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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways to Improve Your (Or Your Friends') Social Skills

Posted By NWI, Monday, June 6, 2016


Wellness people can generally be described as “people-people.” Even the introverts among us often like to get together with a couple close friends or relatives and cultivate those relationships. After all, our whole industry is concerned with the improvement of the health and wellbeing of our chosen populations.


For a whole swath of people, though, social interaction is rife with anxiety. Every interaction with another person is a hurdle that must be navigated. If you know someone like that, or are one yourself, here are some suggestions to help develop social skills.


1.     Think Small


You don’t run a marathon on your first day of training. Likewise, don’t try to overcome social anxiety by giving a speech in front of your company’s board of directors. Practice social interactions in situations that have little consequence. For example, ask the person ringing you up in the grocery line how her or his day is going.  Small steps can take you a long way toward building up confidence.


2.     Practice makes perfect


A world-class archer didn’t shoot a bull’s eye the first time he took up the bow. It took years of practice and refinement to get good. Similarly, you won’t have sparkling wit and wisdom the first time you strike up a conversation. If you look at it like a skill, though, you can learn from every interaction. What went well? What didn’t? Before long you’ll figure out what makes you comfortable in a conversation, and what leaves you cold.


3.     Learn from the pros


What makes a person good at social interaction? It can be a variety of things, and it often varies from person to person. Find a friend who you think is exemplary at social interaction and observe what he or she does. Does she have an unwavering smile? Does he hold eye contact? Does she use the name of the person she talks with to feel more connected? Take some mental notes on what these people do, and adapt some of these techniques to work in your advantage.


4.     Commit


Just like improving in other areas takes commitment and hard work, improving social skills can test your patience and resolve. Commit to practicing social interactions and improving your skills like any other. If necessary, keep a journal and set goals for the number of interactions you have in a week.


5.     Act and React


When in the middle of a social interaction, watch out other people are reacting to you. Is it a positive reaction? Negative? Keep mental notes on what is helping you get positive reactions from the people you’re interacting with.

6.     Don’t get discouraged


You’re gonna screw up.


….and that’s ok.  Stop looking at failure as an end, and look at it as practice for future success. Failure isn’t really failure unless you didn’t learn anything from it. So accept the fact that you’re not going to be perfect, and learn from your mistakes so you can do better next time.


7.     Ask open-ended questions


A sure conversation-killer is to only ask questions that can be answered with “yes “ or “no.” If you find yourself falling into that trap, practice asking questions that start with “why,” or especially “why do you think…” By doing so, you’re asking someone to insert their thoughts or opinions and continue the conversation.


8.     Offer compliments


Want a sure-fire way to make someone like you? Tell them something nice about themselves. You get bonus points if it’s not completely obvious. Do you think it’s cool that your friend takes time to seek out new music? Did you appreciate that the grocery bagger took an extra second to double-bag your eggs so they wouldn’t break on the way home? Do you have a teacher that has taken the time to learn every student’s name? Tell them, and see how good it makes them feel to be recognized.


9.     Body language is social interaction, too


Remember that how you sit or stand while you’re talking with someone says as much as your words do. Remember to be relaxed, smile, and have straight posture. You’ll be amazed how a little bit of improvement in body language can take you a long way toward building new relationships.


10.   Put yourself out there


Getting a lifetime of practice is only valuable if you put your skills to use. Give yourself a goal date or event to look forward to, and work toward it. It might be a work outing. It might be a sporting event. It might be a family picnic. Pick a goal that seems challenging but attainable.  You may even choose the National Wellness Conference. There’s no better place to have positive social interaction than with a room full of friendly wellness professionals.



This list may not apply to you, as a wellness pro. Odds are that you love working with and being around people. Keep an eye out for the people who struggle, though, and forward on this list. You may be the one to spur a new opportunity for that person to improve his or her social wellness.

Tags:  Anxiety  Health  Social  Social Wellness  Wellness In 10 

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The ROI of Mental Health

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Business decisions worldwide are made every day based on "return on investment" (ROI).  Should you hire a new employee? Should you exhibit at a trade show? Should you buy a new car for the fleet? These things are all determined by how much value you can expect in return for what you put in.


What if that same calculation could be used to determine the value of investments in health care? And what if the ROI on your healthcare investment was 5-to-1?


These are the exact numbers being reported by the World Health Organization about the investment in mental health and depression.


According to the WHO, the number of common mental health disorders increased by nearly 50% between 1990 and 2013, from 416 million to 615 million cases worldwide.  With nearly ten percent of the world’s population being affected, and as many as 20% of people being affected by mental health disorders during times of emergency.


The WHO’s study projects the costs and outcomes of treating mental health disorders between 2016 and 2030. The estimated costs of scaling up treatment, primarily counseling and antidepressant medication, amounted to US $147 billion. The results of that investment are astounding. A 5% improvement in labor force participation and productivity is valued at $399 billion, and improved health adds another $310 billion in returns – a return nearly five-to-one.


To read the WHO’s information on treating mental health, click here.

Tags:  Health  Mental Health  Social  wellness 

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Women, Breast Cancer: Cultural Background May Impact Drug Effectiveness

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

The cause for poorer outcomes for African American breast cancer patients was identified in a recent study. According to an April 2015 press release from Georgetown University Medical School, African American women with estrogen-receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer have cancer cells with a stronger survival mechanism than the cancer cells of European-American patients.

The Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers found that breast tumors from African-American patients show reduced sensitivity to tamoxifen, a leading treatment for ER+ breast cancer.

To give perspective, about 70 percent of all breast cancers are ER+. The researchers caution that biology is not the only factor impacting African American women and stress the need to continue to reduce racial disparities in treatment overall.

Cavalli, L. Array-CGH and miRNA expression profiling of triple negative breast cancer in African-American women. American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting. May 2015.

For more information on Women’s health issues visit:

May 10 – 16 (Mother’s Day week)

Women’s Health Week

Office on Women’s Health

Department of Health and Human Services



Tags:  Breast Cancer  Diversity  May 2015  Physical  Social  Women 

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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: 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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Do You Have Equal Access to Healthcare?

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Updated: Thursday, March 12, 2015

April is National Minority Health & Health Disparities Month sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health Resource Center www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov.

There are documented health disparities in the U.S. For instance, according to the U.S. Office on Minority Health (above)

“In 2012, 50.4 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 74.4 percent of non-Hispanic Whites used private health insurance. Also in 2012, 40.6 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 29.3 percent of non-Hispanic Whites relied on Medicaid, public health insurance. Finally, 17.2 percent of African-Americans in comparison to 10.4 percent of non-Hispanic whites were uninsured.”


“In 2012, 47.5 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives had private health insurance coverage. 38.1 percent of AI/ANs relied on Medicaid coverage, and 22.6 percent of AI/ANs had no health insurance coverage.”


“It is significant to note that Hispanics have the highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group within the United States. In 2012 the Census Bureau reported that private insurance coverage among Hispanic subgroups varied as follows: 38.8 percent of Mexicans, 49.6 percent of Puerto Ricans, 48.4 percent of Cubans, 35.9 percent of Central Americans. Public health coverage varied among Hispanic subgroups: 33.2 percent of Mexicans, 42.7 percent of Puerto Ricans, 32.7 of Cubans, and 27.8 percent of Central Americans. Those without health insurance coverage varied among Hispanic subgroups: 31.6 percent of Mexicans, 14.1 percent of Puerto Ricans, 23.8 percent of Cubans and 38.8 percent of Central Americans. In 2012, 29 percent of the Hispanic population was not covered by health insurance, as compared to 10.4 percent of the non-Hispanic White population.”

The good news is that the U.S. government and many organizations recognize this disparity and are working to create resources to ensure that all people have access to good and affordable healthcare.

To find more information including statistics, research, and local and community resources, individuals can call the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health at:

1-800-444-6472 (English and Spanish)
TDD: 301-251-1432
E-mail: info@minorityhealth.hhs.gov

 Depending on the difficulty of the request, searches may take up to five business days to complete. An Information Specialist will work with you to make sure you receive the most accurate resources for your program.

Tags:  April 2015  Disparities  Healthcare  Social 

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April Inspiration: The Joy of Laughter

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Updated: Thursday, March 12, 2015

April is National Humor Month sponsored by the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor at www.aath.org.


At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities. ~Jean Houston

Even if there is nothing to laugh about, laugh on credit. ~Author Unknown

Mirth is God's medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Laughter is an instant vacation. ~Milton Berle

So many tangles in life are ultimately hopeless that we have no appropriate sword other than laughter. ~Gordon W. Allport

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. ~Victor Borge

What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul. ~Yiddish Proverb

When people are laughing, they're generally not killing each other. ~Alan Alda

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book. ~Irish Proverb

I've always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from the soul saying, "Ain't that the truth." ~Quincy Jones

A man isn't poor if he can still laugh. ~Raymond Hitchcock

Remember, men need laughter sometimes more than food. ~Anna Fellows Johnston

You can't deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants. ~Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis

Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing. ~Ken Kesey

If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy. ~Proverb

Tags:  April 2015  Emotional  Inspiration  Laughter  Social  Spiritual 

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Wanna Be Well? Take Friends Just As Seriously As Diet and Exercise.

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Updated: Thursday, March 12, 2015

A new study reports that loneliness and isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity. The March 2015 Brigham Young University study also concludes that the effects of loneliness and isolation are just as damaging for people who like to be alone. If you are under 65, the risk is even greater.

The study authors explained that loneliness and social isolation are different. A very social person may still feel alone, while an isolated person my feel perfectly content. The impact on health and premature death, however, is the same.


Although previous studies have been done on the topic of the health risks of loneliness and isolation, this study suggests that the mortality risks are the same as other risk factors (as previously thought) but also that the risk factors actually are greater than the risk factors associated with obesity.


Holt-Lunstad, J, et al.  Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: A meta-analytic review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2015; 10 (2): 227 DOI:10.1177/1745691614568352

Tags:  April 2015  Emotional  Friends  Loneliness  Physical  Social 

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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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