Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Three tips to save health care firms big bucks

Health care providers don’t anticipate the reimbursement rates they get from insurance companies or the federal government to take a giant leap any time soon.

So they’re looking to collect every dollar they’re entitled to under current contracts.

And Bob Stevens, CEO of Crescent Springs-based Bottom Line Systems, is helping them. His company looks for cases where providers have been underpaid.

Bottom Line Systems collected more than $70 million in additional reimbursement for clients over the last year.

The 14-year-old company has 200 employees and serves clients, including hospitals, physician practices and infusion companies, in 20 states. It’s recently been growing revenue by 10 percent to 20 percent per year.

Stevens, who also is a partner in the Crestview Hills-based law firm Dressman Benzinger LaVelle, offers several tips for providers seeking to maximize their revenue in the new year:

• Review contracts carefully. Nearly every dollar that passes through a hospital is covered by a contract or a regulatory system. Knowing the fine print in every agreement is the only way providers can know whether they’re being reimbursed properly.

• Test every payment. Nowadays, periodic audits and sampling are not enough, Stevens said. “There’s so much complexity and opportunity that when you go ahead and review all the claims, the payoff is more than worth the effort.”

• Don’t be afraid to seek outside help. Stevens’ firm operates almost entirely on a contingency basis. “We’re at risk, so I wouldn’t be doing the review if I didn’t think it was worth it,” he said.

A typical hospital, Stevens said, can increase its net revenue between 1 percent and 3 percent by implementing such a review process.

Five tips to start fresh in the new year

New Year's resolutions have become as synonymous with failure as with self-improvement. According to a survey conducted by LIVESTRONG.COM, 76 percent of people who made a 'weight loss' resolution say they have not been successful at keeping the weight off. Resolutions revolving around getting fit can seem daunting without the proper guidance for seeing them through. LIVESTRONG.COM has a list of five small changes to help accomplish fitness and nutritional goals for the New Year.

1. Clear Out That Kitchen
Toss high-calorie, high-fat foods and abstain from buying similar products. The purge will spur an instant sense of accomplishment and make it easier to maintain a healthy plan. You should dispose of all tempting foods, including sugary cereals, cake and cookie mixes, candy, ice cream and fried items.

2. Plan Your Meals
Use cookbooks or online resources focused on healthy recipes to map out days and weeks of nutritious food. Selecting healthy options that taste good and are tailored to fit your preferences will prevent you from nibbling on the bad stuff.

3. Go Local and Go Green
Organic and locally grown food items are often tastier and more satisfying than their conventional counterparts. Shop your local farmers markets or health-food stores to find these items. When you return from shopping, immediately wash and prepare the produce so it is ready to eat when you are hungry.

4. Use Available Resources
Sign up and follow fitness and nutrition platforms online as an easy go-to resource for questions and additional information. LIVESTRONG.COM's MyPlate is a great tool for tracking your food intake and fitness routine with over 625,000 food items and 2,000 fitness activities.

5. Set a Fitness Goal
Assess your previous physical activity in the past year and set a realistic goal to gradually improve fitness. Get a workout partner to help you stay motivated, and don't forget to track your progress!
LIVESTRONG.COM offers nutrition and fitness information for lifelong health and wellness. LIVESTRONG.COM's practical tools, expert resources and engaged community provide support to help you achieve your healthy living goals. At LIVESTRONG.COM, small, daily changes lead to big results and lifelong success stories.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Health Tips for Parents: Treating Coughs and Colds

“Which over-the-counter cough and cold medicine will work best for my child?” That’s a question I’m asked frequently in my practice. The answer, quite frankly, is none.

There has never been good evidence that cough and cold medications work. Moreover, for children under 2, there is the added concern that we don’t have reliable information about safe and proper dosages.

Two years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about giving over-the-counter cough and cold medicine to children under 2 years old, following reports of “serious and potentially life-threatening side effects” in babies and toddlers. The warning came after a year of review prompted by reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that linked three infant deaths and hundreds of emergency-room visits to reactions from cough and cold products.

Risk of adverse and potentially dangerous reactions, including convulsions, increased heart rates and altered consciousness, are particularly high for the youngest children when they receive doses that are too potent or given too frequently.

Cough and cold medications labeled for babies and toddlers have been pulled from store shelves several years ago, but these products still remain in medicine cabinets today. And while the label may advise parents to consult with their child’s pediatrician about proper dosing, some parents fail to do so.

Although the FDA warning applied only to infants and toddlers, the agency continues to review research about its safety and effectiveness for children 2 through 11 years old.

I recommend that cough and cold medications not be given until children are older than 5 years old, and then only once at bedtime if it seems to provide symptom relief. Here are some non-medication approaches for child under age 2:

• Position infant or toddler upright to improve nasal drainage

• Use a bulb syringe to suck out any excess mucous

• Apply saline drops in the nose to loosen mucous

• Use a cool-mist humidifier

• For children older than age 1, a teaspoon of honey with tea may improve cough symptoms from colds. However, honey should not be given to younger children because of the risk of infant botulism.

The takeaway message is that nothing makes colds go away any faster. Over-the-counter medicine may mask the symptoms in some cases, but should never be given to children under age 2. For children 2 years old or older, we should be very careful.

Dr. Dennis Woo is a board-certified pediatrician with the UCLA Medical Group and a former chair of the Pediatrics Department at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital.

Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

Having a baby alters a woman's life in many ways, especially during the pregnancy. You are not only responsible for your own health, but the health of your unborn child. Proper healthcare, nutrition, exercise, and amount of rest are essential to a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. What you should be doing during your pregnancy is equally important as what you should not be doing.

Prenatal Care

The first step to a healthy pregnancy is to get regular prenatal care. You should schedule an appointment with your health care provider as soon as you think you might be pregnant. Your doctor will most likely do a pregnancy test to confirm your pregnancy. Next is making the calculation of how far along your pregnancy is based on a physical exam and the date of your last menstrual cycle.

Often an ultrasound will be performed to better approximate your due date. Your doctor will want to see you every 4 weeks until the 28th week of pregnancy, then every 2 weeks until 36 weeks, finally once a week until delivery.

Nutrition

Nutrition is extremely important during your pregnancy. In the last 6 months you should take in an extra 300 calories because your baby is growing quickly. If you are very thin or are carrying more than one baby you need to eat even more. If you are overweight your doctor may recommend you to consume fewer extra calories.

A well-balanced diet is the key to a healthy development and growth for your baby. By eating a variety of lean meats, fruits, vegetable, whole-grain products, and low-fat dairies both you and your baby will get the proper nutrition you need. Your doctor will most likely prescribe prenatal vitamins as a supplement to your diet. You will also need to "bulk" up on more of the essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, and folic acid. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during your pregnancy, especially water. This can help with common problems such as dehydration and constipation.

Exercise

Exercise is very beneficial during your pregnancy. It is important to always to discuss your exercise regimen with your doctor to make sure it is safe for both you and your baby. Low-impact, moderate-intensity exercise activities such as walking, swimming, yoga, and Pilates are great choices. You will reap the benefits of relaxation, flexibility, and strength by participating in these exercise activities.

Regular exercise during pregnancy can help prevent excess weight gain, reduce back pain, swelling, and constipation, improve sleep, improve mental outlook, increase your energy, prepare for labor, and lessen recovery time.

Be cognizant of your balance: during pregnancy your body produces a hormone called relaxin, which loosens the ligaments in your body making you less stable. This also makes it easy to over-stretch or strain yourself, especially the joints in your pelvis, back and knees. Your center gravity also shifts during pregnancy, another reason to be careful.

Get proper rest

During your pregnancy you are going to feel more tired than you normally do because your body is hard at work to support the baby growing inside of you. As your baby gets bigger, finding a comfortable sleeping position will become a little difficult. Most likely the most comfortable position for sleeping is lying on your side with your knees bent. You can also prop pillows between your legs, under your back, and underneath your stomach to create a more comfortable resting position.

Some doctors recommend sleeping on your left side because the right side of your body contains a large blood vessel. By resting on the left side you prevent the uterus from applying pressure on that vessel, which would constrict blood flow. Sleeping on your left side will increase blood flow to the placenta. On the other hand, alternating sides will help to reduce or prevent varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and swelling of the legs.

Avoid the "No-no's"

There are quite a number of things you should avoid while pregnant such as alcohol, nicotine, recreational drugs, excessive caffeine, and certain foods. It has not been determined what a "safe" amount of alcohol to consume during your pregnancy is so your best bet is to not drink at all. Drinking while pregnant can damage your baby's developing nervous system. Smoking during pregnancy can lead to stillbirth, prematurity, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma and other respiratory problems. High caffeine consumption during pregnancy can increase the risk of a miscarriage, so it is better to avoid caffeine altogether during the first trimester. You should also avoid consuming soft, unpasteurized cheeses, milk and juices, food that contains raw eggs or meat, and sea food containing high levels of mercury. Lunch meats are safe if steamed in the microwave first.

Finally, be intentional and think about what you do -- give yourself and your child the little extra care and help Mother Nature.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

8 tips to avoid dry skin this Christmas

Christmas is definitely in the cold December air, but water isn't, and this may cause problems for our skin.
The holiday season here in the country may not be characterized by freezing temperatures, but the cold, less humid weather is sucking moisture from our skin, causing it to be cracked and dry.

Dermatologist Diane Chan, fellow of the Philippine Association of Primary Skin Care Health Physicians Inc., noted that common skin problems in the Philippines during the 'ber months include ashy legs, chapped lips, and cracked hands and feet, which, if not treated, may lead to complications.

"When the skin gets dry, it gets itchy, then we scratch it. That's when irritation happens. It's itch-scratch-itch-rash. Then the skin thickens," Chan said in an interview at Mornings@ANC.

She added, "It's really more on less humidity, not cold temperature. There's a shortage of water in the air, so the air is dry."

Chan gave these 8 tips to make your skin good this Christmas despite the cold, dry air:

1. Continue to use sunscreen with SPF 15 of better, even if it's cloudy outside. Apply sunblock 30 minutes prior to exposure to the sun, and re-apply after 2 to 3 hours.
2. Use an unscented mild cleanser as opposed to soap, which can strip your skin of the essential oils it needs.
3. Continue to drink lots of water (6 to 8 glasses a day) to provide the necessary hydration for your skin.
4. Avoid products with high alcohol content as well as heavy perfumes. These can irritate your sensitive, dry skin.
5. Use a thicker, richer moisturizer 2 to 3 times a day.
6. Gently exfoliate your skin to remove the dead surface skin cells that can form due to excessive dryness.
7. Use a soothing lip balm or moisturizing lipstick, preferably with sunscreen, to treat chapped lips.
8. Try to keep an anti-itch cream on hand to apply to excessively dry patches.

Six Tips to Jump Start Weight Loss in the New Year

Losing weight is at the top of many a New Year’s resolution list. In addition to maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough exercise, what else can one do to make sure those good intentions have a lasting impact throughout the year?

Below are research-based tips from investigators at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center that may help jump start one’s weight loss progress in the coming year.

1. Keep moving each day. We all know that exercise is crucial to losing weight, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. The task need not be daunting; all it takes to see a weight-loss benefit is 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity daily. “You don’t need to be athletic. Just brisk walking or dancing to your favorite music or using an aerobic exercise machine like a stationary bike or treadmill is all you need to do – just try to do it each day,” said Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Hutchinson Center’s Prevention Center. The exercise doesn’t have to be all at once. “You can break it into 10- or 15-minute sessions throughout the day to get the weight-loss benefit,” she said.

2. Keep a food journal. “By spending a little extra time to write down everything you eat and drink, you’ll be able to see where extra calories sneak in,” said postdoctoral research fellow Caitlin Mason, Ph.D., an exercise and health researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division of the Hutchinson Center. “There are lots of good online tools that can help estimate the calorie content of common foods and track your weight loss progress over time,” she said. 

3. Set realistic goals. “The biggest mistake people make when trying to lose weight is trying to lose too many pounds too fast or setting unrealistic goals,” Mason said. “For long-term success, aim for a slow, steady weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds a week. No one wants to lose weight only to gain it all back – and often more – a few months later.

4. Set specific goals. Instead of resolving to “lose weight,” which is too general, set several smaller but more specific goals, such as eating five servings of vegetables per day, taking a 15-minute walk at lunch each day or drinking six glasses of water per day. “Adding healthy behaviors to your routine is often easier than telling yourself ‘don’t do this’ or ‘don’t eat that,’” Mason said.

5. Don’t let one slip-up derail your efforts. “Don’t throw your entire routine out the window after one bad day,” Mason said. “Instead, try to identify the specific barriers that got in your way and think through strategies to avoid such challenges in the future.” For example, to avoid the temptation of buying a candy bar while standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, make sure to eat a healthy snack, such as a handful of nuts or a piece of string cheese, before going shopping.

6. Practice yoga. Two observational studies conducted by cancer prevention researcher Alan Kristal, Dr. P.H., a member of the Hutchinson Center’s Public Health Sciences Division, have found an association between regular yoga practice and weight maintenance and weight loss. One of his studies, published in 2005, found that regular yoga practice is associated with the prevention of middle-age spread in normal-weight people and the promotion of weight loss in those who are overweight. A follow-up study published in 2009 found that regular yoga practice is associated with mindful eating, and people who eat mindfully are less likely to be obese. “These findings fit with our hypothesis that yoga increases mindfulness in eating and leads to less weight gain over time, independent of the physical activity aspect of yoga practice,” Kristal said. “Mindful eating is a skill that augments the usual approaches to weight loss, such as dieting, counting calories and limiting portion sizes. Adding yoga practice to a standard weight-loss program may make it more effective."

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, our interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our researchers, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. www.fhcrc.org

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

BETTER ME: Here are some tips to help you achieve good health

The No. 1 symptom of lung cancer is a persistent cough. If you have one, tell your doctor. Smoking accounts for 80 to 90 percent of lung cancers.

HEARTBURN FACTS

It is estimated that 20 percent to 40 percent of the U.S. population suffers from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) commonly known as heartburn. Besides the pain, there is a cancer risk associated with chronic reflux. In fact, esophageal cancer has risen 600 percent since 1975! GERD is a significant disease with malignant (cancer causing) potential and often causes severe lifelong symptoms. Take it seriously, get the appropriate evaluation! For more information, call Christy at the SACMC Heartburn Center at 947-6888.

CALCIUM TIP

Add more calcium to your diet. Nutrition experts recommend 1,000 milligrams each day for premenopausal women and 1,200 milligrams a day for postmenopausal women. The best sources of calcium include milk and dairy products (nonfat or low-fat), so work plenty of milk, yogurt, and cheese into your diet.

FITNESS FACT

The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Pressed for time? It’s OK to break your exercise routine into 10- or 15-minute sessions. The important thing is just to do it.

DID YOU KNOW?

As many as 100,000 cases of cancer could be prevented in the U.S. each year if Americans get rid of their excess body fat. That’s according to estimates released by the American Institute for Cancer Research. The estimates suggest that heart disease, diabetes, and joint problems aren’t the only illnesses in which rampant obesity is causing havoc. The group says overweight and obesity could be the cause of more than 6 percent of all the estimated 1.6 million cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

HEALTHY POTATO

Scoop out the flesh of a baked potato and mash with steamed broccoli and 1 percent cottage cheese to add protein and calcium (but few calories). Stuff filling back into the skin.

OSTEOPOROSIS PREVENTION TIP

Weight bearing exercises done at least three to four times a week are best for boosting bone strength and preventing osteoporosis. Walking, jogging, playing tennis, and dancing are all good weight-bearing exercises.

EXERCISE TIP

On average, slim people are on their feet an extra 2½ hours per day — which can help burn off 33 pounds a year. Studies have shown that people often overestimate how active they really are by a third. Most people spend 16 to 20 hours a day just sitting. Wear a pedometer and see how close you get to the recommended 10,000 steps a day.

WAIST SIZE WIDENING

Between 1960 and 2000, average waist circumference expanded by almost 4 inches for men and nearly 7 inches for women.

HEALTHY RECIPE

Pig in a Pinwheel (Makes 30)

*5-ounce can chunk lean ham, drained

*¹/ cup reduced-fat cream cheese

*(2) 8-ounce cans reduced-fat refrigerated crescent roll dough

*Add ½ cup chopped onion and 1 tsp. dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mash the ham, onion, and oregano into the cream cheese. Separate the dough into 8 rectangles; squish up the remaining perforations to seal. Spread an equal amount of the ham’n’cheese mixture over each rectangle. Roll up each rectangle, starting at the short end. Cut each into 4 slices. Place on a cookie sheet and squash slightly. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Each pinwheel has 75 calories, 4 g fat and 0 g fiber.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Food poisoning awareness urged during holidays

Illinois public health experts are offering tips to help avoid food poisoning over the holiday season.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says federal estimates show foodborne diseases cause about 76 million illnesses a year and in Illinois the figure is as many as 250,000 illnesses a year. Public health experts encourage cooks to keep everything in the kitchen clean, wash their hands often and keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Meats and poultry should be thoroughly cooked. Hot food should be served at 140 degrees and cold foods at or below 40 degrees.

Experts say party guests should be cautious when eating raw oysters, egg drinks and other bacteria-prone foods.

Food poisoning symptoms can appear between 30 minutes to two weeks after eating contaminated food. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

12 health and safety tips for the holidays

From CDC.gov

Give the gift of health and safety to yourself and others by following these holiday tips. You can sing along in The 12 Ways to Health Holiday Song, listen in a holiday health podcast, and send the song to your friends and family in a holiday health-e-card!
  1. Wash hands often to keep yourself from spreading germs and getting sick.
  2. Bundle up to stay dry and warm.
  3. Manage stress. Don't over-commit yourself and prevent holiday anxiety and pressure. 
  4. Don't drink and drive or let others drink and drive.
  5. Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.
  6. Fasten seat belts while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt according to his/her height, weight, and age.
  7. Get exams and screenings. Ask what exams you need and when to get them.
  8. Get your vaccinations, which help prevent diseases and save lives.
  9. Monitor the children. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items, and other objects out of kids' reach. Make sure toys are used properly.
  10. Practice fire safety. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so be careful to never leave fireplaces, space heaters, stoves, or candles unattended. Have an emergency plan and practice it regularly.
  11. Prepare food safely. Remember these simple steps: wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures, and refrigerate promptly.
  12. Eat healthy, and get moving. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat and sugar. Be active for at least 2½ hours a week and help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.
Source   http://www.ktnv.com/story/13640018/12-health-and-safety-tips-for-the-holidays

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How to keep up good fitness and nutrition habits.

December is here, and the holidays are in full swing. During this busy time of year, nutrition and fitness routines often are the first things to go. Avoid the dreaded weight gain and stay happy, healthy and fit with tips from LiveStrong.com.

Become a healthy grazer. Severely restricting calories or skipping meals can dampen your mood, increase your appetite and ultimately lead to weight gain. Eating smaller, balanced meals and snacks at regular intervals throughout the day can enhance your blood sugar and energy level while preventing excessive hunger.

Manage your stress. If your food cravings increase along with your stress load, seek alternate means of comfort and relief. This might mean going for a walk, practicing yoga, having coffee with a friend, getting weekly massages or taking a warm bubble bath.

Stay active. If you find treadmills and sweaty gyms unappealing, fear not. You can make fitness fun by finding daily activities that engage your body, mind and soul. You'll be more likely to stick with activities you find enjoyable. Walk your dog. Build a snowman. Find a new hiking trail in your neighborhood.

Get some rest. Sleeping too little is directly related to how much you eat and exercise, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep nightly. Your bedroom should be dark and comfortable, and your caffeine intake should not carry on into the evening.

Create a survival kit. Carry a bottle of water and healthy snacks such as nuts or high-protein, low-carb bars. You'll be prepared with healthful alternatives when hunger strikes, and you'll also be creating a habit of mindfulness that can last all through the year.

Source  http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/111457889.html?elr=KArks7PYDiaK7DUHPYDiaK7DUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUoD3aPc:_2yc:a_ncyD_MDCiUr

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Healthy Holiday Tips for Busy People

It's Christmas time again and meeting up with family on the Holidays means you will be eating and drinking more and the extra pounds can creep up if you're not mindful. Every time you consume an extra 3500 calories without exercise you gain one pound of FAT!! More than 10 extra pounds of FAT on your body frame can be detrimental to your health so this holiday season I have some tips that you can use when you get busy and get a head start on the New Year rush.

1. Get up early or stay up late - 20 minutes of structured physical activity is required for optimal heart health and getting up early or staying up late after everybody has gone to bed will give you plenty of time to do what you need to do. My favorite short workout is 25 push ups, 25 crunches and 25 squats three times apiece.

2. Join your kids - spend that 20 minutes with your kids doing “kid stuff”. Normal kids heart rates are about 110-150bpm and they never want to sit still. Get down and dirty with them, play on the floor, go outside, or just run around and be a kid!! Spending that time with your children will give you quality time doing quality activities that can help strengthen and build a stronger bond.

3. Develop a eating strategy - just because its the holidays with all the food doesn’t mean you have to give in. Think of this when you fix your plate:

* 1) eat protein first
* 2) vegetables/fruits second
* 3) casseroles (if your still hungry)
* 4) desserts (just a little)

4. ”Walkie Talkie” - while your on the phone talking with your friends get off your duff and walk while you talk, its even easier than chewing gum – can you hear me now?

5. Snack ahead of time. When you do meet with family eat a little something like an apple or some reduced-fat popcorn, you will not be going on an empty stomach and will have less room to load up on casseroles and desserts.

6. Eat slowly - It takes your stomach roughly 20 minutes to realize it is full. Chew your bites and take your time to notice how full you are and stop before you have over-stuffed yourself. Feel a full belly and you ate too much!!

7. Enjoy the company. You don’t get to see your out of town family every day so take some time to chew your food and listen while they talk and when its your turn DON’T talk with your mouth full! If you are engaged in great conversation then your not going to be stuffing your face.

Seriously the holidays are about giving and spending time with those you care about. Usually, eating many large, tasty meals is just part of the season. So don’t worry about losing all your weight but rather let your goal be to maintain your body weight so after the holidays you can get up, get fit, and get toned!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ball State counseling center, health center offer tips to manage stress

It's getting closer to that time of year when hearts beat rapidly, sweat pours profusely and brains study intently.

Finals Week can mean seven days of high stress for students. The Counseling Center provides stress relief for those who need a little extra help managing the fiasco.

"School becomes much more of a priority for students to hammer out and get the grade they want," said Dr. Shana Markle, a therapist at the Counseling Center. "It is important for them to know themselves and not overbook themselves, knowing how to delegate their tasks, when to say yes, when to say no."

For students who want to manage stress on their own, Markle suggests relaxation exercises.

"Learning how to breathe. Breathing is very important to calm yourself and slow your body," she said.

Another stress reliever is progressive muscle relaxation — intentionally tensing muscle groups and releasing them in a systematic way.

Markle also suggests guided imagery, where someone in a calm voice has you picture a serene setting while using all your senses. If repeated, this can calm you.

"These can be really effective especially if stress is interfering with sleep," she said. "But the same thing doesn't work for everyone. If someone tries a guided image, it may make them more anxious and [they will] try harder to relax."

For students who want to take advantage of the Counseling Center's 12 free sessions, Markle encourages students to go to its office in Lucina Hall.

"We help students identify what stressors are, what exactly is going on," she said.

Sometimes stress can be so overwhelming that students suffer from physical pain.

Headaches as well as chest and stomach pain are the most common stress complaints, Kent Bullis, medical director at the Amelia T. Wood Health Center, said. It's hard to tell when the pain is related to stress, he said.

"When a patient comes in with pain which does not even remotely follow a typical pattern, we often times consider the possibility of stress as a cause of the pain," Bullis said.

The Health Center offers medication for relieving physical symptoms.

There is also a psychological aspect of stress. Unrealistic expectations are a problem for some students, Tricia Groff, a third-year doctoral student in counseling psychology, said. Doing too many things at one time and trying to do them all well is difficult.

"These people feel stressed from all the pressure they put on themselves to be perfect," she said. "They tend to say yes to a lot of requests that come their way."

Students are busy in college, making it difficult to figure out what is causing stress, she said.

"It becomes one bundle of stress and it might be an anxiety about something else," Groff said.

Sometimes stress is caused by the people around the person. Students should avoid constantly talking about school and issues that cause stress, she said.

"You aren't worried about a paper but everyone else is so you start to worry about your paper," she said. "We pass around stress without realizing it."

Call the Counseling Center to schedule an appointment at 765-285-1736

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Five Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

1. Reduce Stress, Laugh More and Think Positive

Start with at least 30 minutes a day, then gradually build your positive thinking time. Evade difficult people and try not to be difficult yourself. Get a massage, a manicure, facial or a haircut. Meditate or listen to soothing music.

2. Avoid Pollution
Keep plants in your home and office. If you can't live in a pollution-free environment, take regular trips to the countryside. Avoid smoke-filled rooms and high traffic areas. Schedule outdoors activities for low smog periods.

3. Smile Wide
Brush and floss after each meal to maintain good oral and dental hygiene. Be confident with your smile when talking.

4. Make Something
Boost your creative energy. Cook with new recipes, paint, write, recycle something, or put a photo album together. Planting seeds is rewarding - just don't forget to water them!

5. Drink Smoothies
Veggie and fruit smoothies have great health benefits, and they taste good, too. They're packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals; they contain fibre, which helps keep you regular; and drinking smoothies rather than ordinary juice will leave you less prone to snacking. You can also have fun and be creative by designing your own. Look out for another five tips in the next issue.

Chiva-Som is Thailand's multi-award winning health resort, located in Hua Hin.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tips For Reducing Holiday And Post-Holiday Depression

According to the National Mental Health Association, the holidays and post-holidays may be a time of depression for some individuals. The reasons for this increased unhappiness can stem from limited financial resources and family tensions to fatigue and unrealistic expectations. 

Women may be particularly vulnerable to sadness this season. A survey by the National Women’s Health Resource Center found that two-thirds of women report depression during the holidays.
Article continues beneath advertisement

All-in-one Be Richer, R2R, Life Quest “The pressure of creating the perfect holiday can leave many people feeling drained and anxious,” reports William Annitto, MD, Psychiatrist with the Behavioral Health Network at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBIMC). “Women have been found to have rates of serious depression that are twice those of men, and the holidays may exacerbate the stress of those prone to depression. Lack of sleep, overspending, and overloaded schedules can all contribute to stress and depressed mood.”

Some individuals report good spirits during the holidays, but feel a sense of “let down” afterward, says Dr. Annitto. One study from Zurich, Switzerland, found that suicide rates rise after New Year’s Eve — largely among men. Those who experience mental illness tend to be more vulnerable to depression during and after holidays.

“People have high expectations during the holiday season that family and friends will come together and that they will find happiness,” says Joanne Reilly, Director of the Behavioral Health Network at NBIMC. “If those expectations are not realized, it can cause upset and a sense of loss. Also, the withdrawal of social support when a holiday ends and relatives leave can also leave some individuals feeling vulnerable.”

Ways to Avoid Holiday and Post-Holiday Unhappiness

The following are suggestions from NBIMC’s Behavioral Health Network for avoiding feelings of stress and unhappiness this holiday season and beyond:
  • Maintain strong social contacts all yearlong, not just at holiday time.
  • Get physical exercise. Daily exercising sends more oxygen to brain cells and results in improved mood.
  • Focus on positive images in your life. Be thankful for small moments of grace within the holiday whirl.
  • Get plenty of sleep all year around and especially during the holidays.
  • Identify worthwhile things to do beyond wrapping and shopping. Donate your time to others in need.
  • Limit overeating and overdrinking. Focus on enjoying events without nervous eating and drinking.
  • If you have a history of having upsetting holidays do things differently. Go out to eat instead of cooking. Do not over stress by trying to decorate the perfect house.
  • If you cannot afford many presents, let your family know. Discuss an inexpensive family outing as an alternative or gift coupons or a night to play board games. Focus on time together as the gift.
  • Seek professional help if you experience lingering depression. Newark Beth Israel Medical Center Behavioral Health services include multiple levels of care along a continuum which includes highly specialized medical care. Contact the Behavioral Health Network at 1-800-300-0628.