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6 Easy Brain Exercises to Improve Mental Wellness

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Exercising your brain is just as important as exercising your body. We all know what happens when we don’t get enough physical activity—without a session at the gym or a good brisk walk before work we find ourselves slipping down the spiral of less motivation and less energy. The less we do, the more challenging it becomes to get back in shape, be healthy, and feel great again.

A sedentary mind will yield similar results: a sluggish brain, which means trouble concentrating, poor memory, and more difficulty with creative problem-solving. Not exactly a recipe for success at work and, by extension, in life.

People who commit to their mental wellness, on the other hand, are in a position to thrive mentally. Intellectual wellness, which is one of the seven dimensions of wellness, opens us up to new ideas and experiences. This mental stretching can empower us to make wiser decisions, improve our skills, and to feel motivated to take on new challenges. Now that’s a recipe for success!

Ready to boost your mental power and get more out of life? Here are six easy brain exercises you can do on your own.

1. Perform Mathematical Gymnastics

Do simple math problems or puzzles in your head. Don’t worry. You don’t need to start out with long division to boost your brain power. Even basic addition and subtraction will warm up those cognitive “muscles.” You’ll notice over time the math gets easier, even enjoyable. Meanwhile, you’re keeping those brain cells active and probably waking up a few that have laid dormant since your high school calculus class.

If you’re feeling creative, there are plenty of free math puzzles available online. Have a go at them if you have the time—just be careful when your boss is around!

2. Visualisation Techniques

Visualising is excellent for boosting your creativity. It can also help promote a sense of calm. Inspirational teacher John Kehoe recommends visualising what you want, whether it is a career or personal goal, as if you already have it. This type of mental exercise can stimulate your subconscious to help you make decisions that will move you closer in the direction of your intention. Any type of visualisation also exercises your imagination, improving your ability to think outside-of-the-box when problem-solving.

3. Jot down Your Gratitude

Shawn Achor, an American researcher and best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage, is a huge proponent of positive intelligence—training your brain to have a more positive, open outlook. In his research, he’s found that a positive mindset leads to better creativity, improved engagement, and a productivity boost. Sounds perfect. All you need to foster these benefits for yourself is a pen and paper and a couple of minutes a day.

He suggests writing down the most meaningful thing of the past 24 hours each day, as well as three things you are grateful for. Try this daily for at least three weeks and see how much your mental well-being and outlook improves.

4. Brain-training Games

Word puzzles, Sudoku, and brain-training apps like Personal Zen and Fit Brains are excellent tools for exercising your brain. And, they’re fun! Whether you like the traditional pen and paper brain teasers or prefer to expand your mind by swiping on your smartphone screen, there are countless brain-training games you can use. Find what works for you and fit in a few rounds of memory or logic training when you find yourself with a few minutes of free time. Doing so will help you be more alert and “wake” your brain up faster if ever you’re feeling mentally sluggish.

5. Jigsaw Puzzles

Puzzles are great for improving your logic and problem-solving abilities. They are fun to do alone and even better with friends or family. Keep a space at home or even at work for your jigsaw puzzle. When you need a ten-minute break, work on your puzzle to help stimulate your mind.

6. Read Thought-provoking Books

One would think reading would be a no-brainer as a top exercise for your mind, but most adults don’t read as much as they should. One survey found that in the UK, a fourth of all adults seldom pick up a book at all due to a lack of time.

Set time aside each day to read a book (not a few online articles or Facebook posts). The idea is to tackle a complex idea or even an imaginative story—a narrative that can’t be condensed into a few pages.

Make a commitment to your mental health just as you do for your physical well-being. These brain exercises won’t just give you a cognitive boost. You’ll notice, with regular exercise, your mind becomes more and more like a well-spring of fresh, creative ideas. You’ll also find that you feel more motivated, both at home and at work.

This is all part of wellteq’s aim—to inspire, empower, and improve mental well-being in the workplace so businesses and individuals can thrive better.

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How To Be Ok With Making Mistakes At Work

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How to be ok with making mistakes at work

Email blunders are fairly common in the workplace. To make matters worse, there’s no way to recover an email once it’s been sent! However, here are some tips that you can follow to hopefully turn your mistake from an embarrassing memory to a light-hearted anecdote.

What’s your blunder?

  1. Autocorrect

Unless your autocorrect was heinously unfortunate, most of the time slip-ups like these are common and easy to make, and even easier to forgive. In fact, the recipient of your email has probably done something similar at some point in their career. To rectify the situation, send a calm, polite follow-up email explaining that you were in a hurry and made a mistake.

  1. Misspelling a name

If you’ve misspelt a name, the sooner you catch the mistake, the better. Make sure your apology is clear in your subsequent email, bear in mind you need to communicate that your blunder was not meant to be rude or disrespectful.

  1. Hitting “reply all”

The mistake of hitting “reply all” is a fairly common one, and the best way to avoid a potentially sticky situation would be to send a second, light-hearted email to explain your gaffe. However, be sure to avoid sending multiple follow-up emails to avoid the email thread devolving into an office-wide conversation.

  1. Sending an unkind message to its recipient

This is perhaps that most difficult kind of email blunder to fix, but setting out to resolve it is always better than leaving it to fester. Seek out the individual in question and have a private, face-to-face conversation with them. In this case, an apology over email would just come across as insincere. Talk to them calmly about what triggered your frustration, and of course, don’t do it again!

Most of the time, email blunders are nothing to sweat about – everybody makes them! It’s how you handle the aftermath that shows your co-workers the kind of person you are. Take responsibility for your actions and own up to; it’s the adult thing to do!

This article originally appeared on www.thedailyescape.com

https://thedailyescape.com/read/article/5-steps-to-financial-wellness

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Mindfulness: A Macro-Nutrient For Modern Day Employees

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In our pressure cooker of a work environment today, where information overload, a frenetic pace and poor work-life balance are factors that plague a good majority of the workforce, sorting through the chaos while maintaining a sense of calm and focus is a task that’s increasingly hard to master.

It’s times like these that employers need to implement programs and tools that can effectively help their employees achieve a better work-life balance, build up their resilience and reduce their stress levels. One tool that has been increasingly adopted across organisations big and small — from government bodies and multinationals like Google and Apple, to startups — is mindfulness.

Why is mindfulness important in the workplace?

Much research has been conducted to examine the benefits that mindfulness brings to the workplace and our daily lives. Contemplating Mindfulness at Work, a study published in the Journal of Management, details the findings of a team of researchers who have considered 4,000 scientific papers on different aspects of mindfulness.

Conclusions from the study include:

  • Substantial evidence shows that mindfulness creates positive impacts on our overall human functioning, on aspects such as attention, behaviour, physiology and cognition.
  • Mindfulness improves three factors relating to our attention: stability, control and efficiency. Individuals who have undertaken mindfulness trainings were able to remain focused for a longer duration on visual and listening tasks.
  • Mindfulness may improve relationships through encouraging empathy and compassion, which suggests that mindfulness initiatives may positively impact processes that depend upon efficient leadership and team collaboration.

Let’s take a look at companies on the mindfulness bandwagon…

Increasingly, organisations across sizes and sectors are embracing mindfulness approaches and programs. Most of us will be familiar with the popular “Search Inside Yourself” course, a personal growth and mindfulness program created by Chade-Meng Tan of Google.

Other organisations that have introduced mindfulness to their employees include Twitter (the company offers a dedicated room where Twitter employees can practice yoga and meditation), Asana (private yoga classes are conducted for all employees) and Aetna (the organisation developed and launched two mindfulness programs, Viniyoga Stress Reduction and Mindfulness at Work for its employees and customers).

Even the British Parliament has jumped in on the mindfulness bandwagon. A mindfulness initiative, known as “Mindful Nation UK”, was established in October last year to address mental health issues across diverse sectors through mindfulness initiatives.

Positive responses to mindfulness: Employees are ready for more

A large majority of the workforce has reaped the benefits of mindfulness practices — and welcome more of such initiatives in the workplace.

At health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield, employees are requesting for additional yoga and meditation classes to be conducted. Meditation is also catching on at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, where its staff remarked that they’d return to work after a meditation session and “nothing bothered” them, and referred to the meditation room as their “safe place”.

Individuals who have participated in Google’s “Search Inside Yourself” program reported developing a greater sense of calm, patience and ability to listen. They also indicated that the program helped them in managing stress and defusing their emotions.

And at Aetna, employees who have participated in the company’s initiatives reported remarkable improvements in their perceived stress levels. 33 percent in the Viniyoga program and 36 percent in a mindfulness program showed improvements in their perceived stress levels — relative to 18 percent in the control group.

Going beyond dollars and cents: What are the impacts of mindfulness programs?

Most employers don’t keep track of the impacts of mindfulness programs on their bottom lines. But the benefits are obvious — by embracing mindfulness in the workplace, employees experience a drop in stress levels, along with improvements in clarity, attention, decision-making and general well-being. It helps individuals become more present, balanced and engaged — leading to benefits not just in a professional context, but also in their personal lives.

Tips and takeaways: How can you introduce mindfulness to your workplace?

  • Keep things open and flexible

It’s best to steer clear of making mindfulness programs mandatory for all employees, as a sense of curiosity and open-mindedness is crucial for individuals new to the practice.

Take a leaf out of the books of MassMutual, a mutual life insurance organisation. The organisation adopts a flexible approach, providing its employees with multiple options depending on their level of interest and needs.

Employees who are new to the practice may try out a series of short video tutorials that encourage them to take short breaks at their desks, while those who are keen on a more immersive experience may sign up for lengthier seminars or courses on mindfulness and stress management.

You may also opt for an employee wellbeing platform that provides unique, tailor-made programs that can be customised to meet the needs of your staff.

  • Create variety

Variety is the spice of life — so throw up an array of options ranging from mindfulness workshops and yoga classes, to creating a physical space where employees can establish their own practice on an informal basis.

  • Build up a support community

Build up a community through creating systems that encourage communication and information sharing. At Google, an internal online community, gPause, was established for employees to share books, resources, retreats and other related information that support a community of mindfulness practice.

wellteq is a connected wellness platform that offers a series of health tech programs for employee engagement and HR data analytics. Through the use of technology, they are re-connecting people with health and organisations with stronger productivity.

If employee mindfulness and mental wellness are of interest, have a look at their MIND-your-Step program

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What Is Mental Health Hygiene?

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What exactly is mental health hygiene?

We all have habits regarding our health that we perform daily, weekly, or monthly. Perhaps you focus on keeping up your fruit and vegetable intake, your fitness, or keeping alcohol intake in check. These behaviours come under the ‘health hygiene’ umbrella. Health hygiene is any practice or behaviour focused on managing your health. Some more basic physical health hygiene behaviours are things like brushing your teeth or showering daily.

There has traditionally been a focus on physical health hygiene in order to improve and manage physical health. After all, no one likes getting sick.

But what about our mental health? Mental health hygiene is often overlooked or simply forgotten. This is probably because the consequences of not managing your mental health are less obvious. We know that when we eat poorly and don’t exercise, we gain weight. It’s a relationship that is so direct that we can see the consequences. But more than that, we can directly see a benefit when we take care of ourselves. We see it whenever we look in the mirror.

The benefits and consequences of mental health are less obvious. But that doesn’t make them less important. In fact, good mental health hygiene has such an enormous impact on functioning and wellbeing that it should be getting promoted just as much as the physical stuff.

Lets look at the evidence:

People who are performing well mentally have more energy, more focus, are happier, have better relationships, better sex lives, are more productive and live longer.

People who are struggling to manage their minds are more susceptible to stress, mental illness, physical illness, absenteeism from work, social withdrawal, low energy and low motivation. The kicker is that these things directly impact people’s physical health!

The good news is that the focus on mental health is now moving into the limelight, with a growing body of science to back it up.

What are some mental health hygiene habits?

Be mindful:

Mindfulness is the practice of being consciously present in the moment, without judgment. Practicing mindfulness actually re-wires your brain and has been shown to improve sleep, mood, focus, and energy levels. Mindfulness is so powerful it is now commonly used as a therapeutic treatment for both physical and mental disorders. Just 10 minutes a day is enough to see a change.

Get a good night’s sleep

How? Try these four steps and see if you get some results

  1. Regular bedtime. The brain likes routine. Stick to the same time and you’ll find falling asleep much easier
  2. Cut out the booze. Alcohol reduces our ability to move into stage 4 sleep; the deepest and most restorative sleep stage. Ever have a few drinks and wake up feeling unrested? That’s why.
  3. No screens for an hour or so before bed. The blue-light emitted from phones, televisions and other screens stimulates the brain into thinking its time to be awake. Read a book or do something else relaxing instead.
  4. Mindful practice. Practicing mindfulness allows the brain to change tracks and be present. It’s difficult to fall asleep if you’re always thinking about what you need to do tomorrow.

Stress management

  • There are different approaches to managing stress. Problem-focused approaches are useful when the stressors are within your control. Research shows that scheduling tasks to specific time slots in order to accomplish necessary tasks is a helpful stress-management strategy.
  • When stressors are out of our control we need to focus more on how we respond to the stressor. Relaxation practices such as deep breathing or meditation can be helpful here.

Social relationships

  • Humans are social creatures. We thrive off social interaction. A network of friends and colleagues is important, so making time to catch up with friends is good mental health hygiene.

Exercise

  • Exercise is great for mental health for a range of reasons. If it’s achieved through team sports then it fosters multiple benefits. In addition, the effects on the cardiovascular system and increased blood flow to the brain have been shown to improve mood and job performance.

To sum up:

  1. Mental health hygiene is just as important as taking care of your physical self
  2. Good mental health hygiene is as simple as implementing regular practices that foster good mental health
  3. A few basics include: practice mindfulness, manage stress, sleep well, call a friend, and move regularly. You’ll be flourishing in no time J

Angela Montgomery

School of Psychology, Deakin University

wellteq is a corporate health platform offering a suite of health tech programs for employee engagement and HR data analytics. Their programs include both a series of holistic health and targeted mental health programs, they also now offer a lifestyle age HRA to complement their global well-tech programs.

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