Thursday, November 3, 2016

Employee Holiday Newsletter!

"The first wealth is health" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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
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...

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...

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 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.


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.

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  (
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention  (
SOS Handbook for Survivors of Suicide  (
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

  • 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
  • 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

Kate Rod
WellU Marketing Coordinator
CSS Student
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 NOT intimidating!

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!
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: 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:, 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 Welcomes Your Feedback!
"You can't pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first."