The Well-Being Journal

Live on Purpose

Jennifer Rudloff

Beep...Beep…Beep…it’s your alarm clock. Time to wake up – but what is it that gets YOU out of bed every morning? More than just that first cup of joe – it’s your purpose. When your gifts, passions and values align and are expressed in how you live your life every day, you are living on purpose.

Living on purpose is one of the keys to living a healthier and longer life. In fact, research from the Blue Zones Power 9™ indicates that people who have a purpose live seven years longer than those who don’t. And it’s not just about years in your life, but life in your years, as a recent MetLife study based on the work of best-selling author Richard Leider attests. This study found that people with a “sense of purpose in their lives are more likely to report being happy and describe themselves as living the Good Life”.

So we know that purpose is a critical element to well-being – now what? As business leaders, how do we help our employees discover their purpose? How do we connect an employee’s individual purpose to something bigger – whether that’s an organization or their community?

The answer lies in first creating a work environment that focuses on the whole person. At Healthways, we’re committed to enhancing all areas of our colleagues’ well-being – their physical, social, community, career and financial well-being. What drives these well-being domains is a sense of purpose. We believe it’s our responsibility to give our colleagues the tools to awaken their purpose as part of our commitment to their total well-being. So, in partnership with Richard Leider’s Inventure Group, we have unveiled the Power of Purpose Workshop, both at our corporate office and in communities as part of our Blue Zones Project By Healthways. During this two-hour workshop, participants:

  • Connect the importance of purpose to overall well-being
  • Reflect on their lives as a life spiral to develop a sharper picture of their past and a clearer vision of their future
  • Identify their gifts, passions and values
  • Begin drafting a purpose statement
  • Develop a plan to “live” the purpose statement and to hold themselves accountable

When participants uncover their gifts and achieve a clarity of focus on their purpose, they are more aware of how they “show up” in all aspects of their lives – whether that be with their families, relationships, work and community. It’s as if a whole new world of possibilities opens up.

At the end of our colleague workshops, we challenge participants to identify how they are living their purpose in their daily work. We ask, “How are you bringing your gifts, passions and values to our overall organizational purpose?” -- “How can you live your purpose by helping our organization achieve ours?” Sometimes that requires even tougher follow-up questions – “If there is a lack of congruency, why?” -- “What could you do/we do differently to ensure an alignment?” Opening up these conversations enables our colleagues and our leadership to ensure we are leveraging the gifts of our talent and giving them the tools to take charge of their own well-being.

The same thing can happen in the communities in which these workshops are being held as well. When citizens have a greater sense of their individual purpose, they can look at their immediate community as a place to offer those gifts. Connections are made and communities grow stronger.

Living on purpose is never a destination – rather, it’s a continual journey. The Power of Purpose Workshops are just the beginning. What’s next on the horizon? Purpose Moais. From the Blue Zone of Okinawa, the term “Moai” translates to “coming together for a common purpose”. These Purpose Moais will bring together a small group of workshop participants to regularly meet and support each other as they all strive to live on purpose. What a great way to enhance community well-being, as well as strengthen participants’ connections to their purpose?

That alarm clock is still ringing…time to wake up to living on purpose.

Topics: Healthy Living Richard Leider Blue Zones Project Purpose Well-Being

The Inner Truth about Weight Loss

Jennifer Rudloff

After a diet, between one-third and two-thirds of all dieters not only gain all their weight back, they actually gain more than they originally lost. That was the finding of a 2007 UCLA paper that sought to understand the outcomes of calorie restricting diets. It’s a sad story – the dieters have good intentions and impose discomfort upon themselves all in the name of making change happen; yet in the end they wind up disappointed and frustrated. That sure doesn’t do a lot to reinforce behavior change.

Unfortunately, many of these people will also go on to suffer significant health problems, all avoidable, because of excess weight. Most people simply do not succeed when undertaking a diet. They start fresh and enthusiastically, stutter along the way, and abandon the effort. Everybody knows that it is unhealthy to be overweight, and the key to success is strikingly easy to understand:

  • Eat less.
  • Move more.

So why has the prevalence of obesity grown so much over the past 25 years? It now afflicts 1 out of every 3 Americans. How can we stop it?

In reality, losing weight and keeping it off requires a complete lifestyle change - an approach that goes beyond a focus on calories consumed and calories burned. It requires an assessment of life values, clarification of goals, and support that creates a sense of accountability, in addition to eating less and moving more.

Losing weight shouldn’t be about ordering packaged food and counting every step and calorie – it’s bigger than that.

In recognition of the true drivers to weight loss – for example, the fundamental motivation and need for accountability – Healthways built its weight management program to emphasize how to make success a more likely outcome. And we’ve named it in accordance with that philosophy. Innergy™ acknowledges the inner strength and motivation, the inner confidence that dominates the success or failure at losing weight. If you’d like to learn more about this program, click here.

Topics: Healthy Living Obesity Weight Loss Innergy Prevention Healthways Johns Hopkins

Money Matters: 7 Simple Steps towards Financial Well-Being

Jennifer Rudloff

Reposted from the Well-Being Wire by MeYou Health

Like it or not, our financial stability can have an enormous impact on our overall well-being, so it’s important to be mindful of the connection between our dollars and our demeanour. As Gallup reported last week, financial worries among Americans rival the concerns from the recession 20 years ago, so the issues are immediate and real. It’s time to start feeling confident and secure about our financial picture, and we’re here to help with that.

When it comes to the numbers game and navigating the rules and regs of money, we defer to the experts. There are several reputable resources out there to help sort through those financial quandaries. For browsing the latest consumer articles and interest rates, Bankerate.com has a wealth of information for folks of all backgrounds. When it comes to knowing your rights and responsibilities regarding debt, identity theft, and general consumer protection, the Federal Trade Commission maintains FTC.gov, a great resource for U.S. citizens. And for those all-important tax questions, why not go right to the source? IRS.gov or the website of your state or city are the best places to find the details you need to tackle your specific situation.

But when it comes to those small, everyday actions to start improving your financial outlook and happiness, we’ve got you covered. Here are seven ideas for simple actions to incorporate into daily life right now—

  • Curb impulse purchases today by taking two deep breaths before buying anything you hadn’t planned on. Think about whether or not you can wait until the price comes down and if you really need the item right now. Impulse purchases can take a bite out of your wallet and act as a kind of self-sabotage, destroying your best intentions to save money. These types of buys can be caused by stress and boredom, and we may not even realize it.
  • Contribute to your emergency fund today, or make a plan to start one if you haven’t already. The Boy Scouts have it right: Be prepared. That means quick access to cash for when the unexpected happens. If you already have one, make a contribution to your emergency fund today — no amount is too small. If you don’t, get one started by finding out where you can open a savings account. A little cushion always feels better than a hard landing.
  • Familiarize yourself with the terms of your bank account to avoid paying unnecessary fees. Banks feed on fees. Some banks may even charge customers for things like not updating an address, cashing coins, or simply talking to a teller. But your bank is like any other business you deal with — and the customer is always right! By knowing what you’re paying for and avoiding being hit with fees, you’ll end up with more money in your pocket.
  • Save lunch money by making your lunch at home today or planning to make lunch for tomorrow.Eating out is fun, but it costs real money. A $5 sandwich a day puts you back at least $1,250 a year! And who stops at just a sandwich? Most people spend much more, grabbing extra little goodies or drinks. By keeping that money in your wallet instead of your belly, you’re saving money and increasing your bottom line.
  • Skip tax-time stress: Schedule a time to gather your paperwork long before you file this year. Being organized will not only make filing a breeze, but it will also make it easier for you to claim deductions, which translates to money in the bank. Plus, with everything you need at hand, you’ll be less likely to file late. Filing late can result in owing the taxes themselves plus interest and penalties, so by getting organized ahead of time you’ll save yourself (and your wallet) some trouble.
  • Write down one long-term financial goal that does not involve saving for retirement.Retirement isn’t the only long-term goal we save for. Other big-ticket items include buying a house, paying off debt, saving for a child’s college education, or taking a dream trip. By choosing one long-term financial goal, you can begin to think about when you would like to achieve it. This in turn can help you if you choose to explore savings vehicles, such as CDs or IRAs, or college plans like 529s.
  • Name one treat that you won’t sacrifice. A weekly movie date. Cheery flowers for your windowsill. A monthly dinner out with favorite friends. We all have that small, special something that we buy only because it makes us happy. And that’s OK. Write down one thing you just can’t live without . . . and don’t! Little treats now and then remind you of what’s really of value to you — and why you work in the first place!
Topics: Healthy Living Financial Well-Being Workplace Well-Being Finance Goals Money

Have a Love Affair This Valentines Day, With Your Heart

Jennifer Rudloff

Whether it means flowers, chocolates, jewelry, or romantic dinners for 2 - Valentines day is the one-day each year that people all over the world shower those holding a special place in their hearts with love. This valentines day, show them that you want to be there for them, not just today, but for years to come. Commit to having a love affair this year, and make your heart your lover.

In the United States, one in three deaths is attributable to cardiovascular disease making this the leading cause of death and disability for Americans. The kicker is that it’s largely preventable. How, you ask? You don’t have to do anything drastic – taking small steps each day can have a profound impact on your health and quality of life. Try using American Heart Association’s “Simple 7” as your guide:

  1. Don’t smoke: Smoking damages your circulatory system and puts you at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. If you’ve tried quitting before without success – don’t concede to defeat. Create the perfect storm for yourself – decide to choose life if not for yourself, for those you love. There is a wealth of resources out there to support you in your journey. You don’t know how good not smoking can make you feel until you’ve quit - It won’t take long for the cravings to subside, energy levels to rise, and for you to start feeling healthier.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight: Two out of three Americans are overweight or obese. That puts a fair chunk of heart health at risk. Losing as little as 5-10 pounds can have a real impact your blood pressure. Losing weight starts with understanding how many calories you should intake each day. To assess your daily nutritional needs, click here.
  3. Engage in regular physical activity: There are so many benefits to physical activity – Not only does it help to condition your heart, a little exercise can go a long way to improving quality of life, reducing fatigue, anxiety, depression, pain and dementia. And guess what, there are ways to get moving without even thinking about it.
  4. Eat a healthy diet: According to the American Heart Association, a heart healthy diet means eating foods low in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars, and foods high in whole grain fiber, lean protein, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Not only will these foods help you prevent and battle cardiovascular disease, they’ll also help you feel better. Try to remember the principles of input/output and eat with the mindset that you’re eating for the nutrients – this can help to impact your food choices.
  5. Manage blood pressure: Elevated blood pressure puts a strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys; it is the single biggest risk factor for heart disease. So how do you lower your blood pressure: eat a healthier diet that is low in sodium, remain active and maintain a healthy weight, manage stress, limit drinking, and avoid smoking. Easy peasy.
  6. Take charge of cholesterol: When left unchecked, cholesterol can clog up your arteries and cause blockages that may lead to heart disease and stroke. Begin impacting your cholesterol by choosing to eat foods that are high in fiber, and low in cholesterol and fats. Maintain a healthy weight. And exercise – this can help boost your body’s production of good cholesterol.
  7. Keep blood sugar, or glucose at healthy levels: Your body turns food into glucose which becomes energy which insulin then carries cells. Over time, high blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. Through limiting simple sugars (soda, candy), getting regular physical activity, and taking medication as needed, you can reduce your blood sugar and help control the risks.

All of these tips will help you show your heart a little love and ensure that you have many more valentines’ days to share with the ones you love. What are some small things you do every day to promote heart health?

Topics: Healthy Living Heart Month Health Prevention Simple Seven Heart Health American Heart Association valentines day

It's never too late to start exercising

Jennifer Rudloff

Physical activity is important to people of all ages - it helps us control weight, combat health conditions and diseases, improves mood, boosts energy, and promotes better sleep. It also helps to combat aging by improving strength, flexibility, balance and endurance which helps enable people to live happier, healthier, more independent lives. And when exercise becomes a social activity – it encourages new friendships, and adds an extra element of fun.

Well the seniors of Wheat Ridge have no shortage of friends to have fun with SilverSneakers® style. With more than 5,200 eligible Silver Sneakers members living within a five-mile radius, this community is invested in health. Learn more about this program, hear instructors talk about the program components, and get a sneak peak at some of the classes in action.

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Learn more about the benefits to exercise >>

Topics: Healthy Living Exercise Aging Fitness Seniors Prevention Silver Sneakers Healthways

Don’t Stress – Employee Well-Being Is Simple

Jennifer Rudloff

Whether it stems from work, family or finances, stress is a part of life that’s tough to fully escape. While external pressures will always come and go, there are steps that we can take to help to manage and eliminate stress in our daily lives, and they don’t have to be costly solutions.

There are many ways that employers can help reduce the stress of their employees, we’ve outlined a few stress-reducing ideas that could be executed in almost any workplace. On an organizational level, these activities are very inexpensive, or in many cases, free.

  • Walking during lunch: Even if it’s just for 15 minutes each day, taking a brisk walk around your office can allow employees to clear their heads and return to work feeling refreshed and with more focus. Depending on the climate, organizations might consider creating indoor walking paths around the office or outdoor walking maps of the surrounding areas. To take it one step further, think about organizing walking moais for your colleagues, or consider providing pedometers to make walking a little more fun (they could even download an app like monumental to their phones.) Fun fact: pedometer users walked at least 2,000 more steps each day than nonusers, increasing their physical activity levels by 27%. Regardless of how they choose to move, there are many benefits to moving more at work.
  • Office pot lucks: Whether it’s company wide or with individual teams, organizing office pot luck lunches once a month will allow your employees to connect with each other over a nice meal. These could be themed for each month – but the company should always encourage healthy choices. Having regular “non-work” events like this breaks up the workday and provides an incentive that employees can look forward to, rather than stressing about current tasks at hand. It will also help to build a collaborative environment and provide a sense of belonging, which can help drive engagement.
  • Group athletic activities: Company stress-busting initiatives don’t have to require major financial investments. You can build a culture that supports fitness activities and add a little fun to the workday. It can be as simple as allowing employees flex time so that they can go visit a local yoga studio. Or it could mean encouraging employees to bring in their favorite fitness DVD’s (or providing them a library of choices) and allowing a space to gather together and sweat.
  • Organizing clubs: Clubs are a great way for employees to connect on a social level inside and outside the office. Organizations should communicate to their employees that clubs are welcome, and that these clubs can use the company setting (such as conference rooms) for gatherings or discussions if needed. Whether the group focuses on food, books, tea, or other interests, communicating the acceptance of non-work-related clubs to employees indicates that your organization supports the lifestyles of employees outside of the office. If possible, the company could also donate a few healthy snacks for club meetings.
  • Lunch breaks: This sounds like a no-brainer for stress reduction, but in a time when many companies are doing more with less, many employees have taken to eating lunches at their desks on a regular basis. In fact, some 70% of Americans report to eating at their desks several times a week. Encouraging your employees to take lunch breaks, even short ones, allows them to take the time to actually focus on enjoying their lunches (which can help to prevent mindless overeating), and connect with colleagues. Furthermore, desks dirty – in fact, on average; desks are 400 times dirtier than your toilet.

While some worry about the “loss” of productivity that comes with giving employees time for their own mental and physical health, improving the well-being of employees has actually been proven to increase workplace productivity. Think about it: taking an hour –or even half an hour – each day to clear your head allows you to return to work with a clean mental slate. When we feel fit and focused, we’re better workers.

If you’re looking for a point person to help set some of the above ideas in motion, try your company’s human resources director or manager. We bet they’ll be happy to work with you on investigating ways to improve the well-being of the people at your company, particularly those that can be done with minimal investment. For more ideas on decreasing stress while simultaneously increasing productivity, contact us about our solutions.

How does your company help decrease the stress of its employees?

Topics: Healthy Living Workplace Well-Being Business Performance Stress Social Well-Being Stress Management