Being out in nature is good for us. From forest bathing to surfing, a simple walk outdoors to swimming in lakes and the ocean—it’s the combination of movement and breathing in fresh air that gives… More
Women in Leadership Then and Now
“Since 2008, more women have assumed leadership of huge and influential companies (GM, IBM, Lockheed Martin) and global institutions (the IMF, the World Bank, the European Central Bank). More women have also been elected to high office around the world. Since 1964, 64 countries have had a female head of state or government, according to Women’s Power Index and as of May 2020, 19 countries were being led by a woman,”1 according to Sally Helgesen, author of seven books on leadership, and a keynote speaker around the world on women’s changing roles.
Even with these vastly improving numbers, women in leadership still lag behind the majority. This may be attributed to the basic challenges women continue to face in the workplace, even as progress is made:
1. Unconscious bias stems from gender stereotypes reflected in the subconscious attitudes both men and women have about female capabilities. Huge strides have been made, but the deeply ingrained image of women “barefoot and in the kitchen” still is widespread even in civilized nations.
2. Unequal pay is more complex than just dollars and cents. It extends into the opportunities women are presented with, often fewer than their male counterparts.
3. Different expectations makes it more difficult for women, because there is the need to balance actual ability, respect from peers and being likable. In other words, aggressive men are the norm, but aggressive women may be considered dislikable.
4. Limited career advancement opportunities take the form of fewer promotions for women in a corporate environment. A 2021 Yale study found women 14% less likely to be promoted at their companies annually as well as being consistently judged as possessing lower leadership potential than their male counterparts.2
5. Lack of sponsorship and mentorship ties in with limited career opportunities. Women are less often approached by mentors or sponsors who can be sources of knowledge and even lead to the “inside track.” What women need to do is to actively seek out mentors and coaches rather than hope to be “found.”
6. Sexual and gender-based harassment is something that women continue to contend with. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences found that women supervisors had to deal with even more sexual harassment than others in their fields in the United States, Japan and Sweden.3
Given the inherent challenges that women face, the progress that has been made by women in leadership in recent decades is impressive. According to recent statistics from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the proportion of women in higher education fields as of 2017 are as follows: 78% Education, 76% Health & Welfare, 64% Social Sciences, 63% Humanities, 54% Business and Law, 50% Science & Math, 24% Engineering and 19% IT & Communications. The World Bank shows that as of 2017, women accounted for 49% of the global workforce.4
Women inevitably will continue to rise in roles of responsibility and power. The reason is simple: women are major consumers and therefore drive the global economy. A report looking at female emerging markets by Ernst & Young pointed out that by 2028, 75% of the disposable income worldwide will be controlled by women.5 With women as the primary consumers for everyday products and services (fashion, home, health, education) female preferences will dictate the marketplace, and women executive and entrepreneurs will have the sensitivity and know-how to lead. In fact, start-ups founded by women since 2018 to date, have yielded higher benefits with an average 10% higher income than those founded by men.6
What is called “she power” by entrepreneurs in the Digital Age, refers to leadership traits attributed more often to women. It embodies the ability to combine, adapt and learn. In other words, women leaders tend to be able to adapt quickly to changing environments and to face hardships with optimism and perseverance. According to a survey published by the Boston Consulting Group in 2018, women are more dependent on data and information analysis as well as being more willing to spend time on research.7
This trend coincides with the decreasing “confidence gap,” where women questioned their own competence. Since female millennials are now a force to be reckoned with in the global workplace, confidence has increased as well as the recognition of women’s capacity for strategic insight and vision. According to Ms. Helgesen, “As growing confidence based on demonstrated competence has increased women’s determination to reach their full potential, so has greater solidarity among them. This is one of the most dramatic shifts that has taken place over the past 30 years. Increasing solidarity among women, a growing role for male allies, and vastly improved organizational engagement have combined to create an infrastructure of support for women almost entirely missing in previous decades.”8
As women continue to expand into leadership roles worldwide, initiatives that were once considered tokens to showcase a company’s commitment to women’s advancement have now become integral parts of many companies’ talent acquisition strategy. Global organizations look for leaders who can combine decision-making with relationship-nurturing, collaborative thinking and direct communications—qualities found often in women. And, as women come into positions of power, they are actively giving a hand to the new generations coming up through the ranks.
Some interesting trivia about women of wealth from Forbes: China had 45 self-made women billionaires in 2022, down from 57 in 2021. The U.S. had 24 self-made women billionaires in 2022. India’s richest self-made billionaire is Falguni Nayar whose fashion retailer Nykaa went public in November of 2022. Singer and entrepreneur Rihanna is Barbados’ first billionaire.9
One major change in workplace attitudes may be attributed to the pandemic. For some time, as workers were forced to stay home, the distance between those who worked outside of the home and those who worked within the home, closed. Women who worked from home used to be in the majority, but the pandemic shifted the numbers drastically. Companies that were able to be flexible and support working from home (like Nikken did globally) managed to survive and even thrive. Traditionally, women have always dominated in direct selling and network marketing—and the pandemic supported what women have been doing all along: being productive while working from home.
Let’s celebrate together on International Women’s Day on March 8 and honor all the women in our lives!
1,8 https://www.strategy-business.com/article/The-evolution-of-womens-leadership. (2020 article)
Building Relationships is Key to Good Health and Quality of Life
Whether we tend to be introverted or extroverted, our health, happiness and even longevity, may depend largely on our relationships. From the moment of birth, we have to interact with other people, and how we do so can impact our wellness lifestyle for the extent of our lifetime.
Relationships come in many forms—co-workers, family, inner circle of friends, wider reach of friends, acquaintances, teams both in sports and entrepreneurial endeavors, pets, co- volunteers, and so on. Each type of relationship can improve our quality of life if we approach it in a mindful way.
How relationships work often mirror the theories behind the psychology of team building. Relationships work best when the people involved have their basic and deeper needs fulfilled, just as team members function best when each person’s professional needs are fulfilled.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs include physiological, safety, belongingness and love, esteem and self-actualization.1 Depending on the type of relationship, fulfilling some or all of these needs is key to forming, developing and keeping positive connections. For example, a parent-child relationship would require the parent to work with the child to fulfill the entire hierarchy, whereas a team leader at a job or athletic group would focus more on belongingness, esteem and self-actualization. Whether the relationship is hierarchical or between peers, the key is for both parties to work in tandem for it to be mutually beneficial.
In addition to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, relationships may also depend on Clark’s four stages of psychological safety, which are inclusion, learner, contributor and challenger.2
1) Inclusion safety is when people feel wanted and that they matter.
2) Learner safety is when it’s okay to ask questions and to make mistakes without negative repercussions.
3) Contributor safety is when people can make a difference with their particular set of skills, so they actively participate.
4) Challenger safety is when people are allowed to disagree without fear of reprisal.
Clark’s stages of psychological safety apply to the work environment, but even in friendship or familial relationships, they can make the difference between a close loving connection vs. an adversarial or tense association. By creating a work environment or entrepreneurial team where each member feels secure enough to act true to themselves, we can lift invisible barriers and empower colleagues to experiment and reach their full potential. By the same token, children, relatives and friends who feel empowered to ask questions, make mistakes, contribute differing opinions and know they’ll be loved no matter what, naturally develop into Humans Being More.
What if a professional or personal relationship runs into obstacles that manifest in problems or dissent? A handy way to determine why the relationship is not flowing smoothly is Beckhard’s GRPI Model. This diagnostic tool developed by organizational theorist Dick Beckhard is based on goals, roles, processes and interpersonal relationships.3 When issues arise, the three questions to ask are:
1)Are goals clearly defined and is everyone committed to finishing them?
2)Is each member’s role and responsibilities clear in every aspect of a project?
3)Does everyone involved understand the processes involved through completion?
4)Are team members communicating with each other in a mutually agreeable and trusting way?
Although Beckhard’s model was created for a work environment, it certainly works on a personal level as well. Friends and family need to be committed to their relationships, clear in what their roles are and honestly communicating with each for their connections to be strengthened and lasting.
In a nutshell, good relationships matter a great deal. Proven links include lower rates of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, greater empathy and a stronger immune system. We can also recover more quickly from illness and even live longer, more productive lives when we develop ongoing solid relationships.4 It’s always the perfect time to reach out from your heart to a long-lost friend, a geographically distant relative or a professional mentor from years long gone!
1, 2, 3 https://teambuilding.com/blog/team-building-psychology#:~:text=Team%20building%20psychology%20is%20a,work%20environment%20where%20everyone%20thrives.
Love Makes the Heart Beat Better
As far back as the ancient Greeks, lyric poetry identified the heart with love. Among the earliest known Greek examples, the poet Sappho agonized over her own “mad heart” quaking with love. For the most part, Greek philosophers agreed that the heart was linked to our strongest emotions, including love. Plato argued for the dominant role of the chest in love and in negative emotions of fear, anger, rage and pain. Aristotle expanded the role of the heart even further, granting it supremacy in all human processes.1
Fast forward to contemporary times. Cardiologists, scientists and researchers agree with the ancient Greeks that love is truly good for the heart, and in more ways than one. “One theory on why love is good for your health is that blood pressure responds to calmness and peace,” says Christopher Suhar, MD, a cardiologist and director of Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. “If you’re in love, you’re calmer and more at peace, which could translate into lower blood pressure.”2
All types of love can benefit your heart. Love may help you recover if you ever develop heart problems. It could be from having love in your life, or simply having someone there who has a vested interest in you and is taking care of you. It’s not just romantic love that can improve your heart health. Having close, loving relationships with your friends and family can have cardiovascular benefits. For example, researchers have investigated the role of having the support of loved ones after cardiac bypass surgery.3 Over time, patients who had good social support had a better recovery and survival rate.
Everyone has read about how the heart races when the beloved comes near—in schlocky romance novels as well as world renowned literature. This physical phenomenon is real, not just the stuff of fiction! The brain releases hormones such as dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine, all of which makes the heart beat faster and stronger.4 These temporary spikes in heart rate actually benefit the heart muscle by training it to pump more efficiently—the same way doing aerobics or cardio workouts do. Of course, a racing heart due to love has lesser effects on Active Wellness than a daily workout, but still, it’s a bonus that love is good for overall health!
There are even heart-healthy benefits to spending time with your four-legged friends. “Pet ownership also helps people survive longer after a heart procedure,” notes Dr. Suhar. “This relationship has been looked at in both dogs and cats. Those two animals provide a definite benefit from a survival perspective. I believe it is because of the unconditional love that pets give you.”5
Research published in the European Heart Journal shows that having a positive outlook on life can protect against cardiovascular disease. The researchers defined “positive affect” as feelings of joy, happiness, excitement, enthusiasm, and contentment, all of which may stem from having people you love in your life. Each participant’s level of positivity was measured based on a 12-minute in-person interview and checked health records over the following 10 years to look for incidences of cardiovascular disease. They found that people who scored even a single point higher for positive affect had a 22% lower risk for cardiovascular disease. They also found that those with higher positive affect were more likely to be female, less likely to smoke, had lower levels of total cholesterol, and lower levels of hostility and anxiousness, suggesting that a positive attitude contributes to better health overall.6
Love floods the body with hormones that affect the nervous system and by association, the heart. The warm feeling of affection ramps up your parasympathetic nervous system, helping you relax, which reduces stress and improves feelings of depression and anxiety. Feelings of love also tamp down the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for your fight or flight reactions. According to New York cardiologist Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, “When relaxed, blood vessels tend to dilate a little bit more and blood pressure tends to drop, producing a calmer state.”7
Can love ever hurt your overall health and especially the heart? The answer may be surprising. People talk about a “broken heart” when grieving over a loss—it doesn’t have to be the loss of a romantic partner; it can be the loss of a pet, family member, friend or even a public figure.
Known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, broken heart syndrome occurs when the heart is stunned by sudden, acute stress and its left ventricle weakens. Instead of contracting into its normal arrow-like shape, the left ventricle fails to function, creating a more rounded, pot-like shape. First described in 1990 in Japan, a broken heart looks so much like a Japanese octopus trap called a “takotsubo” that doctors began calling the condition Takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
“Broken heart syndrome is a very real medical disorder,” says Dr. Suhar. “This is typically a temporary condition where the heart will have sudden enlargement and be very ineffective at pumping. It is usually reversible and can normalize after the stress is resolved, but that can take a few weeks to a few months.”8
There are things we can do on a daily basis to improve heart health, and it comes down to eating right and exercising. But what about something that is more loving? Those who know Nikken history may have heard of the “Masuda hug.” Nikken Founder Isamu Masuda was renowned for his hugs and it was an endearing way to connect with his many friends from around the world. Nikken legend has it that anyone who experienced a Masuda hug never forgot it and that it created a feeling close to euphoria.
Fast forward again to contemporary times. According to research from the University of North Caroline, when you participate in a warm embrace with someone you love—a parent, child, spouse, etc.—your body releases oxytocin, otherwise known as the feel-good hormone, which may reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Even holding hands with someone you love has a calming effect on the body, according to a study published in Psychological Science.9
February is heart health awareness month, so pay attention to your ticker. Give someone a hug every day and see how you feel. And don’t forget to take your Kenzen Super Ciaga® and Kenzen Bergisterol®!
2, 3, 5, 8 https://www.scripps.org/news_items/4743-how-love-affects-your-heart
4, 6 https://www.everydayhealth.com/heart-health-pictures/reasons-love-is-good-for-your-heart.aspx#:~:text=When%20you%20lock%20eyes%20with,heart%20beat%20faster%20and%20stronger.
Do You Like to Work Alone or as Part of a Team?
Do you prefer solo endeavors or projects that require teamwork? There’s no right or wrong answer here, but thinking about it can be an interesting way to get to know more about yourself.
Your choice may depend in part on your personality—extrovert, introvert or a combination of the two—and also on your motivation. In other words, what motivates you to work and get the job done? Finding the balance between working alone and as part of team is a skill that also plays a big part in life and in Active Wellness.
Extroverts are outgoing and generally perceived as people who enjoy being around others. They typically thrive in group situations and are comfortable giving opinions and if necessary, arguing their points.
Introverts prefer alone time and are less likely to assert themselves in a group. This does not mean they are less capable; in reality, it usually pays off for a team to pick the brains of the introverts, because they tend to have unique perspectives that can make a project stand out but need to be coaxed to voice them.
Those who enjoy working on a team tend to be energized by interactions with others. They thrive on the energy of others and contribute their own into the group dynamic. Because they enjoy teamwork, they tend to be cooperative and likewise, expect others to help them find solutions to questions to create a good work flow. They use the team’s energy and goals as their primary sources of motivation.
The greatest benefit of working as part of a team may be the sharing of knowledge and skills. We are all gifted individually and when these skills are pooled, it can produce a much greater result than the abilities of one person. The collective brainstorming, in the best scenarios, produce creativity, strength and effectiveness.
Another benefit of working on a team is the potential to create friendships and even lifelong bonds. This certainly is true of network marketing organizations where the sponsor becomes a mentor to the people who sign up. Or, an entrepreneur who heads a start-up and grows an extended “family” who works to make the venture successful—the ups and down eventually end up being shared experiences that create permanent bonds. Just look at the unbreakable bonds of soldiers who have shared life-death encounters and survived together!
Motivation plays a big part in choosing how to work. Soloists are able to self-motivate, something not everyone can do. Rather than requiring the energy of others to become motivated, soloists know they are accountable for both the ups and the downs that can come from working alone. They won’t be held back by others, but neither do they have the support of a team.
Not everyone is capable of working independently without having someone looking over their work. Those who prefer working alone appreciate not having someone “hovering” or looking over their shoulders. They are highly motivated to do their best work when they are free of the interruptions that are part and parcel of being a team member. Introverts are often motivated by the feeling of independence and happy to set their own goals and schedules. Even if they belong to a company, these solo workers shape their own work flows and can create their own suitable work environments.
The pandemic changed the workplace in a big way. As people were relegated to working from home or remotely, teamwork took on a new practice. Even now, some work methods continue, for example, meetings via Zoom or other platforms rather than face-to-face. Working remotely or hybrid work formats also continue on.
At Nikken, we have learned to be more flexible and cooperative while working online as a team. And, we have learned how resilient we are.
The Benefits of Teamwork vs. Working Independently
Healthy Routines for Healthy Hearts
There are many ways to help keep our hearts healthy, our circulation smooth and our blood vessels free of plaque. Certain conditions are inherited, but being aware of them can help us embrace the Active Wellness habits that counteract them. Our habits start with choices, and it depends on what we’re willing to do, give up or add to our lifestyles.
No smoking: It’s been decades since the benefits of not smoking cigarettes have been brought to light, but now, there are so many things other than cigarettes to smoke. The truth of the matter is, none of it is good for our heart or lungs—some substances can alleviate pain or quell nausea, but inhaled habitually, can cause heart and lung damage. In other words, quitting smoking means stopping the inhalation of a whole range of things—and vaping is ill-advised, too. The American Heart Association, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention jointly encourage all smokers to quit!1
Curb belly fat: Certain parts of the body have a special impact on heart health. Research in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has linked excess belly fat to higher blood pressure and unhealthy blood lip levels.2 Health practitioners advise us to try to decrease the belly fat through diet and exercise, not just from spot routines. In other words, a hundred sit-ups a day won’t get rid of belly fat, but losing some weight by eating better (or less) combined with a daily exercise routine that includes some form of cardio or aerobic activity, may do the trick.
Healthy snacks: We all know that eating right is critical for good health. When trying to eat the right foods, one of the things that is hard to do is to give up unhealthy snacking. The good news is that there are actually healthy snacks we can incorporate into our diets. One example is chips and salsa. The salsa is a delightful mix of healthy vegetables as long as we don’t oversalt it. Add in some whole or blended beans—black, white, pinto, any other choices—and the salsa gets a big boost of heart-healthy fiber. According to the Mayo Clinic, a diet rich in soluble fiber can help lower LDL (bad cholesterol).
Omega-3 fatty acids: Another source of heart-healthy food is fish, due to its omega-3 fatty acid content. Not all fish are equal, but salmon, tuna, sardines and herring, for example, contain good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Nutritionists recommend eating fish twice a week, with the health benefits outweighing the risks of mercury ingestion.3 If you’re a vegetarian, our Kenzen® Omega Green + DHA is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Eat the color spectrum: Have you heard the saying, “eat the rainbow?” This simply means that a heart-healthy diet can be made up of naturally colorful food—green, red, yellow, orange, purple and blue—easily found in vegetables and fruits. Think of favorite fruits and vegetables and simply incorporate them into meals or eat them in between meals.
A half teaspoon of salt a day: Researchers have reported in The New England Journal of Medicine that a half teaspoon of salt is all we need per day!4 Salt is apparently one of the leading culprits of high blood pressure which in turn causes heart disease. Salt is a hidden menace found in excessive quantities in processed foods, many restaurant foods and especially fast-foods. Breaking the salt habit can be challenging, but for starters, never salt anything without tasting it first!
Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate contains heart-healthy flavonoids. These compounds help reduce inflammation and may lower the risk of heart disease, according to scientists in the journal Nutrients. Incorporating dark chocolate into a diet is prudent but not in copious amounts—a couple of squares is recommended.
Go Nuts: Thankfully, some fats are actually good for us! These heart-healthy fats come in the form of almonds, walnuts, pecans and even moderate amounts of peanuts. They also contain protein and fiber that act as fuel and digestive helpers. Although high in healthy fats, they’re also high-calorie so nutritionists advise eating small amounts daily.
7% fat daily: Like salt, decreasing fat intake daily to just 7% of our daily calories can help lower the risk of heart disease, according to the USDA. One way to help calculate our intake is to read the nutrition labels on the food we buy.
Eat breakfast: Although intermittent fasting is trending for weight loss, breakfast truly is an important meal of the day, if not the most important one. To build a heart-healthy meal that ends the overnight “fast,” incorporate whole grains, such as oatmeal, lean protein such as peanut butter, yogurt or low-fat dairy milk from animal or vegetable sources) and fruit, especially berries high in antioxidants and polyphenols.
Drink tea: Black or green, it’s our choice and either is healthy for the heart. In fact, drinking one to three cups of tea every day may help lower the risk of heart problems. So, have a “cuppa” and enjoy the possibility of lowering the risk of angina and heart attacks!
Fun exercises: Not everyone likes going to the gym and working out, but regular exercise is important for sustained heart health. In fact, sitting for too much of the day is now considered as bad as smoking! It’s therefore imperative to get a move on! There are many alternatives to working out. For example, dancing raises the heart rate and gets the lungs pumping. It also burns up to 200 calories or more per hour, and listening to music while dancing is an added pleasure. Walking, swimming, running/jogging, rowing, hiking and so forth, are all great alternatives to the gym and you can connect with nature at the same time.
Yoga: Another ongoing trend is the practice of yoga. Since it originated in India more than 5,000 years go, this “trend” has proven it’s here to stay. The western world had some catching up to do, but has now shown that yoga has the potential to improve heart health. By stretching virtually every part of the body (even ears, nose and mouth), yoga can help improve balance, flexibility and strength. It also helps relieve stress and helps improve sleep, all adding up to maintaining a healthy heart.
Make your HaHas Loud: This is such a great to-do to incorporate into an Active Wellness lifestyle. Laughing out loud may be good for the heart, according to the American Health Association. Laughing out loud has been found to lower stress hormones, decrease inflammation on arteries and raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HLD or good cholesterol).
Gum and tooth health: Cleveland Clinic researchers have found that bacteria that can cause gum disease also may raise the risk of heart disease. Findings to date are mixed, but there’s only good that come of keeping teeth and gums healthy. Brush and floss every day if you don’t already, and see the results.
Get enough sleep: When we don’t get enough sleep, the heart is significantly impacted.5 It’s no surprise that the entire body needs its rest, but the heart works 24/7 and really needs to rest!
Remember, Kenzen® Nutrition is here to help fill in the gaps of anyone’s diet! From now until March 23, 2023, each purchase of a PiMag Waterfall® will be accompanied by a bonus bottle of Kenzen® Immunity; each purchase of a KenkoAir Purifier® will have a bonus bottle of Kenzen® Clarity; and each purchase of a Kenko Sleep Pack will contain a bonus bottle of Kenzen® Joint.
1, 2 3, 4 https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-heart-tips#know-your-numbers
Stress and the Mighty Trio: Immunity, Mental Clarity and Mobility
Stress is the body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the “stress response.”1
When working properly, the stress response protects us and allows us to stay focused and alert. For example, to avoid a car accident, we might slam on the brakes as our stress response. In this way, stress is a positive part of our lives.
Too much stress, however, can cause major damage to our bodies and minds—not only to health, but also to mood, productivity, relationships and overall quality of life. Stress can definitely put a damper on the pursuit of an Active Wellness lifestyle.
The varying levels of stress can be likened to a spectrum. At one end is “eustress,” the manageable levels of stress that help tackle challenges at work, school, or in relationships. Eustress does not necessarily feel comfortable, but it is useful and can help us succeed.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is “distress.” This is the type of stress that is destructive—it disrupts sleep and creates undesired tension, mood disorders and a negative outlook. Distress can occur when we are too busy at work, owe money, are grieving or suffering any type of painful loss.
Our personalities and perspectives on how we work, compete or play can affect whether stress takes the form of eustress or distress. For example, if there is a looming deadline and it worries or overwhelms us, we are going to experience distress. If that same deadline creates a sense of excitement about the ensuing outcome, we would experience eustress. We therefore are somewhat in control of the stress we live with, but we cannot foresee the future or the unknown.
When we get stressed out frequently, the body exists in a heightened state of anxiety most of the time. That can lead to serious health problems, since chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in the body and its functions. It can suppress the immune system, upset the digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process. It can even rewire the brain, leaving us more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.2
Chronic stress occurs because stress is sneaky. It can creep up on us and we get so used to feeling stressed out that we don’t even notice its ill effects until they manifest in disturbing ways. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the symptoms that chronic stress can cause.
The three main areas that stress impacts are immunity, mental clarity and mobility. We need a strong immune system to fight disease, but stress weakens the body’s defenses. Stress can reduce the number of natural killer cells or lymphocytes in the body, which are needed to fight viruses, according to the American Psychological Association. It makes us catch colds or the flu more easily, for example.
Chronic stress can produce higher-than-normal levels of the hormone cortisol. This can hamper the body’s anti-inflammatory response and cause continual infections, according to recent immunology research studies.3
Issues with mental clarity include memory problems, inability to concentrate, poor judgment, persistent anxiety, runaway thoughts, constant worrying, moodiness, irritability and depression.
Mobility is affected when stress causes pain, tightness, soreness or spasms in the muscles. According to the American Psychological Association, muscles tense up during stress. When the stress is gone, the muscles then relax and release the built-up tension.
Other physical symptoms include skin breakouts, irregular heartbeats, fluctuating weight, trouble sleeping, indigestion and other digestive issues. If inflammation is persistent and widespread, it can contribute to chronic diseases, including the buildup of plaque on the arterial walls. This is just one of the many factors at play in the complex relationship between stress and the heart. Stress is related to heart rhythm abnormalities, high blood pressure, stroke and asthma. Lung conditions include shortness of breath and rapid breathing.
Knowing our stress triggers can help us deal with them more effectively. Here are a few ways to cope with stress:
Exercise: Regular exercise is known to improve moods and relieve stress. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective, especially when focusing attention on the physical sensations of each movement.
Make human contact: In this day and age of electronic devices, we often spend more time with screens than with people. The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress. Even a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe the nervous system.
Use the senses: Sight, sound, taste, smell, touch. The key is to find the sensory input that works best for each individual. Does listening to an uplifting song produce calmness? Is the scent of a favorite flower soothing? Research has shown that the act of petting a dog or cat not only comforts the animal, but also the human. Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so finding the best use of any of the five senses can be a fun experiment.
Relax. Some people are good at letting go of stress at the end of the day and can relax. Others need to consciously practice the art of relaxation. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the polar opposite of the stress response. When practiced regularly, these activities can help reduce everyday stress levels and boost feelings of joy and serenity. They also may increase the ability to stay calm and collected under pressure.
Eat healthy food. “You are what you eat” doesn’t need to be taken literally, but it holds truth. Food can improve or worsen moods and affect how we cope with life’s stressors. Eating a diet full of processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of stress, while a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, can help us cope with life’s ups and downs.
Get enough sleep. Feeling tired can magnify stress. Getting restful sleep can be tricky because chronic stress can disrupt sleep. Making the sleep environment as comfortable as possible and adhering to a sleep cycle that allows for 6-8 hours can be helpful.
The pursuit of Active Wellness includes finding adequate ways to cope with stress. At Nikken, we have three nutritionals that may help in the “mighty trio”: Kenzen® Immunity, Clarity and Joint. From now until March 23, 2023, each purchase of a PiMag Waterfall® will be accompanied by a bonus bottle of Kenzen® Immunity; each purchase of a KenkoAir Purifier® will have a bonus bottle of Kenzen® Clarity; and each purchase of a Kenko Sleep Pack will contain a bonus bottle of Kenzen® Joint.
1, 2 https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-symptoms-signs-and-causes
3, 4 https://health.umms.org/2020/11/10/stress-immune-system/
A Healthy Start for 2023
Wipe the slate clean each day! In life, we begin every day anew, but somehow the start of each year is when many of us decide to make resolutions or set goals. The reality is that without good health, we cannot do anything else, so total body wellness has to be an annual goal in one way or another.
We all know the ABCs for good health: restful sleep, clean air, fresh water, nourishing nutrition, adequate exercise and refraining from smoking, excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages and overusing medications and other addictive substances. All of this can be achieved, but consistency is the key. If we “fall off the wagon” in any area, wipe the slate clean, don’t beat yourself up and start fresh the next day.
Here are half a dozen things that may help make 2023 our healthiest ever:
1. Pay attention to how your body feels. Are you constantly tired? Do you wake up in the morning feeling as if you never even slept? Commit to making changes, so that you have energy. It’s simple to say, “get enough sleep,” but so many of us don’t. It may require going to bed earlier or later than what you are currently doing. Striving for eight hours is fine, but be content to start with six or seven restful hours. Quality sleep not only makes us feel energized, but it also helps manage weight and cardiovascular health. Adequate sleep even helps us to think more clearly and accomplish daily tasks.
2. Reach out to someone you care about but haven’t been in touch with regularly. Even if you don’t continue to reconnect consistently, you may be surprised what happens as a result of a simple phone call or “miss you” card in the mail. Remember that mental health is as important as physical health, and staying in touch with those we care about gives us a boost in multiple ways.
3. We often forget to check important areas of our bodies, as many of us avoid going to the health practitioner unless we actually feel ill. This year, vow to get eyes, ears and teeth checked. Letting these three areas go untended can lead to problems down the road.
4. Set aside time to read. Reading has different effects on our brains. Although studies largely focus on children, it is reasonable to believe reading vs. screen time has similar effects on adults. A 2020 study of 47 healthy children, aged three to five, found those who spent more than an hour daily on screens performed worse on cognitive tests than those who frequently read books with their parents or caregivers.1 Whereas screen time may produce a hypnotic effect, reading triggers thought. Regardless of age, retention of information and cognitive reasoning are precious.
5. Make a conscious effort to be kinder to yourself. Sometimes we are kind to everyone else but we tend to be our own worst critics. The effect of being kind to ourselves has big health ramifications, all good ones! We really can help ourselves be happier!
6. Weight loss is one of the most popular new year’s resolutions. It is also one that quickly fails and can even lead to depression. One alternative healthy habit to pursue is to simply ditch the sodas. Diet sodas with artificial sweeteners are even worse than the high-calorie sugary ones, because the chemicals added for flavoring may actually be health hazards.2 It’s not as big of a change as going on a special diet; it’s eliminating one item, but the positive results can be inspiring.
Nikken is committed to helping our Global Wellness Community live a healthy lifestyle, and our products reflect that. We are proud of our PiMag® water filters, Kenko Sleep System, KenkoAir Purifier®, Kenzen® nutritionals and True Elements® Marine Organic Skin Care as well as our vast array of magnetic support products. These products give you the power to take your health into your own hands, to sleep well, eat and drink well, breathe easily and obtain optimal hydration. They enable you to maintain the healthy lifestyle that gives you energy and ultimately, more joy.
Creating Your Best 2023!
This week’s blog is by the Chancellor of Nikken University, Jeff Isom.
The new year is often seen as a time of renewal and a chance to start fresh. It is a time when we can reflect on the past year and set goals for the year ahead. The new year can be a powerful and hopeful time for many reasons.
One reason the new year can be so powerful is because it gives us an opportunity to reflect on the past and learn from our experiences. By looking back on the past year, we can gain a better understanding of what has worked and what hasn’t, and use this knowledge to make positive changes in the new year. Think about your life in 2022. What was amazing? What are you most proud of? What will you choose to change in 2023? This can be a powerful and empowering experience, as it allows us to take control of our lives and create the new results we want to see.
Another reason the new year can be a hopeful time is because it gives us a chance to set new goals and make positive changes in our lives. Whether we want to improve our health, relationships, career, or something else, the new year provides us with the perfect opportunity to take the first steps towards achieving our goals. By setting specific, achievable goals and taking action towards achieving them, we can create the changes we want to see in our lives and feel more hopeful about the future.
The new year can also be a powerful time because it gives us a sense of fresh start and new beginnings. After the holiday season, many of us feel renewed and ready to tackle the year ahead. I always know that being around family and feeling their love and support helps me with my desire to be my best self in the new year. Even if things aren’t perfect, this sense of hope and optimism can be contagious, and can help us feel more motivated and energized as we embark on the new year.
The new year is often a time when we can come together with friends and loved ones to celebrate and look towards the future. Whether we gather around a table for a New Year’s Eve feast, make resolutions with friends, or simply spend time with loved ones, the new year is a great time to support one another as we get ready to embark on a new journey.
So, as the new year approaches, let’s take some time to reflect on the past and set goals for the year ahead. Let’s embrace the sense of hope and optimism that the new year brings, and make the most of the opportunities it offers.
Two important ideas can help us to make 2023 our best year ever. Starting with the appropriate mindset and setting goals that resonate with us powerfully are two great strategies for ensuring we create the results we are looking for. Employing both of them together is a key for success. Let’s look at how each idea can be fully utilized.
When you approach the new year with a positive attitude, you are more likely to set and achieve your goals, as well as handle challenges and setbacks in a more resilient and productive way. This is because having a positive mindset allows you to see the possibilities and opportunities in any given situation, rather than dwelling on the negative.
Research has shown that people who approach their goals with a positive attitude are more likely to persist in the face of challenges and setbacks, and are ultimately more successful in achieving their goals. This is because a positive mindset can help you stay motivated and focused, even when things get tough.
Another benefit of starting the new year with a positive mindset is that it can lead to better relationships with others. When you have a positive attitude, you are more likely to be open and accepting of others, which can help foster stronger, more meaningful relationships. This is especially important in the new year, when we often make resolutions to improve our relationships with others.
Starting the new year with a positive mindset can also lead to an overall sense of happiness and fulfillment. This is because having a positive attitude allows you to focus on the good things in your life and can help you feel more content and satisfied, which can in turn contribute to your overall well-being.
Overall, it is clear that starting the new year with a positive mindset and taking some time to reflect and make a conscious effort to cultivate a positive outlook will serve you well throughout the year. Along with your mindset, an important strategy for creating your best 2023 is to identify and plan out the goals or results you’d like to achieve.
Setting goals for the new year is an important way to create a roadmap for your future and work towards achieving your aspirations. It can be a powerful tool for personal and professional growth, and can help you stay motivated and focused as you work towards your objectives. However, setting goals is only the first step – you also need to have a plan in place to make them happen. Let’s explore the importance of setting goals and outline the steps you can take to make your goals a reality.
First, let’s look at why setting goals is so important. Goals provide a sense of direction and purpose, and help you stay focused on what you want to achieve. They give you something to work towards, and can provide a sense of accomplishment when you reach them. Additionally, research has shown that setting goals can have a positive impact on your overall well-being, as it can increase your sense of control and autonomy, boost your self-esteem, and improve your mental and physical health.
So, how do you go about setting goals for the new year? One effective method is to use the SMART criteria, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This means that your goals should be specific and clearly defined, measurable so you can track your progress, attainable and realistic, relevant to your values and priorities, and have a set time frame for completion.
Once you have identified your goals using the SMART criteria, the next step is to create a plan of action. This should include a series of smaller, more manageable tasks that will help you work towards your larger goal. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, your plan of action might include tasks such as joining a gym, tracking your food intake, and scheduling regular exercise sessions. By breaking your goal down into smaller tasks, you can make progress on a daily or weekly basis, which can help you stay motivated and on track.
Examples of SMART goals could include the following intentions to increase income or build additional muscle:
“Increase my income by $5,000 within the next six months by securing a higher paying job, negotiating a raise at my current job, or expanding my home-based business.”
This goal is specific, as it clearly states the desired outcome (increasing income by a specific amount). It is measurable, as it includes a specific dollar amount that can be tracked over time. It is attainable, as it is realistic to expect to be able to secure a higher paying job, negotiate a raise within six months, or expand an entrepreneurial endeavor. It is relevant, as it aligns with the goal of earning more money. And it is time-bound, as it includes a specific timeframe for completion (six months).
“Increase my muscle mass by five pounds within the next three months by following a structured strength training program and eating a calorie- and protein-rich diet.”
This goal is specific, as it clearly states the desired outcome (increasing muscle mass by a specific amount). It is measurable, as it includes a specific weight that can be tracked over time. It is attainable, as it is realistic to expect to be able to gain five pounds of muscle within three months with a structured strength training program and proper nutrition. It is relevant, as it aligns with the goal of gaining more muscle. And it is time-bound, as it includes a specific timeframe for completion (three months).
In addition to setting specific goals and creating a plan of action, there are a few other strategies you can use to increase your chances of success. One is to enlist the support of others – whether it’s friends, family, or a professional coach or mentor – who can provide encouragement, accountability, and guidance as you work towards your goals. You can also consider setting up rewards or incentives for yourself as you make progress, which can help you stay motivated and on track.
While setting goals and working towards them can be challenging, the effort is well worth it. Not only can achieving your goals bring a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, it can also help you grow and develop as a person, and improve your overall well-being.
By focusing on the things you want to achieve and the person you want to become, you can turn your dreams into a reality. So, if you want 2023 to be amazing, start by setting your sights on what you want to accomplish and believing in yourself. With a positive mindset and clear goals, the possibilities are endless.
New Year Message from CEO Luis Kasuga
Dear Nikken Global Wellness Community,
As I look back at 2022, I see how much we have accomplished. I also see clearly that there is so much more to do. According to analysts, 2023 is expected to be a challenging year. Yet, I remain optimistic. I would like to share with you, why.
At Nikken, the spirit of Humans Being More is how we can improve our own foundations and the key to growth during difficult times. This spirit serves as the solution to many conflicts and relates to our responsibility as a community to bring the message of well-being to one and all. This message of wellness is needed even more during difficult times and it is our mission to deliver it.
We can choose to be proactive and responsive rather than reactive and combative. We can choose to be kind rather than judgmental, and we can consciously make the best of the worst situations. Do you know the Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl? He was an Auschwitz survivor who wrote and lectured about the search for life’s meaning as the primary human motivational force. In Dr. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, life’s meaning comes from three sources: purposeful work, love, and courage when facing adversity. He explains that the discovery of life’s meaning can come about in three ways: by creating a work or doing a deed, by experiencing or encountering someone, and by facing unavoidable suffering with a positive and forgiving attitude.
In my 28 years with Nikken, I have found purposeful work, love and the courage to navigate the many ups and downs we have faced as a company. Together with our Nikken Team and leaders in the field, we have experienced many changes. It has not always been easy, and we have transparently aired our differences. Ultimately, we pledge to continue as a united front, moving forward with humility, compassion and forgiveness.
The idea of forgiveness is an integral part of this season of family celebrations and renewal of friendships. Forgiveness does not come naturally to everyone, but it can be a conscious choice. The reality is, when we don’t forgive others and stay angry or resentful, we are punishing ourselves. It’s not anyone’s responsibility to change to please someone else, and misplaced expectations may cause negative emotions that don’t work. For example, we have losses and gains in relationships, so we need to let go and forgive what didn’t work and hold on and be grateful for what does.
We need to start with ourselves. What I mean by this is that we need to forgive ourselves. We often are harshest with ourselves. So, let’s be kind to ourselves! We are humans and imperfect, so we are better off forgiving ourselves and trying to improve. And, hand-in-hand with forgiving ourselves is being grateful for what we have in every aspect of our lives. Humans Being More training teaches us to forgive through learning about ourselves and transforming into better versions of ourselves. This is an ongoing process for as long as we live.
What I wish for you during this celebratory time of year is peace in your heart as you approach 2023 and love and health for your entire family! Enjoy the new year, reflect on what you really want for yourself and others and go for it!
President & CEO
Cultivating a Growth Mindset: The Road to “Yet”
As we near the beginning of a new year, we tend to think of what we’ve accomplished in the past year and what we want to achieve next. One key factor that can make the difference between personal success or defeat is our mindset.
The dictionary defines mindset as “the established set of attitudes held by someone.” Putting this into a personal perspective, a mindset is composed of beliefs about oneself, which create one’s self-perception. This self-perception can be fixed or flexible. Another term for a flexible mindset is growth mindset. Each one of us has our personal mindset that is a composite of a fixed and a growth mindset, but whichever one is more dominant makes a difference in how we plan, act and move forward.
A fixed mindset comes from the belief that who we are and what we are capable of, is a direct result of our birth. In other words, our capabilities are innate, we are born a certain way and that dictates what we do and can do. Those with a fixed mindset believe that each person inherits qualities such as intelligence, talents, and personality characteristics. Those who feel that their qualities are unique to their genetics believe these characteristics generally remain stable throughout their lives.
Growth mindset is a term that was coined by Carol Dweck, an American psychologist and professor who authored Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. She posited that with a growth mindset, a person could develop skills and talents through hard work, by learning from others and by using specific strategies to improve. In a way, she positioned the debate of nature vs. nurture as fixed mindset vs. growth mindset. Just as we are a product of our genes as well as our environment and upbringing, so are we composed of both types of mindsets—what we inherited genetically and how we are educated and brought up. Whichever mindset dominates our thinking is the one that dictates what we ultimately believe about ourselves.
Professor Dwek found in her research that those with a growth mindset see opportunities instead of obstacles, choosing to challenge themselves to learn more rather than sticking in their comfort zones. Put another way, those with a growth mindset are more likely to step out of their boxes.
You may ask yourself, “Am I someone who is comfortable risking an unknown outcome or do I need to have a guarantee of sorts before undertaking something new or different?” There really is no right answer, because it takes so many different types of people to make things work. What Professor Dwek advocates for is a way to teach children to be openminded and receptive to the myriad possibilities they have in life. In one of her YouTube presentations, she speaks about elementary aged children who already seem to have developed their mindsets. Some were naturally open to problem-solving and even were excited by challenges, while others were worried and nervous. Correlatively, those who were excited by problem-solving were not defeated when they made mistakes and naturally seemed to be upbeat about having learned something new, while the tentative and tense children were visibly upset by their self-perceived “failures” and fearful of trying again.
Children’s mindsets have a lot to do with how they are parented and the type of lifestyles they live among. This self-perception tends to carry into adulthood, so if it’s a fixed mindset, it may be somewhat limiting. That’s why self-development and self-awareness as we mature is so important. It helps us grow and cultivate a mindset that allows us to do more. This is exactly the foundation on which Humans Being More is built, and why Nikken urges one an all to participate in the continuing evolution of self.
The phrase that helps each of us look forward to something better or someone better (namely a better version of ourself) is “not yet.” When we feel less than adequate or at least not completely successful, rather than perceive our shortcomings as negative, Professor Dweck urges us to think of being in the space of “not yet.” In other words, we may not be exactly where we want, we may not have achieved what we specifically set out to do, we may even have totally bombed, but rather than think of it as a failure and berate ourself, we can perceive the task as “not yet” accomplished. This slight shift in thinking makes way for endless possibilities and hopeful probabilities.
As Professor Dweck explains it, “This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”
Although a fixed mindset has its own advantages—for example, those who play it safe in the stock market rarely lose their fortunes—they also are not the ones who make the “killing.” People with a fixed mindset can miss out on opportunities and chances to learn and grow. Acknowledging this might be half the battle.
Just because someone has a growth mindset does not guarantee success. Not everyone is capable of doing great things, but everyone is capable of doing better things—and that incremental improvement or change is what matters personally, as we are our own worst critics.
How can we develop more of a growth mindset?
1. Try to see challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles. This does not come naturally to everyone, and is a thought pattern that may require practice. It is a process.
2. Take time to review the day once you have a moment to be still. What went well and what didn’t? What is the overall takeaway and what are the smaller details to learn from?
3. Be kind to yourself and do not judge or label anything a failure. Every successful person says the same thing, “Mistakes are the stepping stones to success.”
4. Recognize why you are tackling a goal. Is it a step toward a further achievement? Is it simply something you’ve always wanted to do? Is it part of a big lesson? Whatever it is, do it for yourself, not to gain someone else’s approval. When we involve someone else in our mindset, it is no longer our mindset.
5. Surround yourself whenever possible with people who are positive-minded and successful. Ask them how they accomplished what they did or how they got to where they are. If lucky, your sincere interest may land you a mentor!
6. Train yourself to separate your actions from your talents. In other words, when you reach a goal, think about what you did to reach it, not how your personality or intelligence helped you along. Did something in your Active Wellness lifestyle propel you onward?
7. As stated previously, add “yet” into your stream of consciousness so that anything not reached is simply difficult, challenging and yet to be reached, but you’re getting there.
8. Pat yourself on the back. As Chancellor of Nikken University Jeff Isom says, “Compliments make connections.” So, compliment yourself and connect with your growth mindset.
9. Be realistic. Set small, reachable goals as you head to larger, harder ones.
10. The growth mindset has no end. It’s a lifelong process, so let’s make it fun!