Defeating the Enemy of Wellness — You

>> Friday, February 10, 2012

Wellness has an enemy, and despite what you may have been told, it’s not Voldemort – it’s you. And me. It’s all of us. When it comes to wellness, we are often our own greatest adversaries. But don’t get down on yourself, because it isn’t really your fault. The fault lies in your unconscious – or rather in the way your brain has evolved to divvy up responsibilities between your conscious awareness and your unconscious. First, let’s recap some of the more staggering evidence that you are the enemy of your wellness. Then we’ll talk about how your brain gets you into this mess, and we’ll introduce some of the new research and technologies that are making it easier for you to get out.  Read more of Jacob Braude's post and join us at Social Media Week to participate in his experiment!


Why can’t I change?

Every year I make many New Year’s resolutions, and some are easier to follow than others. Last year, it was to get myself to visit my poor lonely cousin in boring Clearwater, Florida. It wasn’t the most exciting vacation nor what I wanted to spend my money on, but I set a goal and timeframe, and I made myself do it. But why can’t I get myself to accomplish the New Year’s resolutions that require me to make a self improving behavioral change such as doing more writing when I get home from work versus stuffing my face with whatever I can find in the fridge and vegging out in front of the TV? Is it because I don’t have any self-discipline? Probably, but still, how can I get myself to change this awful behavior?

Most people believe that if you want to change a behavior, the key is to change your goals and intentions and your behavior change should just follow. But in fact, research on heroin addicted Vietnam veterans proves that I can essentially blame my environment for being lazy, overeating, not researching and not writing.

In the 70’s it was learned that 20% of our soldiers in Vietnam were addicted to heroin. This was shocking and horrible news because as we all know, heroin is the most addictive drug ever created and once you’re addicted it is impossible to quit. But research that President Richard Nixon funded showed us that heroin is not impossible to quit, you just need to control or change your environment.

The research was set-up to see what happened to the addicted soldiers when they returned home. There were two groups of heroin addicted soldiers. One group was treated in the U.S., and the other group was treated in Vietnam. What was discovered is that the group of soldiers that were treated in the U.S. had a 90% relapse rate, but the soldiers that were treated in Vietnam only had a 5% relapse rate.

The reason the rate of heroin relapse was so much lower for those soldiers physically treated in Vietnam, was because those soldiers returned to a place radically different from the environment where their addiction took hold of them.

When we do something in the same physical setting repeatedly it becomes second nature/automatic to us. Our environment comes to unconsciously direct our behavior. In fact, about 45 percent of what we do every day is in the same environment and is repeated. Our environmental cues become so deeply ingrained that they are very hard to resist. For example, let’s say a smoker usually smokes in front of the entrance to his office building, what happens is that the front of his office building becomes a powerful mental cue to go and perform that behavior. And so he ends up smoking whenever he goes near the entrance of his office building when he doesn’t really want to.

My 280 sq. ft Manhattan apartment is where I go to eat, watch TV, and sleep. When I try to get some writing done in there, I find myself being drawn to the fridge, cooking something up, turning on my TV and at the end of the day, no writing gets done.

So yes, creating an intention or goal and expecting your behavior to follow will work for one off resolutions like visiting your lonely cousin in Clearwater, Fl. But if you want to change a behavior that you repeatedly do, especially in the same environment, then you are going to have to change your environment. If you want to break a bad habit, then avoid the specific environment that you ordinarily entertain that habit. If you want to get yourself to do something more often, then create a new/dedicated environment for that behavior, insert yourself in that environment and go through the motions. This is exactly what I did. Instead of trying to write from home, I went to my local coffee shop with free wifi, I ordered a large latte with extra sugar, sat by a window, and wrote. Because now I know that if I want to get myself to write, it is never going to happen inside my apartment. The local coffee shop has now become a place where I will dedicate to writing, not eating, not watching TV, just writing. I’m pretty sure that this is the only reason I even finished this post, or maybe it was all the caffeine from the latte.

~Jessica Mendoza, Strategic Planner


Beauty and Social Media

>> Thursday, February 9, 2012

Social Media apps like StyleSeat allow you connect with style savvy people, view pictures, and even book appointments online! Learn more about what’s new in beauty and social media at Social Media Week.


Support Through Gaming

>> Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The best way to stick to a healthy lifestyle is to have a strong support system. Engage in a strong network of support through social gaming. Learn more at “This game will make you healthier”



>> Monday, February 6, 2012

Researchers believe that persisting negative habits have to do with the environment surrounding that act. Participate in an experiment at the wellness hub to see how social technologies can help you break the cycle.


Social Media and Beauty

>> Friday, February 3, 2012

We all find ourselves asking our friends where the best place is to get our haircut or makeup done for an upcoming event. But what happens when we ask these same things to an entire network of men and women in your city? Learn more about what’s new in beauty and social media at Social Media Week.


Feedback Through Gaming

>> Thursday, February 2, 2012

There’s more to gaming than meets the eye. Social gaming can challenge you to reach a goal and gives you feedback along the way, helping you learn and grow. Find out more at social media week.


Wellness Hub of Social Media Week

>> Wednesday, February 1, 2012

88% of all New Year resolutions end in failure, mostly because people do not have the willpower to keep them. Explore how to train your “will power muscle” and keep those healthy eating habits or gym dedications in 2012 at the wellness hub of SMW.