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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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Wellness in 10: Simple Steps to Get Out of Your Rut.

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Friday, June 28, 2013

Goals"Most people aim at nothing in life and hit it with amazing accuracy.” -- Jim Cathcart

Lingering for too long in a personal or professional "rut” can have a negative impact on your overall wellness. Intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, socially, physically, and occupationally, human happiness is in part linked to achievement. (For more on this idea, check out Dr. Martin Seligman’s book, Authentic Happiness:www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx).

 

To help you either get out of a current rut, or to achieve more for yourself in the future, here are a few rules to live by:

 

  1. Spend time thinking about the future, what you want to achieve, and your desires for your life. These are large, life goals. Goals enable our long-term vision as well as our short-term action.
  2. Once you have a good idea of what you want, write it down. Writing down goals helps to clarify them in your mind and a list of goals serves as a good reminder when distractions occur.
  3. Consider having different types of goals such as personal, professional, financial, educational, artistic, attitude, pleasure, and public service goals. Remember, achievement doesn’t just have to be about you. Serving others has a positive impact on our overall wellness.
  4. Break your large goals down into manageable pieces. So, if you want to get a promotion at work in the next year, a short-term "small” goal would be to look for opportunities to volunteer for new projects and responsibilities…or to set a meeting with your boss for guidance on your career goals.
  5. Express your goals in a positive way. Instead of saying "No more fattening, fried food” think about writing "Find 10 healthy recipes I really enjoy!”
  6. Review your goals. Are they SMART goals?: Specific (or Significant), Measurable (or Meaningful), Attainable (or Action-Oriented), Relevant (or Rewarding), Time-bound (or Trackable). This is the difference between saying, "I want to be thin,” and "I want to lose 30 pounds over the next two years to better my health and be more active with my children.”
  7. Create "To-Do” Lists to keep yourself on track. Daily, weekly, and monthly to-dos will keep you on track. Let’s face it—it is easier to watch a football game than it is to write a business plan for that business you’ve always wanted to start. Having to-do lists reminds us that we can’t always pick the easier choice if we want to get to where we are going.
  8. Prioritize your to-do lists. There are only so many hours in a day. Decide what you most want to achieve each day, week, and month…and make sure your top goal happens. If you have more time, by all means, keep moving forward.
  9. Know: Failure does not exist…only set-backs. You choose to keep moving forward.
  10. Reward yourself. Acknowledge achievements to boost your confidence for your next go!

Tags:  Emotional  Goals  Intellectual  July 2013  Occupational  Physical  Social  Spiritual  Wellness In 10 

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Wellness in 10: Ten Reasons Why Spiritual Wellness is Good For You

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, May 29, 2013

First, a definition. Spiritual Wellness is reflective of our individual search for meaning and purpose in human existence. You are more spiritually well when your actions become more consistent with your beliefs and values.

1. Finding meaning and purpose centers us and allows us to better understand who we are and how we fit into the world that surrounds us.

2. Having meaning and purpose connects us to ideas larger than our immediate selves and helps us to focus on what matters in the long run vs. what our current situation may be.

3. Having meaning and purpose makes decisions and choices easier, as it shows our acceptance of and practice of a specific belief system.

4. Meaning and purpose grounds us when we are in periods of change, as the meaning and purpose are often consistent.

5. To better understand how we fit into the world around us, we must develop a greater sense of empathy…time spent thinking of others instead of ourselves puts our own lives into perspective.

6. Having a spiritual element in our lives can actually help us heal when we are suffering from disease.

7. Having a spiritual element in our lives may prevent mental disease such as depression. In a study of more than 92,500 postmenopausal women, those who reported attending religious services were 56 percent more likely to view life positively and 27 percent less likely to have symptoms of depression than women who didn't attend services. The study appeared in the May 2012 Journal of Religion and Health.

8. A 2009 study from Princeton suggests that religious (remember, this "Wellness in 10” is about spirituality, religion is only one facet) people feel more fit, reporting better health, more energy, and less pain. They’re also less likely to smoke and more likely to be married, have supportive friends, and be treated with respect.

9. Being spiritual does not have to be the same as being religious. While being religious might involve an individual attending services, praying, or studying scripture…being spiritual could be a way for an individual to explore things that matter to them in more depth, and with more conviction. From meditation to fishing, from family to dancing…spirituality allows individuals to explore all that is good and nourishing in the world around them.

10. Hopefully, being spiritual reminds us to be thankful. Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness, positive emotions, the ability to relish good experiences, an improvement in health, the ability to deal with adversity, and the ability to build strong relationships.

Happy Spiritual Journey!

Resources:

http://www.princeton.edu/~deaton/downloads/Religion_and_Health_All_August09.pdf

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2011/November/in-praise-of-gratitude

Johnstone B,Yoon DP,Cohen D,Schopp LH,McCormack G,Campbell J,Smith M. Relationships among spirituality, religious practices, personality factors, and health for five different faith traditions. Department of Health Psychology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO. J Relig Health.2012 Dec;51(4):1017-41. doi: 10.1007/s10943-012-9615-8.)

Tags:  Emotional  June 2013  Spiritual  Wellness In 10 

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Six Simple Ways to Bring More Spirituality into Your Life

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Be quiet. Have quiet moments not only to reflect on your life and the things happening around you but also to clear your head of the endless chatter associated with modern life so you can re-ground yourself. Take quiet time to focus on the simple things like your breathing, your body, and your person, and reflect on what an amazing structure you are.

Notice. There are a million wonderful things that happen every day. Slow down, look up from your mobile device, turn off the TV or radio, and find at least one of those amazing things each day. That "thing” is a gift to you. Keeping a journal of these gifts is a wonderful tool to reflect on in those moments when you are stressed or down.

Look for ways to express gratitude. Dr. Martin Seligman, in his book Authentic Happiness, discusses the power of gratitude on an individual’s overall well-being. During a class he was holding, he had students write a letter of thanks...in addition to other gratitude exercises. Students, and the results of several studies in the field, pointed to an association between gratitude and overall well-being. After all, it is hard to be down in the dumps when you prove to yourself how many things you have to be thankful for.

Listen. Listen to people you love, to people you like, and even to folks who aren’t your cup of tea. Listen without speaking or thinking of what you may say next, or about what vegetable you might have with dinner. Practice the power of hearing without interjecting. You might be surprised what you learn about others and even yourself.

Have a bucket list. It doesn’t matter what’s on it, but make a point of doing things that inspire you, make you laugh, make you happy…and you will bring that joy to the world when you greet it.

Smile. So simple. Try it now. You are radiant.

Tags:  Emotional  June 2013  Spiritual 

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Improve Focus, Be Mindful

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Monday, April 1, 2013

Mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment and can help individuals learn about their own personalities. Researchers from Washington State University in St. Louis claim that mindfulness can improve self-knowledge to understand oneself better.

Many people misinterpret their own emotions and this can lead to poor decision-making and decreased life satisfaction. Researchers claim that paying attention to emotions with non-judgmental observation can help break barriers to understanding individual feelings. We all want to feel good about ourselves and see ourselves in a positive light, but recognizing our faults in a non-judgmental way can also be beneficial. Being mindful can help to increase this type of self-awareness.

Here are some easy ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life:

· Practice being mindful during daily tasks. Become aware of thoughts and emotions while doing routine activities.

· Allow the mind to wander. The basis of this practice allows individuals to focus on their thought patterns and to practice re-focusing

· Keep mindful training sessions short. This benefits individuals more than long sessions because longer sessions cause individuals to lose focus.

· Choose a prompt as a reminder. Having a prompt can be as simple as a daily activity or a piece of furniture in the home. Whenever the task is completed or the furniture is seen, this can act as a reminder to practice mindfulness at that point in time.

Mindfulness is good for overall wellness, because being mindful can decrease stress, reduce pain, and increase focus and brain function. Many methods of practicing mindfulness exist and can be implemented daily to decrease distraction and improve mental focus.

Mindfulness incorporates both focusing and awareness. Focusing is an excellent place to start training your mind. To make changes, however, you’ll want to shift from focusing to becoming more aware of your thoughts and feelings. At any time you may go back to simply focusing.

Awareness Exercise from The Mindful Word

Start by taking your mind inward for a moment by focusing on the breath. Take a few gentle deep breaths, from the belly. In and out. Re—lax… Let go…Continue to breathe for as long as you wish.

Now take your mind outward. See your thoughts, feelings, moods, and sensations as objects floating down a stream, coming into view, and vanishing from sight. Simply watch without judgment or analysis. Just watch them pass. Breathe…inhale, exhale.

Now pluck an object from the stream and focus on it. Let the other sensations and thoughts go by in the background. Note any new thoughts or feelings that arise from observing this object. Sit with these thoughts and feelings for a moment. Breathe…inhale, exhale.

Whenever you’re ready to leave this object behind, simply deposit it on a leaf and let it float downstream. Breathe...inhale, exhale.

Article by: Kelli Oligney, Associate Editor

References:

Mikulak, A. (March 14, 2013). Know Thyself: How Mindfulness Can Improve Self-Knowledge. Association for Psychological Science. Retrieved on March 14, 2013, from http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/know-thyself-how-mindfulness-can-improve-self-knowledge.html

Tartakovsky, M. (2012). 7 Easy Ways to Be Mindful Everyday. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 26, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/06/09/7-easy-ways-to-be-mindful-every-day/

The Mindful Word. (April 22, 2012). MBSR: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction exercises. Retrieved on March 27, 2013, from http://www.themindfulword.org/2012/mbsr-mindfulness-based-stress-reduction/

Tags:  April 2013  Intellectual  Mindfulness  Spiritual 

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Reflection: The Motivating Tool to Help Others (Sept. 2012)

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

According to a new study published in Psychological Science, reflecting on what one has given to others instead of what has been received can motivate individuals to become more helpful.

Researchers Adam Grant from the University of Pennsylvania and Jane Dutton from the University of Michigan were interested in how reflection using writing impacts a person's behavior toward others. They hypothesized that using reflectionmakes individuals view themselves as more caring and inspires people to be more helpful. The study focused on individuals involved in a fundraiserand split participants into two groups where one wrote about instances in their life of giving while the other wrote about receiving. The individuals picked up their payment for participating after the study and were given the option to donate five dollars to aid victims of the 2011 tsunami and earthquakein Japan. Researchers found that those who had written about giving more commonly donated their money than the receiving group.

In order to get people to help others, self reflection is a great motivational tool that can inspire a person to be more caring and helpfulinstead of merely focusing on what one has received from others. Reflection can also strengthen one's own confidence when recognizing good deeds thathave been done for others.

Article by Kelli Oligney, Associate Editor

References: Mikulak, A. (August, 2012). Thinking about giving, not receiving, motivates people to help others. Association for Psychological Science. Retrieved on August 13, 2012, from http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/thinking-about-giving-not-receiving-motivates-people-to-help-others.html

Tags:  Emotional  September 2012  Spiritual 

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Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Religion and Compassion (May 2012)

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

A study out in April 2012 from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that the highly religious are less motivated by compassion when helping a stranger than are atheists, agnostics, and less religious people. In three experiments, social scientists found that compassion consistently drove less religious people to be more generous. For highly religious people, however, compassion was largely unrelated to how generous they were, according to the findings which are published in the most recent online issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

In the study, the link between compassion and generosity was found to be stronger for those who identified as being non-religious or less religious. In general, less religious people relied on their strength of emotional connectionto another person to determine whether they would help that person or not. The more religious tended to use doctrine and communal identity and reputation concerns to determine their amount of generosity.

According to the study's authors, compassion is defined in the study as an emotion felt when people see the suffering of others which then motivates them to help, often at a personal risk or cost. While the study examined the link between religion, compassion and generosity, it did not directly examine the reasons for why highly religious people are less compelled by compassion to help others. However, researchers hypothesize that deeply religious people may be more strongly guided by a sense of moral obligation than their more non-religious counterparts.

Additional findings include the idea that although compassion is associated with pro-sociality among both less religious and more religious individuals, this relationship is particularly robust for less religious individuals.

The study was funded by grants from UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley's Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging, and the Metanexus Institute.

Reference: University of California-Berkeley (2012, April 30). "Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers." ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 1, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com-/releases/2012/04/120430140035.htm .

Tags:  Compassion  May 2012  Religion  Social  Spiritual 

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American Psychological Association (APA) Releases New Stress in America Report . . . Public Health Crisis Pending (Feb. 2012)

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

January 15, 2012, APA released findings from its 2011 Stress in America: Our Health At Risk study. Below is a brief summary. For more information, view the full report from The American Psychological Association.

Summary: "Researchers have long known that there is a strong link between stress and overall health. Year after year, findings from the Stress in America™ survey have reinforced this research. Participants' responses have revealed high stress levels, reliance on unhealthy behaviors to manage stress, and alarming physical health consequences of stress—a combination that suggests the nation is on the verge of a stress-induced public health crisis. Data from the latest Stress in America survey suggest that the concern about stress and health is especially critical among adults 50 and older who serve as caregivers for a family member and those who have been diagnosed with obesity and/or depression."

In addition to the aging population that is creating a generation of caregivers, other issues are increasing stress levels. Overweight and obese individuals commonly experience higher stress levels than their non-overweight and non-obese counterparts. Currently, the U.S. population is 66.7% overweight or obese, according to the study. In addition, individuals battling depression experience higher stress levels than their non-depressed counterparts. The study estimates that 1 in 10 Americans suffer from depression and that number grows in older populations. Given the high prevalence of both of these health conditions, stress is growing rapidly in America, the study reports.

While self-reported stress may be dropping slightly in populations outside of overweight, obese, or caregiver populations, a gap remains between what individuals perceive as their stress level and what they believe to be a healthy level of stress. In layman's terms, individuals underestimate the negative impact stress can have on their well-being.

Americans report irritability or anger (42 percent); fatigue (37 percent); lack of interest, motivation, or energy (35 percent); headaches (32 percent); and upset stomachs (24 percent) due to stress. A smaller percentage report having a change in appetite (17 percent) and sex drive (11 percent). Further, men are less likely than women to report that stress has a very strong/strong impact on a person's health (78 percent vs. 88 percent).

For more on this report, or to review stress management techniques, visit The American Psychological Association.

Tags:  Emotional  February 2012  Physical  Social  Spiritual  Stress 

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Quotes (February 2012)

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

In recognition of February 13–19 as Random Acts of Kindness Week, this month's quotes are dedicated to kindness. For more information on this week, visit: the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. – Plato

Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike. – J.K. Rowling

Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. – Mother Teresa

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. – Mark Twain

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. – Dalai Lama XIV

No one has ever become poor by giving. – Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, and don't put up with people that are reckless with yours. – Kurt Vonnegut

But remember, boy, that a kind act can sometimes be as powerful as a sword. – Rick Riordan, The Battle of the Labyrinth

Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution. – Khalil Gibran

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. – Lao Tzu

Never look down on anybody unless you're helping them up. – Jesse Jackson

To belittle, you have to be little. – Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person. – Andy Rooney

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. – Robert F. Kennedy

Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness. – George Sand

How would your life be different if . . . You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day . . . You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey. – Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. – Desmond Tutu

Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary. – J.M. Barrie

We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When we treat people merely as they are, they will remain as they are. When we treat them as if they were what they should be, they will become what they should be. – Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection: Discourses of Thomas S. Monson

Never lose a chance of saying a kind word. – William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair

Tags:  Emotional  February 2012  Inspiration  Kindness  Quotes  Social  Spiritual 

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Where Does Prejudice Come From? (Jan. 2012)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Sunday, January 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
January 16 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. To celebrate the wonderful ideals of Dr. King—a nation of freedom and justice for all, the idea that all citizens can live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence, and to create a loving community—this article will further explore the roots of prejudice as a means to understanding it and possibly, to stopping it.

For more information about the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, visit MLKDay.gov.

In new research published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Arne Roets and Alain Van Hiel of Ghent University in Belgium look at what psychological scientists have learned about prejudice since the 1954 publication of an influential book,The Nature of Prejudice by Gordon Allport.

According to the authors, prejudice comes from a psychological state where people are not comfortable with ambiguity and want to make quick and firm decisions, not from ideology. These individuals are also prone to making generalizations about others. More specifically, these individuals are so uncomfortable with the unknown that they rely on the most obvious information to make their decisions rather than digging deeper. Once these individuals have made up their minds, they tend to stick to their original assumptions, even if the evidence points to a different truth.

People who need to make quick judgments will judge a new person based on what they already believe, not know, about their category.

The good news is that it is possible to use this way of thinking to reduce people's prejudice, according to the study. If people who need quick answers meet people from other groups and like them personally, they are likely to use this positive experience to form their views of the whole group. Roets's conclusions suggest that the fundamental source of prejudice is not ideology, but rather a basic human need and way of thinking. "It really makes us think differently about how people become prejudiced or why people are prejudiced," Roets says. "To reduce prejudice, we first have to acknowledge that it often satisfies some basic need to have quick answers and stable knowledge people rely on to make sense of the world."

For more information about this study, visit Current Directions in Psychological Science.

Tags:  Emotional  January 2012  Prejudice  Social  Spiritual 

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Study: Boomers Shifting Priorities, Redefining Aging (Jan. 2012)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Sunday, January 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This past December was host to the 10th Annual International Council on Active Aging conference in Orlando, FL. The good news? Steve French, managing partner at the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), said the fundamental shift in how the aging population sees itself is a positive change. The Boomer generation, the nation's largest demographic group, is re-inventing itself, becoming more self-aware and self-responsible, and taking a pragmatic approach that will drive various industries forward, he said.

So what can we learn from marketing data about wellness? Plenty! Adults who are 50-plus have a more "well" vision of life and how they fit into it. Based on data derived from NMI's Healthy Aging/Boomer Database®, an annual survey of more than 3,000 U.S. older adults, French identified four trends shaping the Boomer market. They are as follows:

  • Building a legacy: Age 50-plus consumers desire connection and belonging; they are continuing to audit their lives and search for balance, trying to build a legacy, connect with others, and do the right thing. NMI research shows 83 percent of consumers over 50 indicate they are becoming more aware of the importance of personal relationships rather than personal possessions. Two-thirds say they are trying to do more things that benefit others rather than themselves.
  • Aging healthfully: Fewer than 1 out of 5 consumers 50-plus are looking for the next Fountain of Youth. They are not looking to turn back the clock—they don't want to look or act like they're 30. It's not about "non-aging"; it's about healthy aging and accepting who they are now, while aiming for a healthier version.
  • Redefining aging: While 50-plus adults may be accepting of themselves, Boomers are not accepting stereotypes of "old age." Fifty-plus consumers aren't looking to buy typical "old person" items like big button phones, says French. Instead, close to half are searching for new self-care methods to prolong health and vitality, and two-thirds optimistically proclaim the best years of their life are still ahead of them.
  • Finding meaning: For Boomers, it's about finding the core components of a meaningful life. NMI research indicates that more than half of older consumers feel they would live a better life by having fewer material possessions, and two-thirds feel finding a purpose in life is more important than making money.

For more information visit: The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA).

Tags:  Aging  Intellectual  January 2012  Physical  Spiritual 

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