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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways to Connect your Worksite with Local Foods

Posted By NWI, Monday, April 3, 2017

  1. Local Food Atlas: Many regions have created local food atlases to help people identify the farmers in their area. This can be a great resource to hand out at the worksite to help employees learn where they can purchase local foods. For example, check out the Central WI FarmFresh Atlas here.
  2. Cooking workshops and tasting events: Cooking events and workshops that feature local foods are great ways to introduce people to new cooking skills and new foods. If space is limited, try connecting with local farmer vendors or organizations to have an off-site lunch and learn.
  3. Volunteer days: Provide employees with volunteer hours that they can use to support local food events in your community
  4. Host Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) open house: Each spring you could host a farmer meet and greet so employees can meet local farmers, learn about their products, and sign up for a CSA.
  5. List of CSA drop points: Distribute information about CSAs in your area and nearby drop points each spring to encourage employees to sign up.
  6. Become a CSA drop point: Having a CSA drop point within your organization is a great way to make CSAs more convenient for your employees by eliminating “one more stop” from their after-work to-do list.
  7. Farmers’ market walks: If your workplace is within walking distance of a weekday farmers’ market, schedule a break-time or lunch-time walking routine to pick up fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers.
  8. CSA subsidies: Check with your health insurance about offering a rebate for CSA participation, or provide employees with a subsidy to help cover their CSA and increase their fresh fruit and vegetable consumption.
  9. Compost bins, food residuals: Local foods do not end at the plate. Food residuals (often referred to as food waste) are an important part of the local food cycle. There are many great ways to collect food residuals in the office and compost them for use in the organization’s landscaping or returning it to the CSA vendors in your community.
  10. Set up a farmers’ market onsite: Consider if there is a need for a farmers’ market vendor or two in your area during the day. Easy access to a farmers’ market is a convenient way for employees to access local foods and great way to boost morale. 

For more information on connecting with local foods in your workplace, contact NWI member Carrie Engelbright, PhD, CWP, at carrie.engelbright@mstc.edu. Carrie led the development of the Peach Street Farmers’ market at Aspirus Clinic in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, after identifying that parts of her community were considered a USDA food desert. (Map: https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-access-research-atlas/go-to-the-atlas/) After working with stakeholders in the area, the market is now in its third season and has generated excitement and engagement among both employees and patients.

Tags:  April 2017  Wellness In 10 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways Caregivers Can Care for Themselves

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, March 7, 2017

1.      Identify personal barriers: Many times, attitudes and beliefs form personal barriers that stand in the way of caring for yourself. Not taking care of yourself may be a lifelong pattern, with taking care of others an easier option. However, as a family caregiver you must ask yourself, "What good will I be to the person I care for if I become ill? If I die?" Breaking old patterns and overcoming obstacles is not an easy proposition, but it can be done—regardless of your age or situation. The first task in removing personal barriers to self-care is to identify what is in your way. 

2.      Set goalsSetting goals or deciding what you would like to accomplish in the next three to six months is an important tool for taking care of yourself. Examples may be to take a break from caregiving, get help with caregiving tasks like bathing and preparing meals, engage in activities that will make you feel more healthy.

3.      ExerciseMuch of your day is focused on the needs of your loved one; taking time to exercise can become a beneficial outlet for you. This personal time to get moving, whether it’s a casual walk or a gym class, can give you energy for the rest of the day. Your mind and body will thank you as you set aside this time each day.

4.      DietA healthy diet can give you the fuel needed to keep your immune system and energy up. When you prepare meals for your loved one, try making healthy meals for yourself at the same time. Eating healthy, combined with proper hydration, is another tip that can benefit both your mind and body. Recognize that the health of both you and the loved one you care for should be a priority.

5.      SleepEverything is harder when you’re tiredespecially caring for another person. If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, try creating a bedtime routine with a goal of going to bed at the same time each day. Not only will your body feel better, but you’ll also feel more capable and productive throughout the day.

6.      Manage stressMeditation and/or taking time to care for your mental health (such as reading, doing yoga, journaling, walking outside, etc.), can become tools that improve your health and happiness, says AARP. Add a peaceful activity to your morning or night routine that you can look forward to. While this requires taking a bit more personal time, it’s a great way to take a step back and appreciate the day.

7.      Mental HealthDepression and anxiety can severely impact your personal well-being and caregiving capabilities. If you’re worried you’re struggling with either of these, then it might be time to talk to a counselor. It may be a matter of changing your lifestyle, such as sleeping more, or needing to join a support group or set boundaries. Reach out to someone if you experience feelings of severe stress, hopelessness or self-loathing.

8.      Personal CareBetween scheduling doctor visits, monitoring medication, cooking and helping with physical therapy, caregiving requires a lot of assistance on your part. Remember to treat your own health with the same level of concern, including scheduling regular dental appointments, haircuts and annual check-ups. Maintaining these will help you have peace of mind for your own health and wellness.

9.      PamperEverybody needs a break sometimes. Pick a time once a week or so to treat yourself. What does this look like? It could be taking the afternoon off, going out to your favorite restaurant or getting a massage. These well-deserved pick-me-ups can help you relax and rejuvenate.

10.  Finances: Financial stress from taking time away from work to care for a loved one, or the cost of medical expenses is a source of stress for many caregivers. Seek help in reviewing your finances to see if you qualify for tax credits or assistance with medical care for your relative.

Tags:  Care Giving  March 2017  Self Care  Wellness In 10 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Must-Reads in 2017

Posted By NWI, Monday, February 6, 2017
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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways to Eat Mindfully

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, January 10, 2017

  1. Eat until you are satisfied. There is a big difference between being full and being satisfied. Mindful eaters notice when they are no longer hungry and stop eating before they perceive themselves to be “full.” Rather than counting calories, listen to your body’s internal cues.
  2. Pace yourself. You don’t need to take eating slowly to the extreme, but it is a good idea to take the time to enjoy your food and notice when you are satisfied. Try it out by making a game of eating with your non-dominant hand or using chopsticks as a way to slow it down.
  3. Give gratitude. Before you start to eat, pause and take a moment to acknowledge the labor that went into providing your meal-be it thanks to the farmers, the factory workers, the animals, mother Earth, the chefs, or even your companions at the table.
  4. Have self-compassion. Mindful eaters do overeat on occasion, but recognize that tomorrow is another day. Give yourself permission to be flexible and forgiving because it is not an all or nothing affair.
  5. Gauge your hunger before taking your first bite. Start a new habit and take a brief moment to ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” If you are not really hungry, what sensation or emotion are you feeling and is there an alternative way to handle that emotion?
  6. Break out of old habits. Notice habits that keep you stuck, like eating in front of the television, filling a large plate full of food, or grocery shopping at times when you are stressed or hungry. Sometimes changing how you eat, is more important than changing what you eat.
  7. Minimize distractions. Much less attention is paid to the question of how we eat, than the question of what we eat. Silence your phone, shut off the TV, and make a conscious choice to avoid multi-tasking while eating.
  8. Notice the flavor. Paying attention to the details of your food is a great way to bring more enjoyment to eating. Do you notice the tanginess of a lemon, the spiciness of arugula, or the crunch of a toasted baguette? Sharing observations of the flavors and textures of food is a great way to stimulate conversation over the dinner table and introduce children to new vocabulary.
  9. Know your food. Wellness is about relationships and mindful eating is about a relationship with our food. Connect with the story behind your food by planting a pot of herbs, baking bread, or visiting a farmers’ market. Even if your food comes from a grocery store, you can create your own story about the recipes used to cook it or the people involved in eating it.
  10. Use a supportive app. You are not alone. There are many apps available that will guide you through the mindful eating process step-by-step whenever you feel like eating. Think of it as your own virtual coach!

Tags:  January 2017  Mindfulness  Nutrition  Wellness in 10 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways to Give (Besides Money)

Posted By NWI, Monday, December 5, 2016

With the December holiday season in full-swing, many of us are stretching our budgets for all the gift-giving that takes place, which may leave a little less than we had hoped for charitable contributions.  Fortunately there are lots of organizations that need more than money, so here are 10 ways you can give of yourself this holiday season without the pinch on your pocketbook. (Always contact organizations directly to verify what items they accept before donating.)

 

1.    Give Paws a Chance

 

Your local animal shelter probably could uses some help with their furry friends, including dog walking and grooming, cat grooming, and cage cleaning. Cuddle with your favorite animals and do good at the same time!

 

2.    Knit One For a Kid

 

Children's group homes are often hard-up for warm winter gear, so knit a hat or a pair of mittens for some kids, and feel good that you’re keeping somebody’s head and hands warm. If you’re craft-challenged, you can always donate your gently-used hats, scarves, mittens, gloves, jackets and boots to help kinds enjoy the season.

 

3.    Visit (Someone Else’s) Grandma and Grandpa

 

There are many elderly and infirm people in nursing homes throughout the country who spend most of their days isolated from the outside world. Consider spending some time with these people discussing current events, doing puzzles together, or reading to those who have lost the ability.

 

4.    Share Your Samples

 

Women’s shelters are often in need of toiletry items like soap, shampoo and conditioner. For those of you who travel for a living, consider keeping the toiletry items from your hotel stays to donate. The travel-size items are perfect for many women and families with shorter stays.

 

5.    Happiness Through Hair

 

The gift of your hair can be a huge sacrifice, but for those how are up for it, the wigs that can be created from your hair may make a world of difference to a cancer sufferer.  If you’ve got more than 10 inches of hair you’re willing to part with, consider making a donation to Locks of Love.

 

6.    Happiness Through Non-Hair

 

Not every cancer sufferer needs a wig, but many would still appreciate keeping his or her head warm. Break out your knitting needles again and donate hats and caps to your local hospital for those who may need them.

 

7.    Gift Wrap a House

 

Can you think of a better holiday present than a house!? You can get involved with Habitat for Humanity, and do just that!  You don’t have to have construction experience, and can donate as little as an hour or two.

 

8.    Souper Experience

 

Are you adept in the kitchen? Look to your local house of worship or homeless shelter to volunteer your time making food.  Often short-handed, these places make a world of difference for those that are finding themselves in need of a meal and a  bed, and you can’t beat the look on someone’s face when you hand them a hot bowl of soup on a cold day.

 

9.    Literal Lifesaver

 

If you’ve got the time, the inclination, and the willingness to put up with a needle poke, you may be a perfect candidate to donate blood, plasma, or bone marrow, and the gift you give may very well go on to save someone else’s life.

 

10. Look Around the Neighborhood

 

There’s nothing saying you have to travel great distances to donate your time or skills. Often you can find people in need in your own neighborhood. A sick parent may need help watching the kids. Someone in your building may need help moving. An elderly neighbor may need help shoveling the walk. In any case, you’re doing good right where you live, and you’ll probably make a new friend in the process.

 

 

We hope that was a helpful holiday gift guide!

 

Wishing you  the very best holiday season, however you celebrate, from your friends at the National Wellness Institute. 

Tags:  Charity  Giving  Holidays  Social Wellness  Wellness in 10 

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Wellness in 10: How to get off the ‘Hedonic Treadmill’

Posted By NWI, Monday, November 7, 2016

Many of us have not heard of the phrase “the hedonic treadmill,” but that doesn’t mean we’re not on it.

 

The hedonic treadmill is a nickname for the human tendency to adjust our desires to positive or negative life circumstances to return to our “normal” happiness level.

 

In the case of negative life circumstances, this can be a positive, resilient trait. For example, the science says that if a pet dies, we’re going to be very sad for a short while, but will eventually find our “new normal,” and will return to stable happiness. That’s good.

 

It can be bad and self-defeating, however, when this trait rears its head in the face of positive life events. In this scenario, let’s say we got a big promotion at work, and a healthy pay raise along with it. The hedonic treadmill will allow us to be happy for a short while, but we’ll quickly adjust to our new income, find new desires that go along with it, and will return to our “normal” level of happiness – or perhaps unhappiness – unless we make the conscious choice to get off the treadmill.

 

Here are some suggestions for how to find your new level of happiness, and keep it:

 

1.     Make a budget now. Stick to it later

 

You probably already know how much it would cost for you to live comfortably – to have a decent house, reliable transportation, a good wardrobe, and food on the table.  Probably a fast Internet connection, a cool smartphone and a streaming video service, too.  Once you have the cost of your comfortable life paid for, the rest of the things in your life become “stuff.” So figure out what you need to live comfortably, and use that number as your guide going forward. You may need to adjust accordingly if you have major life changes, like having kids or pursuing further education, but at least you have a good idea of what your “need” amount of money is.

 

2.     Tie your happiness to experiences, not things

 

Research has shown that experiences like vacations, dining out, or going to a big sporting event have a longer impact on our happiness than having more “stuff.” If you want to be happier longer, do things. Don’t buy things.

 

3.     Forget about the Joneses

 

You know how happy your neighbor looks when he’s pulling his new boat out of the garage and hauling it away to the lake? Pretty happy, right? That’s what we all notice. What we don’t notice, though, is how he only pulls it out of the garage twice a summer, because he spends most of his time at the office making money for the payments on the boat. And when it’s not summer, he has to winterize and store the boat, which is always in his way.  Escape the “grass is always greener” mentality and assess the things in your life that are high-cost-low-reward.  You’ll find truer happiness without the things holding you back. If you really want a day out at the lake, you can always rent a boat, and you wont’ have to haul, winterize, or store it.

 

4.     Define your future goals

 

Picture yourself in 30 years, truly happy. What does your future self look like? What are you doing? Who are you with? I’m willing to bet you didn’t say, “I’m in my office surrounded by all my expensive stuff I was able to acquire.” Figure out what it is you see in your future picture that is really making you happy, and make those things your goals for the future. You’ll have a more concrete vision of what happiness means to you, and you’ll have something beautiful to work toward.

 

5.     Make an honest assessment of what makes you deeply happy

 

The key word here is “honest.”  Go back to your future-picture.  Now strip away all the “stuff.” Are you still happy with the picture? Downgrade further. Take away any cars or the fancy house. Still happy? How much can you get rid of and still maintain the happy you in the picture? This is you being honest with yourself.  You may be surprised with what you feel you need and don’t need. Adjust your goals accordingly.

 

6.     Invest in security

 

This may seem a little backward, because security isn’t glamorous. You can’t show it off to your buddies and make their eyes go wide with jealousy. But nothing downgrades happiness like worry. By investing in your retirement and appropriate insurance, you can have a solid sense that you’re going to be OK moving forward, and that feeling is worth a LOT of happiness.

 

7.     Make your everyday a happier day

 

We’ve been talking a lot about future happiness, but what about happiness now? You can have that, too, but try to make it happen without costing much more money.  Choose to develop your relationships with coworkers and family. Take breaks during the day to get some exercise and fresh air. Make time to improve yourself intellectually through books or free online courses. These things will all increase your happiness in the day-to-day without costing an extra dime.

 

 

8.     Make the happier choice

 

When you’re offered that new job with the pay hike, inevitably it’ll come with new responsibilities, and those responsibilities will come at a cost elsewhere. As much as you’re able, consider whether those new responsibilities are worth the cost in happiness. Will you be away from your family more? Will you have significantly more worry and anxiety? The bottom-line question is: is it worth it? Don’t feel bad if the answer is “no.” You’ve made a decision to invest in your own happiness instead.

 

 

9.     Meditate? Yep. Meditate

 

This wouldn’t be a good “Wellness in 10” without suggesting meditation. It’s true, though. When the business gurus over at Forbes even report that meditation increases happiness, there most be something to it. It’s a no-cost way to decrease anxiety, increase resiliency, and can increase feelings of warmth and kindness toward others. Sounds like increased happiness to me.

 

10.  Find relationships that matter

 

Building solid relationships will increase your happiness. That doesn’t relate only to romantic relationships, either. For many of us, our future-picture had us surrounded by people, whether they are friends or relatives, enjoying our shared company. You can start those relationships now by actively engaging with your coworkers and colleagues, forging friendships that can last for the next 30 years.

 

 

That’s your Wellness in 10 for November. We hope you can use this advice to escape the cycle of wanting more, and entering the state of having more and being more. All it takes is an honest assessment of what will really make you happy.

 

On that subject, and with Thanksgiving right around the corner (for our friends in the US), we’d like to say a hearty THANK YOU to all of you for being a part of NWI! Have a great month!

 

Tags:  Emotional Wellness  Happiness  Wellness In 10 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways to Bring Gratitude Into the Workplace

Posted By NWI, Monday, October 3, 2016

According to a 2015 Wall Street Journal article, receiving gratitude at work is one of the best motivators. According to the same article, only about 20% of employees feel they’re receiving the gratitude they would like.

 

Keeping that statistic in mind, here are some thoughts on why you should bring more gratitude into the office, and how to do it:

 

1.     Take it top-down

 

If you want to signal a change in the culture of your company, a good place to start is at the top. If your director, CEO, president, or whomever is signing the checks starts giving out “thank you’s” on the regular, you can bet that it’ll catch on down the management chain.

 

2.     Make the thankless jobs thankful jobs

 

There are plenty of people in your office who do small tasks that go unnoticed. Your trash bin gets emptied. The restrooms get cleaned. The mail gets delivered. Handing out some thanks for these tasks can go a long way toward making those who do them feel like they’re more than just background scenery, but instead are a valuable part of your company. Hint: they really are!

 

3.     Sincerely

 

People can smell insincerity from around the block. Offering lip-service gratitude won’t cut it. When giving thanks for hard work, make sure that it’s specific to the individual being thanked.

 

4.     Make room for gratitude

 

A good way to signal that gratitude is going to be part of the culture to stay is to make space for it. A cork board, white board, or other public space dedicated to offering public thanks shows the organization that this is something that you value.

 

5.     Give thanks for rainy days

 

It’s easy to give thanks when the sun is shining, but if gratitude is really going to be part of your culture, it has to be done on the rainy days, too. Even when dealings don’t go your way, make an effort to say “That didn’t work out how we wanted, but we tried our hardest. Thanks for your effort. Now what did we learn to make it happen next time?”

 

6.     Take away ulterior motives

 

When making changes in the office, it’s natural to try to incentivize the behavior you want to occur. In this case: don’t. If there’s a prize for giving thanks, it’ll make the whole exercise feel insincere. With gratitude, the thanks is its own reward.

 

7.     It really is the thought that counts

 

Some people are better than others at showing gratitude, so when that gruff old factory employee makes an effort to gripe less than normal, that might be his way of trying to show gratitude. When taking on a culture of thanks, make an extra effort to pay attention to the intentions of your employees, and encourage them to grow in their new habits.

 

8.     Learn to accept thanks

 

If gratitude wasn’t part of your company culture previously, there might be an unforeseen road-block. It can be hard for some people to know how to accept thanks and praise.  Don’t get discouraged if gratitude in the office feels awkward at first. Teach your employees that it’s perfectly OK to respond to gratitude with smile and a simple “Thanks for noticing.”

 

9.     Thanks for making it possible

 

One group of people we may inadvertently be forgetting to thank, though it seems obvious, is our customers. How many transactions do we go through on a daily basis without giving a sincere “thanks?”  Your customers will notice, however, and their loyalty will improve, when you take time to sincerely thank them for keeping your company running.

 

10.  Practice gratitude

 

Literally. Just like every other habit, it will take time, mindfulness, and repetition for gratitude to become part of your every-day culture. Give it the attention it deserves, though, and it’ll become a fulfilling part of your company that will improve employee morale and retention.

 

 

That’s this October’s Wellness in 10! Please accept our big, warm THANKS to all of you for reading, and being a part of the National Wellness Institute! You all are an important part of our organization, and we sincerely appreciate your dedication to the wellness of your companies, communities, and selves.  Have a great October!  If you have any comments, please feel free to leave them below, or send us a message on Facebook, LinkedIn , or Twitter.

 

 

Tags:  Culture  Gratitude  Wellness in 10  Worksite Wellness 

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Wellness in 10: 10 ways to improve your EQ

Posted By NWI, Monday, August 1, 2016

A lot has been made of the Intelligence Quotient. Your IQ is one of many ways that we have our smarts tested through our years in school. But when was the last time you had your EQ tested? 

 

Your EQ (Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence) is defined as your ability to recognize, understand, and use your own emotions to reduce stress, empathize with others, reduce conflict, and build relationships.

 

With a so much of our focus on IQ, there should be no surprise that our EQ is often left behind. We simply don’t put as much emphasis on it. However, as we know, emotional wellness is a big part of our overall wellbeing. 

 

For those of us who could stand to do some development of our emotional wellness, here are 10 ways to improve your EQ. 

 

 

1.     Observe

 

You can’t make a map until you know where you’re starting.  Take some time, meaning days or weeks, not minutes or hours, to assess where you’re at emotionally. This may mean “checking in” with yourself a couple times a day to see how you’re feeling. Write it down, if you want.  After this process, you should have a good idea what you feel generally, whether there are certain actions or behaviors that push you to anger or sadness, and things that relieve your hurt or stress.

 

 

2.     Recognize where your emotions live

 

It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a sign in our mind that lights up with “You’re happy” or “You’re angry” so that we have a clear understanding of what we’re feeling when we’re feeling it. Emotions can manifest themselves in strange ways, and we’ve all got to learn to interpret them. That knot that grows in your belly as you get closer to work during your commute? That’s probably anxiety.  That little twinge you get behind your eyes when you hear your kids or nieces or nephews playing? That might be happiness and love. Emotions arise in all of our bodies differently, so take some time to pay attention to what you’re body is telling you.

 

 

3.     Assess, don’t judge

 

In terms of where you’re starting on your path to better emotional intelligence – “it is what it is.” Don’t harangue yourself because you think you should be “better” than you are. Just accept the fact that this is where your path starts, and plan your strategy toward a higher EQ from there.

 

 

4.     Take responsibility for your actions

 

This part can be hard for some people. When caught in bad behavior, we can get caught in a cycle of excuses like “Yeah, but he did XYZ,” or “Yeah, but she said XYZ.” Recognize that you can’t control how others behave, but you’re responsible for the things you say and do. There may be an apology in order for past behavior, and, regardless of how high your EQ is to start with, you’ll probably want to put a plan in place for how to do better next time.

 

 

5.     Respond, don’t react

 

This is the plan for “next time.” Because we observed actions or behaviors that push us toward anger or sadness, we can anticipate how we will react, and because we can anticipate the reaction, we can “short circuit” the process and cut the reaction off before it starts. Plan ahead for how you think you should respond in the situations that set you off, and do your best to put your plan in place when the situation arises.

 

 

6.     Practice positivity

 

Some of us get hung up on dwelling on the negatives in our lives. The things happening at work or at home may feel like they’re piling up, but odds are there are a lot of things that are going right for you, too. Take a little time to think about all the good you have going on, and you’ll feel your negative emotions drowned out, or at least diminished, by some of your newfound positivity.

 

 

7.     Give yourself some options

 

A lot of anxiety and fear can come from the unknown. Do yourself a favor and alleviate that stress by thinking through the situations that are weighing on you, and playing out all the possible outcomes in your mind. Even if you’re not 100% accurate in your assessments, you’ll still have a better idea of what may happen, and how you can respond so you land on your feet. Suddenly the “unknown” is no longer unknown, and some of that anxiety will dissipate.  If you find this process difficult, it may help to recruit a friend to help walk through all the possible outcomes.

 

 

8.     Practice Empathy

 

Empathy is the ability to understand and share in the feelings of others. It can be tough because it requires that we step outside ourselves, even momentarily, to gain the perspective of another person.  That might be uncomfortable, or even undesirable, at times, especially in the case where you’re interacting with someone you find difficult to relate to, but in doing so, you’ll go a long way to understanding their behavior.

 

 

9.     Cut them some slack

 

Try to go a step beyond simply recognizing the actions of others through their emotional lens.  The truly emotionally intelligent understand that everyone is the hero in their own story, just trying to do what they think is right.  By taking on that attitude, it’ll be easier to grant other people some leeway when they behave in a way that seems incorrect to you, and it’ll be easier for you to discuss the situation as a problem with their behavior, not with the person him or her self.

 

 

10.  Practice being emotionally honest

 

This is a major milestone for the emotionally intelligent. Being emotionally honest with other people can feel like a huge risk because you inherently have to open yourself up to them, but it’s in this vulnerable space that true progress can be made, and until you’re emotionally honest, there will be impediments to creating the types of strong relationships that will help you improve your work and home life.

 

 

 

We hope these 10 tips will help you improve your emotional intelligence. We hope you’ll put them to use and have a very happy August!

Tags:  Emotional intelligence  Emotional wellness  EQ  Wellness In 10 

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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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Wellness in 10: 10 questions to help you find purpose

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Some people seem to have life figured out from the time they get out of diapers, while the rest of us spend a lot of time and money and effort on the figuring out what it is that we want out of life. Even then, a fair number of us never seem to figure out our true calling. For those of us who have a little more difficult time finding our purpose, here are few questions to ask yourself to help get on the path that’s right for you:

 

 

1.    What projects make you lose track of time?

 

Have you ever gotten so lost in a project or an idea that you forget to stop and eat, or even go to the bathroom? That’s a huge sign that the activity you’re involved in speaks to you at a core level.

 

 

2.    What makes you feel good about yourself?

 

What kinds of activities make you excited, happy, and alive? Consider this question without shame. It’s been said that nobody wants to be a garbage man, but it turns out some people love working outside, lifting weights, taking care of their community, and driving big trucks. For that person, being the garbage man could be exactly what brings purpose for him or her! So be honest with yourself, and think about what makes you feel good - regardless of whether it involves bring a rock star or being a rock picker.

 

 

3.    What are you naturally good at?

 

What sort of skills and abilities come naturally to you? People tend to love doing the things they excel at.

 

 

4.    What do people typically ask you for help with?

 

This can be a HUGE indicator of traits that you don’t necessarily think of when asked what you’re good at. Are you the person that people to come to for advice? Are you the person who can figure out how to take a party up a notch? Are you the one that new parents come to for help with their kids? These are examples of skills you may have that aren’t traditionally marketable, but can have immense value - and can really set you apart from the crowd.

 

 

5.    If you were placed in front of a room full of strangers, what would you teach them?

 

This question relates to your passions. What subjects to you care about so much and get you so excited and fascinated that you want to share them with other people?

 

6.    What could you not do without doing or having in your life?

 

Really think about this one. The core of this question is asking you what external things you really value. Conversely, you could see this as a question about what things may be weighing you down. Try to figure out what things in your life are necessary, which are desirable, and which are holding you back.

 

7.    What are your strongest values?

 

What type of ethics do you hold dear? What issues are black-and-white for you? These can be causes for you to work toward to add real meaning to your life.

 

 

8.    What were some challenges you’ve overcome?

 

This question will teach you about skills you’ve learned, and about your own personal level of strength and stamina.  You may be surprised, when you’ve listed the challenges you’ve overcome, about how strong you really are.

 

 

9.    What causes speak to you?

 

Do you want to see less childhood obesity? How about preserving marsh land in your area? Perhaps you know a veteran who has influenced your life, and you’d like to give back by working with veterans’ causes.  Finding the cause that means a lot to you can go a long way toward feeling purpose for yourself.

 

 

10. If you got a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl to promote one thing, what would you promote?

 

Think of it – You’ve got a world-wide audience for 30 seconds. What cause or idea do you use your time for? It may seem silly, but this is a powerful question. At it’s root, it’s asking you what you believe in so strongly that you would tell the whole world about it if you could.

 

 

These are ten questions you can ask yourself to try to figure out your purpose and inform your decisions going forward. Feel free to share these questions with your coworkers, family, and friends who are currently trying to find their own path. What questions do you feel are missing from this list, and how would you answer them?



Tags:  Focus  Happiness  Purpose  Wellness in 10 

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