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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.


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Broaden Your Horizons through Positive Emotional Expression

Posted By Dr. Duke Biber, Ph.D., Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

As I teach and mentor students in the field of health and wellness, I repeatedly get asked, “Which component of wellness is the most important for me to devote my time, energy, and resources?” As each of NWI’s Six Dimensions of Wellness promote resilience and thriving, it is important to respond to my students with multicultural competency, and in a way that can improve their personal wellness.

To answer this question, I continually find myself reverting back to Dr. Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory on positive emotions. This theory suggests that positive emotions, such as love, joy, contentment, and gratitude, broaden our thinking during a situation, allowing us to respond with a wide variety of positive behaviors. 

Negative emotions, on the other hand, tend to narrow our range of potential behavioral responses. When we experience fear, we tend to respond by fleeing or attempted escape, which historically served as a biological method of self-preservation when running from a threat. However, such a response is no longer needed across most workplace, school, or hospital environments today. 

The effect of positive and negative emotions can be understood through the following scenario:

University undergraduate student Jeena Varghese is presenting a research poster at a conference for the first time. As she prepares to share her research with others, Jeena experiences fear that she may embarrass herself or fail to answer a question correctly, leading her to skip the conference altogether. 

Alternatively, Jeena could approach the presentation with the hope to learn from other wellness professionals, optimism about her presentation skills, and gratitude for the opportunity to present. Such positive emotions may result in her attending and succeeding at the conference, networking with other professionals, and even engaging in other scholarly activities that she may not have considered, previously. Her positive emotions broadened her perspective of the situation, allowing her to respond with a wide variety of behavioral responses.

I urge individuals to focus on emotional wellness through awareness techniques such as mindfulness activities, self-compassion training, and cognitive reframing. Any individual can benefit from learning positive emotional expression, as the following four emotions are relevant across all cultures:

1. Joy
2. Interest
3. Contentment
4. Love

Each of these four emotions can be understood and expressed regardless of socio-economic status, education level, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. 

Based on broaden-and-build research, and the above example, I urge students to become aware of their emotions and practice positive reframing when necessary. By learning to express positive emotions, individuals build physical, intellectual, and social resources, promoting resilience and coping when life becomes difficult.

While all of NWI’s Six Dimensions of Wellness are important, I recommend a preliminary focus on positive emotional expression, as it positively impacts all of the other areas of wellness. 

Dr. Duke Biber teaches and conducts research at the Department of Sport Management, Wellness, and Physical Education at the University of West Georgia. Dr. Biber has his Doctoral degree in exercise psychology from Georgia State University and Master’s degree in sport psychology from Georgia Southern University. He has experience teaching sport and exercise psychology, mental and emotional wellness, health behavior change, weight training, and a variety of fitness courses. His research interests include psychological determinants of exercise as well as identity development, self-compassion, mindfulness, and spirituality. 

Tags:  Emotional Expression  Emotional intelligence  Emotional Wellness  Positivity 

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Belief in Exercise Turns Into Real Benefit

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Researchers from Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg (Germany) published some astonishing findings about the effects of a positive mindset toward exercise in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine this month.  The researchers found that exercise had a stronger and more positive effect for those who believed that it would have a positive effect.


The researchers invited 76 men and women between the ages of 18 and 30 to come to their facilities to ride on stationary bicycles. A subset of this group was shown a video promoting the health benefits of stationary bike riding before taking part in the experiment. All participants were also asked whether they believed int eh positive effects of exercise. The researchers found that subjects who had either seen the video, believed in exercise, or both, displayed a better mood, enjoyed the exercise more, and reduced their anxiety more than those who did not.


Electroencephalogram (EEG) read-outs of the subjects also showed that the exercise-positive subjects were more relaxed on a neuronal level than those who were not.


The researchers did not find significant changes to the positive physical effects of exercise, but on the mental level, the power of positivity seems to have a significant impact.


To read the full study, click here.

Tags:  Belief  Exercise  Health  Mind-Body  Physical  Positivity 

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

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, November 3, 2015

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


1.    Rainy Days

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


2.    Yard Work

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


3.    Interruptions

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


4.    The Sniffles

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


5.    Challenging Coworkers

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


6.    Holiday Travel

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


7.    Neighborhood mischief

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


8.    Burnt food

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


9.    Cold Weather

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


10. Networking

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


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


Tags:  Gratitude  Health  Optimism  Positivity  Wellness In 10 

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