Sometimes when you’re out there trying to inspire the rest of the world to fitness and wellness, you neglect taking care of business “at home.” We know you can relate to this because we’ve had this conversation with many of you time and again over the years. The cobbler’s children are the last to get shoes, as the old saying goes.
In March 2011, we gathered the IDEA staff to participate in an off-site team retreat that helped us dramatically reshape the cultural blueprint for our company. We went into the daylong meeting as a competent and confident team of co-workers and colleagues; 15 months later, we proudly call ourselves a Tribe. There is a subtle yet powerful difference between the two. Where the former was a collection of people who happened to work together, the latter is a family whose ties are intertwined and whose individual successes become shared achievements.
While many think of happiness as elusive or random, you can learn daily methods for optimizing your joy and improving your well-being. A growing body of research in the field of positive psychology supports using specific techniques to increase gladness and life satisfaction. Practices that can enhance your daily pleasure include the following:
Single-task. Avoid doing several things at once. Overstimulation dilutes your ability to savor what you’re doing.
“I’ve been active much of my life but have also struggled with depression from a young age,” says Kris Cameron, ACE- certified personal trainer and owner of ReNu Your Life— Mobile Personal Training & Wellness in Iowa City, Iowa. “I come from a family full of depression, abuse, even suicide. About 18 years ago I was put on a very low dose of Zoloft (25 milligrams). It helped, but I also continued to be active, to work out—and I started my training career.
For the treatment of depression in adults, exercise is as effective as medications or therapy, but not more so, according to a research review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2013; 9; doi: 10.1002/ 14651858.CD004366.pub6).
Scientists from five universities in the United Kingdom reviewed 39 studies with a total of 2,326 participants in order to update a 2010 review. The earlier review had suggested exercise could reduce depression symptoms, but had found the effect was small and seemed to end if participants stopped exercising.
What helps someone become happier depends on the person, says researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky. “However, when we research strategies, the two that are often at the top of the list are physical activity and acts of kindness,” she says. “They seem to work better because they’re more tangible.”
You have been recruited to change a life. A young man is out of shape and headed toward a life of obesity and health complications. But he desperately wants to change. Perhaps you saw him on television during the 2012 Summer Olympics. He appeared on a Nike® commercial shot in a rural area near London, Ohio.
Urge your clients to cultivate work-life balance. Working too long and too hard increases the risk of depression, according to a study conducted at the Kyoto University School of Public Health in Kyoto, Japan.
Among 218 clerical workers, those who worked more than 60 hours per week and had too much work were 15 times more likely to suffer from depression when reevaluated after 1-3 years than workers with less stressful schedules. The study authors suggested that feeling overworked combined with long works hours could be considered a risk factor for depression.
Do you think of yourself as being in the happiness business? Whether you know it or not, you are. Happiness and all its related positive emotions—optimism, purpose, life satisfaction and a sense of well-being, to name a few—are powerfully linked with health (as we reviewed in the June issue of IDEA Fitness Journal). One of the most valuable keys to sustainable happiness may be exercise—bingo!