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NWI Member Spotlight - January 2019

Posted By NWI, Friday, January 4, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Nicole AkparewaNicole Akparewa, RN, MPH, MSN

Creative Director of “Transform Nursing”

John Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health

John Hopkins University, School of Nursing

My mission is to train nurses globally with the tools they need to confidently address health policy, patient advocacy, and patient engagement in both clinical and non-clinical settings. Transformative nursing means that every nurse in every country has the knowledge, the training, and the ability to be effective leaders who will combat health disparities through empowerment, awareness, and education. I am a nurse entrepreneur and coach who teaches online courses for nurses to delve deeply into health and social challenges, and empower the global community of nurses to take the lead on health system change.

The way I have created social impact, which is the effect I want to have on the well-being of the communities I serve, is through blogging and podcasting to build awareness of social justice. I use Facebook Live to speak to the issues that nurses are facing. I also have a course that is focused on social justice and influential leadership called the “Nurse's Influential Leadership Lab” that is all about creating nurse leaders in inclusive practices.  

I lead with passion, bold enthusiasm, and most importantly by example. When it comes to approaching uncomfortable topics in nursing, I don’t ask my students do something that I don’t have the courage to do. I share my stories about nursing, even the times where I felt slighted or shamed, or just fell flat on my face. My relationship with nursing has endured many iterations from infatuation, to bittersweet, to verging on resignation because I didn’t feel comfortable speaking out about issues that made me or my patients unsafe. I finally realized that I have a distinct purpose in nursing — to create a safe space for nurses to have a deeper awareness of how their individual practice can improve the lives of their patients beyond the hospital room, and transcend into their lives and communities.

What makes me who I am is my dedication to my purpose and the atmosphere of support that I provide the students in my courses. I am often termed the “eternal cheerleader” because I champion for nurses to take the lead on health policy and education while being involved in civic engagement. I help nurses make subtle shifts that can bring profound changes, and reflections that yield those “aha” moments as they awaken to new insights. It’s really quite special to watch. My authentic desire is to co-create, collaborate, and build strength in the nursing community through a transformative process that will help you find yet undiscovered joys and new challenges in your profession.

I am originally from Seattle, WA. I graduated from the University of Washington School of Nursing with a BSN and then the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing with a dual Masters in Nursing and Public Health. I knew nursing was my passion when I met a Native American nursing student who worked with pregnant teenagers in her tribe. Until then I never knew that nurses worked in the community.

When I’m not working I like to spend time with my little boy Gabriel, read books, and watch the Golden Girls.

To learn more about Nicole and her work contact her at:

Phone: 443.388.6345
E-mail: transformnursing@gmail.com
Website: TransformNursing.com

Tags:  clinical practice  emotional wellness  intellectual wellness  multicultural competency  Nicole Akparewa  Nikki Akparewa  nursing  occupational wellness  racial equity  success  thriving  Transform Nursing 

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Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing

Posted By Wellsource, Monday, December 3, 2018
Updated: Thursday, March 28, 2019

This is the first post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Each post features a different dimension of wellness. This first post will discuss emotional wellness and the role that gratitude plays in strengthening emotional wellness.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing
Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program
Part 3: How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving
Part 4: Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness
Part 5: Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies
Part 6: Mindfulness: The Focus Path to Spiritual Wellness

Today I am grateful for...When Dr. Brock Chisholm, the first Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), stated in 1954 that “without mental health there can be no true physical health,” he ushered in the idea that mental and physical health are intimately linked (Maloney). Over the decades, science and medicine have proved his observation is more true than even Dr. Chisholm might have thought. 

Emotional wellness is the ability to be aware of and accept feelings, have an optimistic approach to life, and learn and grow from experiences (UC Riverside). It means more than coping well with stress – although that is important. It means you see conflict as potentially healthy and rewarding, and you’re able to enjoy life despite its occasional disappointments and frustrations. 

Mental and emotional health are closely intertwined with physical health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), patients with chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease experience high rates of depression (Bresnick). Alternatively, anxiety disorders can cause physical problems like difficulty sleeping and lack of appetite (Leonard). Wellness programs need to address these issues. So what’s an area of emotional wellness that you can help your employees strengthen through your wellness program?


This year, I am grateful for…

Sitting around the kitchen table stating what we are grateful for is something we typically do once a year during the holidays. But studies show that we should be practicing this much, much more often (Simon). Gratitude makes people happier by eliciting the relaxation response, as well as through strengthening relationships (Wellsource). It reduces toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret (Morin). Of all the attributes one can develop, gratitude is most strongly associated with mental health (Kamen). And unlike certain other elements of emotional wellness, being grateful is a choice we can all make every day.

Studies have shown that gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression (Morin). Study participants with more gratitude were less likely to retaliate when given negative feedback. Research also shows that grateful people experience less stress and are more resilient throughout traumatic events (Wellsource). One Berkeley study concluded after testing over a thousand people of all ages that beyond physical benefits, people who practice gratitude have higher levels of positive emotions and are more optimistic, helpful, and generous (Emmons).


Be the fearless leader

Thank YouWhen you show that you’re grateful for your members and employees, this can have a reciprocal effect. When people feel appreciated they are more likely to have greater job satisfaction and it can contribute positively to their emotional wellness (Clarke). Former Campbell’s CEO Douglas Conant wrote 20 handwritten notes a day to employees showing his gratitude for their contributions to the company (Lebowitz). He did this for 10 years, which amounted to over 30,000 notes. Employees treasured these notes and it inspired them to return the favor by writing him hundreds of get-well cards when he was in a car accident in 2009. 

There are other ways for population health managers to lead by example. Implement an employee of the month or year program. Hold annual, semi-annual, or quarterly appreciation lunches or picnics. Let your population know that you recognize their efforts, and you’ll have a more motivated, fulfilled, and happy population. 


A little gratitude goes a long way

A little gratitude goes a long way.Gratitude is a social emotion. It strengthens relationships because it allows people to see how they’ve been supported and affirmed by other people. Encourage your population to keep a gratitude journal where they write down three things each day they are grateful for. Offer incentives for this as part of your wellness program. After just three weeks they will experience more joy and happiness (Emmons). Keep your own list too, and share some of the things on your list as you interact with employees throughout the day. 


Pay it forward

Pay it forward.After your members are shown appreciation from the top and see the benefit of reflecting internally about what they’re grateful for, encourage them to pass the gratitude on. Incorporate a “gratitude trophy” into your wellness program. When someone goes above and beyond to be helpful they can be recognized with the trophy, which they then keep until they have a particular reason to be grateful toward someone else. This way, the passing of the trophy is genuine and authentic—people pass it on because they feel compelled to, not because they’re prompted to follow a schedule. This type of program can work wonders for emotional wellness, not to mention productivity! After all, peer recognition is one of the most valued forms of recognition (Dickson).


Start a gratitude challenge 

Ready to get started? Download our health challenge “Practice Gratitude” which includes: 

  • A basic quiz for participants to see how much they know about gratitude 
  • A touching example of how gratitude has served someone with tremendous obstacles in life 
  • The benefits of gratitude
  • Tips on how to practice gratitude
  • A calendar to track grateful thoughts each day

This is the first post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Below are links to the other published in this series.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing
Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program
Part 3: How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving
Part 4: Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness
Part 5: Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies
Part 6: Coming Soon!


About Wellsource

Wellsource, Inc. has been a premier provider of evidence-based Health Risk Assessments and Self-Management Tools for four decades, making us one of the longest-serving wellness companies in the industry. With a strong reputation for scientific research and validity, we offer an innovative family of products that empower wellness companies, health plans, ACOs, and healthcare providers to inspire healthy lifestyles, prevent disease, and reduce unnecessary healthcare costs. Our assessments connect lifestyle choices with healthy outcomes, measure readiness to change for maximum results, and drive informed decisions with actionable data.


Works Cited

“3 Population Health Strategies to Strengthen Emotional Agility.” Wellsource, 29 May 2018, blog.wellsource.com/population-health-strategies-strengthen-emotional-agility.

Bresnick, Jennifer. “Why Mental Healthcare Is Key to Population Health Management.” HealthITAnalytics, 8 July 2016, healthitanalytics.com/news/why-mental-healthcare-is-key-to-population-health-management.

Clarke, Lauren. “Clever Ways to Encourage Gratitude in the Workplace.” 6Q Blog, 23 Mar. 2018, inside.6q.io/clever-ways-encourage-gratitude-workplace/.

Dickson, George. “6 Unique and Powerful Benefits of Peer Recognition.” TINYpulse, 7 June 2016, www.tinypulse.com/blog/7-unique-and-powerful-benefits-of-peer-recognition.

Emmons, Robert. “Why Gratitude Is Good.” Greater Good, 16 Nov. 2010, greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good.

“How Happy Are Your Participants?” Wellsource, 25 Feb. 2015, blog.wellsource.com/how-happy-are-your-participants.

“Is Workplace Stress Taking a Toll on Your Employee Wellness?” Wellsource, 22 Mar. 2018, blog.wellsource.com/workplace-stress-taking-toll-on-employee-health.

Kamen, Randy. “The Transformative Power of Gratitude.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 1 Apr. 2015, www.huffpost.com/entry/the-transformative-power_b_6982152.

Lebowitz, Shana. “How the Former CEO of Campbell Soup Used a Skill We All Learned as Children to Inspire Teamwork and Affection in His Company.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 1 Sept. 2016, www.businessinsider.com/why-leaders-should-show-gratitude-to-their-employees-2016-9.

Leonard, Jayne. “Physical Symptoms and Side Effects of Anxiety.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322510.php.

Maloney, Bill. “Mind Matters.” Science Museum of Minnesota, www.smm.org/sites/default/files/public/attachments/mindmatters.pdf.

Morin, Amy. “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 3 Apr. 2015, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude.

Simon, Harvey B. “Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier.” Harvard Men's Health Watch, www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier.

“University of California, Riverside.” Wellness: Emotional Wellness, wellness.ucr.edu/emotional_wellness.html.

Tags:  Emotional Wellness  Wellsource 

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Positive Coping Behaviour Reinforces Employee Productivity

Posted By Dr Dicky Els and Terrance M. Booysen, Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Dr Dicky Els and Terrance M. Booysen  |  Johannesburg, South Africa

In a globalised economy excesses and imbalances in one part of the world inevitably affects the economies of another, and this is typically played out between developed and developing countries.  With the accelerated pace of global development, expectedly there is a knock-on implication to increased business risk through aggressive competition, and more pressure on increasing profit margins. It’s therefore not surprising then to see — at a global level — how executives are forced to re-evaluate, redesign, and sometimes shrink their trading operations in the face of tougher regulatory requirements, exacerbated by revenue declines and higher cost pressures. Organisations are operating in turbulent markets and they have to constantly adapt to increasing business uncertainty and changing circumstances, locally and abroad. Accordingly, the challenge (or the threat) to many business executives may be found in the way they react to severe economic stressors. 

Two of the BRICS countries — namely Russia and Brazil — are in recession, while the South African economy performs below market expectations. Figures released by Statistics South Africa showed that the government, transport, and retail sectors had grown while agriculture, mining, and manufacturing declined in the second quarter of 2015. Compounding matters yet further, the South African mining and manufacturing sectors have announced more plans to cut thousands of jobs.  As the national economy continues to struggle, many organisations are battling to survive, and the effect has a direct and negative impact on the psychological (and ultimately physical) well-being of the nation’s workforce. 

With increased organisational complexities, including the demands placed upon the workforce, there are many factors which could negatively impact the well-being of employees. Increasingly employees are confronted with more unpredictable work-related challenges, whilst their dwindling personal coping mechanisms and organisational support is not nearly enough to help them deal with the stress they are experiencing. Clearly, in order to maintain a positive, healthy, and productive workforce, employers need to deal with those negative factors, all which if left unchecked, will continue to undermine workplace wellness and exacerbate personal stress.     


Invest in positive behaviour 

Employee wellness programmes should deliver more than just health awareness. Stronger emphasis should be placed on positive coping and stress management behaviour that enables employees and the organisation — as a collective — to be more resilient. Well-designed programmes employ strengths-based development processes to reinforce and broaden the response repertoire for employees. Individuals that expend effort to build their talents, competence, and skills are able to gain far more as opposed to those who spend a comparable amount of effort to remediate their weaknesses. As such, organisations should focus on effective talent management which leverages employee wellness programmes to promote a positive, productive, and resilient workforce.  

Employee wellness programmes that promote positive thought, feeling, and behaviour patterns are generally more effective in the long run, and deliver a bigger return on the ‘investment’ because they unleash the psychological capital of their workforce. At the core of these employee wellness programmes is the development of personal competencies that not only buffers the employee, but is also known to transform work-related stress. These programmes are founded on positive organisational virtuousness and a culture of wellness and proactive strengths-based processes that promote transformational coping strategies.

Regardless of whether or not the workplace is known to have various challenges, best practice employee wellness programmes are most often the basis for developing individual strengths that empower employees to flourish. Organisations that utilise employee wellness programmes usually see employee health risks and workforce demands as opportunities and not as threats, harm, or loss. They invest in — and develop — positive organisational behaviour characterised by high levels of self-efficacy, meaningfulness, happiness, optimism, hope, and resilience that results in a committed, open-minded, and connected workforce.  For them psychological competence is strengthened through positive learning experiences, proactive goal setting, problem-focused solutions, and voluntary employee engagement. Typical employee wellness programmes that make use of strength-based interventions incorporate physical and psychological constructs to promote employee health, including positive and appreciative behaviour.    


Employees’ responsibility 

Employee wellness programmes intend to promote a positive employer-employee relationship, job satisfaction, positive experiences at work, and a thriving workforce. But to get this working, it is ultimately the responsibility of the employee. Employees have the free will to choose their coping responses. Some employees may choose to unwind from stress with positive coping behaviour, or they may enjoy a short-term — and sometimes dysfunctional — solution by abusing alcohol, medication, tobacco, and drugs. Expectedly, the positive effects that healthy eating, physical activity, realistic beliefs, and positive workplace experiences have on the reduction of stress and on health promotion are clear. The main difference between resilient employees and those that fall into substance abuse lies in the individuals’ behavioural capacities. Employees differ in how well they perceive, express, understand, and deal with stressors in the context in which it occurs. Those who cope positively tend to have more positive attitudes, better coping mechanisms, less perceived stress, and a better quality of life. It is attributed to their combined internal and external resources which they actively manage with cognitive, emotional, social, and behavioural coping strategies.  

One of the most exciting features of our cognitive ability is how it can enable us to stand ‘outside’ ourselves and observe our own thinking. It is our thinking that creates powerful electromagnetic and chemical signals — for better or worse — that offset an organised set of emotional and physical reactions. It begins with a thought, which suggests that it is our thinking that puts us in a positive proactive or a negative reactive coping strategy. Employees that cope well with stress are generally reflective in their thinking process and they tend to observe, review, and re-appraise their own thoughts, emotions, and actions (and if need be they adapt accordingly). These employees understand that they have free will and internal control over what they choose to think about and dwell on.  Positive cognition utilises positive attitudes — trusting instincts, wisdom, self-insight, optimism, sense of responsibility, creativity, and openness to continuously reframe and counter work-related stress.  

Interestingly, positive emotions that promote positive coping behaviour are consciously accessible as long lasting feelings and are often free flowing. Such positive coping manifests not only as positive emotions, but also includes physical sensations, moods, and attitudes. When employers cultivate positive experiences at work, they enlist positive emotions and workplace resilience is strengthened for their employees. This cultivation of positive experiences builds employees’ positive coping resources in order to distinguish between good and bad emotional responses. Moreover, positive emotions also expand and strengthen the capacity of employees to effectively acknowledge and express their own emotions, as well as maturely respond to that of their co-workers. 

As compared to positive emotions, positive social experiences are underpinned by friendship, compassion, forgiveness, integrity, and dignity; all of which reinforce positive social interactions in the workplace and amongst the employees. Understandably, interpersonal workplace relationships will flourish when they involve employees who enjoy a cohesive, fulfilling, and enjoyable business relationship with their peers. Co-workers who share the same wellness objectives — whether it is to get fit, stop smoking, manage stress, or reduce blood sugar levels — often share the same interpersonal values. When employees enjoy a mutual respect and trust with each other, positive social support is usually enabled, and this gives rise to a greater and more positive social coping behaviour. Accordingly, high quality workplace relationships usually incubate a climate for interpersonal acceptance and inclusion that is in turn generally associated with effective coping mechanisms, longevity, stronger immune systems, and lower blood pressure. Research by Gallup, Inc., found that social interaction and quality relationships have a compounding effect on wellness.  The research found that people who have three close friendships are healthier, have higher well-being, and are more engaged in their work, while the absence of close friendships leads to boredom, loneliness, and depression. Interestingly, those employees who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged, and less likely to get injured on the job (Well-being, The Five Essential Elements, T. Rath & J. Harter, 2010).  



It may be true that organisations are becoming more aware of the benefits of employee wellness programmes, however many organisations still tend to focus only on disease management rather than on integrated health and wellness aspects. More than ever, employee wellness programmes should apply strength-based interventions that develop the positive coping capability and psychological competence of workers. Through the application of employee wellness programmes, organisations can create the ideal working conditions for employees to enhance their quality of life and allow them to achieve their fullest potential. Indeed, resilient employees are a critical asset to have, especially during financially stressful times.   

Employees should be encouraged and supported to develop their cognitive, emotional, and social talents to strengthen and expand positive coping behaviour. Research and case studies prove that employees who display positive coping behaviour generally perform better at work and are more engaged in wellness programmes. These employees also tend to deal with organisational change and personal stress far better than those without positive coping capabilities. 

In respect of an organisation’s human capital, in order for it to claim that it is wholly functional, we believe each organisation must evaluate its employee wellness programmes, focussing upon their progress and their group wellness indicators and business results. Expectedly, these indicators and measurable results must be made known not only to the employees themselves, but also to the organisation’s extended stakeholders. This information is usually articulated in the organisation’s annual Integrated Report and enhances the stakeholders’ understanding of the organisation’s risk profile.  

Dr. Dicky ElsDr Dicky Els is a Lead Independent Consultant in CGF. He specialises in Workplace Wellness and focuses predominantly on strategy development, programme design, and evaluation of outcome-based health promotion programmes. Dr. Els also regularly presents Positive Coping Behaviour Training as in-house wellness interventions. For more information on the Employee Wellness Programme Evaluation or Wellness and Disease Management Audits, contact Dr. Els directly at 082 4967960, email dicky@bewell.org.za, or go to wellnessprogramevaluation.com 

Terrance M. BooysenTerrance M. Booysen, the CEO of CGF has presented numerous interventions to public and private audiences in and out of South Africa and has received many accolades directly linked with corporate governance. He is a regular podium presenter and is considered knowledgeable in the practice, having produced many governance, risk and compliance reports and articles over the years. More information regarding CGF can be found at www.cgf.co.za

Tags:  coping  Dr Dicky Els  emotional wellness  intellectual wellness  International Wellness  mental health  occupational wellness  South Africa  Terrance M. Booysen 

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Triathlon and The Wellness Wheel

Posted By Jim Efthimiou, Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Jim Efthimiou NWIA newsletter editor Australia

Life may seem overwhelming at times, especially in today’s hyperconnected world wide web of ubiquitous "social" media contending how to live the "ideal life." Technology’s promising panacea of progress with cultural connection has seemingly sewn the seeds of social disconnection and personal distraction. This leaves little time in one’s daily schedule to squeeze-in an "ideal life," let alone "life" itself. In such times, one may benefit from remembering Wellness is defined by various dimensions.

Each dimension is equally important as a "spoke" in the Wellness Wheel. And just like a real wheel’s structural integrity is compromised when one spoke is too loose — or another spoke is too tight — the beauty of the Wellness Wheel’s dimensions is its effectiveness as a model for well-being, to ensure a well-balanced "smooth" ride through daily life.

Likewise, a well-balanced smooth ride is required in Triathlon. Not only during the cycling portion of the race, but also during the preceding wwimming, and subsequent running, portions of the race.  

Physical wellness is evidenced by the founders of the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, in 1978, debating which athletes were the fittest of swimmers, cyclists and runners.  They decided to find out by combining each discipline’s toughest endurance race on the island of Hawaii,(comprising a 3.8km open water swim, 180km road cycle, and 42.2km marathon run), into one race, on one day, as a Triathlon, with the winner being billed as the "Iron Man."  This race, held in October each year at Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, has become legendary as the "World Championships" for the sport of Long-distance Triathlon. Entry to this race is reserved for professionals, and by qualification for winners of sanctioned races held throughout the year around the world in various locales of varying terrain.

One such locale, Subic Bay, Philippines, recently hosted 1200 athletes from around the world who gathered to compete in its sizzling cauldron a scorchingly sunny Sunday, to win outright the crown of Ironman Philippines, or within their Age Group, to qualify for the World Championships. 

I was one of those participants, travelling from Australia, to test his mettle to win a medal in the triathlon.  

Transcending the physical, spiritual wellness emerged as a vital component in traversing the 226 km torturous terrain. Beyond sheer muscular strength, the sultry Subic Bay volcanic-inferno-like climate demanded strength of spirit and temperament to maintain effort relying solely one one’s own body for locomotive power.

Like life, many emotional highs and lows were experienced during the long-distance triathlon race.  Emotional wellness was necessary when being elbowed by errant arms, and grabbed by grasping hands reaching forward during the swim in the luxuriously warm tropical waters.  It was crucial during such hectic times not to panic. Many a time, one’s composure had to be regained by remembering to breathe. Whilst this may seem obvious, it is easily forgotten in trying times, even by the Pros, who can suffer performance anxiety during the mass swim start. Maintaining mindfulness by breathing properly in such a stressful situation facilitated a smooth swim.

Correspondingly, intellectual wellness was demanded for decision-making to support endurance. Skipping a hydration station to save time meant the brain faded due to lack of electrolytes. Compounding a debilitating thirst was the extreme heat blanketing ice-cold water bottles, which melted them into lukewarm thermoses in mere minutes. 

Decision-making by appropriately adjusting bicycle gearing was therefore crucial during the 180km ride along an alternatingly rolling and flat expressway, traversing tropical mountain ranges and luscious rice paddies. Steadily climbing rolling hills, it was not uncommon to be overtaken by riders madly mashing to get ahead. Swiftly descending those same hills, you could often overtake those same riders, as they had worn out their legs on the long, grueling climb.

Battling against biking competitors was intensified by battling against nature’s elements.  Long uphill climbs interspersed by short downhill descents became even more challenging when humidly hot conditions gradually boiled over with a bang of thunder, bringing a fierce storm. Parched tarmac abruptly transformed into rain-soaked, wind-swept roadway. The resulting wet-n-wild sojourn often produced a menacing hail-storm that had you clenching your handlebars, struggling to stay upright!

Just like stormy weather fronts, emotional lows (and emotional highs) pass. Recognising this temporality was important in maintaining momentum. Looking around at the tropical forest scenery helped "lighten" the load of baking-buns and blistering-feet (in addition to being ice-drenched by volunteers), which made those aches and pains intermittently disappear. 

"Stopping to smell the roses" is a well-worn cliché for good reason. Occupational wellness — balancing work and life, is increasingly important in today’s 24/7/365 always-on hyperconnected world. When work involves a sedentary occupation, the antidote is activity, and lots of it is provided by the sport of Triathlon.

The sport is said to be addictive, due to the emotional high enjoyed in overcoming challenges by completing such an arduous event — think of the "runner’s high" endorphin rush, only multiplied by a factor of three, due to already having swum 3.8km and biked 180km, before getting to the starting line of the marathon run!

Social wellness was experienced on several levels at Ironman Philippines. In addition to locals making you feel like family with their "Mabuhay" welcome spirit, there was a special camaraderie amongst participants.  Competitors on course were more like colleagues, because in Triathlon, the real opponent is your own body — and mind.  For this is a non-drafting race, where one cannot race in a group, like bunched-up Tour de France cyclists, but must maintain minimum 10 metre front-to-rear distance from other cyclists to avoid the wind-cheating benefit of drafting.  Simultaneously solo, yet among a group of 1,200 fellow competitors, you were at times overtaken and other times overtaking. Despite the race, and because of the chase, constantly changing place, managing to make many friends out on the course and following the race, exchanging tales of triumphs and tribulations added to the conviviality.

Of noted social wellness, on a broader community-wide scale, Sunrise Events, the organiser of Ironman Philippines, arranged for truly memorable and touching Finisher’s Medals, designed by award winning sculptor Daniel Dela Cruz, who stated, “The title of the medal is ‘Alab ng Puso’ and it’s the fire in the heart which I think each and every triathlete needs to be able to finish the race.”  

Additionally, each of 1,200 medal ribbons were hand-woven by survivors of war-torn Marawi in southern Philippines, who maintained hope amidst adversities, perseverance, and the fight to revive the true identity of the Maranaoan and their culture. “First, we wanted to do this to help the weavers, but we were shocked to learn that our equipment was destroyed. We encountered a lot of other challenges but I kept telling them this is going to be one of those that will prove that we can get back to our feet,” said Salika Maguindanao-Samad, who, along with her husband Jardin, led the efforts in making the medal ribbons. “We were inspired and thankful because this is also our livelihood before that has somehow been forgotten but now, it’s giving us hope.  We encouraged them to bring back weaving because that is something that we can be proud of and not be known for all the wrong reasons of being labelled as terrorists. We want to show that we are known for something much bigger than that and that we have a culture,” said Jardin. “That’s what we want the world to know about us.”

Watch an inspirational video on the making of the medals here.

Jim Efthimiou, National Wellness Institute of Australia Management Committee Member and newsletter editor, who whilst not qualifying for the World Championships in Kona this year, takes solace in the words of the famous philosopher Aristotle, who once said: “A gentleman should know how to play the Flute… but not too Well!”  And with that succinct summary of the "Wellness Way" from two millennia ago, he will continue chasing that elusive Kona qualification slot—for the pursuit of happiness is the happiness of pursuit. For more information on Triathlon and the Wellness Wheel or how to complete a Triathlon with minimal training for time-constrained individuals, feel free to contact Jim anytime at AirmaxPowerBreather.com

Tags:  Australia  emotional wellness  International Wellness  physical wellness  resilience  triathlon 

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Resilience: A Positive Deviation Amid Difficulty

Posted By Dr Dicky Els and Terrance M. Booysen, Friday, June 1, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

07 November 2016

Article by Dr Dicky Els and Terrance M. Booysen

With the accelerated pace of global development, fuelled by South Africa’s socio-economic and political uncertainty, there are obvious knock-on business implications that increase business risks, not least of which includes dampening the mood for local investment. It is therefore not surprising to see many organisations downsizing, restructuring and even being forced to shrink their trading operations in the face of declining revenue and higher cost pressures. Since the 2007-2008 global financial market crisis, organisations are operating in turbulent markets and have to constantly adapt to increasing business uncertainty and changing circumstances. Whilst there may be numerous economic challenges the organisation’s leadership must deal with in order to remain a sustainable and profitable concern, they also have to be acutely aware of the manner in which these severe economic stressors impacts their workforce.

Employees are not exempt from these socio-economic stressors as they are increasingly reminded by their employers of their precarious positions within organisations and that their employment is not guaranteed. In these circumstances, there is no doubt that employees are being placed under massive pressure given their unpredictable employment conditions. This leads to many personal challenges, some which may be perceived to be insurmountable. No longer does personal or business success automatically go to the swift, strong or smart individuals; instead, these ‘rewards’ are earned by the most adaptable, flexible and resilient of people and organisations. To be sustainable, employees (and indeed organisations) need to learn from their past experiences and evolve as complex adaptive systems.

‘Success’ appears to follow those organisations that accumulate more diverse experiences where their leadership spends time making sense of these experiences, and consequently becomes more resilient and develops more competencies to perform better. Leading organisations and people in these turbulent times require mindful leadership who have the capability to respond to the extraordinary challenges currently facing business and civil society. Good leaders need to be effective; their actions must be impactful, efficient and flexible.


What is going wrong?

In the absence of ethical leadership imbued with positivity; negativity will take root, grow and even thrive. Regardless of what the organisational values are—or what ethical statements are displayed on the walls of the organisation’s reception area—the real organisational culture will inevitably manifest in the behaviour of its employees. The manner in which employees relate, interact, communicate, handle conflict and disagree with each other serves as evidence for what is really happening in the organisation’s culture. By simply observing, listening to and reflecting on the employees’ communication, their interpersonal relationships and their group dynamics; one will quickly realise the true state of the organisation’s ‘health’ and the degree to which the organisational values are being upheld and lived.

What people tend to talk about the most is what they tend to value the most. Naturally, if negativity, back biting, disregard, distrust and emotional outbursts are observed on a regular basis, it then becomes evident how the workforce is actually dealing with the socio-economic pressures and other organisational stresses under which it needs to perform.

Our understanding of how the workforce is dealing with the pressures of modern day business, and the struggle for economic survival, deepens when we observe the particular behaviour of individuals. Many cases of disciplinary action, alcohol and drug abuse, obesity, garnishee orders, divorce and depression typically manifest because of organisational (mis)behaviour which should have been addressed by the appropriate internal structures of the organisation long before it resulted in the disastrous after-effects. When individuals work, and live in constant uncertainty, worry, stress and fear, and they lack the support of supervisors, peers, family and friends; they become more susceptible to not only ‘burnout’1, but sometimes also more detrimental illnesses. Employees with burnout feel cognitively, emotionally and physically exhausted, and in trying to cope with their overwhelming circumstances they also become socially detached.


Weathering the waves of change

For employees to effectively cope with organisational change, work and family pressures, to be resilient, to do well and to thrive, during difficult times they need to be self-aware and self-manage their own health and wellness. They should know their inner capability, talents, character strengths, personal values and ‘what makes them tick’. Without a significant measure of self-knowledge, employees tend to find meaning in what they do instead of in who they are. Likewise, they tend to invest a significant amount of time and energy to only develop their skills, instead of also developing their character strengths. In their hope to find success outside of themselves, or in a particular job or organisation, or even a different country, they become dependent on their circumstances and other people to foster happiness, wellness and success for themselves. Of course, when the economy is down, or when their hopes and dreams do not realise as they initially expected, they become despondent and disenchanted.

A healthy measure of self-insight, combined with virtuousness enables individuals to be responsible for their own progress. By knowing and understanding their inner capability, resilient employees2 are more responsive, open, connected, motivated, and engaged at work. When they are self-aware, they are mindful of their own intentions. They self-manage their thoughts, emotions, attitudes and behaviour to add value to their own, and the lives of others. When resilient, employees tend to share their character strengths, passions, competencies and skills compassionately with others, and in so doing they intentionally have a positive impact in the lives of those that they influence. As leaders, these employees understand and respect the difference between manipulating and motivating their subordinates.



As a source of organisational wellness, and in the context of employee resilience, it is imperative to understand the role that positive leadership plays. Positive leadership—in parallel to the extent to which the culture, policies, and practices of the organisation promote employee resilience—contributes favourably towards human capital development and organisational growth.

When employees are empowered to intentionally practice their character strengths, it generally has a positive knock-on effect within the organisation. Moreover, it also assists employees to persevere in the face of personal trials and adversities, thereby making them and ultimately the organisation they work for more resilient. Employees, who seek, promote, and utilise their inner capability and character strengths will be more inclined to thrive and less likely to withdraw or be mentally distant from their daily workplace duties. This may be attributed to the enjoyment, gratification and fulfilment that is experienced through their work which, when geared towards the development of their character strengths, will yield rewarding positive experiences that also cultivates organisational resilience.

CGF Research Institute’s Workplace Wellness Consultant, Dr Dicky Els also regularly presents Positive Coping as an in-house wellness intervention. For more information, bookings or should you wish to participate in one of our public Flourishing Wellness Interventions, please contact Dr Dicky Els on 082 496 7960 or send an email to dicky@bewell.org.za

1 Burnout is not a true mood disorder, but rather a psychological condition in which employees feel chronically sad, anxious, lonely, mentally distant and cynical which is accompanied by distress, a sense of reduced effectiveness, decreased motivation and the development of dysfunctional attitudes and behaviours at work. It is the result of consistent and unsuccessful attempts to resolve work (or personal) stressors. Work overload, inordinate time demands, role ambiguity and inadequate resources leads to burnout that over time results in ill health. Other factors that lead to high levels of stress and burnout include the lack of personal control, reduced decision making authority, dysfunctional team dynamics, poor job fit, a mismatch with the organisational values and constant experiences of negativity at work.

Generally, employees that suffer from burnout lack organisational commitment, and they are less capable of providing adequate client services, especially along dimensions of decision-making and involvement with clients. A number of challenges can be observed, such as a tendency to treat people mechanically, to be critical and cynical, and they are preoccupied with self-gratification. Burned-out employees are disengaged, and lack performance as they contemplate to leave the organisation but reluctantly stay. As a result, they tend to be complaining, controlling, impatient, indifferent, discouraged, frightened, frustrated, resentful, bitter and selfish. Burnout employees also report the absence of meaning, purpose and positivity in their lives. Ironically, these employees used to be enthusiastic, motivated and energised at work, and they used to function well in the same job or organisation but in the present time they require assistance as they struggle to recover on their own.

2 Resilience is the capability to “bounce back” to a normal or even optimal state of functioning, mostly in the mist of being stretched or challenged with adversity such as uncertainty and ambiguous circumstances. Resilient employees demonstrate positive psychological growth, accomplishment, and achievement regardless of their circumstances. It is their ability to cope from within, and positively cope with adversity, trauma, stress and illness. Amid being stretched or challenged with adversity, they demonstrate the ability to quickly recover from difficulties. It is their deliberate, positive and constant efforts (lifestyle) that help them to manage taxing personal and organisational demands. The most celebrated cases of resilience are often depictions of individuals that overcome overwhelming odds in order to be stronger, have a positive human impact and exhibit moral goodness.

It is important to understand that resilience is not an extraordinary gift but rather found in the daily conduct of individuals who demonstrate positive coping behaviour. Basically, they are able to effectively balance or counter negative experiences with positive ones while at the same time they learn new competencies to adapt in challenging situations. They are faithful, reliable, authentic, focussed, controlled and engaged. Resilient employees experience hope, efficacy, autonomy, meaning, fulfilment and happiness amid economic decline, downsizing and organisational change. In general, resilient employees are more thankful, peaceful, generous, forgiving, self-less and inspired while they enjoy social connectedness and supportive interpersonal relationships.

Dr. Dicky ElsDr Dicky Els is a Lead Independent Consultant in CGF. He specialises in Workplace Wellness and focuses predominantly on strategy development, programme design and evaluation of outcome-based health promotion programmes. For more information on our Employee Wellness Programme Evaluation or Wellness and Disease Management Audits, contact Dr Els directly on 082 496 7960 or email dicky@bewell.org.za.

Terrance M. BooysenTerrance M. Booysen, the CEO of CGF has presented numerous interventions to public and private audiences in and out of South Africa and has received many accolades directly linked with corporate governance. He is a regular podium presenter and is considered knowledgeable in the practice, having produced many governance, risk and compliance reports and articles over the years. More information regarding CGF can be found at www.cgf.co.za

Tags:  Dr Dicky Els  emotional agility  emotional wellness  International Wellness  mental health  resilience  Terrance M. Booysen 

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Wellness Coaching – Somatic Approaches to the Rigid Character Defense Structure in India

Posted By Preeti Rao, Monday, April 2, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Preeti Rao
Founder & CEO, Weljii

Interestingly enough there are strong cultural implications of an Indian society that amplifies the rigid character defence. Through Barbara Ann Brennan’s work, we know that the main issue of people with the rigid character defence is claiming their authenticity (Brennan, 1993). This is caused by separation from their core essence and complete focus on keeping their outer world appearance perfect (Brennan, 1993, pg.245).

This disconnect with one’s core seems prevalent in the Indian culture. According to industry consultant Eugene M. Makar, traditional Indian culture is defined by a relatively strict social hierarchy (Makar, 2008). The joint family system still prevalent in smaller towns and villages plays a significant role in the Indian culture. It is a system under which extended members of a family – parents, children, the children’s spouses and their offspring, etc. – live together. Usually, the oldest male member is the head in the joint Indian family system. He makes all important decisions and rules, and other family members abide by them. (Indian Families, 2011) Makar also mentions that from an early age, children are reminded of their roles and places in society (Makar, 2008). Hence, unlike the west, family relationships in the Indian community do not operate under the nuclear family models. The majority of the families still work within the communal models, which prefer family honour to individual freedoms and choices (Verma, 2010).

These strict rules and the social hierarchy structure puts pressure to keep up the appearance of everything perfect, with no fault or weakness, in order to survive. Children in India are potentially denied of negative experiences and parents and society at large force them to establish a false sense of the world. The parents and other family members control the whole outer environment to create an illusion of perfection (Brennan, 1993). Since the head of the family in India usually makes the decision, there is little room for others to express their individuality (Makar, 2008). My assumption hence would be that the inability of a person to express their individuality could potentially make the defence action of the rigid character heightened by attempting to become even more perfect (Brennan, 1993). An Indian would usually have a seemingly perfect spouse and a perfect family. They are usually successful and make good amounts of money. They aim for perfection in all aspects of their lives (Makar, 2008 & Brennan, 1993).

The rigid character defence mechanism of everything is perfect correlates with the obsession with perfection in the context of the Indian culture. Most Indian people aim for not only mere success but demand it ruthlessly (Verma, 2010). While this person may be open to the idea of therapy as yet another form of self-improvement, they are usually not open to the emotional surrender necessary to break through the character structure. In addition, society at large usually heaps great rewards upon this person for their high levels of achievement. Unfortunately, all of that vicarious support only makes it more difficult for this person to find happiness (Johnson, 1994).

So it is highly possible that due to the constrains imposed on Indians by the society’s norms and rules, that these people constantly avoid the feeling of being unloved for who they truly are. They may find themselves resonating with, “I need to be someone you want me to be.” This may be because they’ve learned clear rules of what is ok and what is not ok at the expense of their own individuality. It’s all about being perfect but according to someone else’s standards and in this case it could parents, extended family, friends and the society at large. They can potentially experience the constant fear to do and feel the right thing. They usually fear that love will be withdrawn if they do not comply with the societal ethics and hence it is possible that their inner world is repressed and sometimes completely denied (Johnson, 1994).

Another interesting aspect that can be correlated with the rigid character defence is the fact that in present India, sex and sexuality are still considered topics that are tabooed. Topics such as male libido and female orgasm do not trickle the bedroom of an average Indian. The subject of sexuality is neither approached clinically nor as a natural phenomenon. It is always been veiled behind stigma, taboo and mystique. It is a common phenomenon for most Indian families to deny opportunities for open discussion about sex. Usually such taboos and restrictions are accepted with no questions asked (Roy & Rizvi 1998).

Similarly in a person with the rigid character defence the child’s natural erotic strivings and expressions, including masturbation, are greeted with anxiety, rejection, severe disapproval or punishment by sexually repressed parents. In the rigid character defence, an inadequate sense of self can be caused by the separation of love feelings from sexual feelings.  Repressed sexual feelings are pathologically expressed through psychosomatic symptoms, in frequent sexual activity without any love involvement (“flings” or affairs), restlessness, hyperactivity or “flighty” behaviour”, or diverted into ambitiousness in the material world. The latter seems to be more relevant to the Indian society were sex is taboo and the sexual energy is diverted to material possessions and success (Jejeebhoy, S. 2000).  I wonder whether this repressed unresolved Oedipal conflicts causes deep longings for the opposite sex with persistent fears of betrayal

It is also important to note that India is a patriarchal society where a woman is supposed to have a place secondary to a man. For example, a woman will take father’s name at birth and husband’s name after marriage; a woman is expected to deliver a male child; only the man is authorized to perform religious ceremonies and rituals; upon marriage the man gets a substantial amount of dowry from woman’s parents and brings home a wife who is expected to live with his parents (Verma, 2010,pg. 1). So the idea of self is even more denied with women than with men in the Indian society. Hence, it is important to be extremely careful in deciding somatic and coaching interventions for the Indian women clientele.

Understanding the correlations between the Indian code of conduct and morals, and the rigid character defence can help to understand how to respond in a positive healing way towards my future Indian clients in coaching sessions. Some of the things that will make it easy to protect my boundaries while engaging with rigid character defence is that these folks have a strong balanced auric field with their boundaries in place. That means that I won’t have to worry about controlling my bioplasmic streamers or my vibrational frequency (Brennan, 1993). As a coach it will be important for me to facilitate an environment where my client feels that, “All of him/her is welcome”. While enabling the client to feel his or her own essence, it is important for me to connect cellularly with my own essence. The mantra of the rigid character defence, “I am real” vs. “I am appropriate”, would be most healing for the Indian clientele grappling with this character defence.  While doing so, it will also help to acknowledge the gifts of this character defence. The gifts are that these folks are usually very generous of their time and emotions – this can potentially explain the Indian hospitality – they inspire others, are loving and passionate. They usually are natural leaders and are usually very easy to be around (Johnson, 1994).

Since Indians in general take great pride in their successes and accomplishments, as a coach, it would be imperative to establish a respectful and professional environment which facilitates acknowledging the person’s genuine accomplishments in life, and the seriousness and concern for how he or she has successfully managed many aspects of adult living. It will also be important to create a space where they could acknowledge the confusion and disappointment they feel that in spite of these achievements and have no judgments if he or she is bored, lonely, restless and or dissatisfied (Johnson, 1994).

As a coach it would be challenging but imperative to create pathways that would allow my Indian clients to develop flexibility in approaches to life’s tasks and relationships while relinquishing the exaggerated pride and need to hold back. Since both men and women are programmed to function in set ways in the society (Verma, 2010), as a coach if I would create a space that would allow my client to surrender to their fears of becoming weak, vulnerable or losing face (Brennan, 1993). I could create a space that will encourage my clients to experience their true self while still respecting cultural sensitivities.

This will encourage my client to become aware of and open up to the true depth and beauty of the self that exists beyond the superficiality of appearances and performances enforced on them by the society at large. It would help these individually caged in the rigid character defence to recognize their higher self-aspects, especially their capacity to love fully and to see that their gifts are there even when hidden behind the mask. And that although they have a wounded aspect in their personality, they need not identify with that aspect in order for it to get the help it needs (Johnson, 1994).

As the coaching interventions continue the person may drop the mask and release the raw negative feelings. At such junctions, fear of pleasure and expansion may need to be addressed as it comes up with reassurance and no judgment. And based on the client’s own new experiences; it will be important to facilitate an environment that grounds them to embrace their new energy and spiritual self.

This article demonstrates how different coaching and somatic intervention are necessary to facilitate clients to achieve goals that they might want to accomplish and feel deeper connection and meaning to.

Preeti RaoPreeti Rao is the Founder & CEO, Weljii. Weljii is the recipient of 50 Best Wellness Companies - Global Listing - award by the World Health and Wellness Congress. She holds a Masters degree in International Business and a Masters in Integrative Health Studies with specialization in Wellness Management and Health & Wellness Coaching. She is India’s only ICHWC Mentor Coach and NWI International Standing Committee Member.

Tags:  emotional agility  emotional wellness  India  International Wellness  Preeti Rao  social wellness  somatic  wellness coaching 

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Mental Health in the UK

Posted By Chris Andrews, MD, Thursday, March 1, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Chris Andrews, MD
Personal Touch Fitness (PTF) 

Mental health problems are a growing health concern. They are prevalent not just in the UK, but around the world. Approaches to mental health in the workplace and community have taken steps forward but there is more work to do. Mental health problems can be caused from lack of work/life balance, negative relationships, lack of sleep, too much time spend on digital devices, and poor lifestyles choices.Depression, anxiety, taking drugs, and suicidal thoughts are a few mental health concerns. One in four people in the UK will experience some kind of mental health problem over a 12 month period. This is the reported figure but it is suggested that it is actually 1 in 3 people as so many cases go unreported. Creating an environment that encourages people to open up and being aware to changes in family, friends, and colleague’s behavior are keys to early intervention. We all need to do our part to help remove the stigma around mental health.

Mind Hike – Trek for 24 hours through the stunning Cornish CountrysideJust what is being done within the workplace and community?  In the workplace it varies across wellbeing and benefits strategies. But what is most common is Employee Assistant Programs(EAP) and flexible working or work-life balance policies. UK companies are taking mental health more seriously and are planning to introduce more programs in their workplace. Unfortunately they often have no idea as to the form it should take. It is about all working together and identifying ‘weak’ areas to address and then aligning strategy to strengthen them. Involving employees by ensuring they have the opportunity to  ‘have their say’, and ensuring HR and Occupational Health work co-operatively to change agreed on  ‘weak’ areas will help planning and delivery of Mental Health programs. 

Campaigns such as ‘Time to Change’ are available during the year for companies to participate in and as such raise awareness of Mental Health issues in the organization. It just takes someone to lead the way for a better future in every way – improved mental & physical health, productivity, ROI and decreased absenteeism and presenteeism. Educate yourself and your teams and this can have a powerful and positive effect. Be a Mental Health aware leader.

In the community there is plenty of help available. Research shows that physical exercise can be a fun, cost-effective and enjoyable way to lift a person’s mood, reduce the effects of anxiety and feelings of isolation that they may be experiencing. The not-for-profit Mind organization offers a wide variety of activities so everyone can join in regardless of fitness or ability.  

Heads TogetherGroups are tailored to people suffering the effects of mental health difficulties to make it as easy as possible to start a new activity - anything from yoga to football. Mind, located across the UK, also run the ‘Get Set to Go’ program which is a Sport England and National Lottery initiative to support people experiencing mental health difficulties to participate in physical activity. Overcoming barriers that people may perceive in starting exercise is key to them engaging in a beneficial sustainable way, and the ‘Get Set to Go’ program helps in this way.

The young UK royals launched the campaign ‘Heads Together’ in March 2017 to get Britons talking about mental health. London marathon participants who chose to run for ‘Heads Together’ in 2017raised a substantial amount for the charity but more importantly raised awareness that it is ok to talk and take action about Mental Health.

Chris AndrewsChris Andrews, MD is a 1993 graduate in the Health Promotion & Wellness program at University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point (UWSP). Determined to spread her wings, grow, learn, and be challenged she set out to do her Internship abroad. She went to the UK in November 1993, did her Internship and stayed. Now, mother of two, wife, and MD. She is involved in many local events at the tennis & rowing club, church, and schools on different levels. Personal Touch Fitness has grown organically over 18 years and has worked with all sectors to help with their Wellbeing program. Chris prides herself in her passion, enthusiasm and expertise in providing fitness services in environments which is extended through the company values, ethos and to the employees. Chris enjoys hosting UWSP interns to the UK and sharing her knowledge. She finds the students engaging and they find it a wonderful hands on learning experience.  Her energy inspires students and people of all ages. Chris loves making a ripple into a wave.

Tags:  Chris Andrews  emotional wellness  intellectual wellness  International Wellness  mental health  resilience  United Kingdom 

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Wellness in 10: How to get off the ‘Hedonic Treadmill’

Posted By NWI, Monday, November 7, 2016

Many of us have not heard of the phrase “the hedonic treadmill,” but that doesn’t mean we’re not on it.


The hedonic treadmill is a nickname for the human tendency to adjust our desires to positive or negative life circumstances to return to our “normal” happiness level.


In the case of negative life circumstances, this can be a positive, resilient trait. For example, the science says that if a pet dies, we’re going to be very sad for a short while, but will eventually find our “new normal,” and will return to stable happiness. That’s good.


It can be bad and self-defeating, however, when this trait rears its head in the face of positive life events. In this scenario, let’s say we got a big promotion at work, and a healthy pay raise along with it. The hedonic treadmill will allow us to be happy for a short while, but we’ll quickly adjust to our new income, find new desires that go along with it, and will return to our “normal” level of happiness – or perhaps unhappiness – unless we make the conscious choice to get off the treadmill.


Here are some suggestions for how to find your new level of happiness, and keep it:


1.     Make a budget now. Stick to it later


You probably already know how much it would cost for you to live comfortably – to have a decent house, reliable transportation, a good wardrobe, and food on the table.  Probably a fast Internet connection, a cool smartphone and a streaming video service, too.  Once you have the cost of your comfortable life paid for, the rest of the things in your life become “stuff.” So figure out what you need to live comfortably, and use that number as your guide going forward. You may need to adjust accordingly if you have major life changes, like having kids or pursuing further education, but at least you have a good idea of what your “need” amount of money is.


2.     Tie your happiness to experiences, not things


Research has shown that experiences like vacations, dining out, or going to a big sporting event have a longer impact on our happiness than having more “stuff.” If you want to be happier longer, do things. Don’t buy things.


3.     Forget about the Joneses


You know how happy your neighbor looks when he’s pulling his new boat out of the garage and hauling it away to the lake? Pretty happy, right? That’s what we all notice. What we don’t notice, though, is how he only pulls it out of the garage twice a summer, because he spends most of his time at the office making money for the payments on the boat. And when it’s not summer, he has to winterize and store the boat, which is always in his way.  Escape the “grass is always greener” mentality and assess the things in your life that are high-cost-low-reward.  You’ll find truer happiness without the things holding you back. If you really want a day out at the lake, you can always rent a boat, and you wont’ have to haul, winterize, or store it.


4.     Define your future goals


Picture yourself in 30 years, truly happy. What does your future self look like? What are you doing? Who are you with? I’m willing to bet you didn’t say, “I’m in my office surrounded by all my expensive stuff I was able to acquire.” Figure out what it is you see in your future picture that is really making you happy, and make those things your goals for the future. You’ll have a more concrete vision of what happiness means to you, and you’ll have something beautiful to work toward.


5.     Make an honest assessment of what makes you deeply happy


The key word here is “honest.”  Go back to your future-picture.  Now strip away all the “stuff.” Are you still happy with the picture? Downgrade further. Take away any cars or the fancy house. Still happy? How much can you get rid of and still maintain the happy you in the picture? This is you being honest with yourself.  You may be surprised with what you feel you need and don’t need. Adjust your goals accordingly.


6.     Invest in security


This may seem a little backward, because security isn’t glamorous. You can’t show it off to your buddies and make their eyes go wide with jealousy. But nothing downgrades happiness like worry. By investing in your retirement and appropriate insurance, you can have a solid sense that you’re going to be OK moving forward, and that feeling is worth a LOT of happiness.


7.     Make your everyday a happier day


We’ve been talking a lot about future happiness, but what about happiness now? You can have that, too, but try to make it happen without costing much more money.  Choose to develop your relationships with coworkers and family. Take breaks during the day to get some exercise and fresh air. Make time to improve yourself intellectually through books or free online courses. These things will all increase your happiness in the day-to-day without costing an extra dime.



8.     Make the happier choice


When you’re offered that new job with the pay hike, inevitably it’ll come with new responsibilities, and those responsibilities will come at a cost elsewhere. As much as you’re able, consider whether those new responsibilities are worth the cost in happiness. Will you be away from your family more? Will you have significantly more worry and anxiety? The bottom-line question is: is it worth it? Don’t feel bad if the answer is “no.” You’ve made a decision to invest in your own happiness instead.



9.     Meditate? Yep. Meditate


This wouldn’t be a good “Wellness in 10” without suggesting meditation. It’s true, though. When the business gurus over at Forbes even report that meditation increases happiness, there most be something to it. It’s a no-cost way to decrease anxiety, increase resiliency, and can increase feelings of warmth and kindness toward others. Sounds like increased happiness to me.


10.  Find relationships that matter


Building solid relationships will increase your happiness. That doesn’t relate only to romantic relationships, either. For many of us, our future-picture had us surrounded by people, whether they are friends or relatives, enjoying our shared company. You can start those relationships now by actively engaging with your coworkers and colleagues, forging friendships that can last for the next 30 years.



That’s your Wellness in 10 for November. We hope you can use this advice to escape the cycle of wanting more, and entering the state of having more and being more. All it takes is an honest assessment of what will really make you happy.


On that subject, and with Thanksgiving right around the corner (for our friends in the US), we’d like to say a hearty THANK YOU to all of you for being a part of NWI! Have a great month!


Tags:  Emotional Wellness  Happiness  Wellness In 10 

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Wellness in 10: 10 ways to improve your EQ

Posted By NWI, Monday, August 1, 2016

A lot has been made of the Intelligence Quotient. Your IQ is one of many ways that we have our smarts tested through our years in school. But when was the last time you had your EQ tested? 


Your EQ (Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence) is defined as your ability to recognize, understand, and use your own emotions to reduce stress, empathize with others, reduce conflict, and build relationships.


With a so much of our focus on IQ, there should be no surprise that our EQ is often left behind. We simply don’t put as much emphasis on it. However, as we know, emotional wellness is a big part of our overall wellbeing. 


For those of us who could stand to do some development of our emotional wellness, here are 10 ways to improve your EQ. 



1.     Observe


You can’t make a map until you know where you’re starting.  Take some time, meaning days or weeks, not minutes or hours, to assess where you’re at emotionally. This may mean “checking in” with yourself a couple times a day to see how you’re feeling. Write it down, if you want.  After this process, you should have a good idea what you feel generally, whether there are certain actions or behaviors that push you to anger or sadness, and things that relieve your hurt or stress.



2.     Recognize where your emotions live


It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a sign in our mind that lights up with “You’re happy” or “You’re angry” so that we have a clear understanding of what we’re feeling when we’re feeling it. Emotions can manifest themselves in strange ways, and we’ve all got to learn to interpret them. That knot that grows in your belly as you get closer to work during your commute? That’s probably anxiety.  That little twinge you get behind your eyes when you hear your kids or nieces or nephews playing? That might be happiness and love. Emotions arise in all of our bodies differently, so take some time to pay attention to what you’re body is telling you.



3.     Assess, don’t judge


In terms of where you’re starting on your path to better emotional intelligence – “it is what it is.” Don’t harangue yourself because you think you should be “better” than you are. Just accept the fact that this is where your path starts, and plan your strategy toward a higher EQ from there.



4.     Take responsibility for your actions


This part can be hard for some people. When caught in bad behavior, we can get caught in a cycle of excuses like “Yeah, but he did XYZ,” or “Yeah, but she said XYZ.” Recognize that you can’t control how others behave, but you’re responsible for the things you say and do. There may be an apology in order for past behavior, and, regardless of how high your EQ is to start with, you’ll probably want to put a plan in place for how to do better next time.



5.     Respond, don’t react


This is the plan for “next time.” Because we observed actions or behaviors that push us toward anger or sadness, we can anticipate how we will react, and because we can anticipate the reaction, we can “short circuit” the process and cut the reaction off before it starts. Plan ahead for how you think you should respond in the situations that set you off, and do your best to put your plan in place when the situation arises.



6.     Practice positivity


Some of us get hung up on dwelling on the negatives in our lives. The things happening at work or at home may feel like they’re piling up, but odds are there are a lot of things that are going right for you, too. Take a little time to think about all the good you have going on, and you’ll feel your negative emotions drowned out, or at least diminished, by some of your newfound positivity.



7.     Give yourself some options


A lot of anxiety and fear can come from the unknown. Do yourself a favor and alleviate that stress by thinking through the situations that are weighing on you, and playing out all the possible outcomes in your mind. Even if you’re not 100% accurate in your assessments, you’ll still have a better idea of what may happen, and how you can respond so you land on your feet. Suddenly the “unknown” is no longer unknown, and some of that anxiety will dissipate.  If you find this process difficult, it may help to recruit a friend to help walk through all the possible outcomes.



8.     Practice Empathy


Empathy is the ability to understand and share in the feelings of others. It can be tough because it requires that we step outside ourselves, even momentarily, to gain the perspective of another person.  That might be uncomfortable, or even undesirable, at times, especially in the case where you’re interacting with someone you find difficult to relate to, but in doing so, you’ll go a long way to understanding their behavior.



9.     Cut them some slack


Try to go a step beyond simply recognizing the actions of others through their emotional lens.  The truly emotionally intelligent understand that everyone is the hero in their own story, just trying to do what they think is right.  By taking on that attitude, it’ll be easier to grant other people some leeway when they behave in a way that seems incorrect to you, and it’ll be easier for you to discuss the situation as a problem with their behavior, not with the person him or her self.



10.  Practice being emotionally honest


This is a major milestone for the emotionally intelligent. Being emotionally honest with other people can feel like a huge risk because you inherently have to open yourself up to them, but it’s in this vulnerable space that true progress can be made, and until you’re emotionally honest, there will be impediments to creating the types of strong relationships that will help you improve your work and home life.




We hope these 10 tips will help you improve your emotional intelligence. We hope you’ll put them to use and have a very happy August!

Tags:  Emotional intelligence  Emotional wellness  EQ  Wellness In 10 

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Wellness in 10: 10 tips to improve your emotional wellness

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Februrary’s here, and along with it comes Valentine’s Day – the most emotional of holidays. It’s a time to bring loved ones close and express our feelings.  Unfortunately, this is something that doesn’t come easy for many people, even though Emotional Wellness makes up a full sixth of being a fully well person (according to the NWI six dimensional wellness model).

This month’s ‘Wellness in 10’ is dedicated to those who have some trouble with their emotional wellness, and provides a little guidance on how to develop that aspect of themselves to better become a fully well person.


1.     Set good goals

This seems like a logical place to start, as it pertains to emotional wellness and elsewhere.  Wellness coaches everywhere will tell you to set goals for yourself that are actionable, achievable, and timely.  Sometimes, with massive goals, that means breaking the large goal into smaller-sub goals that you can use to track your progress. By giving yourself something positive to work toward, you’re setting yourself up for success as you continue to be able to check your goals off your list. The sense of satisfaction that comes with achieving goals will only improve your positive outlook.

2.     Things change, and we have to change with them

“This too shall pass” is known as the one universal truth.  It’s also a phrase that has the ability to make us sad when we’re happy and happy when we’re sad. Much mental anguish can be assuaged by accepting the adage, though. By understanding that our lives are ever-evolving processes, and not just distinct moments in time, we can relieve ourselves of the frustration of trying to hold on to any one set of circumstances.

3.     Fail forward

For many of us, “failure” is a dirty word. It means we’ve not achieved a specific goal or desired outcome. In other areas of our lives, we call this “practice.” Save yourself the angst of brooding over a failure, and instead see it as a learning experience for the next time you make an attempt. As long as you’ve learned something for the next time, you haven’t really failed.

4.     Pick up on positive vibes

Have you ever noticed how your mood lifts whenever a specific friend or relative comes around? An easy way to get in a better mood is to surround your self with positive people.  Invite your positive friends over for coffee or a board game – or anything interactive, really – and before long your mood will have made a turn for the better.

5.     Let bygones be bygones

You aren’t in charge of the behavior of others. If someone harms you, it’s easy to get into a cycle of grudge-holding that can be toxic for your emotional wellbeing. This doesn’t mean that it’s ok for others to harm you, but after the fact, only you can choose how to move forward for yourself.

6.     Laugh it up

People have been saying “laughter is the best medicine” forever for a reason. In addition to being fun, laughing has been shown to easy pain, reduce stress, and boost your immune system. Often, we get caught in a pattern of taking ourselves very seriously. A little self-directed laughter might take us a long way toward improving our personal emotional wellness.

7.     Get real

One emotional-wellness crusher is the feeling of being overwhelmed. Avoid this feeling by setting up realistic expectations for yourself. Put together lists of things you have to accomplish, and use that list to organize your day in a realistic way, reminding yourself that some things might have to wait until tomorrow, or next week, or next month. By setting up a process in which you can manage your expectations in a real way, you will be able to avoid the feeling that you’re falling behind.

8.     Use the buddy system

Some of us tend to bottle our emotions inside of us, expecting that we’re somehow going to think through our problems and figure out a magical solution that will suddenly appear to us. Often, it just doesn’t work like that. If a persistent mood-killer is hanging around, it may be time to tap a trusted friend’s knowledge and experience to help work through a problem.

9.     Sleep on it

We’ve known for a long time that sleep is important, but it seems like only recently has it been getting the recognition it deserves. Getting enough rest will let you feel less stressed, more focused, and less irritable. A normal amount of sleep for the average adult is seven to eight hours. If you’re getting less than that and feeling unstable, try taking a nap – for your own emotional wellness.

10.  Recognize a problem when it’s a problem

There are emotional problems that all of us face in our day-to-day, but it’s important to know when an emotional wellness issue is more than an average occurrence. Persistent, long-lasting feelings of dread, being overwhelmed, or self-harm should be taken very seriously as signs of clinical depression, and shouldn’t be ignored. If you’re dealing with these sorts of feelings, reach out to a trusted friend or family member for help, or find help through the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.


Those are your 10 Emotional Wellness tips for February. We hope you have a LOVEly Valentine’s day, and a wonderful month! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, we would LOVE to hear from you! 

Tags:  Emotional Wellness  Holistic Wellness  Wellness in 10 

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