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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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What is Passive Aggressive Behavior and Why is It So Damaging?

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

An article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) this past summer (June 2014) outlined how one could tell if they were acting in a passive aggressive way. The article suggested a person might ask themselves if they had done any of the following:

  • You didn’t share your honest view on a topic, even when asked.
  • You got upset with someone, but didn’t let them know why.
  • You procrastinated on completing a deliverable primarily because you just didn’t see the value in it.
  • You praised someone in public, but criticized them in private.
  • You responded to an exchange with, “Whatever you want is fine. Just tell me what you want me to do,” when in actuality, it wasn’t fine with you.
  • You give back-handed compliments: “Wow, you actually did a very good job.”
  • You caveat compliments or explanations: “She speaks really well for someone without formal education.”
  • You manipulate: “You wanted a promotion, therefore you shouldn’t mind doing extra work every weekend.”

Passive aggressive behavior is acting indirectly aggressive rather than directly aggressive. The HBR article suggests that acting in this way can breed mistrust and will certainly damage an individual’s career in the long run.

A Corporate Wellness Magazine article from January 2014 describes this behavior as manipulative dishonesty. It goes on to say that the behavior is so damaging because it is covert, which makes it hard to identify and address. Further, the indirectness of the behavior can cause the “abused” to think the problem is with them. Take for example the classic eye roll. The recipient of the eye roll may doubt their ideas when in reality, had the eye roller been forced to explain, there might have been a slight issue with the idea or no issue at all—the passive aggressive eye roller had simply fallen into the habit of discrediting this particular person.

What’s the best way to address passive aggressive behaviors?

  • Call it out.
    • "Carla, I noticed you rolled your eyes as I was giving my report. Does this mean that you don’t agree with the report? Is there something you think we need to fix?”
    • “I noticed you complimented me before asking for a favor. I appreciate the compliment, but I don’t have time at the moment.”
    • “I noticed you haven’t made eye-contact with me or talked to me in a week. Is there something we should discuss?”
  • Be prepared to hear feedback.
  • Be prepared that certain people have perfected passive aggressive behavior and will deny any observation you make. In this case, you can try one of the following things:
    • Continue to call out the behavior you observe as it happens
    • Ignore it and/or avoid it if possible (easiest in non-work situations)
    • Talk with a manager or superior (best in work situations)


Wilkins, M. (2014, June 20). Signs you’re being passive-aggressive. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/06/signs-youre-being-passive-aggressive/

Ferguson, J. (2014, January 29). Passive-aggressive behavior destroys relationships. Corporate Wellness Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/issue-20/column-issue-20/passive-aggressive/


Tags:  Emotional  Intellectual  January 2015  Occupational  Passive Aggressive  Social 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Financial Wellness

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

1.       Have a budget and stick to it. Click here for a guide: http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/06/03/a-guide-to-creating-your-ideal-household-budget

2.       Divide the money you are not investing (we’ll get to that later) between a free checking account (the money you will need to cover your weekly and monthly bills) and a high-interest savings account (the emergency fund, 3-6 months of your salary.) Here’s an emergency fund calculator: http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/calculators/calculate/emergencyFund.php?calcCategory=budget

3.       Pay off the full balance of your credit card monthly (don't spend more than you can pay for) and make sure you are earning something extra for using that credit card, like miles or cash back. Here is a site the compares credit cards: http://www.nerdwallet.com/the-best-credit-cards

4.       If you have had trouble paying off the full balance of your credit cards each month, don’t use them unless you have to (say, to rent a car) and instead use a bank debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo. This will help you to only spend what you have.

5.       Have a savings plan. Between money for an emergency plan, money for retirement, and then the possibility of additional funds for investments, college, etc.—money is easier to come by little by little than in huge lump sums. Saving could mean you have to give up cable, a newer car, eating lunch out, or even making sure you don’t waste money by throwing away food, but the security is worth it in the long run. Here is an article about the ways Americans waste money they could be saving: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/03/24/20-ways-we-blow-our-money/6826633/

6.       Realize finances are based on math and not magic. Not addressing a financial issue and hoping it will work out, is generally a poor practice. Here is a list of things that are more likely than you winning the lottery (Note, the list includes visiting the ER for a pogo stick injury and being a U.S. president): http://moneyminiblog.com/interesting/things-more-likely-happen-winning-lottery/

7.       Have health insurance. Not only is it a law in the United States, but a typical emergency room visit can cost between $100 and $1,500 (http://health.costhelper.com/emergency-room.html). As if that’s not bad enough, there are hundreds of stories on the Internet that mirror the “$24,000 for a sprained ankle” snafu.

8.       While you’re at it, get home owner's or renter's insurance. Why? Stuff happens that you can’t control. Also, as stated in #5: Money is easier to come by little by little than in huge lump sums.

9.       If you do go into debt, and want help getting out of debt, consult this government site for selecting a reputable credit counseling agency: http://www.usa.gov/topics/money/credit/debt/out-of-control.shtml

10.   Remember, living a “well” life is about balance. This includes balancing our “needs” with our "wants.” It involves controlling the things we can control in preparation for the things that are out of our control. And, when things go south and you find yourself unable to manage, it is about reaching out and finding help to get yourself back on track. 

Want some additional reading? Check out some books from The Ultimate Cheapskate,  http://www.ultimatecheapskate.com/books.html

Tags:  Finance  Financial Wellness  Intellectual  January 2015  Occupational  Social  Wellness In 10 

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When You Lose weight, Where Does the Fat Go?

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

In honor of Healthy Weight Week, January 18–24 (www.healthyweightnetwork.com), we'd like to point to a study that aims to correct common misconceptions about fat loss.

From fat cells shrinking, to fat being turned into energy or heat, to fat being turned into muscle…there are many people, even health professionals, who don’t know what happens to fat.

So where does it go? Most of the fat you lose is breathed out in the form of carbon dioxide. The authors of the study (see below) report the following: “If you follow the atoms in 10 kilograms of fat as they are 'lost', 8.4 of those kilograms are exhaled as carbon dioxide through the lungs. The remaining 1.6 kilograms becomes water, which may be excreted in urine, feces, sweat, breath, tears and other bodily fluids.”

The authors did note that breathing alone cannot cause weight loss and individuals cannot breathe in someone else’s exhaled fat. Thank goodness!


With a worldwide obesity epidemic, the authors hope this information will be used to enrich health and nutrition information and understanding.


Visit The British Medical Journal at http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g7257 for the full abstract. 

Tags:  January 2015  Nutrition  Physical  Weight Loss 

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January Inspiration: Quotes from "The Gifts of Imperfection" that Celebrate Emotional, Spiritual, and Social Wellness

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

In The Gifts of Imperfection, author Brené Brown talks about shame, authenticity, and belonging. The following are quotes from the book. 


Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.

We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.

Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.

Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it's often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.

Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.

Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.

Healthy striving is self-focused: "How can I improve?" Perfectionism is other-focused: "What will they think?

Worthiness doesn't have prerequisites.

We're a nation hungry for more joy: Because we're starving from a lack of gratitude.

Until we can receive with an open heart, we're never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.

Shame works like the zoom lens on a camera. When we are feeling shame, the camera is zoomed in tight and all we see is our flawed selves, alone and struggling.

The universe is not short on wake-up calls. We’re just quick to hit the snooze button.

When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice.

One of the greatest barriers to connection is the cultural importance we place on "going it alone." Somehow we've come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we're very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It's as if we've divided the world into "those who offer help" and "those who need help." The truth is that we are both.

Courage is like—it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.

The opposite of play is not work—the opposite of play is depression.



Brown, B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection: Let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are. Center City, Minn: Hazelden.


Tags:  Emotional  Inspiration  January 2015  Social 

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ACA’s Impact on Calorie Counts: FDA Issues Final Rules Requiring Increased Publication of Calorie Count

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized two rules related to publishing calorie counts in November. The rules will impact the listing of calorie counts at restaurants (chain restaurants) and vending machines (with more than 20 locations). The rules are required by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In general, final rules from U.S. Government agencies become effective 30 days after being published. Vending machine operators will have two years, not 30 days, to comply with the requirements. Look for increased calorie publication on or after December 25, 2014. As a note, many chains already do this type of labeling and some states and cities have individual requirements currently in place.

The FDA believes the implementation of these rules will allow consumers to make more informed nutritional decisions. Covered food establishments will be required to clearly and conspicuously display calorie information for standard items on menus and menu boards, next to the name or price of the item. Seasonal menu items offered for sale as temporary menu items, daily specials, and condiments for general use typically available on a counter or table are exempt from the labeling requirements. (But don’t assume this means that pumpkin latte is good for you…a small pumpkin latte from a popular chain has 330 calories and 13g of fat!)

To further help consumers make choices, in the context of a total daily diet, the new rules also require menus and menu boards to include the following statement: "2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary."

The menu labeling final rule also requires covered establishments to provide, upon request, written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein.

To read the final rules, visit the Federal Register:

Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments

Calorie Labeling of Articles of Food in Vending Machines

Tags:  Calories  December 2014  Nutrition  Physical 

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December Inspiration: Quotes to Help Us Overcome Adversity

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

There is no education like adversity.
-Benjamin Disraeli 

In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends. 
-John Churton Collins

Nothing is predestined: The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.
-Ralph Blum

It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly.
-Isaac Asimov

All misfortune is but a stepping stone to fortune.
-Henry David Thoreau

Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.
-Jonathan Kozol

All sunshine makes the desert.
-Arabian Proverb

Adversity is the mother of progress.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Success in the affairs of life often serves to hide one's abilities, whereas adversity frequently gives one an opportunity to discover them.

Times of great calamity and confusion have ever been productive of the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace, and the brightest thunderbolt is elicited from the darkest storm.
-Charles Caleb Colton

Obstacles are great incentives.
-Jules Michelet

In the midst of winter, I found there was within me an invincible summer.
-Albert Careb

There can be no rainbow without a cloud and a storm.
-J. H. Vincent

Look up and not down; look forward and not back; look out and not in; and lend a hand. 
-E. E. Hale

What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first steps to something better.

Tags:  Adversity  December 2014  Emotional  Inspiration  Intellectual  Spiritual 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways To Be Well in December

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

 1.       Pick a designated driver. The holiday season is full of parties and get-togethers, many of which involve alcohol. Make sure the good times stay good by picking a designated driver to stay sober before you go out.

2.       Wash your hands often. Sure, it is always important to practice good hygiene, but this is a great time of year to be extra vigilant about hand washing. We travel more during the holidays which means coming in contact with more people from more places (possibly more germs!). Plus, it is influenza season and no one wants the flu to get in the way of the festivities.

3.       Get a flu shot. With all we know about the flu shot, this writer is still amazed that individuals can justify not getting one. I have heard everything from, “Can’t they make you sick?” to, “I’ve never gotten one.” Well, I’m not a disease specialist, but the CDC has some of those on its staff. Here’s what they say: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/

4.       For your financial wellness, make a budget before the holiday season. Individuals' pocket books can be stretched pretty thin with all of the new and flashy things to buy. Help your long-term financial goals by making a budget for gift-giving, entertaining, host gifts, etc. before the holiday season so your December bank statement won’t be such a shock.

5.       Practice balance. Eat a piece of pie. Have some sweet potatoes. Have a glass of wine if that’s your taste…just remember, the 10th bite and the 10th sip taste just like the first one. Practice moderation in your consumption. You won’t regret it.

6.       Exercise. In many regions, holiday get-togethers are inside events. Many times we get stagnant as we spend time visiting with friends and family. A little exercise before, during, and/or after get-togethers (family walk after a big meal?) can benefit both your waistline and your mental state. Exercise allows us to refresh our minds as well as our muscles.

7.       For social wellness, practice listening. Many of us get the chance to be around family and friends during the holidays that we are not normally around. This is a great time to learn from others and catch up on the lives of those we care about. If you have a senior relative, write down or record their stories. Those gems are priceless.

8.       Give. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and endless to-do lists, it might be easy to forget how many people go without. Some families do charity exchanges instead of gift exchanges. Some volunteer in soup kitchens for a day. There are many ways you can brighten the life of a stranger during the holiday season. You might find that in doing so, you've given a gift to your own spirit.

9.       Forgive and forget. The holidays are a great time to let go of grudges. While my family has always gotten along fairly well, I have friends who have holiday horror stories about this aunt or that cousin. If you can muster up a little forgiveness, the cheer of the holiday season is willing to do its part.

10.   Rest. Many people take vacation around the holidays, but don’t actually rest. Let’s face it, we all need to re-charge. Try to sleep in, or go to bed early at least a few days. Turn off electronic devices (and not just while flying). Give yourself permission to not think, not attend to, not react…if even for just an hour.


Tags:  December 2014  Emotional  Holidays  Intellectual  Occupational  Physical  Social  Spiritual  Wellness in 10 

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A Good Side to Depression?

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Is there a good side to depression? Researchers from McMaster University and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health think there might be!

In a November 2014 study, researchers devised a test to discover the “roots” of depression. The results of the test suggested that depression might be a coping mechanism. Deep analytic thought, a common trait of depressed individuals, might actually help depressed individuals work through complex issues like a death or a divorce, for instance.

The flip side is that an individual might concentrate so heavily (often involuntarily) on the particular issue that they may allocate too many mental resources to the issue and undermine attention on other life functions. In this way, the deep rumination disrupts things like eating, sleeping, social interactions, etc. Or rather, the negative things we associate with depression.

The researchers defined deep analytic thought as “a type of distraction-resistant thinking that is characteristic of clinical and sub-clinical depression alike.” While the researchers made specific strides to underline the seriousness of depression as a mental health concern, they believe that understanding the underlying cause of depression could play a significant role in its treatment.The paper, "Measuring the bright side of being blue," appears in the peer-reviewed, open access journal PLOS ONE (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0112077). It outlines a set of 20 questions the researchers used to gauge the level of an individual’s deep rumination as well as the research methodologies and results of the study overall. The answers to the questions, they suggest, would allow a clinician to tailor the type and level of care that an individual receives by providing additional insights to the depressed individual.



Journal Reference:

Barbic, S.P., Durisko, Z., and Andrews, P.W.Measuring the bright side of being blue: A new tool for assessing analytical rumination in depression.  PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (11): e112077 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0112077


Tags:  December 2014  Depression  Emotional  Mental Health 

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Just say NO to New Year’s Resolutions and YES to Change!

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A simple search for New Year’s Resolutions on the internet and you’ll get bombarded by lists of why they don’t work. If you want four, or six, or eight, or even 15 reasons, the internet has a blog, an article, or a post for you. There are also statistics. A third fail in the first week, 75% fail by the end of January, 88% fail overall. The landscape is pretty grim.

Yet, as members of the wellness community, we see change happen every day. We see changes that make people healthier and more, well. So the issue isn’t resolving to change. The thing is…how we resolve to change. One article mentioned that resolutions are often about what we think we should do, not what we want to do, and so they fail (http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/new-years-resolutions-dont-work-heres-why.html). That writer might have a point. After all, our commitment levels are influenced by our needs and wants.

Wellness experts have also found that many resolutions are too broad. For instance, there is a difference between resolving to lose weight and resolving to eat more greens at every meal. One is a very large and unspecific goal. The other is a specific strategy to reach a goal which makes it more manageable.

If you insist on having a New Year’s Resolution, here are a few tips inspired by PsychCentral.com (http://psychcentral.com/lib/rethink-those-failed-new-years-resolutions/00018625).

First, consider starting before New Year’s Eve! The resolution is about change, so timing shouldn’t matter. If you need to give yourself “free” days around the holidays, remember a one- or two-day break doesn’t mean failure. Change is long term and you can always pick up where you left off.

Then set small, doable, intermediate goals. Take the example about losing weight above…what can you specifically do to get your diet or exercise on track?

Make a plan for these specific changes. If your resolution is to be more social, how are you going to implement that plan? Who will you call? Do you want to set a goal for at least one weekly outing?

Go public. Tell people about your plan so they can support you and check in on you. Everything is easier with support.

Keep track of your progress. If your goal is to have more occupational wellness, what are steps you need to take to achieve that goal. Write them down with an estimated timeline and check off each thing you have accomplished.

Set up a compatible reward system. Once you check off progress points to your goal, give yourself a reward. From the school-inspired gold stars to a new kitchen gadget, rewards big and small are a symbol that we have accomplished something. Allow yourself moments to enjoy your own accomplishments. 

Tags:  Behavior Change  December 2014  Emotional  Physical 

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Hand Washing 101…Plus a little science!

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The following information was adapted from the CDC Website: http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html

Wash your hands…

  • Food: Before, during (especially when handling raw fish, chicken, and meat), and after preparing food, and before eating 
  • Illness & Wounds: Before and after caring for someone who is sick , before and after treating a cut or wound, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • Human & Animal Waste: After using the toilet, changing diapers, helping a child who has used the toilet, or touching animal waste
  • Animals: After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste, and after handling pet food or pet treats
  • Garbage: After touching garbage

How to wash your hands…

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
  • Soap and water not an option? Alcohol-based hand-sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is not as effective when hands are visibly soiled or greasy. And in general, hand sanitizer is not as effective as washing hands in reducing potentially harmful microbes.

A little science…

According to a 2009 article on LiveScience.com (http://www.livescience.com/3686-gross-science-cough-sneeze.html), the average human cough expels about 3,000 droplets of saliva. Some of them fly out of the mouth at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. Sneezing is worse. As many as 40,000 droplets of liquid traveling as fast as 200 miles per hour. These droplets can, depending on their size, stay suspended in the air indefinitely. So even if you didn’t sneeze or see someone sneeze, you could be walking through or touching a droplet covered object. A great reason to regular wash your hands that often come in contact with your eyes, mouth, and nose!

According the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html), a single gram of human feces can contain one trillion germs. Many of the germs are naked to human eye. Even if you are fastidious about hand washing, others may not be. Wash your hands often especially when visiting public places.

The CDC estimates (http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsFoodborneEstimates/) that each year 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses. Causes of foodborne illnesses include contaminating food with dirty hands and transferring microbes from raw food, among other sources of contamination. 

Tags:  December 2014  Hand Washing  Physical 

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