SLCo Healthy Lifestyles Blog
Mindful Mondays - feb health hub
Written by Emma Thompson, Health Educator
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present,
aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or
overwhelmed by what’s going on around us” – Mindful.org
has been in the stress management spotlight for a while now and it's a pretty straighforward concept: focusing on the present and living in the
suggests practicing mindfulness can help us regain balance and well-being,
improve our focus and self-control, and help us better manage stress. Unfortunately,
stress-related health problems make up about 80% of doctor visits, and are the
3rd highest health care expenditure. Just the thought of that is
STRESSFUL! This is where mindfulness may be able to have an impact that might
help keep the doctor away AND it’s cost-effective. A new study shows that
people in a relaxation program (such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, etc.) used
43% fewer medical services than they did the year before, saving the
average patient anywhere from $650 to as much as $25,000 each year. That can really add up!
So, how can we apply mindfulness to our lives? If you are new the idea of mindfulness, join Healthy Lifestyles every week for Mindful Mondays. This is YOUR opportunity to take a
meaningful break during the workday. If you are located off-campus, no problem! Send us an email and subscribe to our Mindful Mondays email
list. Healthy Lifestyles will send you
a different mindful activity with step-by-step instructions every week so you can be mindful at work, at home or with your colleagues. Most of the
activities have been recorded and can be found on our YouTube
page so you and your colleagues can follow along to the activity. If you
work at or near the Government Center, join us every Monday at 3pm in the Group
Fitness Center for a 15-minute mindful activity lead by a Healthy Lifestyles
staff member. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
to join the email list!
Not quite ready to commit to a relaxation program? No
problem – start small. The next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed,
try one of these mindful techniques below to bring yourself back to the
- Sit or lie down somewhere comfortable, close
your eyes, and take a few moments to breathe regularly, allowing your body to
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on
- Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of
four, making sure your belly is expanding and not your chest. Imagine breathing
in energy and confidence.
- Exhale for a count of four, breathing out stale
air, stress, and anything you want to leave behind.
- Continue this breathing cycle for 2-5 minutes,
keeping your breath even and smooth.
- Having a tough time focusing? Check out these GIFs to help
- When brushing your teeth, focus on the act of
brushing. Instead of letting your mind wander, experience the activity with all
- Notice the way the bristles move over your
teeth, the sound of brushing, the taste of the toothpaste.
- Some other instances you can practice this
include when you’re washing your hands, showering, doing the dishes, or even
sweeping the floor.
Take a deep breath – in and out.
- What are 5 things you see. Name them in your head. Breathe – in
- What are 4 things you feel. Name them in your head. Breathe – in
- What are 3 things you hear. Name them in your head. Breathe – in
- What are 2 things you smell. Name them in your head. Breathe – in
- What is 1 thing you taste. Name it in your head.
Walk with Ease Class
By Health Educator, Jayme Haight
The Active Aging Program would like to invite you to attend
our Walk With Ease Program at the Government Center. Class starts Monday,
February 12th through Monday, March 26th, 2018. The class
will meet in room S3-010 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:30 –
12:30pm. If you are unable to attend the class at the Government Center another
class will be starting February 12th from 1:00 – 2:00 pm at
Millcreek Community Center (2266 E. Evergreen Avenue).
The Arthritis Foundation Walk With Ease Program is an
evidence based exercise program designed for people with arthritis. The definition of arthritis is inflammation or
swelling in one or more joints and usually consists of joint pain and
stiffness.2 There are many types of arthritis and staying
physically active can help delay the onset of symptoms. This program was
developed to help people with arthritis by giving them the information and
tools to understand their symptoms and learn the importance of low-impact aerobic
exercise. The participants of the
program will see the benefits of staying physically active by beginning a
regular walking routine.
Heart Association recommends that you receive at least 150 minutes of moderate
exercise per week.4 Thirty
minutes a day, five days a week of moderate physical activity (like walking)
can help maintain current weight, lower high blood pressure, lessen risk for
type 2 diabetes, lower the risk for osteoarthritis and falls, and decrease the
symptoms of depression and anxiety.3
that walking is good for your joints and helps to improve the health of your
heart, lungs and bones.1 Walking is also great because you can do it almost anywhere and
it doesn’t require a gym membership or any special equipment. Studies by the
Thurston Arthritis Research Center and the Institute on Aging of the University
of North Carolina show that Walk With Ease is proven to reduce the pain and
discomfort of arthritis, increase balance, strength and walking pace, build
confidence in your ability to be physically active and improve overall health.
is designed for all walking abilities and gives the participants tools to walk
safely and become more physically active. This class meets for six weeks, three
times a week, for one hour. Each session starts with a pre-walk discussion on
special topics relating to the class including goal setting, motivational
strategies, safe walking, chronic conditions and group sharing. This program is
led by a certified instructor, offers information and tools to help you make
walking a regular part of your life.
Locus of Control Health Hub
The New Year brings about a time of
many reflections. One of the most important one, is looking inwardly at self-reflection
and ask yourself, “Am I in control of my life?” There are two ways to answer
this question based on learned personality traits that has to do with your
“Locus of Control” and psychological well-being. Psychologist Philip Zimbardo
explains it as, “A locus
of control is a belief about whether the outcomes of our actions are contingent
on what we do (internal locus of control) or on events outside our personal
control (external locus of control)”.
Studies show that those with an Internal
Locus of Control, tend to be happier and more confident, physically healthier,
more successful and most likely to take responsibility for their actions. Those
with an External Locus of Control don’t believe they can change their
circumstances through their own efforts, may feel like a victim, and frequently
feel hopeless and powerless. Many stressors in life are largely beyond our control, but we can cope with these things
by adjusting how we view them.
Exercises to develop Internal Locus of Control and
- Control what you can…. and let go of what
you can’t. Trying to control something you can’t will only lead to stress
and frustration. Focus on those things that are productive and
controllable, such as your own thoughts and actions.
- Put great effort into
Instead of feeling helpless about the state of the world or your life
circumstances, remember that you can make one person’s day better by
putting a smile on their face. The little things often have a snowball
effect and turn into big changes.
- Remember your life is
We all experience unexpected things in life that may or may not be in our
control. You have the power to take responsibility for your choices and
your reactions to events. You can choose to direct the path of your life
- What doesn’t kill you
makes you stronger. This is an accurate statement. Both positive and
negative life experiences shape who we are. If you reflect on the wisdom
you have gained and new understandings or skills because of them, then
they can help us become better people, if we allow it.
- Focus on
For us to be our best possible selves, it is important to look at ourselves
objectively and without judgement. Shake off the feelings of victim,
martyr, need for petty authority over others, etc. that are limiting your
personal growth as a person. This allows us to focus on our individual
strengths to utilize for positive change, and weaknesses in order to
develop skills we may be lacking.
December Health Hub - New Year, New Screening Guidelines!
by Health Educator, Maggie Spicer
You may notice some changes when you log into WellSteps
after ringing in the New Year. In 2018 Healthy Lifestyles will be modifying one
of the ways you can earn points: monthly self-exams. Long-time participants may
be surprised to see this change, but don’t fret! You will still be able to earn
points for practicing what we have dubbed self-awareness.
Beginning in January, when you track your monthly points you
will no longer see this option:
"I completed my monthly testicular or breast self-exam".
Instead you will be asked to check off the following:
"I spent 15 minutes practicing self-awareness to learn what’s
normal or identify changes in my breasts/testes, mouth and skin (including
discoloration or moles)."
This new WellSteps activity will earn you a total of 10
Our team strives to keep us updated with the latest
recommendations when it comes to our health, and cancer screening is no
different. We would like to encourage everyone to not only notice changes when it
comes to breast and testicular cancer, but all aspects of our body. This new
phrasing does not exclude monthly self-exams. Instead, it aims to increase
self-awareness of your whole body. Continue reading for specific
recommendations regarding breast, testicular, skin and mouth cancer.
If you participated in Paint the County Pink this year, then
you are probably aware that the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the US
Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) no longer recommend monthly
to the ACS, most breast cancer is detected when a symptom is found during
usual activities like bathing or dressing. As an alternative, they now
recommend all women be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and
report any changes to their doctor right away. Click here for a list
of warning signs and symptoms.
Unfortunately, current recommendations for testicular
self-exams are less clear. Like breast cancer, the USPSTF
does not recommend self-exams for testicular cancer because most cases are
discovered accidentally by patients or their partners. For this reason, the ACS
does not have an official recommendation regarding self-exams. It is important
to be aware of testicular cancer and talk to your physician right away if you
find a lump. If you are at increased risk of developing this form of cancer, it
may be beneficial to perform monthly self-exams. Click here
Both the Skin Cancer Foundation and American Academy of
Dermatology recommend checking
your skin from head-to-toe about once a month. Although roughly 20%
Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, it is very treatable if
detected early. You should be familiar with the warning signs of skin cancer,
which can be found here.
You may also want to consider keeping a body
map that you can update each time you check your skin can help you
recognize any changes that need to be reported to your doctor. In addition, it
is always important to take the proper precautions when having fun in the sun
like wearing sunblock or protective clothing.
Like other forms of cancer, screening for oral cancers
increases survival rates and if caught early the chances of successful
treatment are high. Certain lifestyle factors can increase your risk of
developing mouth cancer, like tobacco use or alcohol consumption. Oral cancer
can occur anywhere in the mouth, including lips, tongue and throat. It is
detected by a variety of symptoms, which can be found here.
If you experience one or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks it is
time to call your doctor or dentist, especially if you use tobacco products of
As you can see, it is wise to be familiar with your body so
that you can easily notice changes. You also probably noticed that each of
these cancer recommendations highlighted the importance of understanding your
personal risk factors and working closely with your doctor. At Healthy
Lifestyles, our goal is to empower you to make the best decisions regarding
your health. Not only can you increase your body self-awareness, but you can
also earn more points while doing so!
For more information visit:
American Cancer Society Recommendations
Breast Cancer Warning Signs
Testicular Cancer Recommendation
Testicular Cancer Early Detection
Skin Cancer Foundation Skin Check
Skin Cancer Foundation Early Warning Signs
Mayo Clinic Oral Cancer
By Christina McWhinnie
The holidays are a time of fun,
family, friends and celebrations. It is also a time to focus on staying healthy
and happy instead of getting overwhelmed, rundown and sick. Here is a list of
10 ways to have a great and healthy holiday season….
skimp on sleep
Getting enough rest is one of the
key ways to stay healthy over the Holidays. Adults need 7 – 9 hours of sleep
every night. A study in the Archives
of Internal Medicine found that people who slept at least eight hours
nightly were about three times less likely to catch a cold than those
who snoozed for less than seven.
2-Say “Yes” to less!
activities happen over the holiday season, it is easy to pack our calendars too
full and get overwhelmed with too much going on and cause unneeded stress. Be picky about your commitments and eliminate the
unnecessary, Say yes to less. Really guard your time and don’t take on more
than you can or want to deal with.
3-Eat well (in moderation)
parties are filled with delicious food and treats, but to keep your body
feeling good, remember to eat well and moderately. It is fine to enjoy and
savor a bite of a few treats, but no one needs to down 5 full desserts in one
night. Be sure to remember your vegetables first to give your body a great
boost of vitamins and minerals.
4-Celebrate…but don’t regret it in the morning
cocktails are just as creative and fun as desserts, but remember to limit
alcohol consumption also. Evoke the desire to feel good the next morning when
you awake after a party, instead of hung over and in misery.
plenty of water, especially if traveling. Dry air in the cold weather takes a
toll on our skin and can cause headaches. Avoid dehydration by drinking room temperature
water because it is easier to drink.
of us really need more stuff in our lives? The financial burden of the holidays
can cause additional stress and anxiety. Our friends and family know we love
them regardless of how much money we spend on them. Avoid the consumeristic
mindset that puts us into credit card debt every year, and scale back or hand
make gifts that come from the heart. When your next credit card statement
comes, you will feel good about your choices.
7-Do things differently
further than consuming less, by deciding to forego gifts this year all
together. Donate the money to a worthy charity, or use gift money for experiences
instead of items. Take the family out to dinner, play laser tag, or try skiing
this year. Spending time with those you love will stay in everyone’s memory
long after the new toy or gadget is forgotten.
8-Stay physically active
physically active will help keep your body ready to fight germs and illnesses.
Make YOU a priority and carve out time to move your body every day. Physical
activity not only keeps your body healthy, but also your mental health, which
can aid with depression, stress and anxiety.
get run down by swarms of people in stores and long checkout lines. This drains
our energy and wastes our time. Instead of waiting for January to refresh and
start new, use the holiday time to recharge. Spend a day getting a massage,
drinking tea, take a peaceful bath or read a good book.
10-Remember the “Golden Rule”
with kindness and respect. If you are feeling the urge to yell at a store clerk
or cut someone off while driving, take a step back and rethink your priorities.
Is your frustration worth making someone else miserable? Or raising your blood
pressure while screaming at another driver to race to an activity where you
“feel the holiday spirit”? If these are things you find yourself experiencing,
seek some professional help to deal with the stress and pressures you are
experiencing. (Contact SLCo’s Employee
Assistance Program for help)