Overall Wellness: Does Location Really Dictate Wellness?

A little bit of info on me, I am originally from Iowa and moved to Kentucky for grad school and then moved to Kansas for my job. I tell you this because when I lived in Kentucky, my roommates got be hooked on a certain news station pretty much just for the morning weather guy. No lie. Anyway, I liked their page on Facebook back then and I never un-liked them and continue to keep up with the new (er robberies and murders) of that area. This is actually pertinent because recently, Gallup published a study about the top 10 worst places to live (aka places that have the lowest scores on their well-being finder). Kentucky, was ranked the 2nd worst place to live in the US. The local news station posted this and asked viewers to weigh in on how they felt about this ranking. Honestly, I just scrolled through some of the 300+ comments and there are massive mixed reviews.

But also interestingly enough, I was discussing with a co-worker yesterday at an event about how people feel being labeled the best worst thing. Some people see being told this as an opportunity to change while others will fight against the label. Is there really a right way to change this? I mean, a lot of Kentuckians are proud to be Kentuckians and believe that it is the greatest place on earth. Others still feel that way but can see where the state is lacking in some areas. Others still think the state is complete crap and can only rag on it at every chance they get. And there are a million different shades of grey between just those three categories.

It’s just interesting to think about if you state can have an effect on your well-being. Iowa is consistently in the top 10 of best places to live so I have lived in “the best” and “the worst”. And the only thing that I can tell you is that while there are somethings you can’t change, you still dictate how happy you are and how high your wellbeing is. There are different factors that are associated with wellbeing and if you can’t control and do anything to improve one aspect…think about concentrating on some of the others.

Occupational Wellness: The Ever Elusive “Job You Love”

How many of us have heard the phrase that is something about find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life? Yeah, yeah, yeah. We get it. You gotta find that dream job that is perfect for you. But how does a young professional do that?

Well, according to THIS article from Gallup, you find that dream job by creating it.

I’m not saying you have to create a brand new position that is your dream job. But you take the position that you have and make it your dream job. My best example of this is my current position. I love data. And stats. And surveys. And analyzing data. And coding. And all that good stuff. My job description from day 1 said nothing about doing anything with data. It is now what I spend most of my days working on. Know what you love and what you are good at and how you can apply that to your position. And then do it. And do it good. And do it relentlessly. And do it until you become the person that does the data stuff. Crank out the results that you need to. Make sure that people in your office know that if they need data analyzed, they go to you. Because you will get it done, get it done right, and get it done efficiently.

Find your love and your passion and pursue it. Even if your current position says nothing about it in the job description. Create it. Add it. Work it. Do it.

Physical Wellness: Why Do We Still Hurt Ourselves?

I was recently reading THIS article from Gallup that breaks down how much the largest American employers spend on smokers and obese employees and how much money they lose every year from these employers and it got me thinking, why do we keep hurting ourselves. E and I always seem to have the same reaction when we see someone smoking or chewing, why would you do that? In this day and age and with all the research that shows just how bad tobacco is…why do people still start? Why do we still engage in behaviors that are harmful to our health and that we know are harmful? Furthermore, why do we still eat all this chemically processed food that we know is bad for us?

Why do we still engage in behaviors that are harmful and have no benefits to them?

Overall Wellness: What Does Wellness Mean to Me?

Yesterday I gave a testimonial for my wellness network that I am part of. Part of it required me to explain why I think wellness is so important. My readers will know that part of the reason why I love being involved with wellness is because I get the opportunity to educate others as to what wellness IS and that it is SO much more than just the surface of weight and working out. Part of why I started this blog was to be able to shed light to a wide audience and be able to educate others that wellness is so much more than just those two things. Wellness is everything in your life. And everything is connected. I wrote a post waaaaaaaay back in the day detailing how work can affect your overall wellness and Gallup has done TONS of research on this as well. In fact, Gallup claims that work is one of the biggest attributes to your overall well-being. And to that, I have to say, I think I fall into the outliers category.

See since I first took the Wellbeing finder and chatted with some wellness professionals, I stopped fixating soley on having a disconnect in my work and it not being the dream job that I so hoped I would have fresh out of grad school. I started concentrating on improving other areas of my wellbeing. By concentrating on improving my other areas of wellbeing, I in turned improved my occupational or career wellbeing which in turn improved my overall wellbeing.

So maybe it is that career/occupational wellbeing is a major factor in your wellbeing, but it is also important to a.) not fixate solely on that dimension and b.) don’t just fixate on what is going wrong in your life or what you can’t change. Maybe you are unhappy with your financial wellness, but what else could you do, perhaps not related to financial stuff that could improve your overall wellbeing which then in turn might improve your financial wellbeing. (note:  wellbeing = wellness, since I am talking mostly about Gallup stuff I’m using there vernacular). Say you decide to work on your community wellbeing and volunteer to help out with some group. You meet people. You chat. Hey you even network. And maybe one of those people know someone who knows someone who maybe has a job opening. And they pay is better than what you are getting now. You don’t go into the volunteering for the purpose of finding a job, you do it to improve your community wellbeing and to get the warm fuzzies that you get when you volunteer and give back. And it may not be as linear as that example, but when you do good and when you work on improving the areas of wellbeing that you have control over, it helps your overall wellbeing and leads to helping that lower area of wellbeing. It’s not immediate. And it’s not always easy. But give it a try!

Overall Wellness: Thank YOU!

I reached my first milestone/goal last night of hitting 100 followers on this blog and I want to thank you all for your support! And to thank you, I thought I would do a quick little giveaway! I will be giving away a new copy of the WellBeing book that I spoke about multiple times back in July/August! This will include a unique code so you can take the Wellbeing Finder and have access to Gallup’s wellbeing resources.

All you have to do to enter this giveaway is follow my blog and comment below what wellness means to you.

This giveaway is open until 10/1/13 and I will choose a winner on 10/2/13!

Thank you all so much for your support! And now, I’m off to Kentucky!

Occupational Wellness: Are Your Expectations Accurate?

I’m going to take a second and just do a quick pat on my back for multiple reasons, one being that I got the September Gallup Business Journal email yesterday and I’m already doing a post on it, Good work Vanessa, good work! 

There are a couple of interesting articles in this month’s newsletter, but one that caught my eye immediately is by Susan Sorenson and Keri Garman, More Educated, Less Engaged. This article looks at engagement from different workers based on their education. For me looking at it, the numbers are that crazy. 34% of workers w/ less than a High School Diploma are engaged in their jobs versus 28% of workers who have a college degree who are engaged in their job. Given that not earning a high school diploma is vastly different than earning a 4 year college degree (or being gifted one, that’s a rant for a different day), the numbers just aren’t that different or surprising to me.

U.S. Engagement Levels by Education

I mean, if you look at the numbers of workers who are not engaged, that is a little more wide spread vs. workers who are engaged. But there just aren’t any shockingly huge number differences. I suppose the real shock in this article is that you would think if you went and got your high school diploma, went through college and got your bachelor’s AND then went ahead and got your master’s (or higher) degree and 56% of those people aren’t engaged in their work? You went through all that schooling and spent all that money and you don’t even like your job? I guess that is where the big kicker is. Especially given that (and the article touches on this as well) that in America, it is pretty well accepted that if you want to make a nice living, you get at least a college education. In certain departments too, (say psychology) if you want to use your degree, you HAVE to get advanced education. Period.

So perhaps the shock value isn’t necessarily in the numbers, but it is in what you put into those numbers. And it is perhaps what your expectations were of the work you put in. Perhaps people who go on and get a postgraduate degree expect that they are going to be working a job that they love and they find out that isn’t necessarily true. If you think about people who don’t have a high school diploma, perhaps their expectations of their work life are more accurate versus those who have gone and gotten the education.


Overall Wellness: 15 Tips/Ideas to Boost Your Wellness

A bit of a disclaimer:  these are taken from the book, Wellbeing:  The Five Essential Elements (citation will be at the end of this post) with some personal information interwoven in.

Career Wellbeing 

  • Figure out what your strengths are and make sure that you are utilizing your strengths every. single. day.
  • Find a mentor/role model and start interacting with them.
  • Find a friend/some friends at work and make time to chat with them.

Social Wellbeing 

  • Deep breath. Get 6 hours (that’s right, 360 minutes) of social interaction. Email a friend. Grab lunch w/ someone at work. Make weird faces at your boyfriend (is that just me that does that? Oh, alright then…moving on)
  • Those friends of friends that everyone has? Work on those connections too! Work on strengthening your network.
  • Still trying to figure out how in the world you are supposed to work, sleep, workout, AND get 6 hours of social time into every single day? Try working out w/ a friend. The whole “kill two birds with one stone” but minus bird murder.

Financial Wellbeing 

  • Don’t buy stuff. But experiences. I still to this day share some of my Alaska trip experiences with people. But I rarely chat about my haul from the Nike outlet mall.
  • When you can, work on giving back to others. Again, the experience of buying something for someone else can have a more lasting impact on you than buying a new watch.
  • Make saving idiot proof. Before you even see your paycheck, have x amount chucked into a hard to get to savings account of some sort.

Physical Wellbeing 

  • Get moving. At least 20 minutes a day.
  • Get sleeping. The right amount. Not too much. Not too little. Goldilocks that sleep cycle. (Didn’t know you could use Goldilocks as a verb did ya?)
  • Make eating healthy idiot proof as well. When you buy groceries, don’t buy temptations. Stock up on those whole foods and healthy options.

Community Wellbeing 

  • Figure out your personal mission. Now figure out how your personal mission and you yourself can help out the community. Then do it.
  • Let your personal mission be known. Let people know what you are passionate about. Connect w/ relevant groups.
  • Start now. It can be small but just start getting involved with your community.

Rath, T. & Harter, J. (2010). Wellbeing:  The five essential elements. New York City, New York:  Gallup Press. 

Physical Wellness: That Infamous Line from “Legally Blonde”



Was Elle Woods correct? Well, I’m not sure if she was entirely correct in her reasoning…but yes. Exercise does indeed improve your mood. In fact, getting just 20 minutes of activity every day has been shown to bump up your mood (even more so when you get active in the morning!)

I’m one of those people that I can read scientific research and think, “Uh yeah, I guess.” but I have a hard time believing it until I see it with my two eyes. While I was gone on vacation, I went for a run a couple times, but not everyday. My friend that I was staying with said something that made me think of this Legally Blonde quote. She said that I seem “better” on days that I work out. And that got me thinking and reflecting of during the winter when I would do 30 minutes of pilates every morning and how my mood was affected by that. On days that I wasn’t too tired and had gotten enough sleep, doing pilates in the morning was a great way to start my day. On days when I had gotten to bed late or had a restless night of sleep…it was labored and detrimental to my day and mood.

While reading about physical wellbeing in my Gallup book over vacation, they mentioned that getting some sort of activity at least 20 minutes a day can improve your mood. The mood enhancers were one of the reasons why I wanted to be active every day this month and while I fell short a bit on that during vacation, I have been able to jump right back into my active lifestyle and reap the mood benefits of getting my workout on.

Do you notice a difference in yourself on days you are active vs. when you are not active?


Social Wellness: Re-Connecting w/ a Best Friend.

Sorry for the late post! I will be back on a normal posting schedule tomorrow! I was busy traveling and catching up w/ my friend that I am staying with this week while I am on vacation.



(My friend Marn and I w/ one of our favorite teachers senior year of high school. My sweet burns lines were courtesy of a tennis tournament the day before prom…)

I don’t do a lot of social wellness posts because, well, I’m not very strong in social wellness (I’m an introvert and socially awkward) and it isn’t a dimension of wellness that I feel particularly knowledgeable about. But I took advantage of some flying time this morning and was reading more of the Well Being book (read my thoughts on Career Well Being HERE). I was reading about social wellbeing and wanted to share, per usual some of the research that Gallup is doing (I swear I am not being sponsored by Gallup! They just do some interesting research!)

Some of the most interesting (to me) findings are that your social network, more than your family, have impacts, both positive and negative, on your social wellbeing. Being around people that have high wellbeing is more likely to increase your overall wellbeing and the same is true for people who are low in wellbeing. The people that you are around have an impact on your wellbeing. (I’m having flashbacks to my Org Psych class and my hero of all hero’s Ben Schneider…oh Ben, such an amazing researcher…I completely fan girled when I met him at SIOP San Diego. Ok, back to the actual blog.)

So why exactly is it important to know that people in your social networks can have an impact on you? Well, as Gallup found out, they have in impact on not only how happy you might be but also on your “habits, behaviors, and health” (pg. 35). Even more interesting…if you have friends that are smokers, Gallup found that you are 61% more likely to pick up the habit. Even more shocking is that even if you don’t surround yourself with friends that smoke, if one of your friends has a friend that smokes, you are almost 30% more likely to pick up the habit. The people that you are around to more than just boost your mood. They have the potential to have a last impact on your for years to come (I don’t think I really need to bring up any of the research that has been done on smoking…we all know it, right?)

The point of this little tid bit of information (there was more than just this brief research in the social wellbeing section) is to place an emphasis on making sure that your social circle is a positive one for you. I’m not here to tell you how to make your friends or how many friends you should have. I’m just here to pose some questions and help you figure out what is right for you. For me (keep in mind I’m a pretty strong introvert), I tend to be very cautious and careful with who I let into my life. Which means it sometimes takes me a long time to meet people and develop friendships (I can safely say it took me a good year when I moved to Kentucky to develop some strong friendships). Conversely, my friend is very extroverted and trusting of people and is very good at putting herself out there and she builds friendships faster. There are positives and negatives to both and it is trying to figure out what is right for you.

How healthy is your social circle?

Financial Wellness: …er I don’t have a cool/witty title for this one…

I really just wanted to share this article. I am subscribed to variety of different newsletters and this Gallup one has to be one of my favorites. I signed up for it when I was taking my Well-Being Finder. They basically just send you a newsletter with new research that they are churning out.

THIS one by Frank Newport touches on something that I struggle with-I have money to get by week to week, but if something catastrophic happens (er, like car problems) I tend to not be as good to go. Turns out, I’m not alone in this headache. Around 70% of Americans struggle with the same issues I do. The Gallup research in this article indicates that until you are looking at around $48k/yr, unexpected major expenses are stressful and sometimes downright impossible to cover. (I’m lucky that my mom forced me to buy savings bonds as a little kid and she keeps them tucked away in a safety deposit box and they are my “oh shit money”.)

This research presents various different findings including people’s feelings on their spending (“Did you worry yesterday that you spent too much money?”) and how they feel basically about their financial security blanket. For the most part, American’s are feeling good day-to-day but once something major comes at them, it starts to get stressful and they may not have money tucked away for that.

This is really just some interesting research and unlike some research articles, the information is easy to read and comprehend and it just makes sense (I can’t tell you how many times in grad school I would read a research article and just go…Image

What are your thoughts on this research? Do you feel it is accurate? Do you have any financial tips on how to make sure you are covered if a major expense comes your way?

PS:  I leave TOMORROW for vacation! And since this is a financial wellness blog post-I stalked ticket prices for about a month to figure out when they were generally the lowest and got a ticket for less than $150 and I am staying w/ a friend (so no hotel costs!). I also knew that flights are generally cheaper M-Th and go up F-Su so I’m flying out on Thursday and coming back on Tuesday. Just a quick trip and not putting a major dent in my pocket book!