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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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Wellness Trends - December 2019

Posted By NWI, Friday, December 20, 2019
Updated: Thursday, December 19, 2019

Celebrate giving and gratitude through everyday actions.5 Ways To Incorporate Gratitude and Giving Into Your Everyday Life

At Givhero, they are in the business of celebrating giving and gratitude through everyday actions, and they inspire people to do the same! Here are some ways to incorporate gratitude into your day-to-day life. Read more on Givehero.com


2020 Wellness Budget

If you ask for information about what a wellness budget should consider in 2020, this is what you will find based on a few key professional groups:


Why Most New Year's Resolutions Will Fail

Another new year is almost here, and as it is every year, so many people—likely a good portion of your employees included—are high on hope, optimistic that this is finally the year when they’ll eat healthier, start exercising, quit smoking, etc. Of course, last year was the year too, but for so many people, it didn’t stick. Read more at selfhelpworks.com

Tags:  Budget  Gratitude  Resolutions  Trends  Wellness Trends 

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Gratitude for Caregivers

Posted By Linda Roszak Burton, Thursday, April 11, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Gratitude Heals

John Henry Jowett quote says Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic. A vaccine against the invasion of a disgruntled attitude. An antitoxin against the poison of fault-finding and grumbling. A soothing antiseptic in the spirit of thanksgiving.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

When you read the phrase, gratitude for caregivers, what meaning do you apply? Is it a patient expressing gratitude to their caregiver for care and compassion shown to them during a recent health scare or recovery from an illness? Or, do you interpret it as an element of a positive and healthy work culture, where leaders and caregivers express gratitude to each other and their patients—genuinely, frequently, and value-based?

The good news is that it can, and based on research, needs to be interpreted both ways! We would assert that gratitude isn’t limited to any particular individual, profession, setting, or industry. Current research demonstrates that when gratitude is practiced, expressed, and received, the benefits are undeniable, significant, and multifaceted.

The POWER of gratitude:

  • Promotes healing, strengthens our immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces symptoms of illness, and increases pain thresholds;
  • Motivates philanthropic giving. Being grateful has been found to make us more charitable and giving of our time, treasure, and talents;
  • Creates resilience by fostering greater mental, emotional, and physical health and well-being, for both the caregiver and patient;
  • Improves employee engagement by recognizing the value and contributions of coworkers;
  • Generates more positive social behaviors, buffering against negativity-bias, bolstering civility, respect, and broadening our attention to positive emotions.

To read more about these benefits go to Discovering the Health and Wellness Benefits of Gratitude

man suffering from burnout

A Remedy for Burnout

A Google search on the subject of burnout yields 114,000,000 results and counting! Job burnout as defined by the Mayo Clinic is a special type of work-related stress - a state of physical or emotional exhaustion (EE), a sense of reduced personal accomplishment (PA), and a loss of personal identity or depersonalization (DP). This widely accepted definition and the prevalence of burnout in healthcare has given us staggering and sometimes shocking statistics about the negative impact on individuals, teams, and organizations. Even more astounding are studies linking burnout to physician suicides, a higher rate of emotional exhaustion in as much as one-third of all US nurses, and the association between burnout and poor patient safety and quality outcomes, including mortality.

In a 2018 article in STAT, comes an even more disturbing reference to burnout…moral injury! First used to describe soldiers’ responses to their actions in war is now linked to “physicians being unable to provide high-quality care and healing in the context of healthcare.”

The Journal of Nursing Management, recently published a scoping review using the terms gratitude and health professionals. This scoping review consisted of synthesizing and thematically analyzing existing evidence regarding gratitude in healthcare relationships with the specific focus on patients and families expressing gratitude to their health professional. Health professionals were defined as physicians, nurses, patient care teams, and other healthcare providers. This broad review of existing knowledge included empirical and non-empirical literature and was not focused on evaluating the quality of research studies.

beautiful stylized black and white sunburst mosaic with the word imagine in the middle of it

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

In this particular study, expressions of gratitude from patients and family members to their health professional indicated a positive impact on caregiver well-being, stress reduction, and a possible reduction in symptoms and consequences of burnout. In addition, this review suggests gratitude from patients and families could contribute to “motivation and retention among health professionals, and when nurtured, is associated with a healthy work environment.”

An article on physician burnout in the Family Practice Management Journal identified practicing gratitude and offering resilience training as potential burnout interventions. Additionally, a mental technique of reframing negative events was recognized as helpful when dealing with burnout. Articles published in the NeuroLeadership Journal suggests reframing or re-contextualizing the way we think about a situation as an approach to minimize a negative emotional impact. Reframing is also defined as a “cognitive reappraisal” of ideas and emotions with more positive alternatives.

Quote from Rick Hanson, PhD, Buddha's Brain that says what flows through your mind sculpts your brain.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Similar to the scoping review in the Journal of Nursing Management, a research article in Frontiers in Psychology looked at the positive effect of patient gratitude and support on nurses’ burnout. Of the findings, when support and gratitude was expressed by patients to nurses, improvements were seen in one or more of the dimensions of burnout: emotional exhaustion (EE); personal accomplishment (PA); and depersonalization (DP).

Another important study highlighting the positive impact of gratitude on organizational wellness is from the International Journal of Workplace Health Management. This study showed that gratitude was found to be a consistent predictor of these outcomes among nurses:

  • Less exhaustion and less cynicism;
  • More proactive behaviors;
  • Higher rating of the health and safety climate;
  • Higher job satisfaction;
  • Fewer absences due to illness.

Additionally, The Greater Good Science Center published an article recognizing several healthcare organizations that have turned to this innovative remedy of gratitude to reduce burnout. Healthcare organizations such as Sutter Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Scripps Health have instituted programming to cultivate gratitude as part of their healthy work cultures.

Woman relaxing by a window with eyes closed while sunlight washes over her

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Finally, perhaps the best way to wrap-up these insights and findings comes from research done by the National Research Corporation/NRC Health and Accordant Philanthropy. When asked what influenced their feelings of gratitude during a healthcare experience, thirty percent of participants said gratitude was spurred by the compassion, empathy, or kindness of caregivers. Similarly, when asked what would most likely make them feel grateful to caregivers, forty-one percent of the study participants indicated feeling genuinely cared about as a person.

Findings from these studies and others highlight the “perfect timing” for greater focus and attention to the important role gratitude plays in our healthcare settings.


What one action can you take, personally, to tap into your own gratitude circuitry and that of your coworkers?

What learning opportunities can your organization or department initiate to promote gratitude as a cultural imperative?

Photos courtesy of Unsplash
Linda Roszak BurtonLinda Roszak Burton provides brain-based coaching and training programs to help healthcare organizations, their leaders and teams emerge stronger, more knowledgeable, and engaged for greater success and satisfaction. As a leadership coach, Linda utilizes the latest research and evidence-based practices from positive psychology, gratitude, and neuroscience to help her clients be at their best in todays stressful and overwhelming work environments. In addition, she supports various research initiatives and is currently conducting research on gratitude interventions for creating greater health and well-being for health care employees.

Tags:  caregiver  emotional wellness  gratitude  spiritual wellness 

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March's Lucky Charms: A Practice Of Gratitude

Posted By Sabrina Walasek, Monday, March 25, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Photo courtesy of Cygnus921 [CC BY-SA 3.0]

In honor of March, I decided that rather than searching fields of green for four-leaf clover I would turn inward to identify my own lucky charms. We all know that acknowledging what is good in life is helpful and healthful. Sometimes, though, it’s just hard to muster up the effort to put our full attention on it. This is especially true as we careen through our daily routine, checking off tasks and dealing with the mundane.

To liven up my gratitude practice, I decided to try a new approach and I shared it with my women’s mindfulness circle. I encourage you to give it a try. (This was practiced at the end of the day.)

Opening Statement

Feeling lucky can be a part of any experience. It’s a frame of mind that acknowledges the gift of each moment of each day, no matter the circumstance. It’s a path to feeling comfort, joy, gratitude, or resolve in what is. Tonight we will practice this.


Without explanation, simply state something you feel lucky about. Take whatever comes to mind, without overthinking it. Complete the statement, “I feel lucky that _____.” or “I am lucky to have ______.” Say it out loud. Notice how that makes you feel. (We were in a group, but if you want to do this alone, I still encourage you to say it out loud. It makes it more real.)


We are going to do a ten-minute meditation with a focus. Imagine you are replaying your day as if it were a movie. As you revisit different aspects of the day in your mind’s memory, stop and acknowledge people or things along the way you may have taken for granted, but in observing them from this vantage point, you feel gratitude. Take a moment to silently say, “I’m lucky that ______.”

Remember not to force the feeling of gratitude; simply allow yourself to relive the moments and see what naturally bubbles up and gives you joy or appreciation. If you encounter something that was negative, consider if it might have been a gift. Perhaps there is something you’ve learned from the experience that will help you along your life path.

Whatever comes up, go with it — let it flow through you. If your mind starts to wander, notice and bring it back to the place you left off or go to the breath until you can step back onto the path.

(Set timer for 10 minutes)

After the meditation, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that this exercise worked well for the women in my group. Several of them shared that when they had arrived that evening they were not feeling particularly uplifted; they were experiencing the residuals of a pretty crummy day. Most admitted that they had not noticed a single “good” thing about their day. To their delight, the practice completely changed their outlook. Upon review, they realized many gold nuggets of life that they were taking for granted.

Another takeaway from the meditation was that it has a more profound impact on the rest of the evening. The level of relaxation in the faces and bodies of the attendees was noticeable. The coherence of the group was more solid. The women commented on how much better they felt about their day and their life. It was that simple, a pivot in their point of view.

Illustration of the parts of the brain.
Image courtesy of the National Institute of
Mental Health (NIMH) [Public domain]

The Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley conducted a study to see how gratitude affected people who were undergoing counseling. They had some participants write gratitude letters for three weeks while others documented their negative experiences or did not write at all. The findings, using an fMRI scanner, showed that those who wrote gratitude letters showed more activation in the medial prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for human social cognition and behavior. Even more exciting was that there was still evidence of its effect three months later.

From my experience, the positive mental shift that comes from a gratitude practice does not necessarily require writing one's thoughts or sharing them in with others (though these are both perfectly fine options). All that is required is a few minutes of quiet and a positive lens. This month, we called our lens “lucky.” I can’t help but wonder what our world would be like if everyone could take some time at the end of the day to sit with their family, colleagues, friends, or whomever and notice that their day was one filled with lucky charms.

Sabrina WalasekSabrina Walasek has twenty years of learning and program design expertise that has covered multiple subjects for learners of all ages. Her love of travel and adventure led her to Colombia where she built an English language fluency and literacy program for Colegio Canadiense, a private k-12 school with 1,200 students.


As a veteran meditator, Sabrina spends her free time as a mindfulness practitioner and delves into all things related to mind-body wellness. She has led a women’s mindfulness group for over a year and recently designed 16 social-emotional mindfulness workshops for 250 middle school students in Toronto under her brand HumanKindClub. Her website is www.mindfulspaces.org. 

Tags:  emotional wellness  gratitude  Mindfulness  spiritual wellness 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways to Bring Gratitude Into the Workplace

Posted By NWI, Monday, October 3, 2016

According to a 2015 Wall Street Journal article, receiving gratitude at work is one of the best motivators. According to the same article, only about 20% of employees feel they’re receiving the gratitude they would like.


Keeping that statistic in mind, here are some thoughts on why you should bring more gratitude into the office, and how to do it:


1.     Take it top-down


If you want to signal a change in the culture of your company, a good place to start is at the top. If your director, CEO, president, or whomever is signing the checks starts giving out “thank you’s” on the regular, you can bet that it’ll catch on down the management chain.


2.     Make the thankless jobs thankful jobs


There are plenty of people in your office who do small tasks that go unnoticed. Your trash bin gets emptied. The restrooms get cleaned. The mail gets delivered. Handing out some thanks for these tasks can go a long way toward making those who do them feel like they’re more than just background scenery, but instead are a valuable part of your company. Hint: they really are!


3.     Sincerely


People can smell insincerity from around the block. Offering lip-service gratitude won’t cut it. When giving thanks for hard work, make sure that it’s specific to the individual being thanked.


4.     Make room for gratitude


A good way to signal that gratitude is going to be part of the culture to stay is to make space for it. A cork board, white board, or other public space dedicated to offering public thanks shows the organization that this is something that you value.


5.     Give thanks for rainy days


It’s easy to give thanks when the sun is shining, but if gratitude is really going to be part of your culture, it has to be done on the rainy days, too. Even when dealings don’t go your way, make an effort to say “That didn’t work out how we wanted, but we tried our hardest. Thanks for your effort. Now what did we learn to make it happen next time?”


6.     Take away ulterior motives


When making changes in the office, it’s natural to try to incentivize the behavior you want to occur. In this case: don’t. If there’s a prize for giving thanks, it’ll make the whole exercise feel insincere. With gratitude, the thanks is its own reward.


7.     It really is the thought that counts


Some people are better than others at showing gratitude, so when that gruff old factory employee makes an effort to gripe less than normal, that might be his way of trying to show gratitude. When taking on a culture of thanks, make an extra effort to pay attention to the intentions of your employees, and encourage them to grow in their new habits.


8.     Learn to accept thanks


If gratitude wasn’t part of your company culture previously, there might be an unforeseen road-block. It can be hard for some people to know how to accept thanks and praise.  Don’t get discouraged if gratitude in the office feels awkward at first. Teach your employees that it’s perfectly OK to respond to gratitude with smile and a simple “Thanks for noticing.”


9.     Thanks for making it possible


One group of people we may inadvertently be forgetting to thank, though it seems obvious, is our customers. How many transactions do we go through on a daily basis without giving a sincere “thanks?”  Your customers will notice, however, and their loyalty will improve, when you take time to sincerely thank them for keeping your company running.


10.  Practice gratitude


Literally. Just like every other habit, it will take time, mindfulness, and repetition for gratitude to become part of your every-day culture. Give it the attention it deserves, though, and it’ll become a fulfilling part of your company that will improve employee morale and retention.



That’s this October’s Wellness in 10! Please accept our big, warm THANKS to all of you for reading, and being a part of the National Wellness Institute! You all are an important part of our organization, and we sincerely appreciate your dedication to the wellness of your companies, communities, and selves.  Have a great October!  If you have any comments, please feel free to leave them below, or send us a message on Facebook, LinkedIn , or Twitter.



Tags:  Culture  Gratitude  Wellness in 10  Worksite Wellness 

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Gratitude makes you feel good – physically

Posted By NWI, Monday, November 30, 2015

Paul Mills, a professor from the University of San Diego School of Medicine, has some surprising new research on the correlation between feeling gratitude and physical wellbeing.

Mills, a professor family medicine and public health at UCSD, decided to learn what effect having an outlook filled with gratitude has on the body.

He studied 186 people in their 60’s, asking them to fill out a questionnaire about how much gratitude they felt for the things in their lives. He also asked them about their mood, sleep patterns, and energy levels. Perhaps unsurprisingly to those in the wellness community, the people who listed themselves as having higher levels of gratitude also displayed better metrics in the categories of mood, sleep, and energy.

Mills went a step further and measured the amount of plaque in the test subjects’ blood streams – an indicator of heart health – and found that those higher on the gratitude scale also showed lower levels of arterial plaque.

Mills study is inconclusive as to why gratitude seems to have a direct effect on physical wellness, but presumes that it ties directly to the amount of stress each test subject harbors within him or her self. The attitude of gratitude seems to correlate with lower stress, resulting in better overall physical wellbeing.

Tags:  Gratitude  Health  Mindfulness  Stress  Wellness 

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Wellness in 10 – 10 out-of-the-ordinary things to be grateful for

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Gratitude is an important thing. It’s been shown to improve your mood, improve your relationships, and boost morale in the office. With Thanksgiving is right around the corner, now is a great time to start looking for things to be thankful for. With that in mind, here are 10 out-of-the-ordinary things that we can be thankful for this November.


1.    Rainy Days

This comes easier for some than others. The prospect of being cooped up inside can drive some people crazy! But rainy days can have their upside, too. It’s an opportunity to stay in and tackle some of the reading, cleaning, or paperwork you’ve been meaning to get around to without feeling guilty that you’re not outside. And really – who doesn’t love the sound of rain on the roof?


2.    Yard Work

Yard work seems to eat up whole weekends in the fall sometimes, but there’s a hidden benefit to it all. Tasks like trimming trees, raking leaves, and giving the yard a final mow are all ways to sneak in a bit of extra exercise without even trying!


3.    Interruptions

It can be infuriating when you’re in the middle of a task and somebody comes in mid-thought and completely derails what you’re doing. More often than not, though, the person doing the interrupting is coming to you because they need something from you, whether it’s help on a project, an answer to a question, or even just to talk with someone for a minute so they don’t feel isolated. In this situation, they chose to come to YOU for that help. Looked at from this perspective, you can take the interruption as a glowing endorsement for you as someone who can be trusted to lend a hand (or an ear).


4.    The Sniffles

Getting a cold stinks. We can all agree on that. When you start to get a few coughs or sniffles, though, you may find out who in your life are the ones who take notice and start to show up with care packages of tea and chicken soup. Of course you don’t want a full-fledged cold, but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of who you have in your life to take care of you.


5.    Challenging Coworkers

There’s always THAT ONE PERSON in the office, right? Stubborn, grouchy, annoying, or needy.  It can be very difficult at times to see having that person around as a positive thing. Looked at from a different perspective, though, that person can become an opportunity to practice your relationship building skills. Just like everyone else, that person has hobbies, interests, and skills, and would probably love to share them.  That person, due to his or abrasive personality, probably doesn’t have a lot of friends in the office and would appreciate a little more human interaction.


6.    Holiday Travel

Travel during the holidays can be trying. Rushing people, crazy drivers, and impatience in all its forms – it can be rough.  Holiday travel is only as maddening as you let it be, though. If you give yourself plenty of time, plan ahead, and choose your own speed as you go you can see it as an opportunity to spend time in close-quarters with loved ones, catch up on your favorite podcasts or audiobooks, and observe the change in scenery since the last time you passed by.


7.    Neighborhood mischief

Sometimes the neighbor kids can cause a little trouble, whether it’s breaking something, painting something, or other general misdeeds. Though those infractions shouldn’t necessarily be overlooked, they do exist as teachable moments. They’re teachable for the kids to learn why what they did was wrong, but they’re also teachable for us. We can practice forgiveness, patience, and mindfulness, remembering that we also were once young and prone to poor choices (that may have seemed REALLY FUN at the time). The kids’ parents will probably also appreciate the grace of a forgiving neighbor.


8.    Burnt food

It’s always a bummer when you’re cooking, get distracted, and by the time you get back to the stove there’s an unrecognizable smoldering chunk of coal where your beautiful dinner was supposed to be. Even this can be a cause for thanks. This burnt food can be a reminder to be focused and mindful of what we’re doing, and can serve also as a reminder that we’re fortunate to have food to burn. For most of us a burnt dinner might mean we have to try to salvage what we made and will eat something good and fresh tomorrow, which is more than a great many have to look forward to.


9.    Cold Weather

At NWI HQ, as with many places across the country, the change in seasons means the beginning of a long, cold winter full of shoveling, dangerous driving, and bone-chilling outdoor exercise. These cold days can be great for get-togethers with friends who are stuck in the same boat. Since we’re all forced inside, there’s no reason we can’t be inside together having a good time!


10. Networking

There may not be a word as eye-glazingly jargon-esque as “networking.” The word invokes the tedium of corporate get-togethers where the conversations being held over mediocre cheese cubes distills down to “how can we use each other to our mutual benefit?” GROSS. Looked at in a different light, networking is really relationship building. By taking time to actually get to know a few new business connections on a level a little deeper than the surface, odds are that you’ll find some kindred spirits who feel strongly about the same kids of causes you do. One place to start might be in the NWI LinkedIn Group.


These ten things might not immediately rise to the top of your list when you think of what you’re grateful for, but they’re examples of opportunities for gratitude even in some atypical places. In this spirit, we thank you for supporting the National Wellness Institute, and hope you spend all of November finding the good sides of the situations you find yourself in.


Tags:  Gratitude  Health  Optimism  Positivity  Wellness In 10 

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Gratitude in the Workplace

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gratitude can be very powerful for both the person expressing it, and the person receiving it, making it a wonderful skill to practice for a well workplace. The following are gratitude activities you can try with your coworkers, friends, and family.

  • Encourage hand-written "thank you” notes. For clients, for vendors, for co-workers…a little "thanks” goes a long way. Your friends and family will appreciate these too!
  • Does your company have an awards system in place? If not, it might be a good idea to champion. If a formal award system isn’t an option, think about an informal award system in your unit or department. Awards don’t always have to be serious (such as Top Sales). They can be just for fun and still have a great impact. Who in your organization is always willing to lend a hand? Who warms the workplace with great jokes or a fantastic smile? Who makes sure the coffee pot is full? There are so many un-sung heroes out there…can you find them?
  • Add gratitude to meetings. Meetings should be efficient and have purpose…but if you care about office morale, maybe a small part of your meetings should be dedicated to what is going really well. Give people time to share accomplishments as well.
  • Gratitude Stones. A simple idea…and it doesn’t have to be stones (light-colored, rounded rocks work well if personalizing the thanks with a permanent marker)…any small object will do. Place a jar filled with these objects in the break room or other common area. Explain that workers can give these to coworkers anonymously or in person as a way to say thank you. Stones could be left on an individual’s desk, at an individual’s locker, etc.
  • Consider an employee team-building workshop. Learning to work as a team promotes trust and can open paths to gratitude between individuals.
  • Some individuals fall into the trap of complaining at the office. It is an easy trap to fall into. Combat negative behavior with an understated positive campaign. The next time a co-worker complains, you might try acknowledging the frustration, but also countering it with positive insight. For example, if a co-worker complains about an overload of work…you might say, "It has been crazy lately, but thank goodness we have jobs.” Joel Osteen, in his book, Every Day a Friday, tells a story of a man who was down in the dumps and complaining. Joel, listening, expresses condolences on the sickness of the man’s wife, and the loss of the man’s job and house. The man looks at Joel with confusion…claiming all of those things are fine. The point, we often have so many things going for us when we complain. A slight change in perspective can change our outlook.

Osteen, J. Every Day a Friday: How to be happier 7 days a week. Faithworks. New York, NY, 2012.

Tags:  Emotional  Gratitude  June 2013  Social  Work 

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