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Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies

Posted By Wellsource, Monday, August 26, 2019

This is the fifth 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 post will discuss intellectual wellness and the importance of pursuing activities that stretch your mind, expand your skills, and reinforce your memory.

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


Intellectual wellness enables a person to think quickly on their feet, solve problems creatively, and remember key facts from yesterday’s meeting.Ever have moments when you feel like Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz—the lovable straw man who longs for a brain? You meet someone at a conference and 10 minutes later can’t recall their name. The CEO asks you to clarify a detail from last month’s meeting, and you can’t think of a response. You’re not alone. Remember the time your team was in “problem-solving” mode for a work project and no one could come up with a creative idea? Brain freeze. 

Memory lapses don’t mean someone is in the early stages of dementia. Everyone has moments when they struggle with complex mental processing or can’t recall an important fact. The goal, though, is to minimize cognitive issues by promoting intellectual wellness. Intellectual wellness enables a person to think quickly on their feet, solve problems creatively, and remember key facts from yesterday’s meeting—or from a class they took 20 years ago. And it’s essential for a thriving, innovative workforce. Intellectual wellness powers sound decision-making, expands technological borders, enhances creativity, protects memory, stimulates curiosity, and assists in learning new skills. The result? Each individual within a workforce can contribute in meaningful ways, enrich the lives of others, and feel good about themselves and their co-workers. 

The good news is that significant cognitive decline isn’t inevitable. To understand how to delay decay, it helps to understand a little about the brain. The first thing to remember is that brains are always changing. It’s called “brain plasticity.” Brains are just like the rest of the body. Exercise a brain and it gets stronger. Practice a skill and it gets better. Yes, just about the time brains reach maturity and top performance, they start to decline. It’s also true that brains take longer to mature than some might think. In fact, a person might be “adulting” for only two years before the mental slide begins. Brain development continues well into the mid-20s. That’s one reason why psychologists say adolescence extends to age 25

The speed at which brains are able to solve puzzles, reasoning skills, and other cognitions factors start to slow at age 27, according to a seven-year study. The body gradually makes less of the chemicals brain cells (called neurons) need to work at peak performance, and they start to shrink. Over the next two decades, the gradual decline in reason, comprehension, and recall starts to be noticeable. By the mid-40s, individuals might have a few “brain fog” moments, but still be able to multitask. In the 50s and 60s, it will take a little more effort to learn new processes and multitasking might be a challenge—but both are still achievable. And if you work with a company that has an aging workforce, you can feel good knowing that they have strong creativity, wisdom, experience, and ability to understand how things work. In the absence of genetic predispositions, brain health can remain strong through the 70s and beyond when employees practice strategies for intellectual wellness. Want to keep your workforce healthy? Here are four ways to stimulate their mental wellbeing. 

 

1. Walking breaks are good for brains

Brains require exercise and attention to stay in peak condition as long as possible. Regular physical activity improves circulation and helps prevent some of the conditions that contribute to brain deterioration, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammation, obesity, and diabetes. Both meta-analysis and systematic review studies show that regular exercise helps keep brains functioning strong. 

One study found that standing, walking, and cycling all improved cognitive performance when compared to sitting. Encourage employees to sit less throughout the work day to keep their brains fresh. 

  • Stock footbags (aka Hacky Sacks) in break rooms to encourage physical movement
  • Remind employees to step away from their desks for a minute of stretching every hour or so 
  • Organize team play for exergames like Pokemon GO, Beat Saber, and Zombies, Run!
  • Plan active employee socials, such as a kickball tournament during your company picnic and dancing at holiday parties 
  • Remind employees that any time is a good time to stand up and move—even when they aren’t at work
  • Offer quarterly prizes for individuals who meet the minimum physical activity recommendations

Now is the time for employees to adopt active lifestyles for current and future brain health. The Nurses’ Health Study found that the more women walked in their 50s and 60s, the better their memory in their 70s. Another study involving more than 2,257 elderly men found that those walking less than a ¼-mile each day were nearly twice as likely to develop dementia as men who walked at least 2 miles a week. Walking just 90 minutes each week can make a difference; more is better. 

 

2. MIND the food choices

Eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats is good for overall health and happiness. It’s also essential for mind-power. The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND diet) protects neurons and significantly slows cognitive decline. The MIND diet emphasizes plenty of whole foods, rather than processed. Just telling employees the health benefits of eating more cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower), green leafy veggies, beans, and nuts might not be very effective. Here are some ways to encourage a MINDful diet:

  • Schedule weekly fruit, veggie, and bean potlucks
  • Set out nuts, berries, and cruciferous veggies for employees to snack on
  • Use posters and emails to explain the brain benefits of a healthy diet
  • Require office party meals to be healthy, for example, baked salmon or grilled chicken with lots of green leafy veggies
  • Start an office garden (e.g., tomatoes, peppers, lettuce)
  • Create a shared cookbook filled with healthy recipes
  • Gift clients and employees with healthy food baskets or fruit bouquets for special occasions or to show appreciation

Administering a health risk assessment can reveal how many in your workforce eat enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Use the HRA data to guide your suggestions for improvements.

 

3. There’s value in unplugging from work

Apparently neurons get tired too. According to a study by UCLA – Los Angeles Health Sciences, sleep deprivation causes brain cells to respond slowly and cause mental lapses on par with excessive drinking. Sleeping 7-9 hours each night is more than a luxury. It’s essential for intellectual wellness and mental health. Poor sleep quality and difficulty falling asleep seems to age brains more quickly. Stress, multitasking, and information overload can also negatively impact reasoning and problem-solving. 

  • Urge employees to take unplugged vacations – no checking work email!
  • Reinforce your company policy about work breaks and lunch breaks
  • Check with employees often to be sure they are not burdened with unnecessary tasks; for example, lines of communication and areas of responsibility should be clearly delineated 
  • Share ideas for healthy bedtime habits, including adhering to a regular sleep-wake schedule
  • Work with managers to create a culture that discourages excessive overtime work
  • Offer classes that teach employees to relax and manage stress
  • Encourage employees to have positive social interaction with friends and family
  • Volunteer together for a cause employees care about 

 

4. Challenge individuals to keep their minds active

Work is often stimulating and informative. And that’s good for brain health—as long as it doesn’t result in an imbalanced life. The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) recommends engaging in brain-stimulating activities for a well-rounded mental exercise. Math equation speed drills will improve mental processing speeds, but won’t necessarily improve episodic memory (e.g., that detail from last month’s meeting that the CEO wants to know about). It takes a variety of mental challenges.

  • Provide reimbursements for college course tuition
  • Hold juggling classes or other activities that increase attention and spatial skills
  • Challenge each other to memorize lists 
  • Post a new vocabulary word on a white board each week
  • Put Sudoku and crossword puzzles on a white board in the lunch room so everyone can work on them
  • Encourage employees to keep trying new things – like the Train Your Brain Health Challenge®
Ready to get started? Download our health challenge “Train Your Brain” which includes: 
  • A basic quiz for employees to see how much they know about habits for a healthy brain
  • Tips on how to boost brain health
  • Tricks to help them improve memory
  • A calendar to track brain workouts each day

This is the fifth 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.

For more information about Wellsource products, visit www.wellsource.com or connect with Wellsource at well@wellsource.com.


Works Cited

Hettler, Bill. “The six dimensions of wellness model.” National Wellness Institute, cdn.ymaws.com/www.nationalwellness.org/resource/resmgr/pdfs/sixdimensionsfactsheet.pdf.

Steinmetz, Katy. “This is what adulting means.” Time, Time Magazine, 8 Jun. 2016, time.com/4361866/adulting-definition-meaning/.

Wallis, Lucy. “Is 25 the new cut-off point for adulthood?” BBC News, 23 Sep. 2013, bbc.com/news/magazine-24173194.

“’Brain decline’ begins at age 27.” BBC News, 16 Mar., 2009, news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7945569.stm

“How to remember things like a 20-year-old.” AARP Life Reimagined, AARP, 29 Jan. 2015, huffpost.com/entry/remember-things-like-a-20-year-old_n_6518762.

“The Changing Brain - What Is Brain Health?” National Institute on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, brainhealth.nia.nih.gov/the-changing-brain.

Ahlskog, J. Eric, et al. “Physical exercise as a preventive or disease-modifying treatment of dementia and brain aging.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 86(9): 876-884, Sep. 2011, doi.org/10.4065/mcp.2011.0252.

Loprinzi, Paul D., et al. “The effects of exercise on memory function among young to middle-aged adults: systematic review and recommendations for future research.” American Journal of Health Promotion, 32(3): 691-704, 1 Mar. 2018, doi.org/10.1177/0890117117737409.

Mullane, Sarah L., et al. “Acute effects on cognitive performance following bouts of standing and light-intensity physical activity in a simulated workplace environment.” Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, vol. 20, no. 5, pp. 489–493., doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2016.09.015.

Lieberman, Debra A., et al. “The Power of Play: Innovations in Getting Active Summit 2011.” Circulation, vol. 123, no. 21, 2011, pp. 2507–2516., doi:10.1161/cir.0b013e318219661d. 

Weuve, Jennifer, et al. “Physical activity, including walking, and cognitive function in older women.” JAMA, vol. 292, no. 12, pp. 1454–1461., doi:10.1001/jama.292.12.1454.

Abbott, Robert D., et al. “Walking and dementia in physically capable elderly men.” JAMA, vol. 292, no. 12, pp. 1447–1453., doi:10.1001/jama.292.12.1447.

“Health risk assessment data reveals link between happiness, good habits, and health.” Wellsource, 29 Apr. 2019, blog.wellsource.com/hra-data-happiness-good-habits-health.

Morris, Martha Clare, et al. “MIND diet slows cognitive decline with aging.” Alzheimer’s & Dementia, vol. 11, no. 9, pp. 1015–1022, doi:10.1016/j.jalz.2015.04.011.

Harvard Health Publishing. “Foods Linked to Better Brainpower.” Healthbeat, Harvard Medical School, health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower.

“Want Positive Population Health Trends? Use HRA Data to Suggest Improvements.” Wellsource, 8 Aug. 2019, blog.wellsource.com/want-positive-population-health-trends-use-hra-data-to-suggest-improvements.

Nir, Yuval, et al. “Selective neuronal lapses precede human cognitive lapses following sleep deprivation.” Nature Medicine, 2017; doi:10.1038/nm.4433

“10 Strategies to Improve Mental Health in Workforce Populations.” Wellsource, 29 Apr. 2019, blog.wellsource.com/10-strategies-to-improve-mental-health-in-workforce-populations.

“Twelve simple tips to improve your sleep.” Healthy Sleep, WGBH Educational Foundation and the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine, healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips.

Global Council on Brain Health. “The Brain and Social Connectedness: GCBH Recommendations on Social Engagement and Brain Health.” A collaborative from AARP Policy, Research and International Affairs; AARP Integrated Communications and Marketing; and Age UK, 2017, doi:10.26419/pia.00015.001.

Wellsource 2018 Data Review. “Happiness, Habits, and Health: Measuring mental health with health risk assessment data,” Wellsource, 2019, go.wellsource.com/2018-data-review


Tags:  Intellectual  Intellectual Wellness  Six Dimensions  Wellsource 

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Wellness in 10: Get More Smarter

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, September 6, 2016

It’s back to school time! Children nation-wide are getting on big yellow buses to go to buildings where inside lies a promise to help them develop intellectually to the extent of their capacity.

 

…except, for some of us, we don’t realize that capacity until after our time in those buildings is over. That leaves us with a question: How (and where) can we learn, after we’re done with school?

 

For September’s Wellness in 10, here are 10 ways adults can find new education and inspiration, even if our school years are long behind:

 

1.    Get inspired

 

It’s probably not a surprise that we’re more likely to learn things that we find fascinating, and it’s probably also not a surprise that we don’t necessarily find the things in our day-to-day lives too fascinating. So to learn, find something that sparks your interest. Whether it’s archaeology, engineering, or professional wrestling, find something outside of your normal routine that makes you think “Wow, that’s cool!”

 

 

2.    Set a Goal

 

We all spend time thinking “I’ll do that one day…” but few of us ever reach that magical day when everything is supposedly going to happen. Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, set small measurable goals to learning your new knowledge or skill. Perhaps “finishing this textbook by the end of the month,” or “completing this beginner’s project in two weeks” are small goals that will move you forward. Combining a number of these small goals toward your overall achievement is how you’ll accomplish your learning objectives.

 

 

3.    Rediscover Creativity

 

Many adults think that creativity is the domain of the young, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Creativity can spur learning, and vice versa. Try picking up a pencil or paintbrush and sketching out a story or a drawing. Starting will be the hardest part. If you allow yourself to drop some of the creative restraints that many find in adulthood, you’re bound to expand and improve your creative skills and abilities.

 

4.    Do it different

 

We get stuck in ruts. This is the nature of most people. To learn something new, though, we have to do something different. Rather than doing things the same old way, try doing a routine task in a new way. Drive a different way home, baking a recipe with different seasonings, or telling your kids a story from the perspective of a different character. Working through these tasks in a different way will stretch your mind in ways it’s not used to being used.

 

5.    Get a fresh perspective

 

Just like we can’t learn something new by doing things the same way we always have, we can’t learn something new by approaching things from our own standpoint. Challenge yourself to learn empathy by understanding others’ perspective. For example, try watching the news from the perspective of someone from the opposite side of the country, of the opposite gender, or from the other end of the political spectrum. This can be really hard to do, but you’ll experience real growth if you’re capable of achieving it.

 

6.    Get some exercise

 

Recent studies have shown substantive connections between physical and intellectual wellness. If you’re feeling like you’re in a learning lull, try stepping up your exercise level to stimulate the blood flow to your brain.

 

7.    Take up an instrument

 

There are direct correlations between playing music and learning. Not only can playing music decrease your stress and give you a new skill, but playing an instrument has been shown to increase your intelligence in other areas. For as little as a few dollars you can pick up a harmonica and begin to develop the latent musical abilities you didn’t know you had.

 

8.    Sleep on it

 

Lack of sleep can have lasting and permanent effects on the brain, in as little as 24 hours without rest. To make sure that you’re taking full advantage of your brain power, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night for adults.

 

9.    Make it a single

 

Though some studies say that intelligent people tend to drink more, there are serious long-term effects of alcohol abuse on intelligence, so if you want to be a life-long learner, be sure to keep your drinking in moderation.

 

10. Meditate

 

A recent study has found that as little as 20 minutes a day of mindfulness meditation over a 4-day period has a positive impact on the cognitive abilities of test subjects. Coupled with the added benefit of reduced stress, there doesn’t seem to be any downside to taking a little quiet time to yourself to refocus your mental energies.

 

 

Thanks for checking out this month’s Wellness in 10. We hope you have an intellectually stimulating September!

 

Tags:  Adult Learning  Education  Intellectual  Learning  Self Care 

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Inspiration: May 3-9 is Be Kind to Animals Week!

Posted By NWI, Friday, May 1, 2015
Updated: Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sponsored by the American Humane Society and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (www.americanhumane.org, www.cfhs.ca), May 3-9 is our reminder week to always be kind to animals. Below are a few quotes on the beauty, wisdom and care of animals. As if we needed additional reasons to celebrate, a team of researchers from Azabu University's School of Veterinary Medicine in Japan found a spike in oxytocin (a chemical that makes us feel good) occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other's eyes—explaining why our bond is so tight. The research was published in April of 2015 in the journal Science (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/348/6232/333).

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. -Mahatma Gandhi

Dogs come when they're called; cats take a message and get back to you later. -Mary Bly

A dog wags its tail with its heart. -Martin Buxbaum

Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn't know it so it goes on flying anyway. - Mary Kay Ash

Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms. -George Eliot

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats. -Albert Schweitzer

Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people. -W. C. Fields

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself. -Josh Billings

If we treated everyone we meet with the same affection we bestow upon our favorite cat, they, too, would purr. -Martin Delany 

Tags:  Animals  Emotional  Inspiration  Intellectual  Kindness  May 2015  Social 

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Let’s Start a Grassroots Effort: Demand Health Insurance Coverage for Mental Health Issues

Posted By NWI, Friday, May 1, 2015
Updated: Thursday, April 23, 2015

In reverence to National Mental Health Month, sponsored by the National Mental Health Association (www.nmha.org), Wellness News You Can Use is offering a call to action!

According to a recent report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Health insurance plans are falling short in coverage of mental health and substance abuse conditions as compared to other health conditions. The report (http://www.nami.org/About-NAMI/Publications-Reports/Public-Policy-Reports/A-Long-Road-Ahead/2015-ALongRoadAhead.pdf) was released in early April, 2015.

The report surveyed 2,720 consumers, and 84 insurance plans in 15 states. While progress is being made after a 2008 law requiring some employer-sponsored plans to offer equal mental and physical coverage, there is still a great deal of work to do, according to Mary Giliberti, Executive Director of NAMI.

The report findings include the following:

  • More mental health providers in health insurance plans are needed.
  • Substance abuse treatment needs to be taken more seriously by insurance providers (Plans under the ACA actually had a higher rate denials).
  • Barriers to mental health medication coverage needs to be addressed.
  • The cost of drugs and co-pays needs to be addressed.
  • Consumers need better information related to mental health coverage.

What can you do as a consumer?

  • Look at mental health coverage before signing up for a plan under the ACA.
  • Ask your employer about all coverages under your health plan and question coverages that do not exist or that are not adequate.
  • If you have a claim that is denied, ask for clinical criteria used to approve or deny a claim.
  • If you think the 2008 parity law that required equal coverall of medical and mental claims for come employer plans has been violated, say something.
  • Ask for updated lists of mental health providers from your insurance company.

Write to your congressional representative and advocate for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to require all health plans to provide clear, accessible, and comparable information about benefits. In addition ask Congress and the Executive Branch to work together to decrease out-of-pocket costs under the ACA for low-income consumers.

Let’s all be well together!

Tags:  Emotional  Healthcare  Intellectual  May 2015  Mental Health  Social 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Easy Things You Can Do to Get Your Bicycle Ready for Spring

Posted By NWI, Friday, May 1, 2015
Updated: Thursday, April 23, 2015

May brings with it many events to celebrate health and fitness and specifically bicycling (see the bottom of this article for a complete list). To get you ready to move and to make sure you do it safely, here are 10 things you can do to get your bicycle ride-ready for spring.

1.      Check your tires. Fill them up to the recommended pressure (usually on the sidewall of the tire). Look for cracks in the rubber. Make sure the wheel nuts and/or quick-release levers are tightened. Check for “trueness” (if you look at your wheel straight-on from the front, does everything look in line?

2.     Clean your bike. Wipe off dust, dirt, and grime from the frame and brake pads.

3.     Take extra care with the chain. Use an old rag to clean off the chain. Look for any damaged links that may mean it is time for a new chain. Then apply some fresh chain oil.

4.     Check all bolts and screws. Make sure everything is tightened appropriately.

5.     Get your ride-pack together. It is wise to ride with a water bottle, basic bike tool, extra tube, and portable air pump. Some people also ride with a bike lock, bike gloves, and riding glasses.

6.     Make sure your helmet is ready to go. Dis you take a spill last season? It might be time to get a new helmet. Also, are all of the internal pads in place and still sticking? Does the strap look and feel like it is in good shape?

7.     If you have a bike pedometer, check the battery. Make sure your bike pedometer is ready to go to measure your efforts. How old is the battery? Are all of the settings correct?

8.     Check the brakes. Before starting on your ride, test the brakes to make sure they are catching properly and hooked up.

9.     Go for a short test ride. You don’t want to discover a slow leak, faulty brakes, or an old chain on a long ride. Plan a short one to two mile gentle ride to make sure everything is in good working order.

10.   Have fun and be active!


National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition
www.fitness.gov

Employee Health & Fitness Month
National Association for Health and Fitness, ACTIVE Life
www.healthandfitnessmonth.com

May 3 – 9 (first full week in May)
North American Occupational Safety and Health Week (NAOSH)
American Society of Safety Engineers
www.asse.org/naosh

May 1 – 7 (same dates annually)
National Physical Education and Sports Week
National Association for Sport and Physical Education
www.shapeamerica.org

May 6 (first Wednesday in May)
Project Aces Day
(All Children Exercise Simultaneously)
Youth Fitness Coalition, Inc.
www.projectaces.com

May 27 (last Wednesday in May)
National Senior Health & Fitness Day
www.fitnessday.com

National Bike Month
League of American Bicyclists
www.bikeleague.org

May 11 – 15
Bike to Work Week
(Bike to Work Day: May 15)
League of American Bicyclists
www.bikeleague.org

Tags:  Bicycle  Bike  Intellectual  May 2015  Physical  Wellness In 10 

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Wellness in 10: Creative Ways to Reduce Stress

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Updated: Monday, April 6, 2015

April is Stress Awareness Month and Counseling Awareness Month, brought to us by the American Counseling Association (ACA) at www.counseling.org.

To celebrate this special month, Wellness in 10 will feature creative ways to reduce stress. Some of these methods are the result of years of scientific research, and others you might try just for fun!

1.     Paint, craft, or otherwise be artistic. According to the American Art Therapy Association (http://www.arttherapy.org/) being creative can help your brain to produce Serotonin which can help to reduce the feeling of stress.

2.     Chew gum. According to a 2008 study (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/119826.php), chewing gum may help to reduce cortisol levels and alleviate stress.

3.     Get your hug on. Hugs may help to reduce blood pressure, and stress in adults. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15740822)

4.     Breathe deeply. The simple act of slowing down and focusing on a simple process like breathing may help to reduce stress and anxiety (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20617660).

5.     Get your heart rate up—in a good way! Exercise can cause an endorphin release that can dramatically reduce stress (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469).

6.     Laugh. Not only can laughter help you to reduce stress, it can also help to increase your energy levels (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456).

7.     Get a massage. Massage can help with current stress and may help with the body’s reaction to stress over all (http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/features/massage-therapy-stress-relief-much-more).

8.     Play some tunes. Music can help us to relax, lower our blood pressure, and reduce stress (http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/stress).  

9.     Write, keep a journal…better yet, keep a gratitude journal. Writing and/or journaling has meditative qualities that helps our brains to slow down and process the world around us with more clarity (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21140872). Take this practice one step further and spend a few minutes reflecting each day on what you are thankful for and how you are blessed. The practice may help you to reduce your stress!

10.  Join Fido, or Furball, or Fluffy for some good animal-bonding time. There are many notable benefits to pet ownership (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1534428), stress reduction is just one of those benefits.  

Tags:  Emotional  Intellectual  Occupational  Physical  Social  Spiritual  Stress  Wellness in 10 

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Inspiration: It is All About Vision!

Posted By NWI, Monday, March 2, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February is Save Your Vision Month, sponsored by the American Optometric Association at www.aoa.org and Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month, sponsored by Prevent Blindness America at www.preventblindness.org. The following are some quotes to celebrate our physical and mental abilities to “see.”

 Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting.     -Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.     -Jonathan Swift

 Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.     -Mary Ritter Beard

 Empathy is about standing in someone else's shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.    -Daniel H. Pink

 Not everyone has been a bully or the victim of bullies, but everyone has seen bullying, and seeing it, has responded to it by joining in or objecting, by laughing or keeping silent, by feeling disgusted or feeling interested.     -Octavia E. Butler

 Learning lessons is a little like reaching maturity. You're not suddenly more happy, wealthy, or powerful, but you understand the world around you better, and you're at peace with yourself. Learning life's lessons is not about making your life perfect, but about seeing life as it was meant to be.    -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 Things that I grew up with stay with me. You start a certain way, and then you spend your whole life trying to find a certain simplicity that you had. It's less about staying in childhood than keeping a certain spirit of seeing things in a different way.    -Tim Burton

 Part of being a man is learning to take responsibility for your successes and for your failures. You can't go blaming others or being jealous. Seeing somebody else's success as your failure is a cancerous way to live.    -Kevin Bacon

 Worship is a way of seeing the world in the light of God.    -Abraham Joshua Heschel

Tags:  Emotional  Inspiration  Intellectual  March 2015  Social  Vision 

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Wellness in 10: Making judgments and 10 ways to be less judgmental

Posted By NWI, Monday, February 2, 2015
Updated: Thursday, January 22, 2015

In a 2013 Psychology Today article, Gregg Henriques, Ph.D, talks about the difference between making judgments and being judgmental. In essence he writes, the difference rests in the motivation. For instance, if your judgment is rooted in empathy (you care about the thing in question because it could hurt someone), the impact of your assessment serves to help someone else, you assess the “sin” not the “sinner,” you have expert knowledge and not shallow knowledge to make such an assessment, and the roots of your assessment are optimistic, you are probably making a judgment. You are probably being judgmental if your assessment is dismissive of the person involved, shows no empathy, you lack adequate knowledge of the thing, person or situation, or your assessment is pessimistic.

For example, say your neighbor avoids neighborhood parties, light conversation, and making eye-contact at the mail boxes.

The following responses would be judgments:

  • The neighbor seems to be shy. It is hard to move to a new neighborhood. (empathetic)
  • The neighbor might make more friends if they came to neighborhood parties. (caring)
  • The neighbor might be lonely. (“might” suggests lack of knowledge)
  • It might take the neighbor time to warm up to people. (optimistic)

The following responses would be judgmental:

  • The neighbor is anti-social and rude. (non-empathetic to the person)
  • The neighbor will never make friends. (non-caring)
  • The neighbor exhibits anti-social behavior and will always be alone. (Suggests more knowledge than that “judger” has).
  • At this rate, the neighbor will always be an outcast. (pessimistic)

Judgmental behavior is not helpful or uplifting. The following are ten questions you can ask yourself to be less judgmental: 

  1. What knowledge of the situation/person am I relying on to make this assessment? (Look out for generalizations and stereotypes).
  2. Is my assessment based on empathy and care for the person or situation?
  3. Are my values getting in the way of me being empathetic? For instance, you could be against homosexuality, but still care for the person and respect that the person had a different value framework.
  4. If your assessments carry impact, (say you are the president of the neighborhood situation mentioned above) do you make assessments to boost yourself and your own standing, or do you do it to help others?
  5. Do you assess the person or the situation? For instance, if someone cuts you off In traffic they may be judged as “rude.” When you cut someone off in traffic it may be because you didn’t see them or you are running late for an important meeting.
  6. Are you open to changing your opinion? This is the difference between thinking “All Republicans/Democrats are categorically wrong,” and “I don’t agree with that statement, but I am open to asking questions and hearing what else you have to say.”
  7. Are you just being negative? This might be the difference between, “She will never be good at soccer,” and “Ball handling may not be her best skill, but she sure can run!”
  8. Does what you are saying help and make things better or hurt and make things worse?
  9. Are you being nice?
  10. What would it feel like if someone made a similar assessment about you?

 Journal Reference: 
Henriques, G. Ph.D. On making judgments and being judgmental. Psychology Today. Retrieved January 22, 2015 from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/theory-knowledge/201305/making-judgments-and-being-judgmental

Tags:  February 2015  Intellectual  Judgmental  Opinions  Social 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Tags:  Emotional  Intellectual  January 2015  Occupational  Passive Aggressive  Social 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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