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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.

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Mindfulness

Posted By NWI, Friday, March 16, 2018

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally; It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”

– Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn


Mindfulness is a practice that has been around for centuries and can trace its roots back to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Yoga.  Although it was popularized in the East mainly through spiritual or religious practice, it is known in the West largely as a stress reduction and cognitive therapy technique.  In 1979, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Stress Reduction Clinic in the University of Massachusetts Medical School and created a mindfulness-based stress reduction program.  He was able to use his techniques to help patients who were struggling with both physical and mental difficulties such as, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, chronic pain, stress, and sleep issues.  These techniques have become more popular in the West as individual practice; however, mindfulness based wellness programs are becoming much more commonplace in workplace and community settings to help improve employee productivity and retention.

Mindfulness is ideal because it can be done by anyone anywhere and doesn’t require a large time commitment.  The programs are generally inexpensive, if not free, and can be modified to be performed in groups or individually.  If you are looking to implement mindfulness in your everyday life, or at your workplace, check out some activity examples below:

 

Mindful Observation

This exercise is simply looking at your surroundings and really noticing them.  Find an object that usually goes unnoticed throughout your day such as a mug, poster, or even a desk.  Take a few moments to really look at it and try to notice something about it you haven’t before, simply take time to appreciate its features.  Are there interesting colors or shapes?  Does it have a nice texture?  How does it contrast with its surroundings?  For a quick mindful observation guide, click the link below.

 

 

 

Mindful Breathing

For this exercise all you need is a chair and a relatively quiet spot.  Start with 3-5 minutes by breathing deeply through your nostrils for 3 seconds, hold your breath for 2 seconds, exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds, and repeat.  If your mind starts to wander during the exercise, try and refocus back on your breathing.  If you prefer a guide, see the video below.

 

 

Mindful Eating

Too often we aren’t thinking about what we are eating or even perform other tasks while eating.  Mindful eating is simply taking the time to pay attention to your senses while you eat.  How does your food smell?  What’s the texture like?  How do the different flavors combine?  Instead of lunch being a time to refuel while working, take the time to savor your food.  For more tips on mindful eating, check out the video below.

 

 

These are just a few examples of many different mindfulness exercises.  If you are interested in additional mindfulness techniques which you can implement at home or at work, please visit PositivePsychologyProgram.com

Tags:  meditation  mindful breathing  mindful eating  mindful observation  Mindfulness 

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9 Wellness Apps to Check Out

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Wellness Apps You NeedHealth and Wellness is a vast topic that encompasses so many aspects of our lives. When it comes to improving our wellness, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Whether you are a wellness professional or someone who’s just getting started on your wellness journey, these apps can help you along. They can give you ideas on how to improve nearly every dimension of wellness using just your fingertips! While there are paid versions to some of these apps, most offer services for free. Here are nine wellness apps to consider today!*

1. Aaptiv
Whether you’re at the gym or traveling across the country, there is something for everyone in the Aaptiv app. Ever wanted to run a 5k or half marathon? They have a program for that! Need some yoga inspiration early in the morning? You can do that too. Not sure how to lift weights at the gym? Aaptiv has step by step instructions and programs on how to start a weightlifting program. Really this app does it all! You'll find real trainers motivating you to finish strong and playlists specifically set up to push you through the toughest workouts. It's like have a personal trainer in the palm of your hand. There is a free version of this app, or you can get full access for $9.99 a month.

2. JEFIT
Interested in gaining more knowledge about weightlifting and cardio workouts? Consider JEFIT. It’s for those just starting their workouts who want to get ideas on what to do, to people trying to find some new lifts to bolster their current routine. JEFIT’s user-friendly design allows you to set goals, record workouts, and find exercises to target specific areas. Each exercise has a small video on how to properly perform the exercise, and some tips on proper form, making it user-friendly, even for newbies. If you are looking for ideas to start a new workout routine or want to beef up your existing routine, take a look at JEFIT. It’s 100% free!

3. MyFitnessPal
  With access to the world’s largest nutrition and calorie database, MyFitness Pal is one of the biggest calorie tracking apps. It’s easy to use and allows you to scan the barcode of your food for easy tracking of pre-packaged foods. You can log your exercise and water intake as well as connect to your other wellness apps such as MapMyRun and PolarFlow, allowing you to automatically add in your daily workouts. This app can help with fitness goals, whether you are trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight. MyFitness Pal makes it easy to record your nutrition intake, exercise, and weight in one place. MyFitness Pal offers a free version of their app, as well as a premium version for $9.99 a month.

4. Sleep Cycle
Ever wake up feeling groggy and push the snooze button five times before rolling out of bed? Waking up rested is not just about how much sleep you get, it's also about timing. Sleep Cycle's goal is to help you wake up feeling refreshed and energized.

 

During sleep, we go through three different phases of sleep: light, deep, and REM-sleep (the “dream state”). This entire cycle takes about 90 minutes, and is repeated many times throughout the night. Sleep Cycle analyzes your sleep and wakes you up in the lightest sleep phase so you wake up feeling rested. It "knows" when your alarm should go off to wake you up in the lightest sleep cycle, allowing you to wake up more easily.

5. Aura
Ever thought about meditation but were not sure where to start? Aura can help to get you in the habit. It has a simple premise: every day you get a new, personalized, three-minute meditation. The daily meditation that appears is based on your mood. The app will ask you if you’re feeling “stressed,” “okay,” “great," etc., to find the perfect meditation for your day. Aura claims to target stress, anxiety and depression. If a short meditation isn't enough for the day, Aura also has relaxing sounds or a Mindful Breather feature, with which you synchronize your breathing to an animated circle that expands and contracts on your phone screen. Aura is a user-friendly way to start your meditation practice.

6. Happier
If you’ve been down in the dumps lately, or just been having a really rough day, you may want to consider Happier. Happier is a self-affirmation app and gratitude journal that allows you to keep track of all the little things in life that make you happy. You can keep your affirmations private or choose to make them public for the other people on the app to enjoy. Happier allows you to look back on the positives. Their supportive community is always there to help you feel better. Try this free app to boost your optimism!

7. HealthyOut
HealthyOut may be just the thing to eat out without sacrificing your diet. You can choose from options such as “paleo," “gluten-sensitive,” and “vegan” to find restaurants that serve dishes with those criteria. You can also use the filters to pick what kind of cuisine you’re looking for, making it easy to narrow down your search and find a restaurant near you. This is the app to try when you’re exploring a new city, or simply want to explore the restaurants in your home town.


8. Lumosity
It’s easy to workout physically, but have you ever worked out mentally? Well Lumosity's mission is just that. This well-known app uses research-based “brain training”science to create fun mini games. These games challenge your memory, attention, and cognition abilities and can then give you an analysis of your cognitive patterns. Lumosity’s games are designed by scientists who are constantly coming up with new challenges to keep you guessing. It is free to download, and the free version comes with three challenges per day for you. When you are ready for more, the paid version has over 50 cognitive games. The monthly price for the paid version varies from $12/month to $5/month depending on subscription length.

9. Mealime
Mealtime is a good app to try if you’re always on the lookout for new healthy meal suggestions. There are hundreds of recipes focused on a healthy, balanced diet. You can even customize it to pick foods that align with a diet you may be on or want to try, allowing you to create your own meal plans. Mealime also takes each ingredient from the recipes you’ve chosen and creates a helpful grocery list for you to check off at the store. Adding to this convenience, the app also provides nutrition information about each recipe. The grocery list feature and most recipes are free, but there are some pro recipes that require a $5 monthly subscription.

 


*This article is meant for informative purposes only. NWI does not endorse or support any of these applications and is not responsible for the content of third-party websites or applications.

Tags:  fitness apps  healthy meals  meditation  phone apps  wellness  wellness apps 

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Mindfulness: Changing Your Mind (Literally)

Posted By NWI, Monday, June 6, 2016

Researchers from the University of British Columbia  and Chemnitz University of Technology have pooled the data from 20 studies on mindfulness, and have concluded that mindfulness, defined here as non-judgemental present-moment awareness, has significant physical effects on the human brain.

 

The report states that people who have taken part in an 8-week mindfulness training saw significant growth in their grey matter in eight specific regions of the brain. The regions of the brain that saw growth are the parts that regulate mental flexibility, decision making, and stress management.

 

The researchers assert that this study should have impact upon the business community, as the traits that are affected most by the mindfulness training are traits that are highly sought after and cultivated by business leaders.

 

To read the full mindfulness study, click here.


Tags:  Brain Health  Brain Science  Meditation  Mindfulness  Worksite Wellness 

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Find Peace and Living Well in Your Mind: Mindfulness

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

OmmmMindfulness:

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

Examples of Mindfulness:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Meditation: A Needed Gift After the Holiday Rush

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, December 23, 2013

MeditationGo, go, go! Slowing down seems like the last thing you want to do when you have so many things on your plate, but it may be the best answer. Sometimes you have to move slow to move fast. Or remember the old saying, measure twice, cut once? Meditation allows us to measure (or take stock of and collect) ourselves and our surroundings before we act.

The following are some great reasons to meditate:

Meditation counters the brain’s natural negative bias. The negative bias isn’t bad; it is an evolutionary tool that allows us to avoid danger and bad situations. For some folks, it can be in over-drive. Meditation as a tool can help individuals to counter this natural bias and focus on what is good and positive. And in doing so, it reduces our stress levels. Here’s the research: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3118731/?tool=pubmed published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal in 2011.

Meditation practice also leads to decreased blood pressure and hypertension, lowered cholesterol levels, more efficient oxygen use by the body, increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA, improved immune function, and decreased anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Meditation enhances concentration, memory, and the ability to learn. Here’s the research: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/ published by Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital in 2011. The research showed that after only eight weeks of meditation, participants experienced benefits associated with memory, learning, empathy, self-awareness, and stress regulation. In addition, the meditators reported decreased feelings of anxiety and greater feelings of calm.

Meditation helps to create better relationships through its ability to allow individuals to focus on what is "present” (in front of them such as their partner, friend, or family member) rather than focusing on unrelated worries or concerns. See the research from Harvard above.

Meditation improves creativity and problem-solving skills. Ever been stuck in a thought rut where you can’t let go of something? Ever have so much on your mind that you can’t think? Meditation helps individuals to slow down and focus on specific thoughts, goals, or feelings. See the Harvard research above.

Meditation decreases depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Without being too technical: Tthe process of slowing down our brains triggers the release of neurotransmitters (Chemicals including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins) that are linked to happiness, calm, pleasure, and exhilaration. For more on this effect visit http://www.chopra.com/ccl/why-meditate#sthash.xlpVBzU9.dpuf.

Tags:  Emotional  Intellectual  January 2014  Meditation  Physical  Social  Spiritual  Stress  Wellness 

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Mindfulness Through Meditation (Dec. 2012)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Saturday, December 1, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital have developed a new model of mindfulness through meditation that incorporates self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART) to decrease negative emotions while boosting the positives.

Mindfulness is the trait of staying aware of your responsibilities in the present moment. While this may sound simple, practicing mindfulness through meditation is necessary to encourage a healthy mind that lives in the moment. Researchers anticipated that during mindfulness, certain cognitive functions in the brain are active that assist in the formation of self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence. The active processes in the brain during mindful meditation consist of intention and motivation, attention regulation, emotion regulation, extinction and reconsolidation, pro social behavior, and non-attachment and de-centering.

When beginning the practice of mindfulness, an individual must have self-driven motivation to become aware of positive and negative personal habits. The understanding of one's own habits can help to control emotions and improve responses to negative emotions. The practice of meditation for mindfulness' goal is to distance oneself from undesirable thoughts and to improve the ability to understand and share feelings with others.

Attaining mindfulness is important for spiritual wellness because it helps us to form a mind-body connection. Living in the moment teaches us to lay aside emotions connected to occurrences that do not currently impact us. Those emotions (worrying about a past or upcoming event) can cause overeating, agitation, and anxiety. Mindfulness can help in forming connections with others and can help the individual better understand his or her emotions.

Article by Kelli Oligney, Associate Editor

Reference: Brigham and Women's Hospital. (2012). More than good vibes: researchers propose the science behind mindfulness. Retrieved on November 5, 2012, fromhttp://www.brighamandwomens.org/about_bwh/publicaffairs/news/pressreleases/PressRelease.aspx?sub=0&PageID=1305

Tags:  December 2012  Meditation  Mindfulness 

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