Buddy up for better brain – OSC:Wellness tip

OSC:Wellness brings you “quick tip” changes for healthier living. A more balanced sense of wellness can come One Small Change at a time.

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This week’s tip is from the Alzheimer’s Association, which works to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through research, to provide care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. They gave me permission to share a tip from their 10 Ways to Love Your Brain resource, which has many other tips for a healthy brain.

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Buddy up.
Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community — if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an afterschool program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.

–Alzheimer’s Association
in 10 Ways to Love Your Brain, used with permission

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Happy Dietitian Day!

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Day is almost over, but that isn’t going to stop me from posting about it! 😉

Dietitians are food and nutrition experts who have at least a bachelor’s level education along with supervised training in multiple areas of dietetics, have passed a national exam, and participate in continuing education every year.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics posted about some of the things that a dietitian can do for you, including

  • helping you understand food labels,
  • giving you tips about eating for improved athletic performance,
  • suggesting flavorful additions to make sure your healthy food isn’t boring food, and
  • helping you figure out how to enjoyably treat yourself to special foods – without guilt or bingeing.

Dietitians also work in many other ways, including fighting for anti-hunger causes, researching nutrition treatments for diseases like cancers or heart disease, and working with farmers to help create sustainable food systems.

Click to read the post about how a RDN can help you reach your health goals.

If you would like to find a dietitian to help you on your health journey, you can use the Academy’s Find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist feature, where you can search by location and specialty.

Do you know a dietitian? Please thank them for the work they do. 🙂

What are you grateful for? Benefits of Gratitude

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” — Epictetus

Thanksgiving is a time where we emphasize gratitude more than at other times of the year, but it is best to consider being grateful at all times of the year. This talk by Robert Emmons explains how gratitude (and of recording gratitude in journals or some other form) can make us healthier in many areas of our lives.

  • Psychological – positive emotions
  • Physical – exercise more, take better care of their health, sleep better and longer
  • Social – feel more connected, feel more helpful, feel less alone

Watch the 10 minute video to learn about the benefits of gratitude, and then check out the resources below if you need some ideas on how to be more grateful.

Resources:


What are you most grateful for? Leave a comment below.

If you haven’t done so already, you can also sign up to get future posts – about health and wellness, recipes, lessons, and social media tips – sent straight to your inbox.

New Series: 8 Dimensions of Wellness

Image from http://wellbeing.wsu.edu/what-is-wellbeing/ © 2012 Washington State University
Image from http://wellbeing.wsu.edu/what-is-wellbeing/
© 2012 Washington State University

Wellness usually means a wholistic approach to health and prevention of disease. The wellness wheel captures the idea that wellness isn’t only physical health, but includes many aspects of how you live your life and interact with people and situations. It is also called the wellbeing wheel, dimensions of health, etc.

There are multiple versions with varying number of sections, but since I first saw this wheel as an undergraduate student at Washington State University, I will describe the version they use.

Each section of the wheel represents a different part of wellness. The sections overlap and are all related, with one affecting the others, but to keep it simple, they are listed as separate sections:

(links in previous list go to the post about that aspect of wellness)

I mostly talk about physical wellness on this blog, but I am going to start expanding that focus to incorporate more information and resources from all parts of this wheel diagram. Over the next few months, I will write several posts that explain each of these sections of the wellness wheel and provide examples and resources for you to use.

I hope you will join me in learning more about health and wellness. Click here if you want to get each of the posts in your inbox for free and haven’t already signed up.

Resources for your New Year’s resolutions

Happy New Year On Ice / Photo Credit: luigi diamanti via FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Photo Credit: luigi diamanti via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every year, people make New Year’s resolutions. The most popular ones are often gathered up and reported in lists, which is no surprise. However, this list of popular New Year’s resolutions from the US government surprised me because they also included links to resources related to each resolution.

For example, the resolution “Eat healthy food” is linked to the Choose My Plate website, which has food trackers, meal planning features, recipes, and tips on portion sizes, healthy eating, and exercise.

The list includes more than just health-related resolutions. “Volunteer to help others” is linked to the Serve.gov website by the Corporation for National and Community Service, which has a search tool to find volunteer opportunities, service project toolkits, tips for sharing information about your service project, and the ability to register projects on the site to recruit other people to help.

Click here to see the full list of popular New Year’s resolutions, complete with resources to help you make this year a great one.

If you need help coming up with a resolution of your own, click here to read about the SMART technique that could make you successful in keeping this year’s resolutions.

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Lessons from leading online health challenge

Photo Credit: photostock via FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Photo Credit: photostock via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In October, I had the opportunity to lead a health challenge for an online community group. It was my first time leading a health challenge and I tried to apply lessons from classes, as well as from webinars and other training on wellness programming. Overall, I think it went well, but there were some things I’d change if I did it again.

What worked:

Mixing it up: Every week there was a different way to get bonus points. People seemed to like the change and many chose to do the bonus activities each week.

Personal messages: When someone hadn’t posted activity or points in a while, I messaged them personally to remind them to submit activity for points. This was time consuming, but it was a smaller group so it ended up being okay. I wouldn’t do this for a large group, and I stopped doing this halfway through the month even for this small group. Instead, I sent a general reminder with the description of the new weekly bonus.

Incorporating many aspects of health: I tried to focus on different aspects of helath throughout the challenge when designing the activities that would earn points. I included physical health (physical activity, food tracking), goal setting (goals for the next month, motivation, setbacks, barriers), emotional health (stress), and social health (social support, physcial activity with people, recruiting a health buddy who will support goal for next month). Participants seemed to like these and find them useful and fun.

Not taking lack of participation personally (but I should have explored it more): It was difficult for me at first to deal with the emotions of having someone be very excited to sign up and then never participate, even when I sent them a personal message. However, I realize that things come up and sometimes participation in an event or activity you thought you had time for isn’t possible. Reminding myself of this was helpful for my emotions, but I think I ended up forgetting about them, which wasn’t so good. Many of the people who signed up and didn’t participate were new to the group. I wonder if they had different ideas about how the challenge was going to go (I should have asked).

Discussion boards: Each team had its own discussion board to post what they did (to get points) and to discuss with their team. One team ended up really using their board and the other team did not. However, they didn’t really use the board to discuss until I incentivized it by giving bonus points in the third week.

What could be improved:

Discussion boards: As I mentioned, I didn’t think about giving bonus points for participation until late in the month. Had I started with bonus points for interaction, I think more people would have done it.

Maximum points per week: I had it set up so each week had a total of 14 points maximum, one from 20 minutes or more of physical activity and one from the week’s bonus activity. This seemed like very little after a while and I wonder if it did not seem like enough to get people to be inspired to do the minimum required.

Minimum time required to get point: One of the suggestions I received at the end of the challenge was to reduce the minimum time required to get the point for physical activity from 20 minutes (with a cap of 1 point per day for physical activity) to 10 minutes (with additional points per each 10 minutes, with no physical activity points cap per day). The reason I had originally done the points cap and 20 minutes minimum was because that was what was done in previous months by other leaders, but it ended up being that only a few of the people in those challenges were even in this challenge. (It was hard to know who was going to sign up because most people signed up late, after the rules were established. So I should have changed them partway through when I found out, but somehow it didn’t occur to me). I knew that there were many people new to exercise and I wanted to make sure they knew that any activity was good and that they had the potential to help their team get the same number of points as the other team, no matter their ability to sustain physical activity. However, following this logic, it would have been wise to do 10 minutes minimum for 1 point, with a maximum of 6 points per day (for 60 minutes). This follows the recommendation that it is okay to do moderate to vigorous physical activity 10 minutes at a time, and it still wouldn’t provide incentive for obsessive physical activity. It would have been realistic and more motivating.

Asking for feedback sooner: I asked people when they signed up to tell me what they wanted to see in the challenge, and only a few people answered. Most of them said they didn’t have any expectation because it was the first one they participated in. When I asked the next time, it was as part of the bonus activity in the last three days of the challenge, and by then, not too many people were still participating. However, those that did answer the questions gave very valuable feedback. I would ask more frequently and earlier to get feedback on things that could be changed, and I would ask the people who signed up but aren’t participating what could be changed to make the challenge more appealing.

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Have you led a health-related challenge? What worked for you? What would you change for next time? What is your advice for people just learning about designing and administering health programs?