Thursday, December 8, 2016

Lower back pain? Check out these tips!



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Lower back pain? Check out these tips!

If you’ve ever experienced lower back pain, you are not alone. An estimated 75-85 percent of Americans will suffer from a form of lower back pain in their lifetime.


Spine-health has found six simple ways you can help reduce your lower back pain.
Bonus: None of the following suggestions involve a trip to the doctor’s office!


1. Release inner endorphins


Toss out the Tylenol!

Endorphins are hormones that can block pain signals from reaching your brain.  By finding activities that release endorphins, such as meditation and exercise, you can decrease your back pain without pain medication.  


2. Get enough sleep


Sleep is the answer to everything... Right?

Poor sleep can worsen your back pain. Make sure you are getting the recommended eight hours of sleep, otherwise your pain could progress throughout the day.

Unfortunately, two-thirds of people with chronic back pain suffer from a sleep disorder.  If you are having trouble sleeping due to chronic pain, consult your doctor.  


3. Exercise your core


No, you will not have a six pack after day three of exercising.  

Your core muscles support your spine, so a stronger core will help reduce your pain. Simply dedicate 20 minutes of your day to core strengthening activities.  Be patient.  You will not feel relief right away!


4. Sooth pain with hot or cold therapy


You finally have a use for those frozen peas in your freezer...

Cold therapy reduces inflammation and acts as a local anesthetic by slowing down the nerve impulses.  Heat therapy stimulates blood flow and suppresses pain messages that are being sent to the brain.  


5. Stretch your hamstrings twice a day


Wait... What do leg muscles have to do with back pain?

Tight hamstrings can greatly affect your lower back.  The tight muscles can cause strain and stress on your joints and back.  Gently stretch your hamstrings twice a day, and your back pain can be reduced immensely.  


6. Engage your brain


Train your brain to ignore the pain.

Pain is interpreted by your brain.  So, what if you can teach your brain on how to ignore these pain signals? You can!  By using relaxation techniques, visual imagery, and distraction techniques, you can train your brain to process the pain differently.  

Allie Raich

Health Information Management, 2017

References
Burke, S. (2015, October 8). 6 Overlooked remedies for lower back pain relief.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thankful Heart: How to Put the Giving into Thanksgiving

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Thankful Heart: How to Put the Giving into Thanksgiving
By: Kira M. Newman

What would a generosity-infused Thanksgiving look like? Here are some suggestions:

1. Perform acts of Thanksgiving kindness
On our annual day of gratitude, there are ample opportunities for giving. You might think of friends who have no family to visit, and invite them to join your celebrations. You might donate your leftovers to those who would desperately appreciate them (rather than hearing "Turkey again?" from your long-suffering family). Or maybe just bake your husband's favorite pumpkin pie for dessert.
Incidentally, kindness is already a small part of our Thanksgiving rituals in the ceremonial presidential pardoning of a turkey. If turkeys could communicate with us, we would most certainly hear some genuine and spontaneous clucks of gratitude!

2. Encourage kindness in kids now-and throughout the year
Performing acts of Thanksgiving kindness yourself-in other words, modeling kind behavior-is one of four research-backed ways to encourage kindness in kids.

Raising kind kids also means being careful with the way you praise and criticize them. Praising their character ("You're such a helpful friend") but criticizing their actions ("That wasn't a very considerate thing to do") will help kids see themselves as good and capable of improvement. Counter intuitively, offering kids material rewards for kind behavior may backfire because they become motivated by the rewards, not the warm glow of kindness itself.  

This approach coincides with the gentle way sociologist Christine Carter believes parents can inspire gratitude in their children. She writes, "We are simply trying to elicit a positive emotion-feelings of appreciation-just like we might try to elicit a smile from a baby. This means not insisting kids feel grateful, and certainly not telling them what they should feel grateful for; instead, it's about creating an environment and situation where the feelings can naturally arise." 
 
3. Donate to the right charities (for you)
When Giving Tuesday rolls around, you'll surely be bombarded with requests for donations. The charity you choose could have an impact on how you feel afterward-and whether you decide to donate next year.

Research suggests that the most effective giving is founded on a human connection, so make sure to do your research and find a platform (such as DonorsChoose.org) that provides lots of detail on the people you'll be helping. Favor charities where you can see the impact of your giving; that means knowing what your money will be used for-for example, new classroom supplies or a cooking stove-and actually being able to communicate with recipients. Finally, donate because you choose to, not because you feel pressured to, and everyone will be better off.
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It takes a while to develop a deep sense of gratefulness, a profound appreciation for all the positives that come our way, a belief that everything in life is a gift. In a perfect world, we would all be this grateful-and at Thanksgiving, we could sit down and the thankfulness would flow forth genuinely and profusely. But many of us aren't there yet, and focusing on generosity can be a different way to increase gratitude in the world this Thanksgiving.

In other words, emphasize the giving, and the thanks will follow.

Work Cited:

Newman, K. M. (2015, November 24). How to Put the Giving into Thanksgiving.

Retrieved August 01, 2016.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Not So Sweet: The Truth About Sugar

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Not So Sweet: The Truth About Sugar

What do carob syrup, muscovado, sorbitol, and dehydrated cane juice all have in common?

These, along with 52 others, are just another way to say sugar!  That means there are 56 different ways sugar can be listed on food labels, which makes it hard to determine what foods really are a healthy choice.

The World Health Organization suggests limiting your daily sugar intake to 25 grams.  This advice is hard to stick to when addedsugar hides in ¾ of the 600,000 items in the grocery store! The other ¼ of the food includes:
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Meats
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Water

By sticking to this list, you will reduce your sugar consumption and start living a happier, healthier life.

The more you know! 

Click here for more astonishing sugar facts!  Sugar: Hiding in Plain Sight

Allie Raich
Health Information Management

Reference
TED-Ed. 2014, March 31. Sugar: Hiding in plain sight Robert Lustig.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Employee Holiday Newsletter!

"The first wealth is health" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Thankfulness, Mindfulness, and Your Mental Health

This month's newsletter is dedicated to thankfulness and mindfully enjoying the holiday season. However, along with the excitement of the holidays can come feelings of sadness, exhaustion, anxiety, and stress. Feeling like you "have the blues" is fairly common during stressful times, but when do "the blues" become something more? There are multiple resources to turn to if you are concerned you may be suffering from depression. Please, do not be afraid to seek help and take care of U!

~The Employee WellU Team
ARTICLE ON GRATITUDE FROM MISSION INTEGRATION
by Gary Boelhower
 
The months of November and December contain holidays and holy days in several traditions that focus on gratitude and giving thanks. An attitude of gratitude centers our attention on the good things happening in our community, workplace, and family. When we take time to be thankful, we often recognize blessings and gifts that we regularly overlook or take for granted. We notice the beauty of creation outside our window. We appreciate the talents and skills of our colleagues. We acknowledge all the facets of a life well-lived in body, mind and spirit.
The Rule of St. Benedict (The Rule) helps us understand that gratitude is not only a feeling or attitude but also involves particular kinds of actions. When we are grateful for our colleagues and family members, we consult with them about important matters that face us. We take the time to listen deeply to the diversity of perspectives and take them into account. We honor the divergent viewpoints that each person brings to the table.
The Rule says, "As often as anything important is to be done in the monastery, the abbot shall call the whole community together and himself explain what the business is; and after hearing the advice of the brothers, let him ponder it and follow what he judges the wiser course. ... The brothers, for their part, are to express their opinions with all humility, and not presume to defend their own views obstinately (chapter 3)." When we are truly grateful, we are hospitable to others; we invite their wisdom and experience. We treat them and their ideas with respect. We try to step into another's experience so that we might more fully understand.
Our Benedictine values of respect and hospitality are ways of living out an attitude of gratitude. Of course this isn't easy, especially when we are dealing with something important. We often feel that our own perspective is the right one, that our own solution to a problem or issue would be most effective. It is challenging to not defend our personal position and to nurture a spirit of authentic inquiry. This requires staying open, setting aside our own assumptions and mental models, listening with the possibility of transformation.
Perhaps this is why secular holidays and sacred holy days encourage us to give thanks, to take time out to be grateful, to practice seeing the gifts and blessings that others bring into our lives. When we continue to develop this attitude of gratitude, we become better at inviting and hearing the voices of others, perhaps especially when we are facing difficult decisions. We begin to see the diversity of viewpoints as riches rather than roadblocks to getting our own way. When gratefulness becomes a more frequent practice, we become more respectful and hospitable to the people in our lives and to all their different ways of thinking. Both we and they are better for it.

For a daily inspiration about gratitude, see:        

Check out Fitness Focus below for exercises and tips to reduce lower back pain!
More than "the blues": What you need to know about depression
By: Hannah Rod

All too often it seems, we see or hear the word "depression" and immediately shy away from an important conversation. Maybe we are too busy to think about the implications of a diagnosis of depression in ourselves, or are fearful of the signs of this condition in our loved ones. Whatever the reason, the need for a deeper understanding and meaningful conversation remains.

An estimated 6.9% of Americans suffer from major depression. Unfortunately, only 35.5% of those individuals seek treatment for their condition. The question is posed; why is mental health not treated as significantly as physical health? The brain is an organ of our body, just like our heart, liver, and kidneys. If any of these organs develop a disease or need care, it would be expected that most people would seek out the most effective treatment to keep their body working properly. Mental health and cognitive well-being should not be discounted in importance.

Depression is more than the occasional bout of sadness, or a bad day. Depression is broadly defined as abnormal activity of neural circuits in the brain, though its characterizations in people's everyday lives are far more extensive. Symptoms of weight fluctuation, varied sleep patterns, and loss of interest are frequently discussed. However, persistent physical ailments like muscle soreness and exhaustion are also common. Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness that persist for two weeks or more may be diagnosed as depression.

Treatment for depression does not need to be stigmatized. Many people utilize antidepressants, however most physicians have determined that therapy, such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or a combination of therapy and medication management is most beneficial. 

Another condition, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is both relevant and prevalent in our area. SAD is a form of depression that persists, you guessed it, during those dreary winter months that seem never ending here in the northland. The CSS Duluth campus library has a viable solution to combat those winter blues and lack of vitamin D. There are SAD lights on the first, second and third floors of the library. Please use caution when trying these lights by starting with a short amount of time each session! Here is a link to Mayo Clinic on how to use these lights properly...http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/in-depth/seasonal-affective-disorder-treatment/art-20048298

Mental Wellness Help:
If you, or someone you know are suffering, below are some signs and symptoms to look for and some great organizations that offer help both locally and nationally...

DEPRESSION & ANXIETY
Signs and Symptoms:
  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable "highs" or feelings of euphoria
  • Extreme changes in activity, hyperactive behavior to extreme fatigue
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such increased hunger or lack of appetite; fear of weight gain
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations)
  • Inability to perceive changes in one's own feelings, behavior or personality ("lack of insight" or anosognosia)
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing "aches and pains")
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • Thinking about suicide

Treatment: Treatments for mental illness vary by diagnosis and by person. There is no "one size fits all" treatment. Treatment options can include medication, counseling (therapy), social support and education.
National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI.org)
NAMI Help Line 1-800-950-9264
Health Partners: Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 1-866-326-7194 
EAP Counselors available 24 hours per day / 7 days per week at no cost to you.

SUICIDE

Warning signs:
  • Threats or comments about killing themselves, suicidal ideation; can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like "I wish I wasn't here"
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Talking, writing or thinking about death
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK  or call 911.

SUICIDE SURVIVORS
You are not alone.
Common emotions experienced in grief are:
  • Shock · Denial · Pain · Guilt
  • Anger · Shame · Self-blame · Disbelief
  • Hopelessness · Stress · Sadness · Numbness
  • Rejection · Loneliness · Abandonment · Confusion
  • Relief · Helplessness · Depression · Anxiety
You are not alone.
There is no universal playbook or timeline for survivor healing, but you will move forward from the place you are now. Please share your feelings and talk with your family, friends, grief counselor, health care provider, teachers, colleagues, and/or clergy.
You are not alone.
Survivors of Suicide Loss  (SOSLSD.org)
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention  ( AFSP.org)
SOS Handbook for Survivors of Suicide  (suicidology.org)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK  or call 911.
Health Partners: Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 1-866-326-7194 
EAP Counselors available 24 hours per day / 7 days per week at no cost to you.

Image courtesy of Apstock
WellU Series #2

WellU Series: Social, Physical, and Intellectual Health
Nutrition Bites
The holidays are right around the corner! While there's nothing wrong with preparing grandma's pumpkin pie, whipping up a green bean casserole, or going all out on that sweet cranberry sauce for your next gathering, consider this recipe as a healthy alternative to a classic side! Bon appetit!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Honey and Cinnamon

Total Time: 45 min
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 30 min
Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling potatoes after cooked
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Lay the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a roasting tray. Drizzle the oil, honey, cinnamon, salt and pepper over the potatoes. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes in oven or until tender.
  • Take sweet potatoes out of the oven and transfer them to a serving platter. Drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil.
Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence

I LOVE food. If you're like me, you're always looking for fresh, new, healthy recipes to try. Have any requests? Have a recipe that you would like featured in a newsletter? I'd love to hear from you! Send me an email, you can reach me at wellu@css.edu.

Kate Rod
WellU Marketing Coordinator
CSS Student
STRENGTH TRAINING 101 for EMPLOYEES:
BWC Studio 12:00 p.m. Tues. & Thurs.
(40 minutes) September 20th - Dec 22nd.
Learn how to lift weights correctly using light weights, bands, compound exercises, and your own body weight as resistance. This class is perfect for beginners, moderate movers, and even advanced exercisers. You will not only increase your strength, but also your balance and mobility while preparing yourself to do strength training at home on your own too. Sign up soon as there is limited space available!

Please don't feel intimidated! This class is taught by your friendly employee wellness coordinator, and you have  most likely seen me trip over my own feet in the CSS hallways...so NOT intimidating!

STRESS RECESS for EMPLOYEES: 
Mondays & Wednesdays 
Tower Hall (Mitchell kitchenette)
1:00 Stretching (15-20 minutes) 
1:30 Guided Meditation (10-15 minutes)
October 3rd - December 14th
No need to change out of your work clothes, just show up to stretch and do a little bit of core strengthening. The focus will be stretching your back, neck, shoulders and lower body from the discomfort caused by sitting at a computer all day. Yoga mats are provided, but feel free to bring your own mat. Sign up soon as there is limited space available!
TOTAL BODY WORKOUT for EMPLOYEES
Mondays & Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. (30 - 40 minutes)
BWC Studio
October 3rd - December 14th
Come and enjoy a variety of workout videos that are a combination of strength training and aerobic conditioning. I will do some coaching on proper form and show modifications of movements. You will discover a world of  great workouts available to you via YouTube! 
Sign up soon as there is limited space available!

The Lifestyle Change/Diabetes Prevention Program is currently full. New classes will begin spring semester. Sign up for the waiting list to be assured of a spot in the next group!

Sign Up for Classes via email: jwidstro@css.edu or 218-729-7019
Fitness Focus
Top Exercises for Strong Glutes and a Pain-free Back
Top Exercises for Strong Glutes and a Pain-free Back
Biomechanics expert Justin Price demonstrates several eccentric strengthening exercises that can help develop great-looking glutes and a pain-free lower back.

*Perform exercises at your own risk. 
 
How to Relieve Lower-back Pain Using Myofascial Release
How to Relieve Lower-back Pain Using Myofascial Release
If you are experiencing irritating back pain, try these simple myofascial release techniques to help decrease the tension in your lower back. If you are experiencing severe back pains, consult a physician immediately.

*Perform exercises at your own risk.
Take Advantage of Your Health Benefits!

Enrolled in HealthPartners' insurance?
Take advantage of Virtuwell: 3 free online health visits per year. 

Employee Assistance Program (EAP): For All Employees!
Free Counseling Services: hpeap.com, or call 866-326-7194.

Simply log in through cor and click on the  
employee tab. Next, click on the 
 
red links button on the left for Employee Assistance Program and HealthPartners' links. Set up your healthpartners' account on the healthpartners' website.
Questions? Email WellU@css.edu
WellU Welcomes Your Feedback!
"You can't pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first."
    
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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Need to Knows: Ergonomics and Nonspecific Low Back Pain

The Need to Knows: Ergonomics and Nonspecific Low Back Pain

What is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics studies human capabilities in relationship to work demand. Ergonomics can be evaluated with a simple analysis of your work environment. This evaluation assesses hazards and possible risks of your work station and the recommended modifications to your work environment.  

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What is Nonspecific low back pain?
Nonspecific low back pain is a discomfort in the lower back without knowledge of the reasoning behind the pain. Back pain is the most commonly treated complaint by physicians. Four out of five people will have some sort of back pain in their lifetime. Most of the time, the exact cause of the pain cannot be found.

How do you prevent nonspecific low back pain?
One word: posture. Whether you are sitting or standing, your posture can affect your back pain. Another factor to take into consideration in relationship to back pain are sleeping positions. For women, wearing shoes with heels can greatly increase the possibility of generating back pain as well. When working long hours, you may wish to try to wearing shoes that have little to no rise. 

5 Stretches and Exercises You Can Do at Your Desk:

1. Stand up and sit down without using your hands.

In kindergarten we were often told that sitting still might  win us a gold star. However, now we know that not everything we learned in kindergarten could be considered a "good" habit. If you feel like you've been sitting for awhile, take a moment to perform this simple exercise.

2. Sit up straight and shrug your shoulders.

Shrugging your shoulders can not only relieve the stress in your back but also in your neck. Shrug your shoulders up and hold. Release after a few seconds and repeat three times. Also, move your neck in a "yes" and "no" type of motion. You can even ask yourself silly questions while you do it. For example, "Should I cancel the final exam for my students?" Etc.
3. Release the upper body with a torso twist.

Inhale, and as you exhale twist your torso to the right. With your right hand grab the back on the chair and with your left grab the armrest. Hold this position for a few moments and see how much of the wall you can see behind you. Release and continue to the other side.
4. Stretch your back with a "big hug".

Hug your body, placing your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right shoulder. Release the tension in your shoulder blades (moving your shoulders in front of your body). Release and do this a few more times.

 
5. Cross your arms -- for your shoulders and back.

Extend one arm out in front of you. With the other arm, grab above or below your elbow of the extended arm. Pull the extended arm across your body. Make sure you are doing this with an upright posture. Repeat a couple times while switching sides each time.

 
Since back pain is the most commonly treated complaint by physicians, early and continuous stretching will help in prevention and self therapy may be helpful when it comes to this chronic and annoying pain. If your pain worsens, please contact a physician. 

Michael Grove

Citations:

Low Back Pain-Prevention. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from Lower Back Pain Prevention

Stretching Exercises at Your Desk: 12 Simple Tips. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from Stretching Exercises at Your Desk