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Find Peace and Living Well in Your Mind: Mindfulness

Posted By NWI, Thursday, May 1, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

OmmmMindfulness:

is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience. Mindfulness can bring you benefits emotionally, physically, and socially. — mind·ful·ness noun

Examples of Mindfulness:

The following are mindfulness exercises that are simple and convenient and can help you lead a deeper experience in daily life.

  1. Meditation: Find a quiet place, free yourself of distractions, and quiet your mind. A simple meditation starter technique is to focus on a place you feel is comforting (for instance, the beach). Start by watching the waves come in and out for 30 seconds. Hear the sounds. Smell the smells. Feel the temperature. See the scenery. Block everything else from your mind. Gradually increase your meditation time as you become more skilled at the practice. You can do this meditation with any scene. For instance, if a ballgame is your fancy…hear, smell, feel, see all that is around you and block other thoughts out. 

  2. Deep Breathing: A simple exercise of focusing on the sound and rhythm of your breath can have a calming effect and can help to keep you grounded in the present moment. Feel the air enter your lungs and your lungs expand to hold it. Feel your lungs shrink as you let the air go.

  3. Listen to Music: Listen to virtually any type of calming music and focus on the sound and vibrations of each note to bring the music within you for a “right now” feeling.

  4. Observe Your Thoughts: Busy and stressed minds often find it difficult to focus when they have a rapid stream of thoughts running through their minds. Instead of working against the stream of your thoughts, sit back and “observe” them, rather than becoming involved. This can help you to better process and decrease the stress in your mind.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Keeping a healthy mind not only keeps you mentally healthy, but also makes your physically, emotionally, and socially healthier as well.

For more information visit: http://stress.about.com/od/tensiontamers/a/exercises.htm

Tags:  Emotional  Intellectual  May 2014  Meditation  Mindfulness  Occupational  Physical  Social  Spiritual 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways to boost your metabolism

Posted By NWI, Thursday, May 1, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pump up metabolismMetabolism: This word refers to the range of biochemical interactions that break down the energy (food) we consume. Our metabolism rates depend on the energy we consume and the energy (exercise, biological processes) we exude…and genetics.

Increasing one’s metabolism is indirectly linked to weight loss. In fact, individuals do not gain weight because they have a slow metabolism; they gain weight because they consume more food than their bodies need for energy. Basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body needs to carry out basic bodily functions like breathing, circulation, blinking, etc. If you increase your metabolic rate without increasing your calorie consumption, you can aid the weight loss process. Alternatively, you could also decrease your calorie intake (however, this must be done carefully because the body is smart and will hold onto calories if it believes it is being “starved.”)

According to the book The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat well, enjoy life, lose weight, it is thought that many people do not actually have higher metabolisms, but are just more naturally active, not through sport, but through naturally fidgety behavior.

Metabolism Wellness in 10

  1. Exercise (at least 30 minutes a day). If your body isn’t ready to burn calories faster, you can help it burn calories by making it move.

  2. Pump some iron. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue.

  3. Incorporate interval training. Increasing our heart rate, instead of exercising in a slow steady way, makes us take in more oxygen. Increased oxygen in our body can help us to burn calories even after our workout is over.

  4. Incorporate muscle confusion. This is a way to build more muscle tissue. Trying new exercises (not doing the same exercise every day such as running at the same speed on a treadmill) helps to build muscle because exercise variation better impacts different muscle groups and helps us to avoid the plateau effect where muscles no longer grow because they are adequate to handle the daily exercise.

  5. Get fidgety. Sit on an exercise ball at work, walk around when you are on the phone, do projects while watching TV…don’t sit still.

  6. Look for opportunities to move. Park further away, walk to the mailbox, clean the house, plant a garden…there’s a lot of fun activity out there.

  7. Sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, your metabolism will slow as your body tries to conserve energy.

  8. Eat often. You don’t want your body going into “starvation mode” where it tries to conserve energy. Incorporate small snacks throughout the day.

  9. Eat right. But make sure those snacks are the “right” snacks. Measure the serving size of snacks and consider adding fruits, vegetables, and most importantly, proteins (like nuts) into your snacking routine.

  10. Drink plenty of water. Even mild dehydration can cause your metabolism to slow. You need water to process calories, so drink up!

 

References:

Perry, CG, Heigenhauser, GJ, Bonen, A, Spriet, LL. (2008). High-intensity aerobic interval training increases fat and carbohydrate metabolic capacities in human skeletal muscle. Applied Physiological Nutrition Metabolism. Dec.33(6):1112-23). doi: 10.1139/H08-097

The Mayo Clinic. (2011). The Mayo Clinic diet: Eat well, enjoy life, lose weight. Minnesota, RosettaBooks.

WebMD.com. (2013).
Slideshow: 10 Ways to boost your metabolism. Retrieved April 15, 2014.

Tags:  Diet  Exercise  May 2014  Metabolism  Nutrition  Physical 

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Inspiration: Animals

Posted By NWI, Thursday, May 1, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Feel the loveThis month’s Inspiration is brought to us by Be Kind to Animals Week, May 4 – 10 (first full week in May).  For more information visit: Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, www.cfhs.ca, or American Humane Association www.americanhumane.org/

He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals. -Immanuel Kant

If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans. -James Herriot

I like animals because they are not consciously cruel and don't betray each other. -Taylor Caldwell

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx, The Essential Groucho: Writings For By And About Groucho Marx

Happiness is a warm puppy. -Charles M. Schulz

Dogs never bite me. Just humans. -Marilyn Monroe

Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem. -A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in. -Mark Twain

You can judge a man's true character by the way he treats his fellow animals. -Paul McCartney

Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer. -Dean KoontzFalse Memory

If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience. -Woodrow Wilson

Perhaps in the back of our minds we already understand, without all the science I've discussed, that something terribly wrong is happening. Our sustenance now comes from misery. We know that if someone offers to show us a film on how our meat is produced, it will be a horror film. We perhaps know more than we care to admit, keeping it down in the dark places of our memory-- disavowed. When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own. -Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals

Tags:  Animals  Emotional  Inspiration  May 2014  Social  Spiritual 

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Inspiration: In Praise of Laughter

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014

April is National Humor Month. For more information visit the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (www.aath.org). Laughter supports the emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual dimensions of wellness. If done well, it can also impact the physical and occupational dimensions. J

 

Even if there is nothing to laugh about, laugh on credit.   -Author Unknown


Mirth is God's medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it.   -
Henry Ward Beecher


Laughter is an instant vacation.  -
Milton Berle


Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.  -
Victor Borge


There is little success where there is little laughter.  -
Andrew Carnegie


When people are laughing, they're generally not killing each other.  -
Alan Alda


A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.  -
Irish Proverb


I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.  -
Woody Allen


Remember, men need laughter sometimes more than food.   -
Anna Fellows Johnston


A good time to laugh is any time you can.   -
Linda Ellerbee


Carry laughter with you wherever you go.   -
Hugh Sidey



Tags:  April 2014  Emotional  Inspiration  Intellectual  Laughter  Spiritual 

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Do You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014

It has been a looooooooong winter in many parts of the United States. Cold days with diminished light can lead to depression, often called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when the depression is linked to a specific time of the year.

There is both winter and summer SAD. Winter SAD involves depression, hopelessness, anxiety, loss of energy, heavy "leaden" feelings in the arms or legs, social withdrawal, oversleeping, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, difficulty concentrating, appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates, and weight gain. Summer SAD is characterized with anxiety like Winter SAD, but the other symptoms tend to be the opposite: trouble sleeping, irritability, agitation, weight loss, poor appetite, and increased sex drive.

How do you know if you have SAD? A professional might ask you a series of questions to determine if your mood is due to the weather and/or light changes. If you are not ready to see a professional, you might try a few home remedies. For winter SAD, try opening window shades to let light in, trimming tree branches that block light coming into your home or work place, getting outside, and exercising regularly. For summer SAD, make sure you have a cool place to relax such as a swimming hole or air conditioned space, exercise outside in the mornings before the hottest part of the day, and drink plenty of water.

If home remedies don’t help, you might speak to a professional about medication and alternative therapies. Remember, most medications for depression take a long time to integrate into the body and to stop taking the medication, individuals are advised to do so under a doctor’s supervision (in other words, if your depression is linked to a small period of time, you might not be a good candidate for a longer-term therapy). Talk with your doctor about what treatment is right for you.

To cope, don’t forget to stick to your treatment plan, socialize, take time out to de-stress, take a trip if possible, and remember, most people are affected by the environment around them; you are not alone!

For more on this topic visit: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047

Tags:  April 2014  Emotional  Intellectual  SAD  Seasonal Affective Disorder  Social 

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Alcohol: 5 New Studies

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014

April hosts a few wellness-related events that seek to educate individuals on alcohol use and abuse: 

National Alcohol Awareness Month
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. 
www.ncadd.org

Alcohol-Free Weekend -- April 4 – 6 
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.
www.ncadd.org

National Alcohol Screening Day -- April 10
Screening for Mental Health, Inc.
www.mentalhealthscreening.org

5 New Studies

1. In an experiment conducted on mice, researchers found that male sperm was adversely affected by alcohol consumption leading to fetal disorders. This is significant because it suggests that alcohol consumption by both men and woman can play a role in the overall health of a baby.

Hye Jeong Lee, Jae-Sung Ryu, Na Young Choi, Yo Seph Park, Yong Il Kim, Dong Wook Han, Kisung Ko, Chan Young Shin, Han Sung Hwang, Kyung-Sun Kang, Kinarm Ko. Transgenerational effects of paternal alcohol exposure in mouse offspringAnimal Cells and Systems, 2013; 17 (6): 429 DOI:10.1080/19768354.2013.865675


2. 
University of Tennessee researchers found links between alcohol use, not pot, and domestic violence.

Ryan C. Shorey, Gregory L. Stuart, Todd M. Moore, James K. McNulty. The Temporal Relationship Between Alcohol, Marijuana, Angry Affect, and Dating Violence Perpetration: A Daily Diary Study With Female College Students.Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 2013; DOI: 10.1037/a0034648


3. A March 2014 report spread doubt of the effectiveness of community interventions (on their own) to prevent alcohol related crimes, crashes, and hospital emissions. Interventions such as school and work-based education and training, media messaging on harms, screening and brief advice in general practice, pharmacies and hospital emergency departments, and targeting high risk individuals and high risk times where measured against the alcohol related outcomes. The interventions were, however, related to small drops in reported consumption and verbal abuse tied to alcohol use.

Anthony Shakeshaft, Christopher Doran, Dennis Petrie, Courtney Breen, Alys Havard, Ansari Abudeen, Elissa Harwood, Anton Clifford, Catherine D'Este, Stuart Gilmour, Rob Sanson-Fisher. The Effectiveness of Community Action in Reducing Risky Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Cluster Randomised Controlled TrialPLoS Medicine, 2014; 11 (3): e1001617 DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617


4. A February 2014 study on placentas showed women who drink alcohol at moderate or heavy levels in the early stages of their pregnancy might (specifically) damage the growth and function of their placenta—the organ responsible for supplying everything that a developing infant needs until birth. Placentas studied in a laboratory environment showed that drinking alcohol at moderate (2/3 standard drinks) to high (4-6 standard drinks) rates reduced the cell growth in a woman’s placenta and could damage the fetus.

Sylvia Lui, Rebecca L. Jones, Nathalie J. Robinson, Susan L. Greenwood, John D. Aplin, Clare L. Tower. Detrimental Effects of Ethanol and Its Metabolite Acetaldehyde, on First Trimester Human Placental Cell Turnover and FunctionPLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (2): e87328 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087328


5.  If you are over 55, you should be extra careful about alcohol consumption. A study out in March of 2014 showed that alcohol has a greater impairment effect on older drivers.

Alfredo L. Sklar, Jeff Boissoneault, Mark T. Fillmore, Sara Jo Nixon. Interactions between age and moderate alcohol effects on simulated driving performancePsychopharmacology, 2013; 231 (3): 557 DOI: 10.1007/s00213-013-3269-4

 

Tags:  Alcohol  April 2014  Emotional  Intellectual  Physical 

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Wellness in 10: How Culturally Competent Are You?

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014

This month’s Wellness in 10 is inspired by National Minority Health & Health Disparities Month (sponsored by the Office of Minority Health Resource Center, www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov).

Tremendous disparities exist in healthcare. For instance, about 30 percent of Hispanic and 20 percent of black Americans lack a usual source of health care compared with less than 16 percent of whites (see http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/factsheets/minority/disparit/index.html for more health disparity information). 

These disparities are attributable to many things such as education, income level, access to health insurance, proximity to healthcare facilities, and even cultural and communication barriers.

If each journey begins with one step, we as individuals can work to change the societal cultural and communication barriers by first focusing on our own views and biases.

Ask yourself the questions below to help determine your level of cultural competence. The questions are intended to help you think about your perceptions, biases, and ideals, and are not intended to be conclusive evidence. You may think about answering these questions with never, sometimes, often, or always.

  1. Do you value diversity? (I view human difference as positive and a cause for celebration.)
  2. Do you know yourself? (I have a clear sense of my own ethnic, cultural and racial identity.)
  3. Do you share your culture? (I am aware that in order to learn more about others I need to understand and be prepared to share my own culture.)
  4. Are you aware of areas of discomfort? (I am aware of my discomfort when I encounter differences in race, color, religion, sexual orientation, language, and ethnicity.)
  5. Do you check your assumptions? (I am aware of the assumptions that I hold about people of cultures different from my own.)
  6. Do you challenge my stereotypes? (I am aware of my stereotypes as they arise and have developed personal strategies for reducing the harm they cause.)
  7. Do you reflect on how your culture informs your judgment? (I am aware of how my cultural perspective influences my judgment about what are “appropriate,” “normal,” or “superior” behaviors, values, and communication styles.)
  8. Do you accept ambiguity? (I accept that in cross-cultural situations there can be uncertainty and that uncertainty can make me anxious. It can also mean that I do not respond quickly and take the time needed to get more information.)
  9. Are you curious? (I take any opportunity to put myself in places where I can learn about difference and create relationships.)
  10. Are you aware of privilege? (I acknowledge that individuals may be perceived as a people with or without power and racial privilege, and that all individuals may be seen as biased depending on the perspective of other individuals.)

Tags:  April 2014  Cultural Competency  Diversity  Emotional  Intellectual  Social  Spiritual 

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Out of the Box Thinking to Get You Moving!

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014

There are many dimensions of wellness. The National Wellness Institute recognizes six: intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social, occupational, and physical.

The physical dimension, how active we are and how we look, often gets the most attention. For many of us, getting active is a good place to start as we focus on our overall health. Exercise is tied to many positive health outcomes and to our overall wellbeing.

There’s a chicken and egg scenario here. The more we are physically active, the greater the possibility that we will feel well in the other dimensions of our lives. However, sometimes if we don’t feel well emotionally or spiritually (for instance), it is hard to motivate ourselves to be physically active.

Recent research (March 2014) points to a little brain game we can play with ourselves to increase motivation on those days when we “just don’t feel like it.” Researchers from the University of New Hampshire found that college students were more likely to work out if they took some time to recount positive memories associated with working out. According to Sciencedaily.com, this is the first study to explore how positive memories influence future workouts. Further, the research shows how memory can be tied to future actions.

So here is your wellness activity for today.

1.  Write down five positive memories associated with being active. Try to make the memories specific. Instead of “I felt good,” you might write, “I felt stronger and more vibrant the entire night after being on the elliptical for 30 minutes.”

2.  Tape the list in a place where you will see it often throughout the day (the refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, your computer screen, etc.).

3.  See if it helps your motivation!

Study reference: Mathew J. Biondolillo, David B. Pillemer. Using memories to motivate future behaviour: An experimental exercise interventionMemory, 2014; 1 DOI:10.1080/09658211.2014.889709

 

Tags:  April 2014  Exercise  Intellectual  Physical 

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Earth Day: Did you hear the bee buzz?

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In celebration of Earth Day April 22: A salute to bees! (And what you can do to help!)

Did you know a third of the food we eat depends on pollination by insects? Since the late 1990s, beekeepers world-wide have been observing a major decline in honeybee colonies. Bees make more than honey—they are a key to our food production. A large variety of vegetables, fruits, and nuts depend on pollination by bees. Moreover, even the meat we consume depends on pollination by bees and other pollinating insects at some stage in its production (generally the food that livestock consumes).

The major threat to bee colonies comes from the toxic pesticides used in agricultural practices. In particular, the chemical group called “neonicotinoids” can cause acute and chronic poisoning to both individual bees and colonies. The economy values bees and estimates bees’ pollination work is equal to $364.5 billion dollars annually worldwide. (See http://sos-bees.org/ for more statistics.)

A number of companies are taking action to save the bees by starting campaigns to end the use of harmful pesticides, building bee-friendly environments, and shifting funding away from destructive industrial agriculture to instead promote ecologically friendly farming. Visit the following sites to find out what you can do!

1.       Häagen-Dazs: Honey, Please Don’t Go: Häagen-Dazs has taken a stand to save the bees and has since 2008 donated more than $700,000 to honey bee research and restoration. Häagen-Dazs also supports the maintenance of the Häagen-Dazs “Honey Bee Haven”—a bee-friendly demonstration and education garden on the UC Davis campus. For more information about Häagen-Dazs’s campaign visit: https://www.haagendazs.com/Learn/HoneyBees/.

2.       The Co-operative: Plan Bee: The Co-operative has created a free app on iTunes called “The Pollinator.” In this online game an individual’s character is a bee that is sent back from the future to save the bees from extinction. At the end of each level individuals learn different ways they can save bees in real life. For more details about the Co-operative’s mission visit: http://www.co-operative.coop/plan-bee/.

3.       The Rainforest Site: Campaign to Save the Earth’s Honey Bees!: The Rainforest site has begun a petition to urge the EPA to outlaw neonicotinoids pesticides. To sign the petition or learn more visit: http://therainforestsite.greatergood.com/clickToGive/trs/petition/SaveEarthsHoneybees.

4.       GreenPeace: Bee the Solution: Has created a dynamic, interactive site that highlights the bee problem, what needs to be done, and how you can make a difference. To Bee a part of the solution check out: http://sos-bees.org/

Tags:  April 2014  Bees  Earth Day  Intellectual  Social 

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Should You Take a Multi-vitamin?

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014

vitaminsThe jury is still out on the usefulness of vitamins and supplements.

A report published in mid-2013 on the JAMA Internal Medicine journal website (http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1568520) concludes that most people take supplements because the action makes the individual feel healthier, not because the science supports taking supplements.

In fact, according to a WebMD article, most doctors and nutritionists would recommend spending the $20 a month (that would be spent on supplements) on eating a better diet.

Vitamins can be an "Insurance Policy.”

According to the Harvard School of Public Health (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vitamins/) vitamins may help to supplement a diet that is missing some essential nutrition, but vitamins and supplements are not a replacement for a healthy diet. If individuals choose to take a vitamin, they should take a multi-vitamin and stay away from "megas” that offer more than the daily allowance of nutrients, because too much of something can also be harmful. The Harvard site also points to research specifically around Vitamin D supplements as a positive addition to a diet, because most individuals do not get enough vitamin D naturally.

It is important to note that another article from JAMA directly contradicts Harvard’s recommendation of a multi-vitamin. A study published in 2011 (http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1104493) points to increases in certain types of cancer and nerve damage directly related to supplement use and too much of certain nutrients.

Because most vitamins are not regulated, is there a source to know which may be safer?

The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) is attempting to add some regulation to the unregulated supplement market. Products that meet program requirements are awarded the USP Verified Mark for use on labels, packaging, and promotional materials. The USP Verified Mark is meant to signify a product:

  1. contains the ingredients listed on the label, in the declared potency and amounts.
  2. does not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants.
  3. will break down and release into the body within a specified amount of time.
  4. has been made according to FDA current Good Manufacturing Practices using sanitary and well-controlled procedures. 

Does all of this sound confusing?

If so, you are not alone. The bottom line remains that there is no substitute or supplement for a healthy diet. Talk with your medical provider about your diet and about any supplements you are taking or considering taking.

Tags:  Diet  Intellectual  March 2014  Nutrition  Physical 

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