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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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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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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways To Be Well in December

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

 1.       Pick a designated driver. The holiday season is full of parties and get-togethers, many of which involve alcohol. Make sure the good times stay good by picking a designated driver to stay sober before you go out.

2.       Wash your hands often. Sure, it is always important to practice good hygiene, but this is a great time of year to be extra vigilant about hand washing. We travel more during the holidays which means coming in contact with more people from more places (possibly more germs!). Plus, it is influenza season and no one wants the flu to get in the way of the festivities.

3.       Get a flu shot. With all we know about the flu shot, this writer is still amazed that individuals can justify not getting one. I have heard everything from, “Can’t they make you sick?” to, “I’ve never gotten one.” Well, I’m not a disease specialist, but the CDC has some of those on its staff. Here’s what they say: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/

4.       For your financial wellness, make a budget before the holiday season. Individuals' pocket books can be stretched pretty thin with all of the new and flashy things to buy. Help your long-term financial goals by making a budget for gift-giving, entertaining, host gifts, etc. before the holiday season so your December bank statement won’t be such a shock.

5.       Practice balance. Eat a piece of pie. Have some sweet potatoes. Have a glass of wine if that’s your taste…just remember, the 10th bite and the 10th sip taste just like the first one. Practice moderation in your consumption. You won’t regret it.

6.       Exercise. In many regions, holiday get-togethers are inside events. Many times we get stagnant as we spend time visiting with friends and family. A little exercise before, during, and/or after get-togethers (family walk after a big meal?) can benefit both your waistline and your mental state. Exercise allows us to refresh our minds as well as our muscles.

7.       For social wellness, practice listening. Many of us get the chance to be around family and friends during the holidays that we are not normally around. This is a great time to learn from others and catch up on the lives of those we care about. If you have a senior relative, write down or record their stories. Those gems are priceless.

8.       Give. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and endless to-do lists, it might be easy to forget how many people go without. Some families do charity exchanges instead of gift exchanges. Some volunteer in soup kitchens for a day. There are many ways you can brighten the life of a stranger during the holiday season. You might find that in doing so, you've given a gift to your own spirit.

9.       Forgive and forget. The holidays are a great time to let go of grudges. While my family has always gotten along fairly well, I have friends who have holiday horror stories about this aunt or that cousin. If you can muster up a little forgiveness, the cheer of the holiday season is willing to do its part.

10.   Rest. Many people take vacation around the holidays, but don’t actually rest. Let’s face it, we all need to re-charge. Try to sleep in, or go to bed early at least a few days. Turn off electronic devices (and not just while flying). Give yourself permission to not think, not attend to, not react…if even for just an hour.


Tags:  December 2014  Emotional  Holidays  Intellectual  Occupational  Physical  Social  Spiritual  Wellness in 10 

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Wellness in 10: Occupational Wellness and 10 Tricks to Make Your Work Day Better

Posted By NWI, Saturday, November 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, October 20, 2014

 1.       Set the office temperature to between 70-72 degrees Fahrenheit for the most productive employees. (This temperature setting should be adjusted for jobs that require more movement or physical excursion). For more information visit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at http://www.iaqscience.lbl.gov/performance-temp-office.html

2.       Stand up. Numerous studies have pointed to health concerns associated with sitting all day (worse than heart disease!). But what can you do? The following are just a few ideas: Remember to stand up and move each hour; Ask your company for a standing/adjustable work station or moving workstation (such as a treadmill desk); make your meetings "walking meetings;” and monitor your TV and screen time at home. For more information, here is a great infographic from Popular Science: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-02/many-reasons-chair-killing-you

3.       Drink water. Other than thirst, the symptoms of even mild dehydration include light-headedness, headache, sluggishness, and even irritability. All of these feelings will impact the way you perform. For more information visit the Mayo Clinic site at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/basics/symptoms/con-20030056

4.       Pack a lunch. Although it might seem easier to buy something on the go, packing your lunch has many wellness benefits. First, packing a lunch can help you with your financial wellness. Here is a quick calculator at bankrate.com: http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/bring-lunch-savings-calculator.aspx. Second, packed lunches are often much healthier than purchased lunches both in portion size and ingredients. Of course, you must pack a healthy lunch for this to be true! There are some great ideas for healthy packed lunches on Greatist.com at http://greatist.com/health/35-quick-and-healthy-low-calorie-lunches

5.       Say "Good Morning” to your co-workers. Not only is social wellness important in the office, but greeting people is polite and acknowledges that other individuals share the same office space as you. There is an outstanding article on the subject at Jobacle.com here: http://www.jobacle.com/blog/7-reasons-to-say-good-morning-to-your-co-workers.html

6.       Take your vacation days. Let’s face it, we all need a break. Downtime helps us to recharge. While there is a lot of research on the subject, check out this CBS piece for an informative overview: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/spending-your-vacation-days-is-good-for-america/

7.       Stay home when you’re sick. Really. We. Don’t. Want. What. You. Have. Here’s an informative article on subject from Inc.com: http://www.inc.com/suzanne-lucas/90-percent-of-your-employees-come-to-work-when-they-are-sick-and-its-your.html

8.       Watch the sarcasm, passive aggressive behavior, and gossip. All of these behaviors are counter-productive although they may feel "good” in the moment. This advice is summarized in the Thriving in the Workplace for Dummies book. Here is the Dummies website with a link to purchase the book: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/thriving-in-the-workplace-allinone-for-dummies-che.html

9.       Make "to-do” lists and check things off. Martin Seligman made the link between accomplishment and happiness in his book Flourish. If you want to know more, visit the University of Pennsylvania website about authentic happiness here: https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/

10.   Don’t be afraid of change, but know thyself. Some folks are just unhappy and will be unhappy wherever they work. If you think this is you, seek help from friends you trust or a mental health professional that can work with you and your outlook of the world. But sometimes, individuals are "situationally” unhappy. If this might be you, consider a change. Indeed.com and other job search sites are a great place to get inspired about other ways to spend your working hours.

Tags:  November 2014  Occupational  Wellness in 10 

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Gallup Releases 2014 Global Well-being Index: Room for Improvement

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, September 22, 2014

Building on its State of American Well-Being Index, Gallup released the results of its global well-being research in September 2014.

The index includes five elements of well-being: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical.

Regional statistics from the Americas, Asia, Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa show that, overall, the well-being in the Americas is rated the highest at 33% thriving in three or more of the above categories. This is compared to the global reports of only 17% reporting thriving in three or more categories.

In fact, in each category (purpose, social, financial, community, and physical) the Americas ranked on average between 5 and 22 points higher than the other regions collectively in terms of reports of thriving. The European region ranked the second highest.

What does this mean for the average person? At a 33% “thriving” score, there is clearly still room for improvement…even in the Americas. However, wealth, education, and life partnerships (including tight family relationships) were large determinants of the satisfaction that existed.  In addition, the survey results make a strong argument that society needs to look beyond physical well-being to less concrete ideas about well-being formed by an individual’s sense of purpose, social structures, financial stability, community engagement, and yes, also their physical well-being.

The next time you think about being well, take a page from the National Wellness Institute’s Six Dimensional Model of Wellness, and go beyond physical exercise. Your emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social, and occupational wellness is important too!

Tags:  Emotional  Occupational  October 2014  Physical  Social  Wellness 

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Your Body-Clock and Wellness…

Posted By NWI, Monday, September 1, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New research (July 2014) shows that certain types of artificial light can help humans to regulate their internal body clocks or circadian rhythms.

According to the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences, circadian rhythms are our bodies’ physical, mental, and behavioral cycles and are impacted by light and darkness. Circadian rhythms can influence our sleep, hormones, and body temperature among other bodily functions. Circadian rhythms that are off have been linked to sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. Individuals who have trouble sleeping at night, sleep during the day, live in a region with longer days and nights, work in spaces with no windows, and/or who travel and experience jet-lag, are at larger risk of throwing off their circadian rhythms.

This new research from INSERM (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale) suggests that dimly lit working environments with specific types of artificial light can help to reset the internal clocks of those who spend times in those environments. The application for this research, the report suggests, could lead to specific light design strategies for businesses and individuals whose exposure to natural light is not sufficient.

Specifically, light that included blue wavelengths (white light enriched with blue…full blue lights were not needed to achieve these results) helped the bodies in the study to regulate circadian rhythms more so than light with only white wavelengths. Further, the white light enriched with blue light can be dim and the individual only has to be exposed to this type of light between 30 minutes and two hours to have positive impact. And finally, the positive impact of this type of lighting did not appear to diminish over time.

So what should you do for your overall wellness if you think your circadian rhythms are consistently impacted? Get more daytime exposure to artificial blue-enriched white light.

National Institutes of Health. (2014) Circadian Rhythm Fact Sheet. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Pages/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.aspx

Raymond P. Najjar, Luzian Wolf, Jacques Taillard, Luc J. M. Schlangen, Alex Salam, Christian Cajochen, Claude Gronfier. Chronic Artificial Blue-Enriched White Light Is an Effective Countermeasure to Delayed Circadian Phase and Neurobehavioral Decrements. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (7): e102827 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0102827

Tags:  Circadian  Occupational  Physical  September 2014  Sleep 

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Work-life Balance: Do Men Have the Upper Hand?

Posted By NWI, Monday, September 1, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A research paper released in August, 2014 suggests that men may have the upper hand when requesting work schedules and arrangements that support work-life balance.

The research found that men who requested flexible work arrangements (such as working from home a few days a week or the ability to work non-traditional hours) got more favorable responses than women who asked for similar arrangements.

The research also found that both men and women who made the requests to accommodate childcare needs were more successful than men and women who made similar requests when children were not a factor.

It is important to note that the research asked participants to read and react to a number of different scenarios and didn’t look at actual instances of requests. Participants read the scenarios and then reported on how likely they would be to grant the requested flexible work schedule.

In 69.7 percent of cases where the scenario had a man making the request, study participants said they would be likely to grant the requested schedule. This compares to only 56.7 percent of cases where a women was the focus of the scenario asking for a flexible schedule. Moreover, participants went on to rate the men making the request as “extremely likeable” 24.3 percent of the time, but only found requesting women to be “extremely likeable” three percent of the time.

As the author explained the results in an American Sociological Association press release, "Today, we think of women's responsibilities as including paid labor and domestic obligations, but we still regard breadwinning as men's primary responsibility and we feel grateful if men contribute in the realm of childcare or to other household tasks."

The author went on to explain that as more women earn as much if not more than their mates, this bias will only serve to increase the gender gap.

Individuals with childcare reasons were still seen as more favorable than individuals asking for flexible work schedules to reduce commute times and/or their carbon footprint.

The ability to balance work and life is an important ingredient in a well life. Bringing biases to the surface will only help individuals and organizations to evaluate their practices as we work towards a more well society.

Munsch, C. (August 2014). Flexible work, flexible penalties: The effect of gender, childcare, and type of request on the flexibility bias. Presented at the American Sociological Association's 109th Annual Meeting. 

Tags:  Balance  Intellectual  Occupational  September 2014  Social  Spir  Work 

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Wellness in 10: 10 facts about wellness coaches

Posted By NWI, Friday, August 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, July 21, 2014

Health coaching is growing in popularity, however, not all people understand what health coaches do. Below are 10 facts about health coaches to help you determine if seeing this type of professional might be beneficial to you.

  1. A Health and Wellness Coach is a guide, mentor, and aide who helps a client take responsibility for his or her own health.
  2. A Health and Wellness Coach encourages personal responsibility.
  3. A Health and Wellness Coach should be seen as a source of support on your wellness journey.
  4. Health and Wellness Coaches may help a client to focus on weight management, food cravings, sleep, energy, stress management, smoking cessation, diabetes management, among other health empowerment areas. 
  5. A Health and Wellness Coach does not diagnose, treat or take responsibility for bringing about wellness changes in a client’s life; rather, he/she guides and supports the client as they progress towards personal wellness goals.
  6. Health and Wellness Coaches tend to focus on behavioral choices along with the basic understanding of dietary patterns and overall health.
  7. Many Health and Wellness Coaches use a strengths-based approach: instead of aiming to correct what is not working for you, they work to build what is working well for you from a wellness standpoint.
  8. Health and Wellness coaches are not (unless they hold another degree) therapists, personal trainers, dietitians, nurses, etc. They are trained to aide you as you work to make positive health and wellness decisions.
  9. If you are looking for a Health and Wellness Coach, first start by checking with your employer. Many workplaces now offer this service as part of a health plan. Health and Wellness Coaches might also be found by contacting your local fitness facility, medical center, or through an online search.
  10. Because there are limited degrees specific to wellness coaching (this degree program is growing, but is still limited), individuals may want to make sure their wellness health coach has a background or degree in the specific area with which they need help (such as nutrition). 

For more information on health and wellness coaching visit: The International Coaching Federation at http://www.coachfederation.org/need/landing.cfm?ItemNumber=978&navItemNumber=567

Tags:  August 2014  Emotional  Intellectual  Occupational  Physical  Social  Spiritual  Wellness In 10 

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Wellness in 10+: What happy people do differently!

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, June 18, 2014

HappinessAfter writing about the detrimental impact of feeling lonely in another article for this month’s Wellness News You Can Use, we have decided to dedicate Wellness in 10 to the things that happy people do differently. If you are on Facebook, or get forwarded e-mails, you may have seen the Top 10 lists of what "happy people do differently." There are many of these lists in circulation. For this Top 10, we gathered our wellness favorites from around the web. You’ll notice there are more than 10. There is always room for more happiness! J

Happy people…

·         Seek balance

·         Don’t sweat the small stuff

·         Take responsibility for their actions

·         Surround themselves with other happy people

·         Are honest with themselves and others

·         Smile often and show other signs of happiness (p.s. you can fake it until you make it…it helps!)

·         Are passionate

·         See challenges as opportunities

·         Live in the present

·         Engage in activities that fit their strengths, values and lifestyle 

·         Practice gratitude

·         Practice optimism

·         Focus on inner happiness and not material wealth

·         Develop coping strategies

·         Take time out for themselves and their health

·         Cultivate spiritual emotions

·         Don’t care if they are liked

·         Love their friends and family, but don’t rely on them

·         When you ask them what they do, they don’t give you a job title

·         When you ask them where they live, they say, “at the moment…”

·         Embrace their impermanence

·         Don’t try to change people, but work to accept them

·         Believe age is just a number

·         Never stop learning

·         Don’t gossip

·         Never expect anything in return

·         Avoid complaining

·         Work on forgiveness

·         Savor the small things

·         Commit to goals

·         Take the time to listen

·         Get enough sleep

·         Eat well

·         Exercise

·         Treat everyone with kindness

·         Obey their conscience

·         Take time to relax

·         Know the difference between "need" and "want"

·         Help others thrive

·        (Comment below to add your thoughts to the list!)

How to use this list: Pick one or two items to practice each day. Wake up and say, “Today I will learn something new, show kindness to each individual I encounter, etc…”

Tags:  Emotional  Happiness  Intellectual  July 2014  Occupational  Physical  Social  Spiritual  Wellness In 10 

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