How you can lead a blissful life

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The vast majority of us go on to lead a normal middle-class lifestyle, bogged down on a daily basis with our nine to five office job and family responsibilities. Sure, people can go to nightclubs and other entertainment events to socialize and have fun, but is that really the definition of true happiness?  I’m sure that we’ve all heard of the saying “follow your bliss”, yet we tend to mistakenly brush it off as another one of those “empty” motivational phrases.

Well, you may ask, what could that possibly even mean and why should I do it? First and foremost, bliss can be characterized as that internal, fulfilling drive to satisfy your personal needs. To put it simply, following your bliss is the only pathway to true, long-lasting happiness. Ignoring materialistic needs, individuals on their deathbeds will often take the time to reflect and voice any regrets on certain fundamental life choices they made. Obviously, we’re not saying that you should prepare to meet your demise soon! Instead, making immediate blissful adjustments to your daily lifestyle will allow you to reap priceless benefits and live your best and happiest life possible.

As stated before, achieving an ever-lasting state of happiness requires you to follow your bliss and therefore take the necessary actions. We have listed four of our favourite activities below so you can kickstart your blissful journey on the right foot!

Make amends with hardships in your past

We know that it is never easy to forgive individuals who have hurt you deeply in the past, but keeping that hatred all your life will never make things better. If you carry that love and forgiveness attitude wherever you can expect to break down emotional walls and spread positivity. Never forget, but always forgive!

Treat your body right

You’ve only got one body so make the right choices. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is one of the many institutions bringing light to the link between food and mental health. Make sure you eat a balanced diet that is dominated by fresh, colourful vegetables. Try your best to buy organic and avoid highly-processed foods with ingredients you have never even heard of. The healthier the food, the better you can expect of your mental and physical health. Of course, make sure to indulge in your favourite, unhealthy foods once in a while too! Just make sure you maintain that balance of your body’s wants and needs.

Spend more time with loved ones

This one is hands down the most popular regret among those who are on their deathbeds. This may seem like a no-brainer, but millennials nowadays are so dominated by their jobs and social media that they often forget about their family. Make sure to spend more time with your parents as they get older, and surround yourself with positive friends who will support you all the way, no matter what. By valuing relationships, you will be able to effortlessly expand your social circle while retaining the old ones.

Mind your own business

Especially with the integration of social media into our daily lifestyle, we seem to care more about what our friends are up to rather than ourselves. The truth is that our own lives are so difficult to manage, let alone the weight of keeping up with a loved one. We’re not telling you to only care for yourself and be selfish. Instead, we just want you to put your personal affairs at the top of the priority list. Get rid of any forms of negativity in your life and boost your self-confidence. Eventually, you’ll start to see firsthand the freedom that comes with these boundaries.

Here at Optimity, we recognize that your personal wellness should come before anything else! That is why we have incorporated hundreds of micro-activities into our wellness app, ranging from in-seat stretches to meditation sessions, so you can easily integrate them into your daily schedule! If you would like to learn more about us, feel free to visit: www.myoptimity.com/our-solution

The Wonders of Journaling

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Journaling has captivated the health and wellness industry for a variety of reasons, but the topic is often surrounded by these questions that circle around our heads:

  • What’s the point?
  • Why spend hours writing about your life?
  • Does it work?

Journaling is the notion of keeping a diary or journal to record your life. The main idea is to write down your emotions and thoughts, keeping track of your past experiences and gaining wisdom about yourself. Each day is unique and each page is to be filled with data that is unique to you. This is information that you can process and analyze to better understand the limitations, behaviour changes and the environment surrounding your life.

In this day and age, we are constantly looking to evolve concepts to better support our lives and journaling fits right into this adaption. It can be considered to the umbrella concept, as there are many subtopics within the subject. Aside from the traditional method of writing in a journal, it has transitioned into apps that allow you to track your fitness, log your meals and remind you to think.

Stress Management

The awareness that you give yourself allows you to be competent for the success that you value. Our society has witnessed a spike in mental health illnesses and we continue to chase solutions that can provide support. This is where journaling can be more than you might think. Stress, anxiety or depression are all examples of issues that can be addressed through journaling. If we keep track of the barriers that block the road, we can understand why it occurs and what needs to be done to avoid the recurring problem.

In different segments of our lives, this concept can be a game changer and this is exactly what The Research Journal of the National League for Nursing wanted to test.  The research targeted strategies that can be applied to nursing students to decrease stress and anxiety “that may be brought about by the psychiatric mental health clinical experience”. The study consisted of thirty undergraduate students that were given the task of tracking their progress to mitigate their anxiety and the results were evident. The self-reflection tool provided support for these students to reflect on their work and limit their anxiety to develop.

How to Journal

The University of Rochester Medical Center reiterates the benefits attached to this concept and implies the necessary steps to ensure success. Here are a few tips that we think you should do to value journaling to its full potential:

  • Make an effort to write everyday
  • Write whatever comes to your mind even if it’s messy
  • Make it convenient to write anytime, anywhere
  • Use your journal as you see fit

Here at Optimity, we recognize that people who commit to journaling on a daily basis tend to tail off after a couple of weeks. That is why we have incorporated hundreds of micro-activities into our wellness app, ranging from in-seat stretches to meditation sessions, so you can easily integrate them into your daily schedule! If you would like to learn more about us, feel free to visit: www.myoptimity.com/our-solution

 

Steps Towards a Positive Body Image

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As we count down the remaining days until summer officially kicks in, we will surely be seeing more and more commercials showing individuals with the classic “beach body”. Considering the role social media plays in the average millennial’s lifestyle, self-conscious individuals tend to draw negative comparisons between themselves and professional models. Even though these pictures are often intentionally staged and edited, many people are so determined to mirror the look that they knowingly cause physical and mental harm to themselves.

If you happen to be struggling with body image issues, we have four tips that will help you embrace the beauty that is your very own body!

Be active

Yes, we know that you’ve probably heard this one a million times by now but there’s a reason why! That’s because, in order to feel positive about yourself, you need to be in good physical shape. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise not only prevents a number of health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity but has also shown to improve mood and anxiety issues. Exercise releases “feel-good” endorphins which provide a similar calming effect to cannabis, and allow you to temporarily take your mind off any worries.

Surround yourself with positivity  

We’ve all had an experience where a certain individual in our group or team was constantly being a negative force and dragging us down. If you are making efforts to improve your body image, it is crucial that you surround yourself with positive influences. Some ideas to get you started include:

  • Hit the gym with a supportive group of friends
  • Strengthen relationships with those close to you
  • Wear your favourite outfit whenever you feel down
  • Compliment others to spread love and positivity  

Lose weight in a healthy way    

If you are trying to lose weight, make sure you are doing it in a way that is healthy and sustainable. Some methods such as skipping meals or cutting out entire food groups can actually backfire and hurt you even more. The key is planning out a detailed and balanced diet plan to ensure you are still getting all the essential nutrients while cutting down on the calories. Be sure to supplement this with adequate exercise and eight glasses of water each day. The whole journey is supposed to be hard but fun at the same time, so you can always sneak in a cheat day every so often!

Never give up

Especially at the start, you may find it difficult adjusting to a new routine – don’t be discouraged! Everyone has a bad day once in a while and it’s ok to cut yourself some slack. The important thing is to recognize the importance of following through on what you started and getting right back into it the next day. Rome was not built in a day, and your body is no different. As we mentioned beforehand, surround yourself with positive influences who will be there every step of the way. If you remain diligent and follow all our steps, you will feel great about how you look in no time and in turn, how you feel every day!

Here at Optimity, we make personal wellness our number one priority! That is why we have incorporated hundreds of micro-activities into our app, aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle and positive self-perception. To find out more, visit: www.myoptimity.com/our-solution

Canadians & Mental Health (Webinar Recap)

Optimity recently hosted a webinar on May 29 in honour of Mental Health Awareness Month. Our very own, Mira Levine and Brett MacDonald, who serve as Client Success Advisor and Wellness Coordinator respectively, were joined by Katie Worndl from MindBeacon Group to discuss the physical, financial, and economic impact of mental illness on Canada. We have provided the key takeaway points below but if you would like to watch the full webinar, click here.

The Big Picture

Mental health is classified as the psychological and emotional well-being of a person and affects individuals of all ages, ethnicities, and genders. According to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, one in five Canadians will experience the disorder in their lifetime, making it the leading form of disability in the country. However, this figure jumps to 80% when accounting for those who are indirectly affected by a loved one with mental illness. To put it simply, mental health affects everyone in some shape or form.

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Factors & Symptoms

Although not everyone will develop mental illness after a traumatic incident, some factors that are known to increase the likelihood of mental illness include physical health status, family breakup/loss, and childhood abuse. Despite the severity of the aforementioned factors, the strength of one’s mental resilience and support group are the two things that for the most part, determine the end result.

Mental illness can be incredibly hard to spot, especially during its early stages. When looking for any possible signs, pay extra attention to any changes in eating and physical activity habits, a substantial change in energy levels, social isolation, delusion, alcohol or drug abuse, or even suicidal remarks.

Canadians & Mental Health

A form of mental illness or disorder exists throughout Canadians and its recognition has gained valuable traction. For the majority of the patients, mental illness affects relatively young individuals as research has shown that one in two Canadians will experience the disease before turning 40. Currently, 63% of the millennial population is deemed at “high risk” for mental health issues, a 10% increase from last year. For older generations who may be affected by mental health, the stigmatization that surrounds this topic may be a blocker for expression of their issues. The most alarming statistic states that two out of three Canadians suffering from mental health concerns do not seek treatment. This sufferance in silence has resulted in 4000 Canadians committing suicide, equivalent to 11 deaths per day.

Amongst the homeless, mental health has had a tremendous impact. In Canadian cities, 23-67% of the homeless population suffers from a mental illness. The inaccessibility to support is an example of a factor that amplifies this negative impact.

Financial & Physical Burden

The financial impact of mental illness on the economy is estimated at an astounding $51 billion. This translates to 500,000 employed Canadians having to take time off each week, which not only causes a loss in productivity but is also very expensive to treat. Treating a mental health condition is around 30% more expensive than other disorders.

Mental health is not only a problem that is evident in developed countries. The World Health Organization estimates that one in four people in the world will suffer from the disorder, but over 66% of countries currently spend less than 1% of their GDP on mental illness treatment. These countries still rely on large mental institutions which have been proven to be extremely ineffective. The poor in particular are at the greatest risk of developing mental illness, and in these cases, have no choice but to attend these institutions.

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Mental Health in the Workplace

In the workplace, mental health plays a vital role. The state of mind of a person will determine their productivity and their overall behaviour to be content in the workplace. Absenteeism and presenteeism are the ideal examples of this topic. In many situations, these two terms can apply to those that suffer from a mental health illness and they both directly result in $6.3 billion in lost productivity per year. Another common factor that affects mental health in the workplace is the competition and monthly benchmarks. The build-up of high anxiety and stress from the requirement to complete work can have a negative pressure on anyone. In turn, Canadian businesses are realizing that 30% of disability claims are due to mental health problems & 70% of disability costs are attributed to mental health issues.

As an economy as a whole, research by the conference board of Canada found that improved treatment for depression could boost the economy by $32.3 billion a year, as well as an increase to $17.3 billion a year for improved anxiety treatment.

Solutions

Improving mental health is never a sprint, it should be approached like a marathon. For improvements to be made, a person should take everything one step at a time. There is no perfect answer to resolve it directly, but there are a few ways to ensure that there are positive changes being made.

  • Seek help – are you trying to find support?
  • Nutrition – are you eating properly?
  • Exercise – are you staying active?
  • Workplace Strategies – 13 PSRs
  • Digital solution – Optimity & Beacon

Beacon provides digital therapy for guidance in overcoming mental health-related issues. This platform specializes in iCBT or internet-delivered Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to digitally provide access to a skills-building approach to therapy. Similar to CBT, you are able to grasp new skills to better manage your mental health concerns through modules, exercises and activities.   

Here at Optimity, we focus on prevention and early detection of mental health issues. We recognize that improving mental health is never a sprint, but a marathon. Getting rid of bad habits and replacing them with positive ones from your daily lifestyle is never an easy task. That is why our wellness platform is focused on making the whole process fun and rewarding! Our library is filled with thousands of micro-activities, ranging from mindful breathing to stretching exercises, that aim to increase self-esteem and overall mental health.

Does mental health have symptoms?

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Mental health is recognized as a fundamental factor in our overall health – since it’s clear that it has a great influence both physically and mentally. As human beings, we want to understand the problem at hand and the precautions needed to reduce the problems it could cause. There is no guarantee that mental health disorders can be avoided – disorders that affect the mind, mood and behaviour, different beings react differently in life. However, several questions come attached to this topic when trying to attempt a solution.

How would you know if you have a mental health illness? Is there a guide book that allows you to check off each symptom? Most importantly, what are the symptoms, if any?

The cause of any mental health disorder or illness can vary on several factors, but when assessing the state of mind of a being – here are a few signs and symptoms:

  • Major changes in eating / physical activity habits
  • Substantial alteration in energy/productivity
  • Withdrawal from social life (friends & family)
  • Detachment from reality
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts

Mental Health Symptoms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When any of these symptoms above occur, finding support will resort to great value. Whether it is professional medical care or referring to a friend/family member, the help that you seek can allow you to control the situation and positively adapt. In most cases, many of the mental health illnesses do not cure by themselves – so this is where the ones around you can boost you up before you even fall.

Each symptom attached to the person or mental illness can react accordingly to the environment or condition of the person. The first step is always to understand that there is an issue, and this would be followed by creating a plan that is ideal for the situation. There can be several risk factors and complications that can alter a lifestyle, so understanding when and how to react can have a crucial impact.

6 Tips on Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

1823694Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a general term for a decline in cognitive ability severe enough to limit daily functionality. It is no secret that as people age, their memory tends to get a bit funky but the key differentiator here is speed. Alzheimer’s is a progessive disease, meaning that symptoms grow worse and worse over time. In its early stages, impairment is mild and the individual is still largely aware of their surroundings. By the late stage, the person is unable to communicate or move, requires 24 hour supervision, and will inevitably die from complications.  

The thought of developing Alzheimer’s disease can be an extremely frightening. Although current treatments are able to slow the pace at which the symptoms progress, scientists are still looking for a definitive cure. Like cancer, preventative measures are still by far the most effective strategy. By identifying the certain risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s and making the necessary adjustments, you will be able to maximize your chances for a life-long healthy brain.

Although some genetic factors such as a family history of Alzheimer’s are uncontrollable, here are six pillars you can follow that are entirely within your reach.

 

Regular Exercise

Regular physical activity reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 50 percent while slowing the progression of cognitive problems in those already with the disease.  The reason why is because exercise stimulates the brain into maintaining old connections and creating new ones. Try aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week with a balance between cardio and strength training.

 

Social Engagement

As humans, we are highly social creatures who do not fare well in isolation, and neither do our brains. Research has shown that having a strong network of friends can help protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia later in life. You don’t need to be the biggest extrovert on the block, but do make sure to regularly connect face-to-face with people you care about.

Healthy Diet

When an individual has Alzheimer’s, inflammation and insulin resistance can injure neurons and hinder communication. Often described as “diabetes of the brain”, there is a strong relationship between metabolic disorders and neuron communication. However, if you make some small tweaks to your current diet, you can protect your brain. Examples include adopting a Mediterranean diet, drinking 2-4 cups of tea everyday, and cooking at home more!

Mental Stimulation

In an astonishing NIH ACTIVE study, elders who received 10 mental training sessions not only showed immediate improvements in cognitive function, but also as far as 10 years later. Similar to a language, if you don’t use for prolonged periods, you will start to lose it. The best advice is to set aside some time every day to engage in mentally-demanding activities (e.g. sudoku, playing a new musical instrument) to stimulate the brain.

Quality Sleep

New research has indicated that poor sleep can lead to higher levels of beta-amyloid, a brain-clogging protein that interferes with memory formation. If you happen to be struggling to get a good night’s sleep, be sure to be screened for sleep apnea and establish a regular sleep schedule.

Stress Management

Repetitive stress leads to negative effects on the brain including reduced neuron growth, shrinkage of a key memory area, and increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Yet, the answer is so simple – don’t stress so much! Some stress management tools you can use include restorative breathing throughout the day, scheduling relaxing activities, and keeping a sense of humour.

Here at Optimity, we recognize that satisfying all six pillars on a daily basis is an extremely difficult task. People are occupied throughout the day with work and other commitments, meaning that they either don’t have the time or simply forget about these crucial exercises. That is why we have incorporated hundreds of micro-activities into our wellness app, designed to stimulate your brain and prevent Alzheimer’s disease! If you would like to learn more about us, feel free to visit: www.myoptimity.com/our-solution

Simple Ways to Help Treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Written by: Maxwell Li

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced a traumatic event such as a serious accident, or military. Traditionally, PTSD has always been associated among the combat veteran community but it can affect individuals of any nationality, race or age. According to the National Center for PTSD, it is estimated that seven out of every 100 North American will encounter the disorder in their lifetime.  

Individuals with PTSD often have intrusive thoughts that come in the form of repeated, uncontrollable flashbacks and dreams. They can be so vivid at times that the individual feels like they are reliving the very moment before their eyes. As a result, they try their best to avoid people, situations or objects that remind them of their tragedy. If they fail to do so, something as ordinary as a balloon popping can cause them to panic and possibly have a flashback.

It is still unclear how some people go on to develop PTSD while others don’t. However, certain risk factors such as a prior history of mental health problems and/or lack of social support following the event, can greatly increase the odds of PTSD. Also, physical and genetic factors such as brain structure, stress tolerance and gender play a significant role.

If you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD, here are some daily habits that can help:

 

Meditation

 

Take 15 minutes out of your daily routine to sit down and meditate! Research has shown it to be very effective in reducing avoidance and negative self-confidence in individuals with PTSD.

 

Physical activity

 

Exercise works your muscles, improves sleep, and boosts energy. Getting that blood flowing can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Try to get in a minimum of 15-30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, and gradually up those minutes!

 

Aromatherapy

 

Numerous individuals diagnosed with PTSD have advocated for aromatherapy when it comes to lowering stress levels. Try rubbing any relaxing oil (e.g. lavender, peppermint, sage) between the eyebrows and on pulse points for the best experience!

 

Keep a journal

 

Buy a personal journal and take a few minutes every day to write down whatever is on your mind! Research has found that this routine can reduce stress and improve mental health.

 

Connect with friends and family

 

Often times when an individual goes through a trauma, they tend to isolate themselves and thereby make their situation worse. Studies have shown that establishing healthy relationships with family and friends has an immensely positive impact on self-esteem and mental health. Try to talk with loved ones as much as you can, and preferably in-person!

 

At Optimity, we believe that prevention is always the best medicine! That is why we have incorporated hundreds of micro-activities into our wellness app, designed to promote a healthy lifestyle and in turn, excellent mental health. To find out more about what we do, visit: www.myoptimity.com/our-solution