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Wellbeing in the Hospitality Sector

Posted By Pam Loch, Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The hospitality sector is the fifth largest employer in the UK

Following the Brexit vote, it is reported that some 330 000 of non-British workers are considering leaving the UK, with many having already made the move back home. While the impact of these staff shortages on the NHS has been well documented, the changing recruitment landscape is set to negatively affect a number of businesses in Britain, particularly within the hospitality industry. HR managers are having to adapt to these changing demographics, and are starting to place greater emphasis on wellbeing initiatives in order to prevent staff turnover over the coming years. 


The recruitment challenges faced by the hospitality sector

The hospitality sector is the fifth largest employer in the UK, employing approximately 4.5 million people. However, maintaining this status may not be easy, especially in the next year. In 2017 just over half of the industry’s workers (53%) were British. With the staff shortages anticipated due to Brexit, this statistic is concerning when you consider that the hospitality sector is anticipated to need to recruit 1.3 million workers by 2024. 

Both staff retention and recruitment are just some of the challenges facing the hospitality sector over the coming years, and for an industry that has historically relied upon non-British workers for its success, it is not surprising that 1 in 5 managers have reported a higher level of difficulty in recruiting staff in the last 12 months. In fact, 16% of businesses do not believe that they will fulfill staffing requirements with British workers by next year.

While the statistics paint a relatively bleak picture, there are proactive steps that HR managers and employers can take in order to retain and attract talent. HR policies and strategies that take into account a variety of wellbeing initiatives have been shown to not only have a positive impact on the health and happiness of employees, but also a correlation on the quality of service that hotels and restaurants provide to their customers.


Mental health in the hospitality sector

It is reported that 70% of British hospitality workers feel overworked, and 45% will take time off due to stress at some point in their career. With a persistent narrative surrounding stress and stress-related illnesses that it’s all “part of the job," it can become difficult to change the stigma surrounding mental health struggles brought on by working conditions - particularly when workers simply learn to live with issues such as:

Fatigue: There are a number of causes for fatigue, particularly in businesses where night work is often mandatory, such as hotels. It is widely known that when circadian rhythms are interrupted, sleep during the day becomes extremely difficult. 

Furthermore, even in circumstances where night work is not required, long days and physical labour are a feature of many hospitality sectors, which only increases fatigue when adequate rest isn’t given.  

Anxiety: In an industry in which pay is often hourly, the fear of financial repercussions from injuries and sick leave can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety. 

Additionally, the daily expectation of potentially dealing with customers who may conduct themselves with rudeness or arrogance can also be a contributing factor to stress for a number of employees.

Depression: A recent study by the Centre for Psychological Research at the University of Derby, suggests that depression amongst hospitality workers can be influenced by a lack of motivation in the workplace, or what they refer to as ‘external motivation.' 

In other words, the motivation to work comes not from personal or ‘internal’ interest in the task, but external influences such as “I need to earn money”. This disconnect can not only impact the mental wellbeing of staff, but can also contribute to decreased productivity, absenteeism and high employee turnover. 


Effective communication is often the first step

Tackling the complexities of mental health undoubtedly requires effective communication between both employer and employee. However a recent study revealed that 44% of UK hospitality workers would not come to a colleague if they felt they had a mental health problem, and in the case of absenteeism, 38% of workers were afraid to tell their boss that stress and/or mental health was their reason for time taken off work. 

Perhaps more surprising is that 90% of hospitality workers believe that being prone to stress and anxiety would affect or hinder their career progression, and 40% believed it was their personal responsibility to deal with any work-related stress or mental health problems. In the most extreme cases, staff members who came forward with serious mental health complaints have, at times, been met with the insinuation that they should resign for the good of the company. 

While society, the media and organizations have done much to tackle the stigma of mental health, there are still concerns that by being open about the challenges we all face from time to time, there is still the possibility that it can seriously impact our career and long term financial security.

Creating an environment in which communication between management and staff is actively encouraged is therefore vital for a healthy workplace. Motivating staff to come forward in a secure environment where they feel comfortable to express their views, requests and grievances creates an environment in which workers feel valued, and are better equipped to perform their roles. 


The link between physical and mental health

Hospitality is often linked with physical work, including walking long distances, running and carrying in all sorts of conditions. Although the nature of this sort of work cannot be changed, it is important to ensure your staff are physically healthy. For example:

  • Frequent wellness checks not only provide employees with an insight into their own health,  but allows employers to take proactive steps in order to minimize the risk of absences from work through ill-health.
  • Try to ensure that staff take adequate breaks at the appropriate times, and finding cover for the remaining staff, even during peak times.
  • If you provide free meals to employees (particularly pertinent in the restaurant sector) try to provide healthy options in order to maintain high levels of performance, productivity and wellbeing.
  • Provide adequate equipment and uniform for your staff members for all weather conditions so that they are as comfortable and as safe as possible.
  • Providing out of work activities can encourage staff members to lead a healthy lifestyle, while also fostering a sense of unity and team spirit. This might include access to a gym (if available on site), team sports, regular group meditation and/or yoga sessions. 


Support and Respect

The psychological effects (https://click.booking.com/features/2018/06/12/prioritising-staff-welfare-hospitality/) of dealing with rude or even discriminatory customers are just some of the challenges faced by employees within the hospitality industry. We’ve all heard the axiom “the customer is always right” and in such a competitive market, it is understandable that companies are highly motivated by customer opinion, and the effect this can have on profits and brand reputation.

As a result there can be a disproportionately high value placed on customers, as opposed to the opinions of staff that are responsible for serving them. However what’s more difficult to quantify is the impact that unhappy employees can have on the overall success of a business, particularly when they feel unsupported. 

Unfortunately, 52.2% of hospitality workers have actually considered leaving their place of work due to a lack of support. The constant pressure from managers on their staff to maintain the outward appearance of happiness in the face of all kinds of customer attitudes, increases the feeling of discontent and the lack of a support structure. 

However, there are a variety of policies and procedures that if correctly implemented, can ensure that both employers and employees can benefit from an environment that fosters mutual support and respect.

One of the easiest ways to encourage support is through the standardization of procedures concerning customer complaints. By ensuring every member of staff adheres to uniformed company protocols, this can reduce any ambiguity on how a particular situation should be dealt with. This in turn can minimize staff members from feeling undermined by managers in situations that could be deemed subjective. 

Creating staff incentives and rewards can also be a great way to engage staff members, increase productivity, and ease any interpersonal tensions at work. By encouraging cooperation where employees work towards a common goal, tensions can gradually be eased through collaboration and teamwork. 


Wellbeing isn’t just a legal duty

Employers have a duty of care to their employees, which means that they should take steps in order to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing. However tackling mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and stress, should not be simply considered as a legal duty; it can be a key factor in building trust between staff and management, reinforcing an organization’s commitment to its employees.

It’s not always easy however, and often requires advice, guidance or training from individuals qualified to deal with complex and often serious issues. In circumstances where you may not have the resources or experience to deal with mental health conditions, it may be advisable to seek external help to ensure your staff have the appropriate level of support they need.

For many, particularly young people about to enter the workplace for the first time, the fast-paced and emotionally-charged environments produced by some hospitality sectors can create a negative stigma surrounding these types of industries. As a result, a growing number of people have decided against a career in hospitality. As society becomes increasingly concerned with the effects of mental health, it seems that a greater understanding of what wellbeing in the workplace truly means may be the key to meeting the growing need for hospitality staff.

Pam LochPam Loch is a writer interested in both physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace. Her interests have led her to become the Managing Director of Loch Associates Group, who are experts in Employment Law, HR Management and Health & Safety. She works with both employers and staff to ensure wellbeing in the workplace.

Tags:  emotional wellness  hospitality  occupational wellness  resilience  stress 

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Saying "No"

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Updated: Monday, December 4, 2017

yes-to-stress ratioSaying “no” to work projects, event attendance, or other obligations can sometimes leave us worried that we may look flighty and unwilling to take on extra tasks. While some concerns may be valid, remembering your stress threshold and weighing the yes-to-stress ratio will help you better understand if taking on additional projects or agreeing to attend events will be worth it for you in the end, or, if it will ultimately just make you more stressed. 

Each time you are presented with a request to take on an additional task, before committing to anything, take a moment (or even a day!) to weigh your yes-to-stress ratio. Ask yourself, “If I agree to work on this extra project, what amount of stress will it cause me? Will it be worth it in the end and produce good stress? Or, will it cause me distress?”

Depending on your personal or career goals, each response you give will help you determine if your yes-to-stress ratio will balance out, or, if it will only cause you distress and possible burnout. Knowing ourselves enough to understand how additional tasks may affect us is crucial to ensure that we continue to function at our very best. To get started in weighing your “yes-to-stress ratio”, ask yourself the below questions before taking on additional work. 

  1. Will this task help me grow professionally? More specifically, will you benefit personally from this task and will it open possible doors for future promotions? If the answer is no, then you may want to politely decline the opportunity. However, if you feel there is growth that can be gained from the task, now is the time to jump at the opportunity. 
  2. Will this distract me from my daily work duties? If a project is so big that it will derail you from your day-to-day tasks, the additional work may end up causing you distress, and ultimately your regular work functions will suffer.
  3. Do I have the time to complete this in my day? This is the most cut and dry question to ask yourself, and it isn’t the most pleasant. Sometimes, we like to think of ourselves as super heroes who can accomplish anything we set our minds to. Although we as humans are incredible with what we can accomplish, we must come to the realization that not everything can be completed in a day. If the task at hand won’t cut into your personal life, it may be a good opportunity for you to take advantage of. 

Although weighing the yes-to-stress ration can be tough, it will ultimately help you determine which tasks will be appropriate for you to take-on in your professional or personal life. Remember, everyone has their own “yes-to-stress ratio”. Determine what yours is today and begin making big decisions with ease!

Tags:  Goals  stress 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Things Wellness is Not

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

10 Things Wellness Is NotThere are many misconceptions about what wellness is, and often times we focus the majority our attention on the physical attributes of wellness. We are making sure to hit the gym, eat wholesome foods and practice meditation, but often we are lacking in other areas of wellness. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Many people are confused about what being well truly means. In this month's ‘Wellness in 10’, we'll look at 10 things wellness isn’t.

Wellness is not...

1.     …just working out.

Don’t get us wrong, working out is still very important, (so keep those tennis shoes on!) but being well doesn’t mean you have six-pack abs or can complete a marathon. So often we look at wellness as just working out. If our physical body is healthy then that means we are healthy, right? Not necessarily. Although we know that being physically active is an important part of being well, if we stop here, we are missing 5 other dimensions (according to the National Wellness Institute's Six Dimensions of Wellness).

2.     …only what you eat. 

Wellness is not a fad diet or cutting out certain food groups to maintain a lean body. Good nutrition is essential for a healthy body, but that doesn’t mean you need to lose your love for food to be well. Eating a salad and getting in your greens for the day will benefit your health, but eating healthy alone isn’t going to make you a well person. It's all about balance To be well in the physical dimension of wellness, even healthy eaters need to strike a balance between eating exclusively healthy foods all the time and indulging when they feel the need for a treat. The physical aspects of wellness such as healthy eating and working out are only one piece of the puzzle. While physical wellness is needed to become a wholesome person, we shouldn’t focus all of our energy solely in that area.

3.     …just for hippies and tree huggers.

You don’t need to be an expert yogi or meditate for hours every day to be well. Although these things can increase our well-being, you don’t need to be a master to reap the benefits. You can enjoy the amenities of an "everyday" modern life and benefit from regular yoga or meditation. These practices can help us attain a greater spiritual connection and increase balance in our lives, without requiring us to change who we are.

4.     …being stress-free.

If someone says they are well, don’t believe that they don’t experience stress. Everyone experiences stress, even those who meditate or practice stress management. Just because you experience stress throughout the day doesn’t mean you aren’t well. Stress is a normal part of human life. Learning how to deal with that stress in a healthy way is what makes the difference to the emotional dimension of wellness.

5.     …time consuming.

The most effective way to become and stay well is to find the things that you enjoy doing in your everyday life! You don’t necessarily have to set aside an hour and a half to work out after work. You can be well just by enjoying your daily activities such as walking your dog, playing with the kids, or even volunteering. If you like basketball, go shoot some hoops; if you enjoy being outdoors, go on a hike. Don’t feel the need to take extra time out of your day for an activity you don't normally enjoy but feel you "should" do. Doing the activities you enjoy not only gives you a physical boost, but recharges the emotional, and even spiritual dimensions.

6.     …a quick fix.

While activities that improve your wellness don’t have to be time-consuming, becoming well is a process. Engage in the activities you love with consistency to continually improve your wellness. It doesn’t have to be back-breaking by any means, but becoming well takes time. Putting in the time is the only way to get lasting results. While there are many advertisements for shortcuts to health, in the long run you aren't likely to reap lasting benefits or form lifelong habits for the change you want by turning to a quick fix.

7.     …a magic pill.

Speaking of a quick fix, there is no magic pill or supplement that will make you well. We see so many advertisements claiming that you can “lose 30 pounds in 30 days.” While these may help to some extent, many people often go right back to where they started, because they are skipping the habit-forming, progressive behavior building that forms lasting change. Even when trying to solve a health issue that may seem physical, like weight gain, we are so focused on the physical aspect of wellness that often times we forget to address the emotional or spiritual issues we are facing that may be contributing to the problem.

8.     …cutting things out.

Being well doesn’t mean you need to cut out that chocolate cake or stop binge-watching your favorite Netflix series. You don’t need to lose the things you love to improve your wellness. Wellness is about enjoying things in life so don’t feel like you need to dramatically change your lifestyle just to prove you are disciplined. Improving your wellness has more to do with healthy balance in all Six Dimensions of Wellness than it does with drastic restriction.

9.     …an end destination.

Wellness is a “self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential” (National Wellness Institute). There is no end destination for wellness. It is ever-evolving and we shouldn’t look to an end destination to be happy. Every day is a new journey and wellness should be looked at as an ongoing process.

10.   …exclusionary.

Wellness isn’t an exclusive group. Wellness isn’t a gym membership, belonging to a church, or even being part of an organization. It’s about wanting to improve yourself and becoming the best that you can be. Anyone can be a part of it. You can be well by sitting on the beach enjoying nature, making delicious food for your family, or simply just taking your kids to the park. You don’t need to pay for a membership or exclusive club to be well. Wellness is for everyone and can be found in almost anything if you want to find it.

This article was written from the viewpoint of college students majoring in Health Promotion and Wellness at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. There are many misconceptions about what wellness is and they are often faced with a lot of questions as to what wellness really means.

It is not uncommon for people to think that wellness is only focusing on the physical dimension, and to assume that students in this major are only going to school to be personal trainers, or, conversely, that they are all “hippies” that meditate all day in all their classes (Which sometimes they do!).

When someone says they are “well” they aren’t saying they spend hours at the gym or eat the perfect diet. Each person is on his or her own wellness journey. It is important to realize that in order to grow in wellness, people need to look at other aspects of life besides the physical dimension.


About the authors:

Baihly is a senior Health Promotion and Wellness student from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, which played a major role in her pursuing a degree in the wellness field. From a young age, Baihly was a ballet dancer, which greatly influenced her own wellness journey. She believes that wellness is an ever-evolving process, and that each of us must really be in tune with our own body to know what is most needed to improve our wellness.

David graduated from University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc with his associates degree in general education and is now a senior at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point as a Health Promotion and Wellness Major. David wants to guide people toward reaching their maximum potential and living long, prosperous, and healthy lives. With a particular focus on the environmental and emotional aspects of health, David seeks to help educate people on how to live happier and more sustainably.

Tags:  Stress  Wellness  working out  yoga 

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RX for Hospital Stress: Hug a Puppy, Cuddle a Kitten

Posted By NWI, Monday, April 3, 2017

In case you missed it, March 23rd was National Puppy Day and it is well known that puppies can be good for our health because they help us reduce stress and relax. The reason puppies and kittens have such a strong effect on our stress levels is because when we interact with them, our brains release a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin helps reduce stress, blood pressure and cortisol levels, and promotes healing. It also stimulates various types of positive social interaction. Work can be stressful, and work in hospitals can be even more stressful. To help ease the stress of medical residents, the Pennsylvania Hospital harnessed the power of puppies and kittens and now offers breaks where residents can cuddling with these fur-babies. Other worksites, including the National Wellness Institute, allow employees to bring their pets to work to perk up a stressful day in the office or just encourage social time. Plan ahead this spring to promote an activity for National Take your Dog to Work Day on June 23, 2017 and get some oxytocin flowing in your workplace.

Tags:  April 2017  Pets  Stress 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways to Bring Mindfulness to Your Workday

Posted By NWI, Monday, April 4, 2016

As “wellness people,” we’ve probably all heard of mindfulness training by now, and we’ve almost all heard of worksite wellness, too. Why is it, though, that we don’t hear very often of the crossover between mindfulness and worksite wellness?


For many people, work is the greatest source of stress in our lives, so it stands to reason that incorporating some mindfulness practices into the workday could help increase employee satisfaction and resilience while decreasing frustration and stress levels.


Here are some ideas on how to incorporate mindfulness into your workday:


1.     Make the choice to be mindful


Just like the start of most problem solving strategies, the first step is to acknowledge that there’s a problem. Perhaps your worksite stress isn’t a problem yet (hopefully!), but you can acknowledge that there’s always room for improvement, and that you are going to commit to trying mindfulness as a way to reduce your stress levels.


2.     Set an intention


Next, choose what your overall goal is going to be for your mindfulness practice. Do you want to be more calm during the work day? Do you want to feel less stress after you get home? Do you want more focus and organization? Whether it’s an intention for an hour, a day, a month, a year, or for your career, take some time to think about what your intentional goal will be.


3.      Slow down


Lots of employees feel like they have their pace set for them by bosses, office culture, and project timelines.  Realize that you’re really the only person who can set your pace, and the pace you pick should be one that’s sustainable in the long term.



4.     Pick something and pay attention


Your overall goals aren’t going to happen in one fell swoop. Each day (or week, or month), pick a specific trait or habit that you’d like to improve on. Picture how your goal behavior is different from your current behavior and make a plan for how to transition from where you are now to where you want to be.  Then do your best to enact that plan by noticing when you’re displaying the behavior you’re trying to correct, and instead moving to the new behavior.


5.     Practice listening


This sounds easy, but can be very challenging for many people.  We can hear many things going on around us, but active listening with the intent of understanding requires real focus.  When working with a coworker, try to set aside your inner dialogue for a moment, and really listen to what he or she needs or wants. Only after you have a true understanding of their perspective should you decide how you want to react.


6.     Focus on one thing at once


Next time you’re out for a run, try also eating a bowl of chili.  You don’t have to actually try this experiment to realize that even if you do succeed, it’s probably going to be difficult, messy, and a whole lot more trouble than it was worth. The same goes for when you’re working. Pick a task, and be wholly in that task while you’re doing it. That probably means closing your email, silencing your phone, and taking care of any food/bathroom breaks you might need before you get started. You’ll find that, not only do you get your task done more quickly and efficiently, you’ll also make less mistakes that you have to go back and clean up later (like that spilled chili on your run).



7.     Recognize the accomplishments of others


Tunnel vision can be a big problem in many workplaces. We all get so singularly focused on what we’re trying to accomplish is individuals that we forget to help our coworkers celebrate their accomplishments. A little bit of active listening can help clue you in when something big is happening for your coworkers, and a little congratulations can take you a long way when it comes to improving office morale.


8.     Take a meditation minute


It’s a little sad that taking a ‘smoke break’ is acceptable in a lot of places, but taking a ‘wellness break’ is seen as strange.  Don’t let that deter you, though. When you’ve noticed that you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, take a moment to yourself to destress. If you can, find a place where you can sit comfortably, shut your eyes, and try to focus solely on your breathing, letting other thoughts disappear. Let your shoulders drop and the muscles in your neck, mouth, and face relax.  If you need to, set a timer to bring you back to reality, but use those few minutes to feel refreshed so you can refocus on the task at hand.


9.     Share


It’s one thing to take these practices on for yourself, but it’s completely different if you share these practices with coworkers and actively work to create a culture of mindfulness. Even if you share with a couple close work friends, if you all start to see a drop in your stress levels, odds are they’ll share the practices with others, or your coworkers may ask why you’ve seemed so much more calm lately.


10. Connect with other experts


One of the best ways to improve your practice, regardless of whether it’s mindfulness or any other wellness technique, is to compare notes with other experts to find out what’s working and what’s not. Luckily, as a member of the National Wellness Institute, you have exclusive access to the NWI LinkedIn Group, where you can reach some of the best minds in the wellness industry.



Those are 10 ways that you can incorporate mindfulness into your work day. Do you have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments!

Tags:  Anxiety  Mental Health  Mindfulness  Stress  Worksite Wellness 

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Maybe It Is Easy Being Green...

Posted By NWI, Monday, April 4, 2016

Kermit the Frog may have been misleading us the whole time. A study released in December of 2015 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health suggests that people who live in nature-rich environments experience up to 50% less mental health issues than people who live in urban environments, leading some researchers to believe that the benefits stem from the color green itself, instead of or in addition to access to natural space.


According to the study, the color green adds more positive feelings and stress reduction to an outdoor workout compared to an indoor workout.  The researchers have found that the color can boost reading ability in children, ease anxiety in the workplace, relieve stress, and boost the immune system.


These findings may not be surprising to many wellness practitioners who have been espousing a need for environmental wellness for years. To read more about the green study, click here.

Tags:  Anxiety  Environment  Green  Mental Health  Nature  Stress  Urban 

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Wellness in 10: 10 ways to destress during the Holidays

Posted By NWI, Monday, November 30, 2015

As much as we all love the holidays, they can be very overwhelming. Between the travel, the crowds, the shopping, the budgets, and the family members we’re glad to only see once per year, there’s a lot going on even for the most well balanced among us. That’s why this month Wellness in 10 is dedicated to ways to destress during the holidays.


1.    Start Monotasking

Some of us are built for multitasking, and can handle whatever life throws at us (most of the time).  With the added tasks that go along with the holidays, however, it can build up to too much. For the month of December, decide to become a “monotasker,” making a list of everything that must be accomplished, and following each thing through to completion before starting the next thing. The focus this allows will let you be more effective at each task, and will make you feel more accomplished at the end of the day.


2.     Practice Gratitude

Setting some time aside during the holidays to appreciate what we have is one of the special reasons we love this time of year, but many of us get too bogged down to remember to enjoy them.  Plan time into your day to appreciate the time we’re able to spend with loved ones, and feel the holiday stress melt off.


3.     Don’t give away every minute

Just because we’ll be spending time with people this holiday season doesn’t mean we have to spend ALL our time with people this holiday season. It’s ok to take a break from all the hustle and bustle to let yourself recenter and calm down.  A short walk or some time with a book may be all it takes.


4.     Take a break from caffeine

Caffeine has a tendency to make us jittery and can prevent us from getting enough sleep. It’s also hiding in a lot of the holiday treats that we forget about (it’s in chocolate, remember).  Find a nice herbal tea and make that your drink of choice for the month of December to keep yourself from being on-edge.


5.     Sneak in some exercise

Exercise doesn’t always seem possible when the days are packed, but it’s been proven time and again to relieve stress. Schedule in some short exercise sessions, like walks on your work breaks, to let off some steam.


6.     Take in some sun

Giving you a boost of serotonin, a little sunshine will do you a lot of good during this time of year. We’re often stuck inside with work and family commitments, but get outside a little bit to feel better. If you can’t go outside, at least position yourself near a window in the sunlight for a few quick rays.


7.    Just say “No”

There are a million things you could do during this time of year, but it turns out that there isn’t always a lot you have to do.  Take some time once in a while to do a self-assessment, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s ok to take some things off your agenda. “I don’t feel up to it” is a completely legitimate reason to bow out.


8.     Get hot (and spicy)

Spicy foods trigger endorphins, so take a break from the holiday treats in favor of some fajitas, salsa, or a steaming bowl of chili. You’ll avoid the onslaught of goodies, and your body will still get the positive feelings.


9.     Take a hands-on approach to stress relief

One study has shown that the health benefits of giving a massage outweigh the benefits of receiving a massage. For the short time you’re giving a massage to your partner, the holiday worries will be on the back-burner. Trade off with your partner, and you’ll get the best of both worlds.


10. ‘Tis better to give than to receive

Being generous has been proven to lower stress, so lend a hand in whichever way seems most appropriate. Your own worries will take a back seat to the task at hand, and someone else will be grateful for the help. You might offer to watch the neighbor’s kids while he or she goes shopping, shovel the sidewalk on your block, or make a donation to your favorite charity or nonprofit organization ( like NWI).


These are just a few suggestions to help you make it through the holiday season in one piece. If you have suggestions you’d like to share, find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter!

Most of all, have a fun, safe, and relaxing holiday season – from your friends at the National Wellness Institute.

Tags:  Destress  Exercise  Health  Holidays  Nutrition  Stress  Wellness 

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Gratitude makes you feel good – physically

Posted By NWI, Monday, November 30, 2015

Paul Mills, a professor from the University of San Diego School of Medicine, has some surprising new research on the correlation between feeling gratitude and physical wellbeing.

Mills, a professor family medicine and public health at UCSD, decided to learn what effect having an outlook filled with gratitude has on the body.

He studied 186 people in their 60’s, asking them to fill out a questionnaire about how much gratitude they felt for the things in their lives. He also asked them about their mood, sleep patterns, and energy levels. Perhaps unsurprisingly to those in the wellness community, the people who listed themselves as having higher levels of gratitude also displayed better metrics in the categories of mood, sleep, and energy.

Mills went a step further and measured the amount of plaque in the test subjects’ blood streams – an indicator of heart health – and found that those higher on the gratitude scale also showed lower levels of arterial plaque.

Mills study is inconclusive as to why gratitude seems to have a direct effect on physical wellness, but presumes that it ties directly to the amount of stress each test subject harbors within him or her self. The attitude of gratitude seems to correlate with lower stress, resulting in better overall physical wellbeing.

Tags:  Gratitude  Health  Mindfulness  Stress  Wellness 

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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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A Link Between Neurosis and Alzheimer’s: Why to De-stress Now!

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

Neurosis, or a neurotic personality, is characterized by symptoms of stress (depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, hypochondria, etc.). A study released in October 2014 found that women who experience these feelings on an on-going basis are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

The study was done at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden and was published in the scientific journal Neurology. It followed 800 women for nearly 40 years and looked at the women’s perceived stress levels and at the results of memory tests. After 40 years, approximately a fifth of the women developed dementia conditions. For the group of women that developed dementia conditions, there was a clear statistical correlation to women who had identified themselves as undergoing prolonged periods of stress.

According to the study’s authors, previous Alzheimer’s research has looked at education, family history, genetics, and other factors that contribute to conditions of dementia. This is the first study that shows the significance personality may play in the risk of developing Alzheimer disease.

There are several online resources to help individuals relieve stress. You might try the Calm Clinic (http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/types/neurosis) for tips on reducing neurosis and anxiety.


Study Reference:

Johansson, L et al. (October 1, 2014). Midlife personality and risk of Alzheimer’s disease and distress: a 38 year follow-up. Neurology.  Retrieved from http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2014/10/01/WNL.0000000000000907


Tags:  Alzheimer's  Intellectual  Memory  November 2014  Social  Stress 

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