Are You Up for the Challenge?

Are you up for the challenge? Contact WellAdvantage to learn more!

National Walking Day!


It’s National Walking Day, let’s get moving! Do you know average Americans only walk 3,000-4,000 steps a day, compared to the recommended 10,000 steps a day? Knowing your step count helps you work up toward the goal by aiming to add 1,000 extra steps a day.

Walking is one of the simplest ways to get active and stay active. With each step you take, you travel further toward the path to a healthier lifestyle. Research shows that walking can have a significant impact on your health by lowering your chances of heart disease. Contact WellAdvantage to learn more about how to incorporate the benefits of walking into your Company culture.

Is Diabetes Affecting Your Workforce?

Is Diabetes affecting your workforce? Contact us today to schedule your speaking engagement with Jeanne!  She would love the opportunity to speak to your management and HR personnel about these important topics.

 

10 Ways to Bring Mindfulness to Your Workday

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

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

1.     Make the choice to be mindful

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

2.     Set an intention

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

3.      Slow down

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

4.     Pick something and pay attention

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

5.     Practice listening

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

6.     Focus on one thing at once

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

7.     Recognize the accomplishments of others

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

8.     Take a meditation minute

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

9.     Share

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

10. Connect with other experts

One of the best ways to improve your practice, regardless of whether it’s mindfulness or any other wellness technique, is to compare notes with other experts to find out what’s working and what’s not.

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

10 Tips to Improve Your Emotional Wellness

This month’s ‘Wellness in 10’ is dedicated to those who have some trouble with their emotional wellness, and provides a little guidance on how to develop that aspect of themselves to better become a fully well person.

1. Set good goals

This seems like a logical place to start, as it pertains to emotional wellness and elsewhere. Wellness coaches everywhere will tell you to set goals for yourself that are actionable, achievable, and timely. Sometimes, with massive goals, that means breaking the large goal into smaller sub-goals that you can use to track your progress. By giving yourself something positive to work toward, you’re setting yourself up for success as you continue to be able to check your goals off your list. The sense of satisfaction that comes with achieving goals will only improve your positive outlook.

2. Things change, and we have to change with them

“This too shall pass” is known as the one universal truth. It’s also a phrase that has the ability to make us sad when we’re happy and happy when we’re sad. Much mental anguish can be assuaged by accepting the adage, though. By understanding that our lives are ever-evolving processes, and not just distinct moments in time, we can relieve ourselves of the frustration of trying to hold on to any one set of circumstances.

3. Fail forward

For many of us, “failure” is a dirty word. It means we’ve not achieved a specific goal or desired outcome. In other areas of our lives, we call this “practice.” Save yourself the angst of brooding over a failure, and instead see it as a learning experience for the next time you make an attempt. As long as you’ve learned something for the next time, you haven’t really failed.

4. Pick up on positive vibes

Have you ever noticed how your mood lifts whenever a specific friend or relative comes around? An easy way to get in a better mood is to surround yourself with positive people. Invite your positive friends over for coffee or a board game – or anything interactive, really – and before long your mood will have made a turn for the better.

5. Let bygones be bygones

You aren’t in charge of the behavior of others. If someone harms you, it’s easy to get into a cycle of grudge-holding that can be toxic for your emotional wellbeing. This doesn’t mean that it’s ok for others to harm you, but after the fact, only you can choose how to move forward for yourself.

6. Laugh it up

People have been saying “laughter is the best medicine” forever for a reason. In addition to being fun, laughing has been shown to ease pain, reduce stress, and boost your immune system. Often, we get caught in a pattern of taking ourselves very seriously. A little self-directed laughter might take us a long way toward improving our personal emotional wellness.

7. Get real

One emotional-wellness crusher is the feeling of being overwhelmed. Avoid this feeling by setting up realistic expectations for yourself. Put together lists of things you have to accomplish, and use that list to organize your day in a realistic way, reminding yourself that some things might have to wait until tomorrow, or next week, or next month. By setting up a process in which you can manage your expectations in a real way, you will be able to avoid the feeling that you’re falling behind.

8. Use the buddy system

Some of us tend to bottle our emotions inside of us, expecting that we’re somehow going to think through our problems and figure out a magical solution that will suddenly appear to us. Often, it just doesn’t work like that. If a persistent mood-killer is hanging around, it may be time to tap a trusted friend’s knowledge and experience to help work through a problem.

9. Sleep on it

We’ve known for a long time that sleep is important, but it seems like only recently has it been getting the recognition it deserves. Getting enough rest will let you feel less stressed, more focused, and less irritable. A normal amount of sleep for the average adult is seven to eight hours. If you’re getting less than that and feeling unstable, try taking a nap – for your own emotional wellness.

10. Recognize a problem when it’s a problem

There are emotional problems that all of us face in our day-to-day, but it’s important to know when an emotional wellness issue is more than an average occurrence. Persistent, long-lasting feelings of dread, being overwhelmed, or self-harm should be taken very seriously as signs of clinical depression, and shouldn’t be ignored. If you’re dealing with these sorts of feelings, reach out to a trusted friend or family member for help, or find help through the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Source: National Wellness Institute

Spotting the Warning Signs of Heart Disease in the Workplace

Most people spend the majority of their time in the workplace. For this reason, the workplace is a great opportunity to promote heart health awareness. Training staff to look for symptoms of a heart attack could potentially save an employee’s life. And since co-workers are able to see deteriorations in a person’s health each day, they can be a valuable source for spotting changes in behavior and disposition.

The first obvious thing to be on the lookout for is any unusual pain. Heart attack pain is often described by patients as “tightness in the chest,” so if an employee ever uses this phrase, it’s a good idea to make sure that co-workers know that there may be a heart emergency in progress. Changes in energy can also be spotted in the workplace. If someone is generally very active and alert, but suddenly seems sluggish or lethargic, employees should be aware of potential health emergencies and engage with the staff member to find out if they are okay.

Employees that are short of breath are another major warning sign that can be spotted by co-workers. For office work that is generally sedentary, finding an employee suddenly out of breath and/or sweating should ring some warning bells, especially if this employee generally doesn’t exhibit symptoms like this.

In short, there are several ways that employees can spot the changing health circumstances in their colleagues. It doesn’t always take a doctor to recognize the signs and symptoms of heart failure, so a bit of training can go a long way for employees.

There are many steps to understanding and preventing heart attacks; here is a guide to identifying some of the warning signs, as well as a few tips for prevention.

General Warning Signs of Heart Attacks

There are many symptoms that can indicate a heart attack is about to happen. Here are a few of the warning signs:

Pain:

Pain or discomfort in the chest. This can come as a stabbing pain that goes away and then returns, or in some cases, it may be constant.  Pain or discomfort in the chest can radiate out to other body parts as the pressure builds up around the heart and may actually present as back pain or upper gastric pain.  If the pain or discomfort begins to radiate out to affect shoulders or lower back, this is another warning sign before a heart attack.

Shortness of Breath:

Shortness of breath can be another indicator of a heart attack. In this case, the organs are working to provide oxygen and nutrients to the whole body despite an irregularity with the heart.

Sweating, Nausea, Lightheadedness:

Sweating, nausea, and lightheadedness can also be physical manifestations of the internal struggle before a heart attack.

General Warning Signs of Heart Attacks

General Warning Signs of Heart Attacks

 

These signs can come on very suddenly, and they may coincide with the symptoms of other illnesses. This is why it’s important to educate people about the symptoms of heart disease so that they can be on the alert for any of these issues. If several of these symptoms occur at one time, it can be considered an emergency and an ambulance should be called right away—it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How the Signs Can Differ in Women

Many people aren’t aware that the classic heart disease symptoms can present differently in women; (women’s heart attack symptoms). As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. Sweating, fatigue, and nausea are also common symptoms.

Workplace Wellness Programs

One of the best ways to educate employees about heart health is to set up a workplace wellness program that includes some education about heart health. Training programs can teach employees what to look for in themselves and co-workers in the case of a heart emergency, as well as understanding health risk factors. These training sessions should stress the importance of action, even if there is uncertainty about the precise health problem or the presence of a heart failure.

Workplace wellness programs can also incorporate educational sessions to teach employees what steps to take if a fellow colleague presents the signs of a heart attack. It’s important for businesses to have an emergency protocol in place for this type of emergency. For instance, who should employees call to alert when there is a medical emergency? Do they contact bosses, families, and/or paramedics and in what order? What kind of support are employees allowed to provide if they see another co-worker in need of medical attention? Is there anything they can do to make the environment safer for a colleague that’s suffering a heart attack?

The best course of action is to call 911 first. After 911 is called and the victim is being cared for, a co-worker should contact Human Resources in order for them to contact any family members.  However, each company should establish its own protocols as it relates to an incident of this nature.  The most important factor here is educating each other on the signs so that someone can tune into a possible life and death situation by knowing the signs of a heart attack.

Great training programs can answer employees’ questions and provide a variety of ways for workers to learn, including video and audio presentations, conversations, and even real-world scenario simulations. But another positive benefit of these programs is to get employees thinking about reducing health risk factors in the office. Something as simple as a stretch break during long meetings, or taking 10 minutes out of a lunch break to start a new walking and exercise routine, can create a lot of positive effects and cumulative benefits for both employees and employers alike.

Real-World Results

There have been a number of studies done on the effects of adult education programs for heart health. For instance, researchers tested the effects of an hour-long education program on heart health. The program taught participants about heart health care and heart attack warning signs. After the hour-long program, participants took a test to see how much they learned, and the results were a significant amount of new, practical knowledge.

If it’s possible to have these positive results with just an hour-long program, you can imagine the benefits of a longer and more comprehensive training program. And it’s certainly worth a company’s time to train staff on crucial health issues, both to protect the company and to improve the health and wellbeing of its employees.

To speak with someone about implementing a workplace wellness program at your company, please call us at (410) 795-7579.


 

About the Author

Jeanne Puglisi Sherwood, RN is the President and Founder of WellAdvantage. As an intensive Care Nurse, Jeanne saw that many of the patients she worked with had illnesses directly related to unhealthy lifestyles, especially poor nutrition, inactivity, obesity and smoking, preventing the body from handling any new crisis. Jeanne knew that education and preventive measures were key to keeping many of her patients out of the hospital.

10 Wellness Resolutions for 2016

Source: National Wellness Institute

For many people, along with the new year come New Year’s resolutions and wellness is usually at the top of the list. There are many traditional resolutions like losing weight and quitting smoking, which are completely noble and admirable. For those among us who are already relatively fit and don’t have glaring unhealthy habits to break, here are some potential resolutions to improve your wellness in 2016:

1. Eat your greens (and oranges, reds, blues…)

There’s much more to nutrition than maintaining a healthy body weight, but satisfying and healthy foods in winter can be hard to come by. Make it a point to make sure you have a rainbow of colors on your plate as you start off your new year, not just the browns, yellows and oranges of winter stews. And no – M&M’s don’t count.

2. Bring a buddy on board

If you’re in a good place, wellness-wise, perhaps the next phase in your wellness journey is to pull a partner in with you. Perhaps you have a spouse, partner, relative or close friend who you wish would improve his or her wellness habits. Try to gently coax them toward the path of wellness. Just remember that subtlety is important here. Try inviting them to wellness by saying things like: “Would you be interested in taking for a walk with me?” or “How about you come over to my place for dinner tonight?” That tactic will work far better than saying something like: “I was thinking you should lose some weight.”

3. Learn something new skill

At NWI, we emphasize the six dimensions of wellness, of which “physical wellness” is only one. If you’re in great physical shape, perhaps it’s time to focus on a new dimension of wellness, like intellectual wellness. Try picking a new skill you’d like to learn and set aside time daily or weekly to improve yourself. Make sure to pick a long-term skill, like playing an instrument, painting, or learning a language, for example, that you won’t be able to master in a matter of days. You’ll have a new outlet for the rest of the year, and potentially for years to come!

4. Get involved and improve social wellness

When we get into our work/exercise/eat/sleep routines it can be difficult to find extra time for anything else. To be a wholly well person, however, we have to develop our social wellness, also (outside of our work relationships). A new year might be a great time to get into a book club, volunteer organization, or rec-league sport so that you can make some new connections and become part of a new community.

5. Break out of your exercise rut

Along the same lines as “learn a new skill” and “get involved” is the idea of breaking out of your exercise rut. If you’re a person who is known as “the one who listens to podcasts on the third treadmill from the left,” then it may be time to try something new. Try joining a rec-league team sport that’s new to you, like ultimate Frisbee, curling, or flag football, to meet new people, get a different type of workout, and gain a new perspective on what exercise can be.

6. Strengthen your bonds

Creating an emotional connection with others can sometimes be easy and quick, and other times take effort and time. Over time, emotional connections can erode. Make an effort, even setting reminders for yourself, if you have to, to re-strengthen the emotional connections you have with those you hold dear. Spouses, partners, parents, children, and close friends will appreciate hearing that you care about them, think of them, and appreciate their presence in your life.

7. Take a class

Formatted learning is a habit that many of us fall out of after we leave school. Pick a subject you care about, and sign up for a class in 2016. The old habits of reading, listening, and studying will come back. This will force you to take a break from work, learn something new, and schedule a set amount of time for yourself every week. Bonus: You may meet some new people with similar interests!

8. Improve your work/life balance

This is a difficult resolution for many in today’s work environment to implement, but you can improve your work/life balance in 2016. Schedule time for yourself and for your family so that work can’t take over. Go so far as to put it into your work calendar so your coworkers know that time is spoken for. The hardest part may be to get yourself to recognize that “Not Work Time” is not for doing work.

9. Get spiritual

The spiritual aspect of wellness is one that tends to get ignored. Regardless of what you believe, or don’t believe, 2016 can be a new start to figure out your relationship to the universe and the world around you. To improve your spiritual wellness this year, get involved with your religious organization, attend your regular services, or even take up mindfulness meditation.

10. Volunteer

There is not much that makes us feel better than giving back. You can improve your emotional and social wellness, as well as your community, by finding a volunteer organization you care about and donating your time. You’ll make a positive impact on other peoples’ lives, and the good feelings you get back will be more than worth it.

Those are ten suggestions for new year’s resolutions to improve your wellness. What resolutions have you made? How will you be improving your wellness in 2016?

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10 Out-of-the-Ordinary Things to Be Grateful for This November

Published by in Health, Stress on November 8th, 2015

10 Things to Be Grateful for This November

Written by National Wellness Institute

Gratitude is an important thing; it’s been shown to improve your mood, improve your relationships, and boost morale in the office.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is a great time to start looking for things to be thankful for. With that in mind, here are 10 out-of-the-ordinary things that we can be thankful for this November!

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10 Wellness Habits to Start NOW, if You Haven’t Already

Published by in Health on October 6th, 2015

10 Wellness Habits - WellAdvantage

Written by National Wellness

This month for your wellness in 10, we’re going to cover some wellness staples that are inspired by a recent article about perseverance toward your goals, even after working toward those goals has become boring.

We all know that we have great intentions when it comes to setting goals, and it’s easy to motivate to work toward them when the idea is fresh, but a few months – or even years – into the grind toward achieving those goals it can be a real chore to find the motivation to get off that couch or pick up that pen or open that book. That’s why we’re going to take an opportunity to reaffirm the goals we’ve set for ourselves, and take some steps to create healthy habits to achieve them.

We know that it takes around 21 days worth of repetitions to form a habit, so by doing each one of these small tasks every day, you can have turned them into healthy habits by Halloween.

1. Eat Breakfast

Goal: Physical Wellness

Eating breakfast is so important for getting your body ready for the day. If you don’t feed yourself in the morning, you’re expecting your body to work until lunch without any fuel. Of course we’ve all heard this before, but many of us have fallen out of the habit of eating breakfast. Take this opportunity to buy a bag of fruit or a box of oatmeal and try to get back into the swing of a morning meal.

2. Eat Something Green

Goal: Physical Wellness

We know this one, too, right? We know that green vegetables are packed with the nutrients our body needs, but we’ve fallen into the habit of eating what’s convenient rather than eating what’s good. With fall harvests happening all over the country right now, it’s a great time to get into the habit of eating something green every day.

3. Get Up and Move

Goal: Physical Wellness (bonus: Social Wellness)

That next episode on Netflix can be super tempting, and when the weather cools off, it’s difficult to find the motivation to exercise. Unfortunately bad habits are easier to form than good ones, so be extra vigilant to nip them in the bud before they form. Plan out specific times for activities, and stick to them. If you make a plan to be active with someone else, you’re more likely to follow through, and you get to expand your social wellness at the same time!

4. Stand Up More

Goal: Occupational Wellness

Sitting is the new smoking. We’ve all heard that by now. It’s true, though that prolonged sitting is linked to a variety of health probems, so be sure to stand up and stretch at least, or – even better – take a short walk, to alleviate some of the detrimental effects of sitting. Invite a coworker (or your boss) out for walking breaks and improve your social bonds while you’re helping your heart and liver.

5. Show Gratitude

Goal: Social Wellness (bonus: Occupational Wellness & Physical Wellness)

Not only does showing gratitude help you in the form of ingratiating yourself to others, increasing your social wellness, but it can create a more welcoming and comfortable culture in your workplace, and it can literally boost your physical health. All that from simply saying “thanks!”

6. Practice Mindfulness

Goal: Spiritual Wellness/Emotional Wellness

Many people envision “mindfulness” as meditation, but it can come in many forms. For some people it’s meditation, but for others it’s prayer, yoga, or even just taking some time to organize your thoughts. Regardless of your form of mindfulness, it promises to lower your stress and help you feel more organized, energized, and in control of your situation.

7. Volunteer

Goal: Social Wellness

This may seem like a hard thing to do every day, but when you think about it, it’s really not. Another way to think about this is “help out.” How many times per day do we pass by someone or a situation where we could lend a hand? By adding effort to a problem you’re strengthening your social bonds, alleviating part of someone else’s burden, and making yourself feel good in the process.

8. Learn Something New

Goal: Intellectual Wellness

This is another one that seems big, but doesn’t have to be.  You don’t have to learn the laws of theoretical physics one day and the history of the English Empire the next. By seeking out something small every day, however – like a new vocabulary word or a random fact, we’re teaching ourselves that learning isn’t something that has a start and stop, but instead is part of our daily lives.

9. Expand Your Real-Life Social Network

Goal: Social Wellness

This goal of meeting new people can be done a variety of ways. Many of us are creatures of habit, though, who fall into a routine of going to work, going home, an then repeating the process five days per week. Try pushing out of your normal comfort zone by saying hi to a new coworker or joining a local club. You’ll expand your social circle and potentially learn something in the process.

10. Track your progress

Goal: ANY & ALL

One important step that many of us skip, or have never done in the first place, is to track your progress toward the goal. By breaking your overarching goal into do-able steps, and then tracking your progress on the steps, you’re able to see real progress even on a day-to-day basis. If you’re seeing progress, you’re more likely to stick with the project and see the goal all the way through.

So there’s your October Wellness in 10. These habits may be things you’re doing already, but be sure to share them with your friends and family who aren’t. Small steps like these could add up to a big impact for them. What do you think? What are some habits you’ve created for yourself to achieve your wellness goals?

The Big Shrink: Americans Start To Eat Less

Published by in Health on August 28th, 2015

small-burger-WellAdvantage
via Serious Eats

Written by National Wellness Institute

Between 2003 and 2011, Americans across categories have begun to purchase and eat less food resulting in declining obesity levels in young children and stalled obesity levels in school-age children and adults.

A study released by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is indicating that, though these trends are indeed occurring, there is not currently any concrete indication as to why.

Researchers are split as to whether the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009 played an important role in changing Americans’ eating habits. Some research seems to indicate that an economic downturn tends to push healthier eating habits, while other research indicates that the exact opposite is true.

One positive result of this study is the indication that media coverage, discussion and actions in the US surrounding obesity and the role of sugar-sweetened beverages playing a role in the slowing of obesity rates.  The study showed consumption of sugar-added drinks making a marked decline from 1999 on.  This change I consumption could be attributed to changes in consumer education due to public policy, though the researchers focused on economic impacts on consumption instead of social impacts, and therefore have not been able to make conclusive findings.

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