The Well-Being Journal

5 Ways to Get Moving Without Thinking About It

Jennifer Rudloff

Blue Zones® research shows you don't have to run marathons to be a well-being super-star. In fact, many of the world's oldest and healthiest people engage in low-intensity activity on a daily basis. If your busy schedule keeps you away from the gym, here are some simple ways to get moving without even thinking about it.

  1. Move for the fun of it! Build activity into your life by doing what you love. Ride your bike to work. Walk to the store. Play basketball with your kids.
  2. Inconvenience yourself. Take the stairs at work. Park at the far end of the parking lot. Get up to change the TV channel instead of using the remote.
  3. Start walking. Walking is easy to do and free to everyone. It also invites company and can relieve stress after a hard day.
  4. Strengthen your social connections. Make a regular time to walk with your "moai" - a group of lifelong friends - and build social connections while you take steps to improve your health.
  5. Grow a garden. Gardening is a great way to be physically active daily and even helps reduce stress. Improve flexibility, strength, endurance, and balance, all with the benefits of fresh homegrown vegetables.

What are your favorite ways to move naturally each day?

Topics: Healthy Living Exercise Move Naturally Blue Zones Project

Small Daily Actions Can Help You Reach Bigger Health Goals

Jennifer Rudloff

Reposted from the MeYouHealth.com/blog

Bigger isn’t always better. Particularly when it comes to the goals we make each New Year. Travel the world, lose weight, get out of debt -- these resolutions often set us up to fail, because they’re unrealistic, overwhelming and gigantic. They don’t have to be, though. Just as a journey starts with a single step, big goals are met through daily small actions.

It’s in the little actions and our daily intentions that we can achieve our aspirations. This year, we’re asking you to not make a resolution. Instead, choose a small action you can do every day, like pack your lunch (to save money or lose weight) or replace one bad-habit craving with a healthy snack or mini-meditation.

Little healthy actions like a packed lunch or snack swap can help each of us reach bigger goals, if we’re consistent. If it helps, keep track of your little daily actions and intentions on a calendar. Aim for 30, 100, or even 365 days of a small action that will help you achieve that bigger goal.

You don’t have to take our word for it. When we reached out a few blogger friends to let them know about our Anti-Resolution Revolution, they were happy to help spread the message that it’s the small things we do on a daily basis that matter to our success in reaching bigger goals.

Check out what healthy living bloggers Jan, Anne, Laura, Melissa, and Suzanne had to say about our opposition to making a New Year’s resolution:
Jan -- “Whatever your weight, health, or fitness goal is... I know you can achieve it this coming year if you believe in yourself and go for your goal by making small, sustainable changes and setting realistic milestones.”

Anne -- “I believe much more in the power of small daily actions, or intentions. I find that setting smaller daily or weekly goals vs. broad resolutions really helps with making healthy living a lifestyle change vs. a quick fix – or a huge overwhelming goal that is never reached.”

Laura -- “ Making small, daily changes will help achieve any s.m.a.r.t. [specific, measurable, attainable, realistic] goal. Take the steps to succeed and let the Anti-Resolutionists help you along the way.”

Melissa -- “I actually gave up on making resolutions several years ago because I realized that I rarely kept them because they weren’t specific enough and they had such a large scope that they become overwhelming. Having huge yet nebulous resolutions never seemed to serve me well. These days, I prefer setting smaller more short-term goals.”

Suzanne -- “Making small daily changes to your routine will be the difference between success and failure. Forget ‘changing your life’ or resolving to do things differently on a certain date. Simply begin by taking one small action every day.”

Small daily actions can give your well-being a great boost and break bigger goals into actionable, attainable mini-celebrations you’ll be more likely to stick with. For more ideas on small actions that can make an impact, check out our behind-the-scenes MeYou Health video, and be sure to sign up for Daily Challenge to get a boost of well-being delivered to you daily.

What positive results have you seen by taking small steps to reach a goal?

Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being Health Prevention Small Daily Actions MeYou Health Daily Challenge Anti-resolution Revolution

Work Environment: It's More Than Just the Furniture

Jennifer Rudloff

With the average adult spending more half of their waking hours at work, it stands to reason that a person’s work environment and professional relationships play a key role in determining their overall well-being. What may be a little more fuzzy for some is the impact that that person’s overall well-being has on their organization.

Gallup research shows that American workers are disconnected from their work – they found 71% of people are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” with their work. That’s a big chunk of us. Additionally, the Well-Being Index (WBI) shows that workplace well-being has been on the decline for the last few years. Whether you want to blame it on the economy or some other factor, it’s important to recognize the impact it’s having from your organization.

Findings from the WBI and Well-Being Assessment (WBA) reveal strong correlations between a person’s well-being and their engagement, productivity, performance, and healthcare spend. To put some numbers to it, we know that on average, for every 10 points you can move the needle in an individual’s overall well-being, you’ll realize a healthcare cost savings of $409, an 11% reduction in unscheduled absences, and 3 points higher engagement at work. Not bad, huh?

So how can you improve the engagement, motivation and well-being of your people? In this illustrated video, Daniel Pink talks about how workplace well-being can be improved through several key changes – the single greatest being motivation.

Topics: Well-Being Work Environment Workplace Well-Being Engagement Well-Being Index Motivation Productivity Daniel Pink Well-being Assessment

Well Living: 10 Tips for Defeating the Winter Blues and SAD

Jennifer Rudloff

Yaaaaawwwnn. The cold temperatures and lack of sunshine that occur during winter have a considerable impact on our well-being, particularly since Jack Frost can bring an unwanted present with him: a dampened mood.

With 15 millions people (75% of them women) suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it’s not uncommon to feel less-than-stellar during dreary days with scant light.

SAD symptoms include low energy, carb cravings, and weight gain. And it’s a potentially threatening condition not many people feel comfortable talking about, because first you have to admit you feel “down in the dumps” for what appears to be no reason at all. Well, think again; the weather plays a huge role in our health and happiness.

According to MSN Health, researchers have, since the early 1970’s, sought to to confirm a relationship between weather and temperament. Yet just how much weather affects our mood remains to be determined. With that said, researches do agree that some people are more sensitive to dark, cold days. What’s more, there is research on Seasonal Affective Disorder that confirms that our brains respond to darkness and light, as SAD has been linked to the shortened daylight hours of winter -- and your body’s natural production of melatonin (the sleep-inducing hormone).

No wonder some of us feel like snoozing at our desk when the sun sets at 4 p.m. With the early arrival of nightfall, our bodies switch into get-ready-for-sleep mode. Yet, all is not lost. Professor of psychology at Fordham University in New York, Ani Kalayjian, Ed.D., R.N., advises us to be proactive when strengthening the brain’s system against weather-driven mood changes. We agree.

Here are 10 simple ways to take care of your well-being during the winter months:

  1. Listen to upbeat music. Whether it’s Mozart or Maroon 5, you can boost your mood and energy level by plugging into your favorite tunes.
  2. Look at past photos from a fun event. Reliving moments from a past vacation or family gathering can make you feel happy and put a smile on your face.
  3. Do a mini-meditation. Not only is is good for stress relief, closing your eyes for a few minutes will put you in a more relaxed and restorative state of mind. Closing your eyes for just two minutes could give you a mid-afternoon boost and allow you to push through the rest of the day.
  4. Limit alcohol intake and refined sugar. The feel-good effects are temporary. Both alcohol and refined sugar can have you feeling even more tired. So limit them. Instead, reach for seltzer water or peppermint tea, and swap sugary treats for fresh fruit.
  5. Move more. Easier said than done when bundled under the blankets, but incorporating more movement into your day -- like a 10-minute yoga session or jog -- can work wonders on keeping your energy levels balanced. Bonus tip: always take the stairs!
  6. Get more Vitamin D. Getting more of the “sunshine vitamin” can help bolster mood. During the winter months, eat seafood like salmon, shrimp, and sardines, and add more eggs and Vitamin D fortified cereals and milk to your daily menu. You can also take a Vitamin D supplement.
  7. Call a friend. Hearing a friend’s voice can boost your mood and socializing helps you feel connected to the people who matter most to you.
  8. Get outside. Bundle up and step outside, for nothing replaces the benefits of sunlight. Go for a brisk walk in the afternoon or try something new like snow shoeing!
  9. Change your perspective. Help relieve the dreary feelings winter brings by talking or writing your way to a happier place. Start a daily gratitude journal, or schedule weekly pick-me-ups (like me-time pampering or coffee with a friend).
  10. Invest in a light box. When the above tips fail to lighten your mood, try turning (literally) to a light box that can elevate serotonin levels in 30 minutes day. (Consult your physician for a light box recommendation.)
QUESTION: Have you ever suffered from SAD? How do you boost your energy and spirits during winter?

Reposted from the MeYouHealth.com/blog
Topics: Healthy Living Well-being In Action Prevention well-being tips winter blues Seasonal Affective Disorder

The single best thing you can do for your health in 2012

Jennifer Rudloff

For many of us, along with the new year comes resolutions aimed at creating happier and healthier lives. So now, how do you go about doing that? Well, we know that there are a number of factors that contribute to our health and well-being -- good diets, good friends, and healthy behaviors go a long way towards achieving health.

But there's one thing that trumps the rest - Exercise! Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your health. Among other things, just a little bit of movin' and shakin' each day has the ability improve our quality of life and reduce fatigue, anxiety, depression, pain, dementia.

Topics: Healthy Living Exercise Healthcare 23 & 1/2 hours Health Prevention Design Lab New Years Resolution Dr. Mike Evans Healthier You