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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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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. 

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

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

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

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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