Monday, December 24, 2012

Not Happy at the Workite - Make Friends

No friends at work? It may be costing you your health and your company's bottom line.

If you have friends at work you might be thinking how weird is that?  Not as weird as you think. You may not even think about how having those friends at work impacts your day or how the work gets done.  If this is you then you are in the 20% - 30% who like their job.  Work is a pleasant activity, an opportunity to see those you like and care about; your friends there waiting for you. You may even look forward to going to work to be surrounded by this positive work environment.

For most people this is not the case.  Research shows 60% - 80% are unhappy with where they work.  If you are in this group, you may be wondering what it's like to have friends at work.  Or if not friends to just like those your spend most of your waking hours with. You dread getting up in the morning to go to work. You would rather do pretty much anything else than to have to go into where you work one more day. You may even be thinking if a better job with nicer people came along you would take it. This thinking is not just bad, it's toxix for you and your company.

Why is this important?

Research done during the Blue Zone Project demonstrates one of the keys to longevity and vitality is having close social contacts ie. friends.  The value of friends included in strong social network can not be underestimated in impacting your personal health and wellness. If you are wondering where you stand on vitality and what else you can do check out the Vitality Compass on the Blue Zone Project website. These days people are working longer hours, skipping vacations and working during personal time making it harder and harder to establish social connections outside the workplace.

Harvard Business Review in Why Friends Matter at Work and Life  reported "once you're on the job, having a best friend at work is a strong predictor of success. People might define "best" loosely (think of this as kindergarten where you can have more than one "best" friend), but according to a Gallup Organization study of more than 5 million workers over 35, 56% of the people who say they have a best friend at work are engaged, productive, and successful while only 8% of the ones who don't are."

Financial Times online in  Friendship in the Workplace sited Jessica Pryce-Jones, author of Happiness at Work, says: “Friends can help you be more productive because people tend to achieve more when they feel supported.”

To have someone at work you feel comfortable in sharing your frustrations, disappointments and problem solve difficult situations with your co-workers and even your boss minimizes feelings of disappointment, sadness and isolation in the work place.

Having friends at work, fuels job satisfaction, knowing you make a difference in the success of your company. In short, people who have friends at work, want to go to work, are committed the quality of their work, engaged in the company goals and are loyal.

As an employer your goal of creating a culture of wellness for your employees includes fostering healthy supportive friendships at work. It will not only produce healthy, product employees, it will positively impact your companies bottom line.

Your partner in health,

Health Consultant

Monday, December 3, 2012

Stressed Out? Balance Work and Live

Just turn on the news and you'll be hearing about the latest company down-sizing, right-sizing, slow down, re-organizing, down economy or as the financial advisers say, “economic winter.”  What about you?   With all this bad news and the demand of work, you may be burned out –possibly physically and mentally exhausted.  With constant worry, increased responsibilities and more work - life becomes frantic.   Our minds become heavy with fatigue and dizziness.  This is enough not only to make you feel tired, but make you sick…really sick.

The connection between your perception of stress and your body's ability to fight off disease is so strong; some experts think stress can be "deadly".  So you're right, your job is “killing you” and now we can prove it!  Feel better? 

Stress can be different things to different people.  For most of us stress is commonly caused by a feeling of too much work, too little time, financial loss, and feeling out of control all of which contribute to thoughts which can make you feel depressed.  Everyone suffers from stress at some point in his or her life, but the real challenge is to overcome and defeat the stress developing inside you, and not let it kill you.

Stress is connected to chronic ailments such as back pain, headaches, and fatigue.  Chronic diseases such as the flu, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, Crohn's Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, GERD just to name a few, are all impacted by long-term stress. 

This is what stress feels like when it's developing inside you:

Anxiety - Gives you a feeling of nervousness often causing tension, like the fear something serious is going to happen. A feeling if impending doom. Anxiety over time can cause headaches, muscle stiffness, upset stomach, eating disorders, and constipation or diarrhea.

Fatigue - A feeling of extreme physical or emotional tiredness. This is the “sick and tired” feeling and “too tired” to get things done. Extreme fatigue can cause mental fog, preoccupation, sleepiness, a feeling of not being “100 percent”.

Depression – Mild depression is a mental or emotional mindset of perpetual hopelessness and unhappiness.   When feeling depressed it’s hard to get up in the morning, trouble sleeping or too much sleeping, muscle and joint pain, headaches, fatigue, sadness, lethargy, feelings of worthlessness, a loss of interest in work and social has great information on understanding depression. 

Stress - Stress impacts your ability to work too.  When you are stressed, you may be less productive, more accident prone, make more mistakes, get sick, or miss work.  Remember the last time you worried about that big project?  Your head was pounding, back aching, and then developed a cold due to all the stress?  Well here are six tips you can implement in your life to reduce stress and consequently, avoid those sick days. Check out this stress calculator to rate your stress level.

In fact depression which is an extreme form of stress and fatigue including work - life imbalance significantly impacts your health, your employees health and the health of your company. When considering a worksite wellness or corporate wellness program for your employees be sure to address this issue. 

6 Tips to Reduce Stress and Live Better

1. Modify your work pattern.
Take breaks, volunteer more and reduce the hours you work. 

2. Change what you're thinking. 
Change your attitude by adding exercise such as meditation or yoga. Evaluate what concerns you, ask for the help of your co-workers, and seek medical attention.

3.  Eat right.   
If bad foods give bad health, then good food gives good health.  Simple!  Good nutrition is vital for your mind and body.  Stay away from fatty foods and fast foods; instead try to eat whole foods in their natural form: fresh, raw, and organic whenever possible.  To maintain good health, avoid sugar, salt and processed foods. Take whole food supplements which are medically approved, clinically researched, and are healthy for the body.  Seek the help of a health coach, dietitian or other medical professional. We recommend Juice Plus+ Whole Food.

4. Add an activity. 
Money can buy fat, but can't burn it.  The minimum recommended amount is 30 minutes a day.  Start by increasing your time walking.  Exercise makes the body secrete the natural painkillers, endorphins; and also makes you feel better.  Increasing your activity helps keep you healthy and increases your body’s ability to combat diseases.Check out American Heart Association worksite START program.

5.  Get proper sleep.    
The National Sleep Foundation says when you sleep, your body heals itself.  Lack of sleep not only decreases concentration at work, it also reduces the ‘coping ability’ of your body and lowers immune function. 

6. Find someone to talk to.    
People who hold in their feelings are at higher risk of developing more ailments and diseases.  Find someone you can trust to share your feelings with; perhaps a co-worker, family member, friend or therapist. When you share how you're feeling with someone else, you create the opportunity to feel less alone.  You become more connected to others around you, consequently, becoming less stressed.

Your partner in health,

Cindy Cohen RN, Wellness Consultant

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Process of Weight Loss - What Works

With the holidays here and all that goes with them weight loss is on everyone's mind.  If not weight loss then weight management and with the coming new year weight related resolutions. At work employers have or almost have completed their insurance benefit renewals and are gearing up for 2013 of which the obesity epidemic is in the for front due to the increase risk of multiple medical conditions that you gain with it.  If helping your employees lose weight is an objective of your company ... Bravo!  Your employees are lucky to have an employer who demonstrates a caring environment. Before you jump in with both feet you might want to consider what works and what does not. Following the correct process will save your money and your health.

There are two ways to think about losing weight:

1.  Focus on the end goal, the lost weight.
This is the “I’ll lose weight at any expense” program. This encourages starving, over exercising, increased personal and physical stress.  The weight is lost which is the goal; only to discover a few months later, more is weight gained than lost. With this type of wellness goal, there is an increased of physical stress, disease risk, and sense of failure.  In the end you’re back to where you started but worse, negatively affecting your work and personal life.

2.  Focus on the process.  A healthy lifestyle creates optimum weight-loss. 
We all know adopting healthy lifestyle habits of making healthy food choices, increasing activity, getting plenty of sleep and reducing stress will result in weight loss.  We know living a healthy life will create optimal health resulting in an increased sense of well-being and improved quality of life. We also know when overall health is improved we feel great at work, get more done and go to the doctor less.

Let’s take a look at what else we know about the process of creating wellness. We know if you follow a healthy diet, exercise, and reduce stress, you will reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases.  We know when it comes to your health it’s better to do something than nothing at all. So when choosing to do something how about doing what works.

Let's COMPARE to what we already know does not work with what works. 

What we know does NOT work:

1. Pressure to achieve unrealistic goals results in unhealthy behaviors. My favorite example of this are the "Biggest Loser" type weight loss competitions. On the surface this sounds like a great idea and lots of fun. However, after you think about it, not such a good idea. Anyone can lose weight. All you have to do is stop eating and the weight just falls off and fast too! This encourages unhealthy behaviors and almost universally those who lose weight just gain it back again plus some more. Research shows quick weight loss (fasting) increases stress, damages your muscles, slows down your metabolism, depresses the immune system and increases health problems. 

2. Focus only on weight loss excludes others. When the focus of health is primarily weight loss it excludes those who are not interested in losing weight. Many people are of normal weight but are extremely unhealthy eaters and if you do have members of the over weight population who do not join your weight loss program they are made to feel bad for their decision. This not only reduces the participation rate it also reduces morale. In fact, these weight loss programs do the opposite of what the intention was meant to be. In health you are either getting healthier or less health (sick). There is no middle ground. So if you are not eating healthy then you are eating unhealthy. This includes everyone.

3. Weight loss does not equal perminate healthy habits. The promotion reduction of calories at all costs is unfortunate. This propagates unhealthy choices in foods such as processed, diet and chemical ladened  "foods".  In general foods listed as "diet" are not synonymous with "nutritious" or "healthful". Not only does this focus of weight loss promote unhealthy behaviors it does not support healthy lasting behaviors.

4. We can do it ourselves. Many companies have employees interested in losing weight, or "healthy eaters" and believe they can spear head a weight loss program. After all how to lose weight is no secret. Or is it? What percent of dieters do you think have failed and gained the weight back? The National Diet Registry reports 80%. You might be asking yourself "what harm could come?" This type of weight loss program promotes the weight loss - weight gain cycle because perminate healthy eating strategies are not developed. 

Research shows this weight gain - weight loss cycling which is know as  "yo yo dieting" is not only unhealthy it's harmful to your overall health. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center reported in a study published in 2010 an interview in Today Health Online with Dr. Cornelia Ulrich MD who said  "yo you dieting depresses the immune system responsible for fighting off infection and the early stages of cancer".  In Fitness Magazine Andrea Pennington, MD author of The Pennington Plan for Weight Success said  "Repeated crash dieting increases metabolic hormones, such as insulin .... causing you to start putting on weight around your middle which research has linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease." 

What DOES work:

1Provide education.  Do not assume everyone is knows what to do. There is no clear source for healthy eating. The information in the media creates confusion. Doctors don't teach it. Dietitians and Coaches are not easily assessable. 
2. Increase awareness. When something is in front of you, you pay more attention to it. With posters, emails, social media campaigns the message of healthy eating is right where you can see it and be reminded on a regular basis. 

3. Expect healthy eating.  Provide information on healthy eating strategies, healthy weight loss and include the families. 

4. Include everyone. It's easier to make changes in behavior in a group. Change your work environment by developing  policies, work spaces, community projects that support healthy eating.Belonging to a group increases engagement  resulting in group caring and buy in. Healthy behaviors then become the expected and the norm and unhealthy behaviors not supported.

5. Get the help of an expert. There are lots of good programs online and onsite on healthy weight loss and healthy eating some expensive some no so much. However, there are just as many that either will not include everyone in your work site, no available to everyone or are not results oriented. Because the road to wellness can be expensive and confusing and to ensure quality programs and services Wellness Councils of America recommends hiring a wellness expert.  

 Don’t think you can afford a wellness program?  For the first time in history, the majority of the work force is aging at the same time and more are sick and working longer.  It seems every other day we are hearing about the next chronic disease epidemic, rising health care costs and medical spending. Insurance companies are now refusing to provide insurance coverage for companies with a high claim rate for their sick employee population.  Without a wellness program, you could be spending more money on medical expenses, taking away from the profit margin.  

How about now?  If your company doesn’t have a wellness program it may already be paying the price.

Remember when it comes to being healthy, it’s better to do something than nothing at all.  Start small, get everyone on board and do what works!  Remember in just a few short weeks you will begin to develop healthy habits and a new excitement in your company.

Your partner in health, 

 Health Consultant

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Don't Let the Flu Bug Get You! Practice Prevention

It's officially the "flu season".   Has it started with you?  Having a cold or flu is more than just feeling physically bad; it costs you more than you may think. How much work do you really get done? It's hard to concentrate, your tired, grouchy and sluggish. If you are paid on production then not producing costs money.  Then there's the doctor bills, medications and finally missing work.   Pretty soon everyone at your work and your house is sick, the hubby, kids and even grandma. Sounds expensive to me.

It's hard to predict what having the flu cost's you your family and your company. The University of Maryland has provided us with this calculation ... by providing flu shots
  • You can save about $150 per employee per year in sick leave
  • You can reduce absenteeism by as much as 45%. Employees sick with the flu miss an average of 2.8 days of work per season.
  • You can save on lost production time.
  • You can show employees how important they are by giving them an added benefit at the workplace.
An easy way to get your flu shot is by helping your company provide ONSITE FLU CLINICS to make it easier to get immunized. If flu shots are not in your company's budget this year how about sharing the cost with the employees or ask your employees to pay and provide the convenience on getting them at work.  This sounds like a sound investment, flu shots are only $30 per employee with a big return.

However, this is just one aspect of flu prevention. The Preventive Health Advisory Board (PHAB) recommended the following:

REMEMBER THE BASICS of flu prevention and practice these habits throughout the day.
Wash your hands often, keep antibiotic soap near your work station.
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.
Get a flu shot.  The recommended time is between August through December for prevention of the flu in the winter months.

STEP IT UP by incorporating positive healthy changes into your diet, exercise routine and sleep patterns.
Diet - Eat the recommend 9 - 13 servings (1 serving = 1/2 cup) of fruits and vegetables each day. If you are not sure how much that is go to USDA on their new website shows you how it looks on your plate.
Exercise - American Council on Fitness (ACE) reported studies suggest that physically active individuals report fewer colds than those who do not exercise regularly. 
Sleep - The National Sleep Foundation recommends you get 8 hours of sleep each day. If you are unable to sleep all 8 at once, take short naps during the day.

BECOME PREVENTION ADVOCATE by encouraging others to adopt these same practices. Practice what you preach. Be a model of wellness and the example of the benefits of staying healthy. Teach your family the steps to take to stay well, along with providing the time and tools to do so.  Encourage the place where work to provide antibiotic soap, flu shots and to stay home when you are sick.

SHARE WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED with your family, friends and co-workers. Prevention starts with education. Post signs, send out newsletter, talk about wellness where you work reminding your employees to STEP IT UP and prevent the spread of flu this season where you work.  
You'll be glad you did.

Your partner in health,

Health Consultant
C2 Your Health LLC

Monday, September 24, 2012

Worksite Wellness - No More Boring Lunches!

What's the big deal about eating healthy at work anyways? We spend most of time at work that's what. Some of us spend breakfast, lunch and dinner at work. What about that 2:30 slump? Do you find it's hard to think clearly? Well, when you eat to improve your health, you think more clearly, solve problems better, lose weight and feel more energetic. Doctors know and inside so do you when you make unhealthy food choices you not only use more sick days, you increase your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar all resulting in you spend money on medications, doctor bills and emergency room visits.

Eating healthier at work doesn't have to be complicated, expensive, or boring. In fact, you could start the next trend towards healthier eating in your office. This new trend will give you the slimmer body and quicker thinking processes that you can use to not only show off but to get ahead at work. Now tell me, who doesn't what that? I know, I know, you're probably telling yourself, "That sounds great and all Cindy but who has time to eat healthy anyways?" No worries, I completely understand, with heavier work schedules, time crunches, and tight time frames many of us end up eating lunch over our desks or racing out for a quick lunch. Now you're probably thinking, but eating healthy means eating boring salads, right? Completely wrong! Not only do salads not have to be boring, but they're not your only options when it comes to healthier eating "Corporate Style."

Soups, Sandwiches, and Salads are my top 3 pics!  ...
Get the full article for suggestions and a yummy recipe... the full article  click here

Health Consultant, Health Coach

To read more of Cindy Cohen's work view Expert Author profile page.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Worksite Wellness: Add Activity to Your Work Day

Stuck behind your desk all day? 
Tight time frames?
No time to exercise? Well, join the club!

As our workloads seem to increase day-by-day, busy life schedules and the pressure to cram in as much as we can into the day, we don’t seem to have time for physical activity.  Exercise gets pushed on the back burner for another day, except another day doesn’t seem to come. This lack of physical activity leads to stress, immobility, muscular degeneration and obesity causing poor health. Of course, this reminds us that our “health is our wealth”.

We all understand the importance of exercise.  We all follow a busy schedule, and it’s possible to keep ourselves active with exercise, even with such a busy life.

You might be asking yourself “Why is exercise so important?” Medical studies confirm that exercise or any regular physical activity reduces the risk of a heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer (especially breast cancer).  Exercise not only gives your immune system a boost to keep you healthier, it makes you feel happier, energetic and have clearer thinking.  Exercise also helps you stay fit, look younger and remain active.   Regular exercise helps reduce stress too!

Why are companies adding fitness to their corporate wellness programs?  Because we all know when you feel better, have more energy and think clearly, you are more productive at work.   What’s good for you is good for your company.  Your good health and dynamic appearance indicates that you’re energetic and industrious; and hence, this is what many companies are pursuing with corporate wellness programs.   Whether your company runs a workplace wellness program or not, you must take charge of your health by adding exercise and activity to your lifestyle.

Simple exercises can be done, even if you are in the office, work from home or at a factory.   Sometimes you will need a small space but don’t let this hold you back, right by your desk is just fine.  

To help you get started here is a 10 minute video you can do at your desk from, a desk workout with there own Coach Nicole!

Forward thinking companies are supporting fitness at work by assisting their employees to
incorporate exercise activities into their work day. Fitness during the work day should be the the expected instead of the exception.

To be fit is to be healthy. A strong body makes for a strong mind resulting in getting more done.

Your partner in health,

Cindy Cohen RN
Health Consultant

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