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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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The BRATLAB ‘Habit Prescription Dose Value’ Series: Build Positive Relationships to Boost Productivity

Posted By Hanlie van Wyk, Monday, March 2, 2020

In a previous post, we divided happiness into three easy to remember concepts: Pleasure, People, and Prosperity

  • "Pleasure" refers to maximizing pleasurable moments (such as comfort, entertainment, and enjoyment) that lead to the satisfaction of a person’s wants and needs. This might contribute to a level of life satisfaction.
  • "People" is about having positive relationships with others. As social animals, we crave social acceptance, strive for social contribution and seek integration with a community.
  • "Prosperity" is more than what money can buy. It’s about flourishing and living authentically; actualizing one’s inherent potentials as the way to well-being.

Where should you focus your time and energy? Which happiness habit would have the greatest impact on an individual’s and organization’s productivity?

Researchers believe that about 40% of your happiness is within your control. Essentially, this means that happiness can be “generated”, and we could practice “happiness habits” for maximum beneficial impact in life and at work. The Behavioral Research and Applied Technology Laboratory researched nine happiness habits that could improve productivity and divided them into three categories: Foster, Focus and Savor. In this series, we will look at each of the nine happiness habits and explore the value that each one can bring.

Let’s start with Foster, and in particular, the importance of building positive relationships at work.

Building Positive Relationships

Happiness at work doesn’t come from raises, bonuses or perks. It comes from two things: results and relationships, i.e. doing great work together with great people. It comes from the things that you and I do, here and now. When we have healthy connections with the people we work with, we are more likely to show up fully engaged and productive at work. According to Gallup, people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. And it doesn't have to be a best friend: just having a good friend in the workplace makes it more likely to be satisfying. This shows how important it is to build healthy relationships at work, and the value of feeling a sense of connection and relatedness. 

Making the Change:  Habits for Fostering Positive Relationships

1. Be civil

Rudeness in the workplace isn’t just harmful, it’s also contagious. "You might go your whole career and not experience abuse or aggression in the workplace, but rudeness also has a negative effect on performance," says Trevor Foulk from the University of Florida. Trevor and his research team noticed that common negative behaviors could spread easily, just like the flu, and have significant consequences for people in organizations.

2. Smile and say “hello”

Saying hello is quick and free! Researchers at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts tell about the power of a smile, and have shown it's the little things that make a big difference in social interaction. Combine saying “hello” with a smile and it humanizes the workplace. Employees who smile more have customers who report higher satisfaction. Kathy Savitt, Managing Director at Perch Partners, a consulting firm, warns, “I think it’s easy for people at many companies to become cynical, which then leads to politics, which can create a cancer that can topple even the greatest companies.”

3. Don’t pair

Pairing occurs when two or more people engage in a “side conversation” about issues and concerns, without bringing those issues to the table to be discussed openly. Exclusionary behavior like this is likely to aggravate an already difficult situation. Failure to address the issue openly could lead to dissension, resentment, reduced productivity, and ultimately, the loss of high performers that become alienated by the toxic culture. If anger and rejection is allowed to brood, there is an increased risk of office aggression and violence. According to Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, while it is part of human nature to associate with peers that have similar traits and personalities, pairing and cliques can be harmful and counterproductive.

4. Arrange voluntary small group meetings

Change Craft’s research on the impact of fostering positive relationships on productivity found that holding small, voluntary group meetings once a week increased informal sharing of ideas and suggestions. This in turn lead to improved production efficiency (9%) and overall productivity (17%).


Higher connectivity among team members is linked to a team’s performance. By increasing connectedness, psychological well-being is enhanced. Any organization looking to evaluate the impact of investing in these changes or wanting to understand more about how to create happy, healthy, and change-ready cultures should contact Change Craft at hello@changecraft.consulting.

Further Reading

Foulk, T., Woolum, A., & Erez, A. (2016). Catching rudeness is like catching a cold: The contagion effects of low-intensity negative behaviors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101(1), 50–67. https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000037

Sommers, S. (2011). Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World. Riverhead Books (Penguin).


About the Author:

Hanlie is a behavioral change expert, systems strategist, author, and PhD candidate for Hate Crime Studies. Her fascination with human behavior started while growing up in South Africa. From working to prevent hate crime to humanizing the workplace, her career spans three decades and four continents researching and applying behavioral change strategies to some of the most challenging behavioral problems. As Director of Change for Change Craft (powered by Behavioral Research and Applied Technology Laboratory) she studies, develops, and applies agnostic systems and practices that make change sticky, and results in high performing individuals and cultures.

Tags:  Emotional  Emotional wellness  occupational wellness  Social  Social Wellness  Worksite wellness 

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Healing from Grief — How to Move On When You Lose Loved Ones

Posted By Rechá Bullock, MS., CWP, CWWS, RYT-200, Thursday, September 5, 2019
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2019

Man sitting alone on bench looking down at town and graveyardI realize death is a part of life and none of us can escape dying. However, nothing could have prepared me for the profound amount of loss, grief, and sadness I felt when my beloved maternal grandmother died 21 months ago, an uncle 19 months later, and a close friend last year to breast cancer. Intense sadness, loneliness, and anger are some of the feelings and emotions that I experienced during the grieving process.

I was my grandmother’s primary caregiver and her medical power-of-attorney. I spent many hours and nights in the hospital with my grandmother throughout several illnesses that were a direct result of poor food choices. Each time my rambunctious grandmother would get admitted into the hospital, she always came back home. I was always able to nurse her back to health with clean healthy foods, moderate exercise, and by ensuring she took all of her medications. However, I knew in my heart that her very last emergency room visit was unlike any other. My sweet Grandmother died in the hospital from renal failure and her son (my uncle) died 18 months later.

Watching a loved one die, losing multiple family members and a close friend in less than two years is one of the most difficult things that I have ever experienced. I have learned there isn’t anything you can do to prepare yourself for the overwhelming feelings of grief and sadness. I also learned there isn’t a timeframe when you stop missing your loved ones or stop feeling sad. You must allow yourself the time to go through what you are feeling inside. During the first year of my grandmother’s death, I had really bad days and often did not make it out doors due to the gut-wrenching sadness and loss that I was feeling.

What I have learned from the healing process is the more you love someone, the greater the grief will be! Grief and mourning are normal and we must allow ourselves the time to mourn and feel all of the intense feelings that come with the loss of loved ones. There were times when I thought about my grandmother and laughed because I thought of one of the many funny stories she told me. Other times, the intensity of the grief I felt was physically overwhelming. This was especially true if I listened to one of her voice mail messages that I saved on my cell phone.

The Healing Process

The healing process is a personal journey and each person will endure various highs and lows, as well as a range of feelings and emotions when they lose a loved one. However, never allow anyone to disregard how you feel or make you feel like you should no longer be sad or still grieving. I have learned that grief can be unpredictable! Also, there isn’t a fixed time or date when you will stop grieving. In fact, some people may never get over the loss of losing a loved one and may continue to experience a range of emotions and life disruptions for many years. This type of prolonged grief is known as Complicated Grief Shear (2012).

Empty bench beside a lake at sunset.Complicated grief can be described as prolonged and intense feelings of grief that also includes a strong longing for the person who died (as cited in Shear, 2012, p. 4, para. 6). The intense feelings associated with complicated grief can begin to interfere with regular life activities, work, and personal relationships Shear (2012). If for some reason you are unable to have good days sprinkled in with sad days or become so depressed that you cannot seem to get back to your normal routine, you should seek professional help. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should contact your doctor or a mental health professional if you have intense grief and problems functioning that don't improve at least one year after the passing of your loved one (MAYO Clinic, 2017, para. 6). Professional therapists and mental health professionals are trained to help people cope with grief and process the range of feelings and emotions that come along with losing a loved one. Also, finding a counselor can be as easy as calling your Employee Assistance Program (EAP), primary care doctor, or finding a bereavement group at your place or worship.

I work in the public health field and knew that not dealing with my feelings could significantly jeopardize my mental and physical health. I am so glad that I allowed myself to cry when I felt very sad, sleep when I felt depressed, and exercise or do yoga when I needed to change my mood. I encourage everyone to tell loved ones, family, and friends when you are sad or depressed. Your family and friends can provide you with support by listening to how you are feeling, which can help to lift your mood.

In time you will definitely start to feel better and accept the death of your loved one. It is very important to be patient with yourself. Acknowledge what you are feeling. If you start to feel sad, try doing something that makes you happy like listening to music or singing your favorite song. My lifeline was yoga, teaching yoga, meditation, and exercise. Exercising, meditation, weight training, and yoga were like a refuge for me. Once I turned on my iPod and started moving, I was able to escape from my sad feelings. Remember, the overwhelming feelings from grief will not last forever and the time it takes to heal from losing a loved one is unique for each person.

Five steps to help you heal from grief

  1. Take one day at a time
  2. Be honest with how you are feeling and don’t be afraid to cry or be angry
  3. Let family and friends know when you need support
  4. Seek professional help or join a bereavement group if you are unable to get back to your normal routine or have prolonged sadness or depression
  5. Find an activity to do that will help change your mood like listening to music, meditation, exercise, or hanging out with friends

The grieving process can be long, difficult, and painful. Hopefully, the memories you have of your loved one(s) can help you feel lighter. Eventually, in your own time and your own way, you will begin to heal.


Mayo Clinic. (2017, October). Complicated grief. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/complicated-grief/symptoms-causes/syc-20360374

Shear M. K. (2012). Grief and mourning gone awry: pathway and course of complicated grief. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 14(2), 119–128.

Récha BullockRechà Bullock is a Certified Wellness Practitioner, Certified Worksite Wellness Specialist, Fitness Instructor, Health Coach, Yoga Teacher (200-RYT), Yoga for Cancer Teacher, public health professional, and plant-based foodie. Her passion for health and wellness comes from a lifelong love of fitness, health, nutrition, yoga, and a desire to help people transform their health by eating foods that are nutrient rich.

Tags:  emotional wellness  grief  social wellness 

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Wellness Trends - June 2019

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Updated: Thursday, June 20, 2019

Social & Emotional Wellness Are Critical Factors to Success

Social Determinants of Health Definitions 

We hear a lot more these days about social determinants of health (SDOH), but what are they? The World Health Organization provides a definition of SDOH.  

Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides additional definitions that should be considered in addition to SDOH. 


Transamerica Health Care Studies

Special thanks to Hector De La Torre of the Transamerica Center for Health Studies for providing this insightful data 

Wellness TrendsTransamerica Center for Health Studies® (TCHS) – a division of the Transamerica Institute® – is focused on empowering consumers and employers to achieve the best value and protection from their health coverage. TCHS engages with the American public through national surveys, its website, research findings and consumer guidance. 


Grocery Store Bills Can Determine Diabetes Rates by Neighborhood

Dietary habits are notoriously difficult to monitor. Now data scientists have analyzed sales figures from London’s biggest grocer to link eating patterns with local rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar.  Read more at MIT Technology Review

Tags:  Diabetes  Emotional Wellness  Health Care  Healthcare  SDOH  Social Determinants of Health  Social Wellness  Trends  Wellness Trends 

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Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness

Posted By Wellsource, Friday, June 21, 2019
Updated: Monday, June 17, 2019

This is the fourth post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Each post features a different dimension of wellness. This post will discuss social wellness and the importance of building meaningful connections with others.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing
Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program
Part 3: How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving
Part 4: Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness
Part 5: Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies
Part 6: Mindfulness: The Focus Path to Spiritual Wellness

Some people have close friendships that span a lifetime. Those trusting, comfortable, and positive relationships add quality to a person's life. For Bob Green, a bloody nose during a kindergarten reading circle led to a 50-year friendship that ended prematurely with his friend’s untimely death. Reflecting on the decades that spanned both good times and bad, Green wrote, “There are a handful of people, during your lifetime, who know you well enough to understand when the right thing to say is to say nothing at all. Those people—and there will be, at most, only a few of them—will be with you during your very worst times.” 

Social WellnessSome people meet someone for the first time and feel an immediate bond. Patricia Coler-Dark met her good friend Mary Lou in a most unusual place—a cemetery. Years later, she shared their story with Reader’s Digest. “I met Mary Lou 14 years ago, while tending the grave of my 34-year-old son Kevin just weeks after he passed,” Coler-Dark recalled. “Mary Lou was visiting her son Gary. She smiled, and soon we were sharing our stories—not only about our sons but about life in general. On my next visit with Kevin, I saw a piece of paper sticking out from under a rock—an inspirational note from Mary Lou. I wrote her back and put my note under the same rock. A week later, I returned to find another note from Mary Lou. We went back and forth like this for years. Today, we still see each other, but usually over a hot fudge sundae. We talk and laugh and rarely feel the need to discuss our deep pain. That’s why we are friends for life.”

We need food and water to survive. And we need people we can count on and who will help us feel like we belong. Think about the movie, Castaway. A guy is stuck on an island. Alone. And he gets lonely. Very lonely. He wants to be around other people, but no one is around. So he names a volleyball "Wilson" and treats it like a person. Why? He needs contact with others. It's tough to be fully cut off from other people. That’s why social wellness—the ability to interact with people around you, use good communication skills, have meaningful relationships, respect yourself and others, and create an effective support system—is so important. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs lists social needs immediately after physiological and safety needs with good reason.


The science of loneliness

Psychiatrist Frieda Fromm-Reichman observed, “Loneliness seems to be such a painful, frightening experience that people will do practically everything to avoid it.” She clarified that solitude and aloneness aren’t necessarily loneliness. Some people “experience the infinity of nature” and find peace. For others, seclusion can “yield creative artistic or scientific products.” It is also possible to be surrounded by people and yet feel lonely. Humans are “born with the need for contact and tenderness”—and mental and physical health suffer when the longing for closeness with others is unfulfilled. Research shows the health risks of social isolation are comparable to the risks associated with obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. In fact, lack of social connections can increase the risk of death by at least 50 percent.

Two out of five American adults feel alone (40%) and isolated (43%) according to a recent survey, and that can leave them feeling disconnected, misunderstood, insecure, and stressed. These feelings spill into the workforce and impact employers by: 

As the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) report The Future of Wellness at Work observed, “wellness and work can create a mutually enhancing virtuous circle. When we feel healthy and balanced, we bring energy, focus, and motivation to work, and we are more productive…. Having friendships and trust at work not only increases our productivity as workers, but also improves our personal wellbeing.” That’s why it is imperative that employers expand workplace wellness programs to foster social interactions that promote healthy office friendships.


The social salve

Social WellnessPositive social connections at work mean that people get sick less often, recover twice as fast from surgery, experience less depression, learn faster and remember longer, tolerate pain and discomfort better, display more mental acuity, and perform better on the job. Productivity improves 20-25% in organizations with well-connected employees. They tend to have healthier habits. And they are more loyal and less stressed

Socialization, positive interactions, and authentic relationships—in other words, having friends at work—is a factor in whether an employee feels the employer cares. In fact, 71% of millennials want to build close relationships at work. But simply stocking the lunchroom with table games in hopes of boosting socialization won’t work. According to The Future of Wellness at Work survey, “Only 25% of employees believe that their company offers a wellness program because they care about workers’ health and wellbeing. Fifty-eight percent believe their program exists only to cut company health costs, while another 17% believe it’s in place to make employees work harder/be more productive.” Employee productivity, satisfaction, and wellness are influenced by how employers cultivate social networks and authentic caring.   


So what’s the formula for social wellness? 

Specific methodologies and approaches depend on the employee population. But here are six ways you can foster a positive work environment where employees can develop social wellness. 

  1. Make it easy for employees to talk to each other. Encourage employees to step away from their devices and interact with each other. Provide an area at work for employees to eat lunch together and interact during breaks. At holidays, treat employees to a healthy meal. And plan optional social events both within the workday and outside the workday, including team-building activities like going to an escape room, wellness challenges like taking an exercise class together, and volunteer opportunities where coworkers can socialize while giving back.
  2. Encourage team collaboration on projects. Your company benefits in at least two ways when employees interact with personnel from other departments who they may not work with on a daily basis. First, they will come up with creative ideas and solutions that might not have been imagined in isolation. Second, employees will develop mutual trust. Be sure to utilize video conferencing to include remote workers in all meetings. 
  3. Make it easy for employees to feel good about themselves. It’s easier to trust and feel good about someone else when you feel good about yourself. So recognize employees for hard work. Praise them for acts of kindness. And encourage employees to bring in pictures of themselves doing things that make them proud, like their backpack trip last summer or their recent marathon finish. 
  4. Help new employees integrate. An office bingo or Who’s Who Challenge that requires new employees to find out interesting and important information about their co-workers encourages conversation. So do weekly team potlucks, walk groups, and stand-up meetings that begin with collective discussions that help individuals identify with the team. And consider organizing your employees into small groups to for wellness program initiatives – integrating “newbies” with more seasoned staff – and using online social platforms to increase social interaction and boost engagement in healthy habits as well.  
  5. Create a culture of care. For GenX employees (born 1965-1978), that includes having friends at work and being able to enjoy work-life balance. For Millennials (born 1979-1996), the primary factors are a wellness program that encourages healthy eating; a positive work environment where people know they are respected, valued, and heard; career autonomy and recognition; and time to socialize with co-workers and managers. Showing compassion can help managers prevent staff burnout in these populations. Many Boomers (born 1946-1964) are looking for positions within organizations that have social purpose and that provide them with a robust wellness program to increase their physical wellness. Encourage employees to provide feedback on what type of social interactions they would like to see at the company, as well as the kinds of social causes or community outreach resonates with them.
  6. Practice social skills. You can't make good feelings or positive friendships happen, but you can help employees practice the skills that lead to friendship. Hold seminars on how to build and maintain quality relationships. Give them opportunity to build their social connections and track their progress daily by sharing our Strengthen Social Bonds health challenge with them. You can even turn it into a month-long Health Challenge™ as a part of your wellness program.

Ready to get started? Download our Health Challenge™ Strengthen Social Bonds which includes: 

  • A basic quiz for participants to find out whether they have a healthy social network 
  • An example illustrating the importance of social connections
  • The benefits of social wellness for physical and mental health
  • Tips on how to build strong bonds with friends, family, and coworkers
  • A calendar to track how many days each month participants take action to strengthen their bonds with others

This is the fourth post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Below are links to the other published in this series.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing
Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program
Part 3: How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving
Part 4: Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness
Part 5: Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies
Part 6: Coming Soon!


About Wellsource

Wellsource, Inc. has been a premier provider of evidence-based Health Risk Assessments and Self-Management Tools for four decades, making us one of the longest-serving wellness companies in the industry. With a strong reputation for scientific research and validity, we offer an innovative family of products that empower wellness companies, health plans, ACOs, and healthcare providers to inspire healthy lifestyles, prevent disease, and reduce unnecessary healthcare costs. Our assessments connect lifestyle choices with healthy outcomes, measure readiness to change for maximum results, and drive informed decisions with actionable data.

For more information about Wellsource products, visit www.wellsource.com or connect with Wellsource at well@wellsource.com.


Works Cited (in progress) 

Breen, Bob. “Friends for Life.” AARP The Magazine, AARP, Feb. 2011, www.aarp.org/relationships/friends/info-2006/friends_for_life.html

Reader’s Digest Editors. “22 Heartwarming Stories of True Friendship That Will Make You Call Your Bestie.” Reader’s Digest, Reader’s Digest, www.rd.com/advice/relationships/stories-of-friendship/.  

“Social Wellness.” University of California, Riverside Wellness Program, University of California, Riverside,  wellness.ucr.edu/social_wellness.html

Burton, Neel. “Our Hierarchy of Needs.” Psychology Today, 17, Sep. 2017, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201205/our-hierarchy-needs

Fromm-Reichmann, Frieda. “Loneliness.” Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes, 1959, 22:1-15. Reprinted in Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 1990, icpla.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Loneliness-Frieda-Fromm-Reichman-1990-Contemp.-Psychoanal.26-305-329.pdf

Bevacqua, Julie. “The Impact of Social Wellness and Connection in the Workplace.” Rise, risepeople.com, 28 Mar. 2019, risepeople.com/blog/social-wellness-in-the-workplace/

University of Arizona. “Poor Social Skills May Be Harmful to Health.” ScienceDaily, 06 Nov. 2017, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171106090116.htm.

Lewis, Tanya. “This Common Characteristic May Be as Big a Risk to Your Health as Smoking.” Business Insider, BusinessInsider.com, 04 Jan. 2016, www.businessinsider.com/how-social-isolation-affects-your-health-2016-1

Seppälä, Emma and Kim Cameron. “Proof that Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive.” Harvard Business Review, HBR.org, 01 Dec. 2015, hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive.

Valtorta, Nicole, et al. “Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal observational studies.” Heart, British Medical Journals, July 2016, 102:1009-1016, heart.bmj.com/content/102/13/1009

Sutin, Angelina, et al. “Loneliness and Risk of Dementia.” The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, gby112, Oxford University Press, 26 Oct. 2018, doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gby112.

Cacioppo, JT, et al. “Loneliness as a Specific Risk Factor for Depressive Symptoms: Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Analyses.” Psychology and Aging, American Psychological Association, Mar. 2006, 21(1):140-151, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16594799.

Cole, Steven, et al. “Myeloid differentiation architecture of leukocyte transcriptome dynamics in perceived social isolation.” PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 08 Dec. 2015, 112(49):15142-15147, doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1514249112.

Shulevitz, Judith. “The Lethality of Loneliness.” The New Republic, NewRepublic.com, 12, May 2013, newrepublic.com/article/113176/science-loneliness-how-isolation-can-kill-you.  

Ninivaggi, Frank. “Loneliness: A New Epidemic in the USA.” Psychology Today, 12 Feb. 2019, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/envy/201902/loneliness-new-epidemic-in-the-usa.

Karimi, Saeed, et al. “The relationship between sociability and productivity.” Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 28 Aug. 2014, 3:104, 10.4103/2277-9531.139696.

Lincoln, James and Bernadette Doerr. “Cultural Effects on Employee Loyalty in Japan and The U.S.: Individual– or Organization-Level?” IRLE Working Paper No. 116-12, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California, Berkeley, Jan. 2012,  irle.berkeley.edu/workingpapers/116-12.pdf

Seppälä, Emma and Marissa King. “Burnout at Work Isn’t Just About Exhaustion. It’s Also About Loneliness.” Harvard Business Review, HBR.org, 29 June 2017, hbr.org/2017/06/burnout-at-work-isnt-just-about-exhaustion-its-also-about-loneliness.

Ozcelik, Hakan and Sigal Barsade. “Work Loneliness and Employee Performance.” Faculty Research, College of Business Administration, California Sacramento University and Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, May 2012, faculty.wharton.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Work_Loneliness_Performance_Study.pdf

Global Wellness Institute. “The Future of Wellness at Work.” Jan. 2016. globalwellnessinstitute.org/press-room/press-releases/global-wellness-institute-releases-report-and-survey-on-the-future-of-wellness-at-work/

Seppälä, Emma and Kim Cameron. “Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive.” Harvard Business Review, HBR.org, 01 Dec. 2015, hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive.

Wilson, Fred. “Is Socializing in The Workplace Important for Team Productivity?” eLearning Industry, elearningindustry.com, 16 Dec. 2018, elearningindustry.com/socializing-workplace-important-team-productivity.

Wellsource. “Why Social Interaction Is Important at Work.” Wellsource.com, 22 July 2014, blog.wellsource.com/why-social-interaction-is-important-at-work.
Muniz, Katherine. “The Value of Encouraging Socializing in the Workplace.” Fingercheck, fingercheck.com, 09 Oct. 2017, fingercheck.com/the-value-of-encouraging-socializing-in-the-workplace/.

Kohll, Alan. “5 Reasons Social Connections Can Enhance Your Employee Wellness Program.” Forbes magazine, forbes.com, 31 Jan. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2018/01/31/5-ways-social-connections-can-enhance-your-employee-wellness-program/#2f0b43d527c4.

Giang, Vivian. “71% of Millennials Want Their Co-Workers to Be a ‘Second Family.’” Business Insider, businessinsider.com, 15 Jun. 2013, www.businessinsider.com/millennials-want-to-be-connected-to-their-coworkers-2013-6.

Wellsource. “Building Relationships Enhances Culture of Wellness.” Wellsource.com, 25, June 2015, blog.wellsource.com/building-relationships-enhances-culture-wellness.

Wellsource. “Increase Participation with Social Incentives.” Wellsource.com, 21 Mar. 2012, blog.wellsource.com/increase-participation-social-incentives.
Carpenter, Dave. “More boomers aspire to careers with social purpose.” Associated Press, 07, Sep. 2012. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/more-boomers-aspire-careers-social-213113003.html;_ylt=A2KJjagMDk1QV3kAZZTQtDMD.

Wellsource. “Workplace Wellness in 2018: The HAL Advice to Save Your Population.” Wellsource.com, 13 Apr. 2018, blog.wellsource.com/workplace-wellness-hal-advice-save-population.

Walton, Alice. “7 Ways Loneliness (And Connectedness) Affect Mental Health.” Forbes magazine, forbes.com, 30 Oct. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2018/10/30/7-ways-loneliness-and-connectedness-affect-mental-health/#48f18cdce1dc.

Tags:  Social Wellness 

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Wellness Coaching – Somatic Approaches to the Rigid Character Defense Structure in India

Posted By Preeti Rao, Monday, April 2, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Preeti Rao
Founder & CEO, Weljii

Interestingly enough there are strong cultural implications of an Indian society that amplifies the rigid character defence. Through Barbara Ann Brennan’s work, we know that the main issue of people with the rigid character defence is claiming their authenticity (Brennan, 1993). This is caused by separation from their core essence and complete focus on keeping their outer world appearance perfect (Brennan, 1993, pg.245).

This disconnect with one’s core seems prevalent in the Indian culture. According to industry consultant Eugene M. Makar, traditional Indian culture is defined by a relatively strict social hierarchy (Makar, 2008). The joint family system still prevalent in smaller towns and villages plays a significant role in the Indian culture. It is a system under which extended members of a family – parents, children, the children’s spouses and their offspring, etc. – live together. Usually, the oldest male member is the head in the joint Indian family system. He makes all important decisions and rules, and other family members abide by them. (Indian Families, 2011) Makar also mentions that from an early age, children are reminded of their roles and places in society (Makar, 2008). Hence, unlike the west, family relationships in the Indian community do not operate under the nuclear family models. The majority of the families still work within the communal models, which prefer family honour to individual freedoms and choices (Verma, 2010).

These strict rules and the social hierarchy structure puts pressure to keep up the appearance of everything perfect, with no fault or weakness, in order to survive. Children in India are potentially denied of negative experiences and parents and society at large force them to establish a false sense of the world. The parents and other family members control the whole outer environment to create an illusion of perfection (Brennan, 1993). Since the head of the family in India usually makes the decision, there is little room for others to express their individuality (Makar, 2008). My assumption hence would be that the inability of a person to express their individuality could potentially make the defence action of the rigid character heightened by attempting to become even more perfect (Brennan, 1993). An Indian would usually have a seemingly perfect spouse and a perfect family. They are usually successful and make good amounts of money. They aim for perfection in all aspects of their lives (Makar, 2008 & Brennan, 1993).

The rigid character defence mechanism of everything is perfect correlates with the obsession with perfection in the context of the Indian culture. Most Indian people aim for not only mere success but demand it ruthlessly (Verma, 2010). While this person may be open to the idea of therapy as yet another form of self-improvement, they are usually not open to the emotional surrender necessary to break through the character structure. In addition, society at large usually heaps great rewards upon this person for their high levels of achievement. Unfortunately, all of that vicarious support only makes it more difficult for this person to find happiness (Johnson, 1994).

So it is highly possible that due to the constrains imposed on Indians by the society’s norms and rules, that these people constantly avoid the feeling of being unloved for who they truly are. They may find themselves resonating with, “I need to be someone you want me to be.” This may be because they’ve learned clear rules of what is ok and what is not ok at the expense of their own individuality. It’s all about being perfect but according to someone else’s standards and in this case it could parents, extended family, friends and the society at large. They can potentially experience the constant fear to do and feel the right thing. They usually fear that love will be withdrawn if they do not comply with the societal ethics and hence it is possible that their inner world is repressed and sometimes completely denied (Johnson, 1994).

Another interesting aspect that can be correlated with the rigid character defence is the fact that in present India, sex and sexuality are still considered topics that are tabooed. Topics such as male libido and female orgasm do not trickle the bedroom of an average Indian. The subject of sexuality is neither approached clinically nor as a natural phenomenon. It is always been veiled behind stigma, taboo and mystique. It is a common phenomenon for most Indian families to deny opportunities for open discussion about sex. Usually such taboos and restrictions are accepted with no questions asked (Roy & Rizvi 1998).

Similarly in a person with the rigid character defence the child’s natural erotic strivings and expressions, including masturbation, are greeted with anxiety, rejection, severe disapproval or punishment by sexually repressed parents. In the rigid character defence, an inadequate sense of self can be caused by the separation of love feelings from sexual feelings.  Repressed sexual feelings are pathologically expressed through psychosomatic symptoms, in frequent sexual activity without any love involvement (“flings” or affairs), restlessness, hyperactivity or “flighty” behaviour”, or diverted into ambitiousness in the material world. The latter seems to be more relevant to the Indian society were sex is taboo and the sexual energy is diverted to material possessions and success (Jejeebhoy, S. 2000).  I wonder whether this repressed unresolved Oedipal conflicts causes deep longings for the opposite sex with persistent fears of betrayal

It is also important to note that India is a patriarchal society where a woman is supposed to have a place secondary to a man. For example, a woman will take father’s name at birth and husband’s name after marriage; a woman is expected to deliver a male child; only the man is authorized to perform religious ceremonies and rituals; upon marriage the man gets a substantial amount of dowry from woman’s parents and brings home a wife who is expected to live with his parents (Verma, 2010,pg. 1). So the idea of self is even more denied with women than with men in the Indian society. Hence, it is important to be extremely careful in deciding somatic and coaching interventions for the Indian women clientele.

Understanding the correlations between the Indian code of conduct and morals, and the rigid character defence can help to understand how to respond in a positive healing way towards my future Indian clients in coaching sessions. Some of the things that will make it easy to protect my boundaries while engaging with rigid character defence is that these folks have a strong balanced auric field with their boundaries in place. That means that I won’t have to worry about controlling my bioplasmic streamers or my vibrational frequency (Brennan, 1993). As a coach it will be important for me to facilitate an environment where my client feels that, “All of him/her is welcome”. While enabling the client to feel his or her own essence, it is important for me to connect cellularly with my own essence. The mantra of the rigid character defence, “I am real” vs. “I am appropriate”, would be most healing for the Indian clientele grappling with this character defence.  While doing so, it will also help to acknowledge the gifts of this character defence. The gifts are that these folks are usually very generous of their time and emotions – this can potentially explain the Indian hospitality – they inspire others, are loving and passionate. They usually are natural leaders and are usually very easy to be around (Johnson, 1994).

Since Indians in general take great pride in their successes and accomplishments, as a coach, it would be imperative to establish a respectful and professional environment which facilitates acknowledging the person’s genuine accomplishments in life, and the seriousness and concern for how he or she has successfully managed many aspects of adult living. It will also be important to create a space where they could acknowledge the confusion and disappointment they feel that in spite of these achievements and have no judgments if he or she is bored, lonely, restless and or dissatisfied (Johnson, 1994).

As a coach it would be challenging but imperative to create pathways that would allow my Indian clients to develop flexibility in approaches to life’s tasks and relationships while relinquishing the exaggerated pride and need to hold back. Since both men and women are programmed to function in set ways in the society (Verma, 2010), as a coach if I would create a space that would allow my client to surrender to their fears of becoming weak, vulnerable or losing face (Brennan, 1993). I could create a space that will encourage my clients to experience their true self while still respecting cultural sensitivities.

This will encourage my client to become aware of and open up to the true depth and beauty of the self that exists beyond the superficiality of appearances and performances enforced on them by the society at large. It would help these individually caged in the rigid character defence to recognize their higher self-aspects, especially their capacity to love fully and to see that their gifts are there even when hidden behind the mask. And that although they have a wounded aspect in their personality, they need not identify with that aspect in order for it to get the help it needs (Johnson, 1994).

As the coaching interventions continue the person may drop the mask and release the raw negative feelings. At such junctions, fear of pleasure and expansion may need to be addressed as it comes up with reassurance and no judgment. And based on the client’s own new experiences; it will be important to facilitate an environment that grounds them to embrace their new energy and spiritual self.

This article demonstrates how different coaching and somatic intervention are necessary to facilitate clients to achieve goals that they might want to accomplish and feel deeper connection and meaning to.

Preeti RaoPreeti Rao is the Founder & CEO, Weljii. Weljii is the recipient of 50 Best Wellness Companies - Global Listing - award by the World Health and Wellness Congress. She holds a Masters degree in International Business and a Masters in Integrative Health Studies with specialization in Wellness Management and Health & Wellness Coaching. She is India’s only ICHWC Mentor Coach and NWI International Standing Committee Member.

Tags:  emotional agility  emotional wellness  India  International Wellness  Preeti Rao  social wellness  somatic  wellness coaching 

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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: 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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