June 27th, 2013

Want to live ten years longer? Yes, please!  Living a stronger, healthier, and more satisfying life is really about resilience.  Jane McGonigal, a game designer who suffered a traumatic brain injury, has spent years researching individuals who have shown great resilience post trauma.  She has used this research to explore how all of us, without undergoing a traumatic event, can build resilience and become “superbetter”, live with fewer regrets, and ultimately increase our lifespan.

Physical resilience helps us to withstand stress, prevent injury, and heal faster if we are injured.  The key to physical resilience is to not sit still.  For those of us with sedentary occupations, this can be quite a challenge.  However, it’s so important, if possible, every hour to make our bodies move.  If our job allows for it, stand at your desk for a few minutes, march in place, or take a brief walk.  Just get moving.

Mental resilience supports discipline, determination, and willpower.  As Miss McGonigal demonstrates in her presentation, willpower operates like a muscle.  The more you use it, the stronger it gets.  This is where small changes have big impact.  Even though we don’t progress on willpower alone, giving ourselves small mental challenges can boost our commitment to progress.  Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, completing a tabletop puzzle – any small mental challenge done regularly can help build mental resilience.

Emotional resilience is in our control.  We have the ability to elicit specific types of emotions from ourselves.  If we can regularly elicit positive emotions, at least three for every negative emotion, on a regular basis, we will be healthier for it.  Looking at a picture of someone we love, reminiscing about good times, or finding something to make us laugh, can all negate the negative emotions that come our way.

Social resilience is perhaps the most important, allowing others into our lives and sharing an interchange of emotion.  This can be accomplished through physical touch, expressing gratitude and reaching out to those who need our help.

Individuals who can regularly boost resilience in these areas have been shown to live, on average, ten years longer than those who do not.  Who knew the secret to a longer, “superbetter” life was so simple?

If you would like to see Jane’s full presentation, follow this link here: http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life.html


De-Stress this Summer’s Job Search!

June 20th, 2013

With our new series running on wellness and making improvements in one’s life, now is a perfect time to check in on your job search and apply some of those wellness concepts to this process as well.  When thinking about ways to optimize the job search process, the first thought is often to look at the actual application package, but another important concept is find ways to make this process less stressful so you can keep your sanity and maintain a healthy, positive outlook.

In the past, we’ve posted numerous blogs that will help out with strengthening your application.  For example, our post about the resume gives great, fundamental tips on formatting and content.  With the still-competitive market, some of those resume faux pas could actually make the difference between receiving a call for an interview and being placed on the back burner.

But ideas and tips like that really are only half the battle.  Whether you’ve been searching for one month or eight months, the process is a stressful one!  Many job seekers have had success with creating a schedule for themselves.  For example, they may dedicate the same hour or two every day to checking job postings and applying to possible matches.  Looking for a job really IS a job in and of itself, so bringing this level of structure can very much help keep you on track.

Depending on what you’re looking for, it may not be necessary to check job postings every day.  As they say, “a watched pot never boils,” so you may drive yourself crazy combing the list every day if there are few or no new openings in your field.  You may want to look a few times per week instead of five to seven times per week.  And some job boards allow you to set up alerts so they email or text you when a possible match becomes posted.  Why not let jobs come to you!

Another important component to cut stress is to still allow yourself to have some fun!  In stressful times, it’s very important that you allow yourself to do something that brings you joy.  Stepping away from your job search in this way will help you to feel good, forget some of the stress, and keep a positive outlook on the process.  Whether it’s a trip to the beach, lunch with friends, or buying a new outfit for yourself, it can have a major positive impact on your perspective and your overall sense of well being.

Wellness Awareness

June 6th, 2013

Wellness involves a balanced relationship between the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social components of our lives – getting there and staying there.  How do we even begin?  One of the first steps in moving towards greater wellness is self-awareness.  If we are to move ourselves toward optimal wellness, we first need to know what this entails, where we are in the process, where we are going, and how we are getting there.

Just the idea of any change in our lives often leads to mind games, the things we tell ourselves, so we can justify not changing.  Vive la résistance! There are many defenses that keep us from even contemplating the possibility of change.  There’s outright denial (I am perfect), minimizing a problem (It really isn’t a big deal), rationalizing it away (There are others worse off than me), projecting it onto someone or something else (It’s my spouse’s fault I’m so stressed all the time), or even turning against anyone or anything that suggests a need for us to change (You’re the last person I’d take advice from), including ourselves (I’m just not good at anything).

When growing up, some of us had to put a quarter into the “curse bucket” every time we used a curse word.  This is not only a punishment to discourage a negative behavior, but it also serves as a reminder, creating awareness each time the behavior occurs.  It helps bring ingrained behaviors to consciousness.  Without bringing these behaviors to our awareness, we would not know precisely what we need to change or which steps to take toward growth and improvement.

Why not ask someone to do the same for us or do this for ourselves?  For example, if it is our diet we would like to alter, ask someone close to us to let us know every time we make an excuse or defer responsibility for our diet choices.  Or we may make our own note of it, perhaps in a journal.  This will help us become aware of the defense mechanisms we use to resist change.

The “way to wellness” doesn’t look the same for everyone.  Everyone has different goals, defenses, and resources.  Certain aspects of health are easier to change or maintain for some while difficult for others.  For everyone, though, moving towards making change for optimal wellness, the first step along the way is awareness. 


Internal Wellness Guru