5 Ways Your Company Can Plan For A Year Of Health & Wellness Engagement
Health and wellness have not just become a priority, but a necessity for a more engaged and productive workforce. The result? Companies are putting more thought into their employee wellness programs. Givhero gathered some strategies to use the new year as an opportunity to kick off your company’s health and wellness plan. Read more on Givhero.com.
4 Factors Driving Record-High Employee Engagement in the U.S.
Engagement levels reached a record high in 2019 and teams with higher engagement are less likely to leave their organization. Read more on Gallup.com.
The Effectiveness of Community Engagement in Public Health Interventions for Disadvantaged Groups: A Meta-Analysis
Engaging members of disadvantaged communities in public health initiatives has been suggested as a way to reduce health inequities. This systematic review was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of public health interventions that engage the community on a range of health outcomes across diverse health issues. Read more at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Community Engagement for Quality, Integrated, People-Centered and Resilient health services
People and the communities in which they are born, raised, live, work and play, are at the heart of delivering people-centered and integrated health services. Communities need to be at the center of drives to improve the quality of health services, access and equity, and achieving universal health coverage (UHC). Read more at WHO.int.
Posted By Colin Bullen,
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Wreaking Havoc with your Health
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body's cells doesn’t react to insulin. This means glucose stays in the blood rather than being used as fuel for energy. The body stores the excess in little bundles called glycogen in the liver and muscles, which partly explains why type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity.
Diabetes is diagnosed when fasting glucose levels reach 126mg/dL, but risk increases once people reach 100 mg/dL, at which point they are classified as ‘prediabetic’. The way the body processes glucose is important to understand because high levels of glucose in the blood over extended periods can cause significant health problems, notably with eyes, the heart and nerves.
The King of the Non-Communicable Diseases
Type 2 diabetes might justifiably be regarded the king of the non-communicable diseases – the class of diseases most affected by the behaviors we practice on a day-to-day basis. In 1990, the percentage of Americans diagnosed with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) was 2.5% of the population. By 2015, this had risen to 7.4%, a nearly threefold increase driven entirely by type 2. Given that undiagnosed diabetes is common, current estimates predict that around 9.4% of the population (30 million Americans) has diabetes, 90-95% of whom have type 2.
This dramatic spike in prevalence has resulted in some rather alarming predictions of future prognosis, with publications in some reputable journals suggesting that the current prevalence figures could double, or even triple, by 2050 - 2060. In contrast, more recent publications suggest that prevalence and new diagnoses of diabetes have started to stabilize, as seen in the illustration below. Whether prevalence of diabetes increases or stabilizes, diabetes has a negative impact on a large part of the population, including serious health consequences.
To improve diagnostic accuracy and provide more useful information to sufferers, classic diagnostic tests, like the fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and AIC tests (whic measures average blood sugar for the previous two to three months), are being replaced by continuous monitoring devices like the Freestyle Libre. This type of glucose monitoring is useful for patients wanting to monitor their glucose levels on an ongoing basis, to help preempt and avoid hypoglycemic shock episodes.
Making the Change: Controlling Type 2 Diabetes Through Behavior Change
Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors – some cultures are more susceptible than others. Given that genetics are not changing rapidly, we can be confident that the increase in type 2 diabetes is almost entirely caused by our behaviors. Equivalently, it can also be controlled through behavior change. The Behavioral Research and Applied Technology Laboratory research suggests that a wide range of behavioral changes can reduce blood sugar levels and hence reduce the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes significantly.
Exercise and reduced sedentary behavior (less sitting) both demonstrate 30% reductions in blood sugar levels, and diabetes prevalence.
Practicing mindfulness has been shown to reduce blood sugar and diabetes by around 15%, while getting a good night sleep (around 7-8 hours) increases improvement in symptoms around 10%.
The research on healthy eating is patchy, which is partly due to the difficulty of setting up reliable experiments on eating habits and diets, as well as having to rely on people's ability to stick to prescribed dietary regimes. However, we have seen strong empirical evidence supporting the impact of the ketogenic diet, for instance, in controlling blood sugar levels in diabetic and prediabetic populations.
Compared to other lifestyle habits, exercise and movement have the largest impact on blood sugar levels and hence diabetes prevalence. At least one study notes that exercise benefits are best achieved through strength rather than cardio workouts, and most reveal a benefit from combinations of cardio and strength, so if you are increasing your exercise to reduce blood sugar, weights should be included in your workout. Two minutes of activity every 20 minutes reduces sedentary behavior, which in turn improves glycemic control. Although physicians recommend that exercise should still be combined with drug therapy, clinical trials confirm that exercise has the potential to be at least as effective at controlling blood sugar as medicines – and with pleasant rather than unpleasant side effects.
Reducing the Cost and Suffering
Diabetes is a costly disease, both in terms of the medical cost and in terms of the human suffering. Organizations looking to change the health risk profile of their employee populations would do well to address this risk. Based on US population data, it’s likely that more than 60% of the diabetic population are not exercising. If the finding is that prevalence can be reduced by 30% through exercise, this would suggest that a reduction of at least 2% in diabetes prevalence is achievable in a typical US population just through changing exercise behavior. We believe that a comprehensive healthy behavior change program will have an even greater impact.
Setting up a change-ready environment that allows employees to adopt healthier behaviors regarding exercise, healthy eating, mindfulness, and sleep hygiene will result in significant improvements in an organization’s health risk profile. The cost and productivity benefits will manifest over time and can be accurately predicted. Any organization looking to evaluate the impact of investing in these changes or wanting to understand more about how to create healthy and change-ready cultures should contact Change Craft on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colin Bullen is the founder and director of Change Craft, a global business established to help organisations execute effective and successful wellbeing change. In business, he’s the technician, evaluator, and strategist. A true road-less-traveled devotee, he qualified as an actuary in 1992 in the UK before spending 13 years in South Africa where he met Chicago-based business partner Hanlie van Wyk. During this time, he has steadily broadened his métier into health, well-being, leadership, strategy, assessment, and data.
Colin has a deep passion for helping companies find their human touch, whilst accelerating their performance and focusing their vision. Colin is also one of the creators of the behavioral research database that is BRATLAB and has been a driving force behind early successes in Change Craft.
The Redesigning Wellness podcast explores the world of corporate health to help employers build strategic wellness programs that engage employees.
In this podcast, Jen Arnold interviews experts in various specialties to demystify the common worksite wellness program. She’ll also spend time sharing barriers to help get your wellness program moving forward.
You’ll discover common sense approaches to wellness, tips for engaging employees and how to implement a program that your employees actually like.
Episode 178: Reimagining Wellness with Chuck Gillespie, CEO, National Wellness Institute
It would be nearly impossible for one wellness organization to be the expert on each of the many facets of whole person wellness. That’s why partnerships and collaborations are so important to Chuck Gillespie, CEO and executive director of the National Wellness Institute (NWI).
Chuck is a former human resources executive whose work throughout the last 20 years has included developing workplace and community initiatives and evaluating and consulting with hundreds of organizations on wellness strategies. He has spent time teaching for Purdue University, IUIPUI, and Indian Wesleyan University. Chuck’s passion and dedication to furthering comprehensive wellness are impossible to miss.
In today’s interview, Chuck briefly discusses his background and where he thinks wellness is headed. He shares his ideas on technology’s role in wellness initiatives, and how he hopes it can be used to lessen administration time and increase person to person time.
Chuck explains NWI’s new mission statement and the Institute’s dedication to creating and fostering more collaboration and partnerships. He expresses his view that more wellness research should be coming from academia rather than vendors and discusses some of the newest studies that have come out.
Headlines are hopping with news about the coronavirus outbreak in China, this month. With the ease of international travel in our modern world, it is no surprise that cases of coronavirus are appearing in the United States. Understanding this virus and taking preventative actions are your two best measures to protect yourself from coronavirus.
What is Coronavirus?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report the current outbreak is of 2019 Novel Coronavirus, called 2019-nCoV for short. Symptoms may appear two days to two weeks after exposure to the virus, and people are contagious prior to becoming symptomatic.
2019-nCoV has a reported range from zero symptoms to severe illness and death. Common pneumonia-like symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
How is Coronavirus Transmitted?
This particular virus does not seem to have animal transmission like many other coronaviruses. Person-to-person transmission likely occurs through respiratory droplets. Coughing, sneezing, and exhalation carry a virus in the tiny droplets that are expelled.
While people may not be breathing directly on one another, they may leave these carrier droplets on surfaces that others touch. In short, it spreads like the flu.
Take Action to Protect Yourself and Loved Ones
While it may sound too simple, your first, best defense against coronavirus and other viruses is to wash your hands.
Consider everything your hands touch in a day. Desks, pens, shared computer surfaces, telephones, conference tables, printers, door handles—the list of potentially contaminated surfaces in an office is too numerous to list in full. Instead of wrapping everything in paper or wearing nitrile gloves at work, just wash your hands.
Review the CDC’s recommendations for handwashing. Wet your hands with clean water. Lather long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, scrubbing under the nails and cleaning the backs of your hands as well. Rinse with clean water. Use a clean towel to dry, or air dry.
Viruses seek admittance to your body through your mucous membranes. Don’t touch your face unless your hands have been washed. Wash your hands before eating. Don’t put a pen to your lips or nose to help you think. If you regularly need to brush your hair out of your face, wear it up or back to eliminate possible transmission. Hand sanitizer is no substitute for good handwashing.
Be considerate toward others and stay home if you feel sick. If someone in your office seems to be sick, avoid physical contact completely. Keep a distance of at least three feet when you must be in the same room.
If you do rely on mass transit as part of your commute, wear nitrile gloves and avoid touching yourself above the shoulders until your trip is complete and you can discard the gloves. A thick respiratory mask may help you protect yourself from viruses in a cramped subway car, but a surgical mask won’t offer much protection from flying respiratory particles. You might also consider driving for a few weeks.
Practice Daily Wellness Habits
Because there is no vaccine to protect yourself from coronavirus, it is imperative that you bolster your immune system. Sleep deprivation makes people more susceptible to illness, therefore it is imperative to get adequate high-quality sleep. Good nutrition is essential to maintaining optimal immunity to the germs we are exposed to every day. Choose fresh fruit and vegetables and a lean protein at every meal. Regular exercise such as 30 minutes of brisk walking stimulates the immune system.
Since coronavirus is a lot like the flu, practice standard flu safety. And don’t underestimate the power of handwashing.
Registered Nurse Amy Long has been helping businesses promote work-health balance for 24 years. In 2010, co-founded Orchard At The Office to positively impact the health and wellness of the workforce.
Posted By Dr. Tyler Amell ,
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2020
In their prescient book, The Race Against the Machine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee put forward the argument that “many present-day organizations, institutions, policies and mindsets are not keeping up” with the pace of technological change. With the ever-increasing application of automation, machine learning, robots, cobots and artificial intelligence, that ominous conclusion is already making itself felt in the employment space.
Until recently, minimum, low or living wage workers were considered to be one of the most impacted groups by the effect of robotics and technology, but new research places more educated and higher wage workers directly in the path of influence by Artificial Intelligence. Though still difficult to predict, a recent study by the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings warns “AI’s distinctive capacities suggest that higher-wage occupations will be some of the most exposed.”
In the broad midsection of employment, between low and high wage earners, computerization has and will continue to replace traditional “white collar” and “blue-collar” workers performing clerical or repetitive tasks. As a result, all employment groups are at risk, and when the evolution is complete and when employment is dominated by low wage and very high wage earners, this will lead to greater polarization of the labor market which will only add to the current societal issue of income inequality.
These dramatic changes across the board in our work environment have, and will result in very broad social change, presenting significant organizational and Human Resources (HR) challenges.
Read any recent commentary on mobilizing our human capital to meet the needs of work in the future, and you will hear two recurrent themes: investment in education, and on-the-job skills training. But for various reasons, there are disturbing trends.
For example, from 1915 to 2005, time spent in school increased by an astounding six years, accounting for a 14 percent increase in worker productivity, directly affecting economic growth. But since 1988, many advanced economies have seen educational attainment level off, and in some cases fall.
The economic risk to those countries with advanced economies is evident when you consider that students completing higher levels of education are also those most likely to possess more “abstract” or human-only skills such as problem-solving, intuition, persuasion and creativity. Even with the looming impact of artificial intelligence, some of these high-value skills are unlikely to be displaced by automation in the immediate future, which is promising for the current mindset toward higher education.
With all of this in mind, how can today’s employers help develop tomorrow’s employees to meet the impact of technology on the future of work?
One-third of workers today are anxious about their future, and much of that concern can be attributed to technology and automation. While not surprising, it’s a very problematic statistic as that anxiety crushes self-confidence and inhibits a worker’s willingness, and ability, to adapt.
As more work moves online, self-employment and short-term contracts will become even more prevalent, resulting in less job security, more financial instability, and even greater stress. An out of office workplace, and the lack of a social environment means less job control and participation in decision-making. The inevitable anxiety is often cause for a number of physical and psychological health issues.
On the more positive side, research reports that 74 per cent of workers are prepared to learn new skills or completely retrain in order to remain employable in the future. But what those skills represent, and where training is made available, is one of today’s largest organizational challenges. The following should be considered when considering the future of work at your organization:
Start a meaningful dialogue on the future of work with your employees, your organization, and your community. If you have a healthy Corporate Social Responsibility program today, make more of it tomorrow. And keep in mind that you have internal as well as external audiences for these initiatives. Be as inclusive as your situation allows. Longer-term planning for five, 10, 15, and even 20 years out pays dividends and moves us away from our ‘next quarter’ mindset.
Help current employees assess their strengths and how they can adapt them to a more automated world. The mantra for employers should be “Protect people, not jobs.”
The coming workforce won’t be all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and application programmers. How your organization values and helps to develop human skills like collaboration, adaptability, and conceptual thinking will be increasingly important.
Through on-the-job training, increase and broaden the development of critical technical skills specific to your organization. Do it today. The pace of change is accelerating.
Establish high-performance work practices such as problem-solving teams, job rotation, and information sharing that will enable workers to enhance the benefits of advanced technologies.
Artificial Intelligence will influence the nature of work in profound ways. But the effect that it has on a human scale is already becoming obvious. On the positive side, people will be less likely to work in traditionally hazardous environments thanks to robotics and automation, leading to a decreased risk of injury or illness from work-related events. But the incoming younger generations may work longer, resulting in an aging workforce that may have higher levels of chronic diseases. More people will be working remotely in part-time, contract, or freelance positions, outside the traditional employee/employer relationship. This may increase loneliness, anxiety, and stress due to precarious employment. The cost of health care is just one of the issues that will shape the evolution of tomorrow’s workforce.
Stages of Automation
A recent study on the future of work by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) defines the stages of automation as:
Assisted Intelligence for example, today’s GPS and monitoring systems in our cars;
Augmented intelligence is the emerging technology that enables car-and ride-sharing services; and,
Autonomous Intelligence like the rapidly approaching future of self-driving cars.
Technology and the ever-increasing amount of data it depends on will shape the future, but how much will humans affect that landscape?
The PwC study gives us four scenarios, each reflecting how society may temper, or accentuate the rise of technology:
In the first scenario, The Red World, technology and its most innovative specialists will define the economy. Specific, relevant skills and experience will result in the largest rewards, with those workers frequently moving from one contract opportunity to another. Innovation is key, and corporate size is out-flanked by small, more nimble, and agile, entrepreneurial companies. “Full-time” workers comprise less than 10 per cent of the workforce.
In the second scenario, The Blue World, global corporations run the show. A core group of exceptional talent enjoy exceptional rewards but rely on the expertise and skills of freelance or contract “as needed” workers. Being a full-time corporate employee brings with it excellent compensation and benefits, and relentless pressure to perform. Augmented technology, medication, and implants help corporate employees push past the limits of human performance. Those employees are expected to develop and hone their skillset continually. The disparity in wealth distribution widens the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
The third scenario, the aptly named The Green World, sees the importance of a strong corporate social conscience rise in importance as a result of public opinion. Extensive use of automation and technology helps organizations meet these goals but come at a cost to jobs. A green agenda, the result of increasingly scarce natural resources, and demanding international regulations recognize that business has an impact that goes well beyond financial considerations.
The fourth scenario, The Yellow World, is the result of workers and companies reacting to public policy that seeks “fairness” in the distribution of wealth and resources. Workers feel the strongest loyalty to people in their skill set, not their employer. Worker associations, like “Guilds” from the Middle Ages, re-emerge, providing protection, benefits, and training for many types of workers. Technology and automation must temper their impact as workers push back against policies that favor others.
Workers that demonstrate leadership, empathy, and creativity will be rewarded and attracted to organizations that display these same traits. And the most successful organizations in any of the four worlds will be those that make foundational health and wellbeing programs a core offering, inspiring discretionary effort from their employees or contractors and as a result, achieving the highest level of productivity.
Individual wellbeing platforms on employee portals facilitate physical and psychological health support. In the future, these personalized, data-rich platforms will expand into other significant stress-related areas, such as financial health and interpersonal relationship health.
Constantly expanding technology, and immensely powerful social trends will shape the future of work, but which direction it takes is almost impossible to predict. Companies and individual workers should prepare for a number of outcomes. But one is very predictable: organizations that fail to adapt to these new realities will not be able to compete successfully, leaving their people frustrated, and alienated.
Dr. Tyler Amell is an internationally recognized thought leader on the topic of workplace health and productivity, as well as a frequent speaker and writer. He is a trusted advisor on strategic and integrated workplace health and is the Chief Relationship Officer at CoreHealth Technologies, a corporate wellness technology company that powers well-being programs for global providers. He is on faculty at Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences and is on the Executive Board at the Work Wellness and Disability Prevention Institute and as well as the National Wellness Institute. In the past, he has served on the executive board of the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), and the Canadian Association for Research on Work and Health (CARWH). He has held senior executive positions in a variety of sectors including human resources technology, consulting and healthcare.
Posted By Carol Kennedy-Armbruster, PhD, FACSM,
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Updated: Friday, January 24, 2020
Great research on how your pedometer/fitness monitor is positively affected when leadership is engaged. In this case, when the teacher moved, the students moved. The same will hold true with your tribe. Get leadership engaged and people will adapt to the leader's routines.
Implementation of a Pedometer Program to reach the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines during the School day in an Elementary School Setting
The 2018 Physical Activity (PA) Guidelines Advisory Committee recently released the 2018 PA Guidelines, which clearly state that PA bouts of any duration or length contribute to the health benefits associated with the accumulated volume of PA. A teacher-led Health and Wellness Committee at an elementary school created a pedometer program focused on increasing PA and movement throughout the school day for teachers and students in order to meet the 2018 PA Guidelines during the school day. This paper will outline the “how-to’s” of the pedometer program in order to encourage program replication and best practices in an elementary school setting.
In 31 self-contained classrooms, teachers and one rotating student per classroom wore a pedometer during the school day and recorded step counts over two academic school years.
The pedometer program revealed a significant increase in steps during the school day for teachers and students.
The pedometer program promoted PA for children and teachers in the classroom and could be a practical way for students and teachers to work towards achieving the 2018 PA Guidelines for both teachers and students while in a school setting.
Research conducted by: P. Brian Kiessling II, M.S. (Corresponding Author); Carol Kennedy-Armbruster, PhD, FACSM; Jessica Yoder, MPH; Michael Frisby, M.S.
Posted By Hanlie van Wyk,
Monday, January 27, 2020
This is part 2 of The BRATLAB ‘Behavioral Prescription’ Series
Researchers believe that we can control about 40% of our happiness. Naturally, those with a happy nature experience positive emotion more often and a happy disposition is likely to be the cause of more positive emotions. However, experimental studies suggest that positive emotions can produce beneficial outcomes even in the absence of an innately happy temperament. They also noticed that the amount of time that people experience positive emotions defines how happy they feel, not necessarily the intensity of that emotion.
What is ‘Happiness’ Anyway?
There are a daunting thirteen ways to define and measure happiness and different experiences might make you happy on any given day. For the purposes of this article, let’s keep it simple and categorize the various definitions into three easy to remember concepts: Pleasure, People, and Prosperity.
The first refers to maximizing pleasurable moments (such as comfort, entertainment, and enjoyment) that lead to the satisfaction of a person’s wants and needs. This might contribute to a level of life satisfaction. The second, People, is about having positive relationships with others. As social animals we crave social acceptance, strive for social contribution and integration with a community. The third, Prosperity, is about more than what money can buy. A higher income level does raise happiness, but to a smaller extent than most people think. Prosperity is more about human flourishing and includes autonomy, mastery, personal growth, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. In short, it’s about living authentically and actualizing one’s inherent potential as the way to wellbeing.
Making the Change: Adopting Happiness Habits at the Workplace
Happier people report being more productive, especially when happiness is thought of as the frequent experience of positive emotions. By moving from a lower level of happy emotions to a higher level, productivity improves by up to 40% in some studies. Happiness, in the form of positive emotions, is positively correlated with employees’ sensitivity to opportunities, helpfulness to co-workers, confidence, cooperation, reduced aggressiveness, and increased persistence. Feeling happy expands thinking and stimulates creativity. Overall, positive emotions improve cognitive function by 30% and stamina by 25%. Curiously, happier people seem to make more mistakes (25% more), but this could be prevented by practicing mindfulness as it decreases error rates by 25% while creating other beneficial health and productivity outcomes.
As a rule, people who frequently practice generating happiness are on average more productive and more satisfied with their jobs and lives.
Given that happiness can be ‘generated’, both organizations and individuals would do well to invest in practicing ‘happiness habits’. But as we’ve already noted, happiness comes in many different forms, so it’s not straightforward for companies to decide which happiness habits will be most beneficial. A good question might be: “Which happiness habit would have the greatest impact on my employees’ and hence my organization’s productivity? Where should we focus our limited resources?”
✓ Cherish positive experiences
✓ Practice being more optimistic
✓ Express gratitude often
✓ Live with purpose and meaning (know your "why’"
✓ Practice being mindful
✓ Use your unique character strengths
✓ Build positive relationships
✓ Perform acts of kindness & generosity
✓ Show self-compassion
Of the nine habits, being more mindful shows the biggest overall productivity impact, increasing stamina by 50% and cognitive function by 20%. Mindfulness techniques also reduce sick care costs, stress and anxiety brought on by mental health issues and may even beneficially impact health by lowering blood glucose, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol.
Based on available research other habits like expressing gratitude, cherishing positive experiences and using your unique strengths have some impact. For example, salespeople who practice optimism sell 15% more than those who do not.
Other Habits that Combat Unhappiness
Our research tells us that both health and happiness habits contribute to an increase in personal performance. Each is mutually supportive of the other, pointing to a bi-directional, reinforcing relationship between them. For example, doing exercise, managing your stress and engaging in talk interventions (coaching or therapy) are shown to significantly decrease unhappiness more than any intervention individually.
Any organization looking to evaluate the impact of investing in these changes or wanting to understand more about how to create happy, healthy and change-ready cultures should contact Change Craft at email@example.com.
Frederickson, B. (2004). The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. The Royal Society. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 359, 1367–1377
Gallagher, M.W, Lopez, S.J. & Preacher, K.J. (2009). The Hierarchical Structure of Well-Being. J Pers.77(4): . doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2009.00573.x.
Jongbloed, J., & Andres, L. (2015). Elucidating the constructs happiness and wellbeing: A mixed- methods approach. International Journal of Wellbeing, 5(3), 1-20. doi:10.5502/ijw.v5i3.1
Luthans, F., Avolio, B. J., Avey, J. B. & Norman, Steven M. (2007). "Positive Psychological Capital: Measurement and Relationship with Performance and Satisfaction". Leadership Institute Faculty Publications. Paper 11.
Lyubomirsky, S., King, L. & Diener, E. (2005). The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success? Psychological Bulletin, Vol 131(6):803-855.
Robertson, I., & Cooper. G. (2011). Well-Being, Productivity & Happiness at Work. Palgrave McMillan, UK
Seligman. M. & Royzman, E. (2003). Happiness: The Three Traditional Theories
Zelenski. J.M., Murphy, S.A. & Jenkins, D.A. (2008). The Happy-Productive Worker Thesis Revisited. Journal of Happiness Studies 9:521–537
Hanlie van Wyk
is a behavioral change expert, systems strategist, author, and Ph.D. candidate for Hate Crime Studies. Her fascination with human behavior started while growing up in South Africa. From working to prevent hate crime to humanizing the workplace, her career spans three decades and four continents researching and applying behavioral change strategies to some of the most challenging behavioral problems. As is the founder and director at Change Craft (powered by Behavioral Research and Applied Technology Laboratory) she studies, develops and applies agnostic systems and practices that make change sticky and results in high performing individuals and cultures.
The following is a note from Consumersadvocate.org about the information in their report:
"DISCLAIMER: We decided to research the topic of essential oils out of our curiosity about this growing industry and concerns about the use of these oils in children and expectant mothers. We have NOT received any form of compensation to review any of the companies on our list. Our list of essential oil companies was originally organized at random, with no correlation between the position of a company on our list and the laboratory results for their essential oil samples. We have since organized the companies alphabetically, to counter any assumptions about positioning being related to a ranking order. For those interested, here are the GC-MS test results from our collaboration with the Aromatic Plant Research Center (APRC).
"With so many essential oil brands out there, it can be hard to find the right one for you. Instead of a top ten list of the best essential oil companies, we took an in-depth look into the industry by reviewing 11 well-known brands.
"Our team spent over 600 hours of research; ordered, tested, and analyzed 33 essential oils; and collaborated with a group of experts who have dedicated their careers to researching and writing about essential oils.
"After taking a deep dive into the industry, we understand that it can be nearly impossible to find the right brand of essential oil, especially with all the misconceptions and misinformation out there. That’s why our mission with this section is to arm you with the knowledge and know-how to navigate the industry and help you make the right decisions."
Posted By Patty Bell,
Friday, January 17, 2020
Updated: Friday, January 10, 2020
Anyone who has enjoyed the aroma of lavender, eucalyptus, or frankincense during a massage already knows firsthand the relaxing properties of essential oils. Wafting into the senses, these aromatic essences immediately improve the state of mind, inducing a state of soothing calm.
It may come as a surprise to learn that aromatherapy is also very useful as a supportive measure in addiction recovery. As a complementary treatment element in detox, treatment, and recovery, aromatherapy has a multitude of wellness benefits. The mind-body connection is one that must be considered in recovery, as the mind is a powerful engine that can influence recovery outcomes. Aromatherapy is useful in helping individuals in recovery restore that mind-body connection.
The mental health component to addiction recovery cannot be overstated. Our mental wellness can literally make or break any attempts to live a sober, healthy life. Increasingly, addiction treatment programs are embracing holistic measures, including the use of essential oils, as complementary therapies to the conventional evidence-based protocols.
Learning about the role of aromatherapy in recovery offers the newly sober an additional tool to help achieve a more serene and balanced state of mind. Coupled with therapy and recovery support groups, aromatherapy offers just one more tool to aid the process of restoring health and reshaping one’s lifestyle.
What is Aromatherapy?
The use of essential oils is ancient. Originating in Eastern medicine thousands of years ago, aromatherapy has a proven history of efficacy in providing medicinal effects, both physical and psychological. Essential oils are created from the most potent parts of various plants and flowers. The distillation process, using water or steam, yields medicinal grade oil, with each variety having its own healing properties. Today, essential oils are an increasingly popular drug-free alternative to achieve a state of relaxation or to improve mood.
Essential oils are utilized to benefit a multitude of health and wellness conditions. Aromatherapy, using the scent and medicinal properties of the essential oils, is beneficial in the healing of mind and body. There are a multitude of essential oils that can produce healing effects, such as by reducing inflammation and improving the immune system. In summary, aromatherapy can help relieve symptoms of various ailments, reduce stress, and to bolster the immune system.
There are two basic methods of using aromatherapy:
Topical. Essential oils can be absorbed through the skin. When applying the essential oils to the skin it is important to first dilute the oil with carrier oil, such as coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba, or olive oil before massaging it into the skin. Essential oils are best applied to the soles of the feet, the palm of the hand, and the temples and the scalp.
Inhalation. The vapor from a diffuser that is produced by drops of the essential oil added to water stimulates the olfactory system, entering through the nasal passage, into the lungs, and reaching the brain. A differ is not necessary, as just placing two drops of the essential oil on the palms, rubbing them together, then cupping them to the nose while inhaling deeply can also provide immediate effects.
Other uses of essential oils might include placing a few drops in the bath, or on a pillowcase. It can also be added to a candle allowing the heat of the candle to release the scent into the room or mixed with water in a spray bottle and spritzed into the air. Aromatherapy can be used in massage therapy, during meditation or prayer, while bathing, or during any relaxing activity.
The Science of Smell
Most people have experienced how a scent or odor can immediately elicit a memory. Our sense of smell has a powerful effect on our mood by activating the limbic system or the mood center of the brain. The aromatherapy affects the mood center of the brain by helping to regulate emotions, stress, heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. This can help promote relaxation in the face of a stressful situation or event.
The pleasant effects enjoyed with aromatherapy can help the brain develop new scent-mind connections, creating a positive stimulus-response when the oils are introduced. Essentially, the aromatherapy induces feelings of pleasure and calm. This is because the reward path of the brain is part of the limbic system. Aromatherapy can be used to activate the reward path using a natural substance such as essential oils.
Basically, in addiction recovery, the brain is in recovery. Addiction takes a steep toll on brain structures, brain chemistry, cognitive functioning, and overall brain health. Aromatherapy can be an additional salve as brain health is restored to optimum functioning by creating a healing environment through the olfactory system.
How Essential Oils Assist the Detox Process
The detox process is the dreaded, but necessary, first step on the recovery journey. Detox and withdrawal involve the cessation of the substance of abuse, allowing the body to begin purging any chemicals or toxins associated with the substance. During alcohol or drug detox the body is destabilized. As the brain struggles to achieve equilibrium the person going through detox experiences assorted unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
While each specific substance of abuse has its own list of withdrawal symptoms, there are some that are common across the board. These symptoms include both physical and psychological symptoms such as headache, nausea, insomnia, depression, fatigue, and agitation. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms rests on a variety of factors that influence whether symptoms will be mild, moderate, or severe, and how long the detox process will take to complete.
During detox, trained professionals will utilize medications to minimize withdrawal discomforts. As a complementary holistic measure, aromatherapy can augment traditional medical interventions and ease the unpleasant effects of withdrawal. Adding essential oil therapy helps the individual processing through detox and withdrawal in several ways, including relief of some of the physical discomforts, boosting mood, reducing cravings, and aiding sleep. These benefits can assist the individual to safely and successfully complete the detox process before transitioning to addiction treatment.
Some essential oils for addiction can alleviate the general discomforts of withdrawal symptoms during the detox process, while others are uniquely suited to a particular drug or alcohol detox. For general withdrawal symptoms, clary sage, lemon, and bergamot essential oils can be helpful during detox and withdrawal. In addition:
For alcohol detox adding black pepper oil and Roman chamomile oil can help reduce withdrawal discomforts and help restore liver health.
For opiate detox adding lavender oil, ylang ylang oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, and cinnamon oil can help with lethargy, reduce anxiety, and improve mental clarity.
For stimulant detox adding orange oil, jasmine oil, and peppermint can help boost mood, energy, and help soothe anxiety.
Detox and withdrawal are an uncomfortable but necessary first step in addiction recovery. Using the healing power of essential oils along with conventional medical interventions can provide relief from withdrawal symptoms and help the individual to persevere through the possible post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) as well. PAWS may linger for weeks, even months, so individuals experiencing these lasting withdrawal symptoms will benefit from the effects of aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy as a Complementary Treatment Element
As a complementary treatment element, aromatherapy can offer safe, natural effects that help boost mood, improve sleep quality, enhance mental clarity, and promote relaxation. All of these are essential in reinforcing recovery. Low mood can reduce motivation to stay the course and remain sober. Sleep deprivation has a significant negative effect on overall wellbeing and can leave someone feeling fatigued and depressed. Stress is one of the most common triggers that can result in relapse. Why not use aromatherapy as a routine component of healthy living in recovery?
In many cases, the individual with a substance use disorder also suffers from a co-occurring mental health disorder. This goes beyond just feeling down or a little tense or irritable. Clinical depression or an anxiety disorder complicates the treatment picture, as they must be treated alongside the addiction. While essential oils will not replace antidepressants or other psychotropic medications, aromatherapy is excellent complementary therapy.
To improve mood, sleep quality, and reduce stress some of the most effective essential oils that benefit recovery include:
Basil sweet oil
Reduces stress, promotes deeper sleep, aids mental clarity, and improves memory
Helps relieve tension, regulate appetite, and has antidepressant properties
This oil may reduce cravings and has a stimulant effect that helps reduce fatigue
Helps promote relaxation and calm anxiety
Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression
Relieves negative emotions and tension, lifts mood
Enhances mental clarity and decision-making abilities, reduces brain fog
Combats fatigue and renews energy, reduces cravings, boosts mood
Has antidepressant properties, boosts mood
It’s calming effects can also help with insomnia and anxiety, reduces mood swings, and promotes liver energy flow (qi)
Increases energy, boosts mood
Helps lift mood while calming anxiety
Aids in mental clarity, revitalizes the spirit, energizes, reduces cravings, and lifts mood
Improves energy and boosts mood
Pink grapefruit oil
This oil can help depression symptoms, reduce cravings, promote relaxation, and induce a positive state of mind.
This oil stimulates mental clarity, improves mood
Helps achieve mental clarity and focus
Integrating aromatherapy into a traditional evidence-based treatment program can help ease some of the stress of being in a treatment environment, as well as help induce better sleep while in rehab. The core treatment elements in addiction treatment include:
Detox and withdrawal
Narcotics Anonymous 12-step program or similar programming
Holistic Addiction Recovery Practices
The holistic benefits of aromatherapy positively impact the psychological, physical, and spiritual aspects of wellness. When using aromatherapy in conjunction with other holistic activities and regular exercise, the individual in recovery can significantly improve their state of mind without the need for drugs or alcohol. So often those substances are used to self-medicate, to quiet an anxious mind or cover up feelings of depression. In recovery, holistic practices can offer a healthy alternative to substances of abuse while achieving the desired sense of calm.
Some holistic recovery practices include:
Early recovery is a challenging phase as individuals adjust to a completely new lifestyle. By combining aromatherapy with other holistic activities, it can significantly improve the mind-body connection and enhance recovery efforts, especially because of the stress-reducing properties of these activities.
Holistic activities help the individual gain a clearer sense of self and a fresh perspective through practicing them. These new insights, combined with the relaxation-promoting aspects of these activities, can help calm the mind and reduce the risk of relapse. Recovery is further reinforced by using these holistic methods in conjunction with ongoing outpatient therapy and participation in a recovery community.
Some Considerations About Aromatherapy
While aromatherapy is generally considered to be safe, some caution should be exercised when beginning aromatherapy. First, it should be emphasized that aromatherapy alone is not the answer to defeating an addiction. Engaging in active treatment while in rehab and continuing with ongoing outpatient rehab following rehab is the bedrock of addiction recovery. Aromatherapy compliments traditional therapy.
Also, the essential oils should not be ingested unless the individual is under the guidance of a naturopath who can provide the specific type of oils that are designed for this purpose. Essential oils can cause skin irritation, so in most cases should not be applied directly to the skin.
Other considerations include:
Essential oils can cause serious eye injury
Pregnant women should not use aromatherapy
Essential oils may be harmful to individuals with asthma or other respiratory conditions
Hyssop oil can trigger seizures in people with a history of convulsions
Rosemary oil can cause an increase in blood pressure so should be avoided by individuals with hypertension.
Patty Bell has been working in the alcohol and drug addiction industry for over 20 years. She is currently the Family Relations Manager/Interventionist at Solutions 4 Recovery a residential rehabilitation facility providing substance abuse treatment services to men and women suffering from alcoholism, drug addiction, and dual diagnosis. Patty has been sober since May 1996 and looks to help those struggling rise from their past to a new and brighter future.