3 Refreshing ways to EAT your way to a better mood!

Woman eating healthy salad near the river

Being in a positive mood is always ideal for everyone, you work better and feel better and the people around you really react to the positive energy you give off. It really helps with all the decisions you make in your everyday life, so it’s important that you’re feeling your best when making these decisions.

Did you know that food can actually help boost better moods? Well, it’s true! Food helps with better moods, providing you with more energy and it helps you think clearly! Below are my top 3 food tips to help you get into a better mood.

1. Raise your vitamin D levels with food 

When you eat your wild salmon, bake it don’t fry it; when salmon is baked, almost all of the vitamin D content remains, but when fried in vegetable oil almost half of the vitamin D content is lost. Other good food sources are trout, ahi-tuna, mushrooms, and egg yolks, and, our favourite, plain Greek yogurt.

Another cool fact: if you lose just 5 percent or more of your body weight, your vitamin D blood levels will shoot up. Vitamin D likes to stay in fatty tissue, so when you lose fat, the D levels in your blood go up! Marvels of vitamin D: heart health, skin health, immune health & mental health!

2. Enjoy Your Bananas (and other fruits)  

Fruits have amino acids in them and bananas are surprisingly high in tryptophan, that along with its natural sugars makes an ideal situation for creating serotonin. Dates and papaya are also high in tryptophan, but most fruits have enough to make a difference.

Any food with a sweet taste will have a calming effect on the nervous system beyond its carbohydrate content.This is not why monkeys seem so happy but it sure doesn’t hurt!

3. Eat Your Greens

The University of Kuopio in Finland conducted a study with 2,313 men for more than 10 years and they found that leafy greens are good for your brain.

Greens are high in almost all vitamins and minerals but they are particularly high in folate – a B vitamin that has been shown to reduce depression. Kale, collard, and spinach will all contribute to boosting your mood!

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5 Ways to Build Positive Work Relationships

Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena
TIME STAMP: 3 MINUTE READ
Developing a positive and motivating work environment is a top priority to make your workplace more enjoyable and less stressful. A positive work environment not only helps professionals physically, mentally and emotionally, but also influences their overall productivity.
Building relationships isn’t always easy and they can take time to develop and foster. A lot of companies now promote social gatherings, friendly contests, entertaining events and humour enhancing strategies for light-hearted fun and as a form of breaking the ice. There is also a direct correlation between a positive work environment and increased employee satisfaction.

Here are a few ways you can build a positive work relationship:

 

1. Be polite

Simply exchanging a smile or a friendly greeting is a great first step in developing a productive workplace. Maintaining eye contact and referring to colleagues by their names are effective conversation starters that build an opportunity to socially interact with teammates and develop a rapport with them. For a positive environment to flourish say no to “blame games” or gossip as they are foster a toxic workplace culture and diminish the sense of community.

2. Appreciate diversity

Everyone is different. We each have different viewpoints, approaches, potency and limitations so it’s important to listen, share and appreciate the differences between each of your co-workers. Being unbiased and celebrating diversity will help you become a good leader while enabling others to share their thoughts within the organisation. Everyone has value and something that they can bring to the table!

3. Exercise efficient communication

To practise effective and clear communication, you should be able to express the right emotion behind your message. Communication not only includes clear expression of thought but also includes complimenting others for their contributions, ideas or thoughts.  This can immensely help in building a pleasant and reliable relationship in your workplace.

4. Placing the right person in the right place

Before hiring a new employee, learn their skills, interests, passions, knowledge, culture and work style. This can help in placing the right person in the right place. Friction can occur among employees if a less qualified individual is hired to manage more qualified employees. Looking at the status-quo, the manager should act accordingly to avoid blame games, competition and negative workflow.

5. Incorporate incentives

The most important step towards building a healthy work environment and positive relationships is to be appreciative. Appreciation can be shown in the form of money, like a bonus or raise, or non-monetary in the form of public appreciation or a thank-you email. This can help to boost the morale of employees, potentially increase their productivity moving froward, increase their loyalty towards the organisation and reduce the turnover.
While these tips are pretty straightforward, they can definitely improve your workplace environment and culture.  Occasionally you will have to work with someone that you just don’t click with, but for the sake of your work it is important for you to maintain your professionalism and be civil. Just remember: you don’t need to be best friends and you can’t control others, but you can do your part and approach your workplace relationships with a positive attitude.
Share a bit of #Health and #Joy with colleagues, friends and family – download Optimity!

 

Abena is a Client Services Associate at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc in Global Health. She is passionate about human rights and health education, and hopes to develop tailored interventions to combat health inequities around the globe. Her interests include story writing, camping and exploring different cultures on her travels.

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A Long Look at Workplace Well-Being

Posted by Jane Wang
Managing work life and personal life is a continuous struggle for most professionals. It is especially apparent in the professional services industry. When you are in a client-facing position in which billable hours dictate your performance and compensation, it is not always an easy task to juggle work assignments and personal issues at the same time.

Reactive vs. Proactive

Do you foster everyday well-being as an organization? Do you do so to control costs or do you up-stream the issue to help support employees in building sustainable habits and work-life routines?
Coaching employees to deal with stress before it happens is key to the success of the HR teams who aim to keep their star players performing. Top firms internally promote their support programs, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), to help their teams deal with mental health and stress issues when they arise.
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EAP is a great start to supporting wellness at work. But the problem with just relying on EAP is that often they are reactive, as opposed to preventive. Heavy usage is also increasingly expensive. Furthermore, there is often a negative stigma surrounding their usage preventing employees from using or talking about it openly.
This is why there is a stronger engagement with proactive programs, like those being offered by PwC through Optimity. Our unique approach opportunistically inserts micro-exercises that improves your quality of life during your 9 to 5.

You know you do not get up enough at work. But even if you do, do you know what you can do for your neck, back, wrists and mind? Focusing on managing stress is not enough. Top firms understand that they need to provide coaching, at work, to prevent physical and cultural issues.

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  • 1 min long meditations at your fingertips to regain focus and reduce stress
  • 1 min desk-ercises throughout the day to reduce back pain
  • Stretches for your neck
  • Exercises to reduce eye strain

Micro-breaks leading to significant impact

  • Sync up to your habits through calendar-integration, and creates a smart schedule with micro-exercises optimized to create highest impact
  • Access to coaching by medical, nutritional, and mental health experts
  • Bring any wearable to the platform and we helps you stay engaged on the go, making it easier to keep on track to making consistent improvements

Case study

McMillan LLP is a Canadian business law firm with offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Montréal, and Hong Kong. Nisha Rider, Director of HR, leads the HR team in supporting employees in maintaining their positive mental health. “Managing stress and mental health is a key focus in law,” says Rider. “No firm has completely figured it out yet. We need to work with our employees to find solutions that works for them.”

They must help employees deal with some of life’s most stressful issues, including chronic illnesses and becoming a new parent. McMillan has put together a Parenting Committee that runs programs for employees who have children. The program is open to mothers and fathers, with monthly meetings. There is no set agenda. Discussions are free-formed around any topics the attendees wish to talk about. “It’s a great way for people to support each other and share ideas,” says Rider.

McMillan also offers flexible work arrangements and provides on-site cooking demonstrations, nutrition seminars and personal training sessions to help new parents work quick exercises into their days.

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To support work-life balance, you can run programs to help your employees with chronic conditions and lifestyle, such as having a 24-hour support system in place and taking a preventative stance on mental health and financial wellness. These 24/7 digitally accessible programs provide advice, information and support to employees and lift the burden of dealing with stressful or chronic situations alone.

Weave happiness into the everyday!

Innovative firms continue to invest in employee health- and lifestyle-related training. They pay attention to program design and adopting systems that integrates positive habits into their staff’s lifestyle and workflow.


So smile a little and enjoy the rest of your day!
Why not engage your whole office in the wellness game using Optimity?
As featured in  YahooRecruiter.com and the Wall Street Journal

 

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Recharge Your Diet: Our Secrets for a Healthy Lifestyle

Posted by Emily Guterres

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.

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Beginner’s Guide To Morning Workouts

Posted by Jane Wang

Over the years I’ve grown to love exercising in the morning. It frees up my evenings, leaves me fewer excuses for skipping out on a workout, and helps me feel more alert throughout the day. The sense of accomplishment compounds throughout my day, giving me positive feelings that carry into client meetings and work sessions with my team.

Tips and tricks from Jane Wang, CEO of OptimityTips and tricks from Jane Wang, CEO of Optimity

Research shows morning workouts can improve sleep, acuity, and productivity. At Optimity, we are tracking how it impacts business metrics and employee perception.

However, just because I love morning workouts doesn’t mean I leap out of bed at the sound of my alarm, eager to exercise every day. I am not naturally a morning person, so I find it tough to head out for a run before the sun rises or attend a 6 AM burpee bootcamp. I’ve skipped my fair share of early workouts; however, with strategic planning, preparation, and positive thinking, I’ve also gotten quite good at not skipping a great workout to start to my day.

If you’re wanting to become more of a morning exerciser, here are some of my top tips. Maybe they’ll help you too!

1. Ease into it. If you’ve never exercised in the morning before, don’t sign up for 6AM personal training sessions five days in a row. To start, schedule one morning workout per week.

2.  Enlist a buddy. It’s a lot harder to skip a morning sweat session if you have someone counting on you to show up. No one wants to be that person who bails!

3. Before you go to bed, decide exactly what morning workout you will do. For example, instead of saying, “I will exercise before work tomorrow,” say “I will jog 2 miles and do 30 pushups before work tomorrow.” This allows you to budget just the right amount of time you’ll need to fit in your workout. It also prevents you from dozing back off to sleep while pondering what type of exercise you’ll do.

4. Give yourself a reward. When your alarm goes off, don’t dwell on how much you’d rather fall back asleep or how tired you are. Instead, give yourself something to look forward to. It can be a delicious breakfast sandwich or smoothie after the workout, a more-indulgent lunch to treat yourself, or even permission to get that item you have been eyeing for the last few weeks (that book, that gadget, or that shirt)!

Working out in the morning isn’t for everyone, but I’m living proof that the non-morning person can live better with a little self-actualization at the beginning of each day. Hope this helps!

Let’s build a community:

Do you prefer morning, afternoon or evening workouts? What helps you early exercisers get out of bed in the morning? Let us know down below. 

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2-Minute Meditation for a Positive Attitude

Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena

From cultivating greater awareness of self to relieving stress, meditation has numerous physical and mental health benefits. The practice conjures a sense of something related to spirituality, but is actually an extreme form of concentration that tones and strengthens the mind. It promises to promote inner peace and a positive outlook towards life.

Given the countless problems that work and life hurl at us on a daily basis, and the impact they have on our minds, meditation can be an excellent way to appreciate promote inner peace and living in the moment. Even a few minutes of meditation regularly can be transformative. Here is a 2-minute meditation routine for beginners.

  1. First, find a quiet and peaceful place in your home or outside, where it is easy for you to shift your focus inwards. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine in a straight but relaxed position. When you sit in a peaceful space with good posture, you will be able to enjoy the process more freely and have a deeper sense of calmness and tranquillity.
  2. Concentrate on your breathing. Try to take long and deep breaths while you focus on slowing down your breath. You can also chant an uplifting phrase or word like “relax” while breathing in order to center your attention. Try to block all distracting sounds, paying full attention to your your breathing and the word you are chanting.
  3. Next, try to enter into a quiet state of mind, while remaining relaxed and mindful of your centre of gravity. Observe any feelings, thoughts, or physical vibrations that arise in your consciousness. Eventually, you will be able increase your concentration one session at a time.

There is no set time to meditate, so you can start with 2 minutes daily and progress slowly. Let your comfort level decide what amount of meditation is right for you, but stay persistent in order to witness results.
Abena is a Client Services Associate at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc in Global Health. She is passionate about human rights and health education, and hopes to develop tailored interventions to combat health inequities around the globe. Her interests include story writing, camping and exploring different cultures on her travels.

 

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How Can Holistic Wellness Apps Lead to Habit Changes?

Posted by Jane Wang

We all know that mobile applications (apps) have the potential to help people increase their physical activity, but little is known about the action change techniques marketed in these apps.

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The most common techniques involve providing instruction on how to perform exercises, providing feedback on performance and goal-setting for physical activity. A class analysis revealed the existence of two types of apps, educational and motivational, depending on their habit change techniques.

Mental health and habit change techniques tend not to be widely marketed in physical activity apps. Based on the available descriptions of the observed techniques in health behavioral theories, people may need multiple apps to maintain a healthy habit change.

Mental health and habit change technology have fallen behind and the unique nature of mental health services can make it difficult to develop a technology that successfully intervenes in human behavior. However, with advanced research geared towards habit change and mental health, an increasing number of organizations are innovating in this space.

Many symptoms of poor mental health are generally behavioral, and seeing as though most people now have smart phones at their disposal, access to technology that can monitor habitual patterns seems like an obvious next step. This technology can be used to assess patterns that are typical of a person who may suffer from mental health issues.

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Dr Uri Nivo explains how this new technology could benefit people wanting to change or monitor their behavior.

“Bipolar disorder, for example, starts with a manic episode. A patient who usually makes five or ten calls a day might suddenly start making dozens of calls a day. How much they talk, text, how many places they visit, when they go to bed and for how long — these are all indicators of mental health and provide important insights to clinicians who want to catch a disorder before it is full blown.”

With fitness wearables and other popular smart devices that help people track their physical activity and well-being, it only makes sense that there would be a specialized app to support habit change and mental health.

 

 

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