemic,” even when we exercise regularly

Posted By NWI, Monday, February 2, 2015
Updated: Thursday, January 22, 2015

The amount of time a person sits during the day, regardless of how much they “move” during the day, is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and death. This new research was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in January 2015.

The authors did however find that although all sitting is associated with negative health implications, those negative implications are more pronounced in individuals who are less active when not sitting.

The target, according to the researchers, is to decrease sedentary time by two to three hours in a 12-hour work/commuting day. Strategies to achieve this goal could include walking at lunch and on breaks; if you work in an office, getting a standing desk; taking frequent standing and stretching breaks (at least one an hour); and, finding ways other than a personal vehicle to commute to work(public transportation, walking, biking).

The first step, report the study authors, is to monitor sitting times because once we start counting, we're more likely to change our behaviors.

University Health Network (UHN). Sitting for long periods increases risk of disease and early death, regardless of exercise. Retrieved on January 19, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150119171701.htm.

Tags:  Disease  February 2015  Physical  Sitting 

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Wellness in 10: Making judgments and 10 ways to be less judgmental

Posted By NWI, Monday, February 2, 2015
Updated: Thursday, January 22, 2015

In a 2013 Psychology Today article, Gregg Henriques, Ph.D, talks about the difference between making judgments and being judgmental. In essence he writes, the difference rests in the motivation. For instance, if your judgment is rooted in empathy (you care about the thing in question because it could hurt someone), the impact of your assessment serves to help someone else, you assess the “sin” not the “sinner,” you have expert knowledge and not shallow knowledge to make such an assessment, and the roots of your assessment are optimistic, you are probably making a judgment. You are probably being judgmental if your assessment is dismissive of the person involved, shows no empathy, you lack adequate knowledge of the thing, person or situation, or your assessment is pessimistic.

For example, say your neighbor avoids neighborhood parties, light conversation, and making eye-contact at the mail boxes.

The following responses would be judgments:

  • The neighbor seems to be shy. It is hard to move to a new neighborhood. (empathetic)
  • The neighbor might make more friends if they came to neighborhood parties. (caring)
  • The neighbor might be lonely. (“might” suggests lack of knowledge)
  • It might take the neighbor time to warm up to people. (optimistic)

The following responses would be judgmental:

  • The neighbor is anti-social and rude. (non-empathetic to the person)
  • The neighbor will never make friends. (non-caring)
  • The neighbor exhibits anti-social behavior and will always be alone. (Suggests more knowledge than that “judger” has).
  • At this rate, the neighbor will always be an outcast. (pessimistic)

Judgmental behavior is not helpful or uplifting. The following are ten questions you can ask yourself to be less judgmental: 

  1. What knowledge of the situation/person am I relying on to make this assessment? (Look out for generalizations and stereotypes).
  2. Is my assessment based on empathy and care for the person or situation?
  3. Are my values getting in the way of me being empathetic? For instance, you could be against homosexuality, but still care for the person and respect that the person had a different value framework.
  4. If your assessments carry impact, (say you are the president of the neighborhood situation mentioned above) do you make assessments to boost yourself and your own standing, or do you do it to help others?
  5. Do you assess the person or the situation? For instance, if someone cuts you off In traffic they may be judged as “rude.” When you cut someone off in traffic it may be because you didn’t see them or you are running late for an important meeting.
  6. Are you open to changing your opinion? This is the difference between thinking “All Republicans/Democrats are categorically wrong,” and “I don’t agree with that statement, but I am open to asking questions and hearing what else you have to say.”
  7. Are you just being negative? This might be the difference between, “She will never be good at soccer,” and “Ball handling may not be her best skill, but she sure can run!”
  8. Does what you are saying help and make things better or hurt and make things worse?
  9. Are you being nice?
  10. What would it feel like if someone made a similar assessment about you?

 Journal Reference: 
Henriques, G. Ph.D. On making judgments and being judgmental. Psychology Today. Retrieved January 22, 2015 from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/theory-knowledge/201305/making-judgments-and-being-judgmental

Tags:  February 2015  Intellectual  Judgmental  Opinions  Social 

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The Company We Keep: How Good Health Near Us Means Good Health for Us!

Posted By NWI, Monday, January 5, 2015
Updated: Monday, December 22, 2014

A December 2014 Tufts University and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) collaborative study found that school-based obesity interventions had unintended yet beneficial consequences. The students' parents also saw a small decrease in their Body Mass Indexes (BMIs).

The study was part of an analysis of the two-year long Shape Up Somerville: Eat Smart Play Hard™ intervention program (out of Somerville, Massachusetts) and was published in the American Journal of Public Health. Parents were engaged with the Shape Up Sommerville lessons and helped to decide what their children ate and how active they were at home. The program targeted first- through third-graders.

The parents, teachers, school food service and health care providers, and city departments and local media outlets participated in and promoted intervention initiatives: overhauling school lunch menus; introducing nutrition education curriculum in schools; attempting to increase energy expenditure through in-school and after-school physical activity programs; and working with area restaurants to offer healthier menu items.

Unlike the control group, every month, Somerville parents received a Shape Up Somerville newsletter with recipes, coupons for healthy foods, and articles. Readership was high. Many parents (about a third) also reported walking more during the intervention, and more than half self-reported choosing healthier snacks and healthier menu options when eating out during the intervention.

The study’s authors say the results confirm that creating an environment where healthier choices are easy choices will positively impact overall wellness. Many times, the authors continued, a community approach is needed to make the healthy choice the easy choice.


Journal Reference:

Edward Coffield, Allison J. Nihiser, Bettylou Sherry, Christina D. Economos.Shape Up Somerville: Change in Parent Body Mass Indexes During a Child-Targeted, Community-Based Environmental Change Intervention. American Journal of Public Health, 2014; e1 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302361


Tags:  Children  January 2015  Nutrition  Social  Weight Loss 

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Wellness Through Service: January 19 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Posted By NWI, Monday, January 5, 2015
Updated: Monday, December 22, 2014

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" – Dr. Martin Luther King

There are numerous studies that show giving is good for our health…a so called “Giver’s High.” In fact, there is a great article from the Cleveland Clinic that summarizes some of this research: http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/12/why-giving-is-good-for-your-health/). January is a fantastic time to think about giving as we celebrate the King Day of Giving: A holiday signed into law by then President Clinton in 1994. The day is now part of a larger United We Serve initiative created by President Obama (2013) to work toward the nation’s recovery and renewal by serving communities.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, at its core, calls for “Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.” For more on the King Day of Service, visit: http://www.nationalservice.gov/special-initiatives/days-service/martin-luther-king-jr-day-service-0.


So what can you do? Here are 7 suggestions. (And yes, this will improve your overall wellness!):

1.       Visit www.Serve.gov to find a local volunteer opportunity.

2.       You can also reach out to your local United Way (http://apps.unitedway.org/myuw/LUsearch.cfm) to see if there are local service opportunities.

3.       You can organize a service project at work, based on local needs (see 1 & 2 above).

4.       You can help to organize a service project through your children’s school so children learn the power of giving (start by connecting with your child’s teacher or the principal). Here is a list of 35 service projects for kids: http://kidworldcitizen.org/2013/02/20/35-service-projects-for-kids/ .

5.       You might try making a budget for giving in the coming year. What charities are most important to you? Do you want to have some “free” funds to support friends doing walks and runs for charity? Is there a percentage of your income that you could live without? Here are some suggestions on how much you might give to charity: http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/budgeting/how-much-budget-to-charity.htm

6.       Remember, there are also un-organized ways to serve. Collect trash around your neighborhood or at a local park. Look for opportunities to help others who could use an extra hand. Practice random acts of kindness. Here is a website dedicated to random acts of kindness: http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/.

7.       Finally, make sure to visit www.mlkday.gov to get inspired and get involved!


Tags:  Community  Giving  January 2015  Service  Social 

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