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 Physical Activity have an Impact on your Mental Health or is it just a Myth? 

Written by Turja Chowdury 

It’s not a surprise that exercise helps to reduce several health risks, but is it all talk or is there truly science behind it all? Exercising in any form can have tremendous impact on your mental health and this does not mean that you need to be a gym fanatic to receive the benefits.

By staying active, you are giving your body the chance to become stronger and combat the issues that may come your way. There are countless ways that exercise can profit your mental well-being and here are a few:

  • Decreases Depression
  • Reduces signs & symptoms of postnatal depression
  • Improves self-esteem & cognitive function in young people
  • Reduces psychological distress

In recent years, mental health is a topic that has gained enormous traction because of its valued importance. We have begun to acknowledge the value of mental health and its correlation to our overall health.  The issues that arise from the psychological and emotional well-being can be caused by several factors depending on the person. This means that everyone has their own battles in life and we constantly seek ways to adapt and reduce the issues that may arise. This is why we search for the kryptonite.

Let’s make it clear that it isn’t easy – especially if you’re not an active person. But the first step is always the hardest, so you have to trust the process. Exercise will help to shrink the negativity and give you the strength to develop. But the question remains – where’s the science and how much exercise are we talking?

Physical activity has a direct relationship with the brain as it improves neuronal health, increases neurotrophic factors and neurohormones – an overall boost to the brain. These positive changes lead to improvement in your mood, self-acceptance and many more. The body will gladly accept the increase in dopamine – a neurotransmitter and hormone. This increase is only unique to you and your happiness, so your brain will understand when you’re physically active and how to react to it.

The amount of exercise depends on you and your personal goals. It’s up to you to decide the activity you want to do and how you want to approach it. However, its crucial to show up. Consistency of your physical activity can guarantee that positive benefits are extended throughout your journey.

Optimity understands the value of mental health and we want to encourage personal growth. Engage in your community by posting your workouts and meals, track your progress over the weeks and gain rewards for your accomplishments.

Establishing New Habits can be difficult and lengthy. However, small lifestyle changes and being persistent with your goals can have the biggest positive impact on your health. Reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com for information on how Optimity can help you!

Food for Thought: The Link Between Food and Mental Health

Written by Maxwell Li 

Your brain works around the clock to perform vital bodily functions to keep you alive. Similar to a sports car, our brains require constant premium fuel, in the form of nutrients from food for peak performance and in turn, good mental health.

The reason behind this lies in Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, appetite, mood, and pain. Around 95% of its production takes place in your gastrointestinal tract, which happens to be filled with over a hundred million neurons. Furthermore, neuron functionality along with serotonin production are highly dependent on the presence of “good bacteria” in the gut. These bacteria protect your intestinal linings against toxins and inflammation, improve nutrient absorption, and activate direct neural pathways to your brain.

In short, the types of food you choose to eat have a profound impact on your short-term mental health!

A study conducted by flagship medical journal, BMC Medicine, found that depressed individuals assigned to a Mediterranean diet experienced substantial improvements to personal mental health. This is because “traditional” diets (e.g. Mediterranean) are high in unprocessed vegetables, fruits, proteins, and grains, which tend to be fermented and thereby promote growth of “good bacteria” in the gut.

Here are five nutrient-rich foods that will do wonders when it comes to improving your mental health:

1. Salmon

This pink fish is rich in Omega-3 and anti-inflammatory acids that protect brain cell membrane. It also contains Vitamin D, which helps manage depression and protect immune function.

2. Lentils

Lentils are rich in the B vitamin folate which is vital in the production of serotonin. They also allow your blood sugar levels to rise more gradually, for a consistent energy level throughout the day.

3. Bananas

Bananas affects tryptophan, another important amino acid that helps with serotonin production.

4. Kefir

Often described as a drinkable yogurt, Kefir is high in the “good gut bacteria”, more commonly known as probiotics.

5. Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes contain high levels of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which protects against damage to brain cells and oxidative stress on DNA. Both processes have been linked to depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

 

Here at Optimity, we recognize that a sudden dietary change is painful and often short-lived. That is why we have created a way to pursue a healthier lifestyle at the office or on the go, that is both effortless and rewarding for our users, through personalized daily health challenges!

 

To find out more about Optimity solutions, visit: www.myoptimity.com/our-solution

Recharge Your Diet: Our Secrets for a Healthy Lifestyle

TIME STAMP: 3 MINUTE READ

It seems like everyone’s talking about the real solution to weight loss. Every day it seems like a new diet craze is ready to make weight loss faster and easier than ever before. However, beware most fad diets generally go something like: “Take a few foods, give them magic power, and set a plan to convince people that eating this way and only this way will promote weight loss.” says Alexandra Caspero, R.D a nutritionist based in Sacremento, CA.

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In a society that is so image driven, it seems as though everyone’s talking about it, “THE secrets to get that summer body.” If you searched online for weight loss solutions you get 38 million results. How is anyone supposed to find the real solution? With this overwhelming amount of information it can be extremely difficult to get started on achieving your goals.

We’re here to help you debunk the 3 most searched for diets and discover whether or not they’re really worth it.

1. 20/20 Diet 

The Claim: Wait Doctor Phil? You have the answers to all of my life problems and now you want to help me loose weight? Even though he doesn’t promise you’ll loose weight, he says you “may” loose weight.

The 20/20 diet is a cycling diet plan and was online most searched diet of the year. It’s a 30-day cycling diet, with three phases every 30 days. The first two phases are 5 days long and the third is 20 days. The foods Doctor Phil recommends are supposed to help with thermogenesis, which is a state where the process of energy production in the body caused directly by the metabolizing of food consumed.

The 20/20 diet is about looking past your dieting efforts, failed attempts and what you can do to make up for it. He is trying to repent you from your dieting sins and tell you all of these failures are what eventually led him to create this plan.

Worth It? This diet requires you to stick to a rigid meal plan and eat every 4 hours, which could be time consuming. Be weary, of diets that have a start and stop date, after all there are no phases or end dates to a healthy lifestyle.

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2. Zero Belly Diet 

Wait but actually? Trying to take away my carbs? Sounds like a nightmare. They’re also telling readers they can magically turn off their fat genes.

The Claim: You can lose up to 16 pounds in 14 days. This diet and fitness program includes a list of nine foods that supposedly target and melt your fat cells.

Worth it? There is no way to turn off your genes to fast track weight loss. While hundreds of genes affect your overall weight in small ways, this isn’t to say that you can’t learn new healthy behaviors to adapt your lifestyle.

3.Mediterranean diet

This diet emphasizes a primarily plant based foods including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seafood and nuts – coupled with physical activity. It suggests avoiding a list of unhealthy foods and ingredients such as processed food and added sugars.

The Claim: This diet will help you eat your way to optimal heart and brain health. Additionally it claims increased longevity and living a longer and healthier life. When there is a reduction in developing heart disease or cancer, there is a 20 %reduced risk of death at any age.

Worth it? YES, this diet can have positive long-term effects on your over all health. Benefits include keeping you agile, preventing heart diseases and strokes and reducing Alzheimers.

Don’t be too hard on yourself; life is demanding. Between jobs, kids and everything else, life can get difficult. Give yourself a break, dieting shouldn’t be about extreme weight loss, it should be about slow and steady implementation of healthier habits that will lead to an over all healthier lifestyle.

Sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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