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  1. Carol Ebert

    Change Your Story - Change Your Life

    Here’s what we know about the negative stories in our heads. It’s estimated that approximately 94% of the time, what we worry about doesn’t happen. Also, negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can create chronic stress, which upsets the body's hormone balance, depletes the brain chemicals required for happiness, and damages the immune system. Chronic stress can actually decrease our lifespan. (Science has now identified that stress shortens our telomeres, the “end caps” of our DNA strands, which causes us to age more quickly.) So do we continue to wallow in all the negative stories in our head, which by the way, just reinforces itself and continues to strengthen brain pathways that carry that story? Or do we pull the plug knowing that not only our attitude and our relationships are at risk but so is our health? Shutting Down the Negative Stories The good news is that we have the ability to fix that. And the best news is that it’s not as hard as you might believe. As Stanford University psychology professor and best selling author Dr. Carol Dweck wrote, “Small shifts in mindset can trigger a cascade of changes so profound that they test the limits of what seems possible.” So if this is true, we can shift into a more positive state of mind by taking some action steps. Here are some ways you can shut down negative stories and rebuild positivity assets. 1. Examine your habits Is there a habit of yours that becomes a trigger that sets off a negative thought? One of my habits is facebook. I have to be very careful when I scroll thru facebook that I don’t get fixated on something that I am not really sure is factual. If I do get hooked (and they will hook you in) I have to challenge that thinking and either accept it because I know the facts, or let it go because I’m not convinced. And if I can’t seem to let go of facebook scrolling, then at least I can limit the amount of time I spend on it. What is one trigger that propels you into negativity and how can you reduce its power over you? 2. Become aware of the language you use To break this negative pattern, reframe the words you use, whether they are internal or out loud. For instance, instead of saying that this deadly virus “happened to us” we can start saying that it “happened FOR us”. This is an empowering way of viewing this experience as a gift. It can actually help you shift your thinking into a story of gratitude, or even how we might be able to use the experience to help others. Once again, a very small step by changing just one word, but very powerful. What is one negative statement rolling around in your head that you can reframe as a positive statement? What is a positive statement you can say about your present situation? 3. Use the Law of Attraction If you focus on what’s been keeping you feeling low, that is what you will attract more of. The sooner you can begin to focus on creating a positive direction, your energy begins to shift and you can begin to see things differently. When you focus on things that make you feel good like taking action on solving an issue rather than ruminating on what you can’t change, it begins to dissipate those feelings and emotions and a new more positive story begins to emerge. What “feel-good” statement can you say to yourself that focuses on a positive solution? 4. Stop consuming junk stories How aware are you of junk stories that you are continually exposed to? Junk stories are any kind of story that’s designed primarily to rile up your emotions. It’s the equivalent of eating tons of junk food with no healthy nutrients to balance it out. Cable news, Twitter, facebook, lots of clicks that take you to places you don’t want to go. It’s designed to trigger an emotional response, but just like a huge ice cream sundae, there’s no nutrition in it, and the sugar rush is addictive, destructive and dangerous. Junk stories tend to create junk thinking, and it’s literally bad for our brains. How many hours are you exposed to negative news and what is one small step you can take to reduce that? 6. See the river, not the rocks I love this example from an experience I read about. “When I was first learning to kayak, I kept banging my boat into rocks. I said to my husband in frustration, “I am hitting every rock on this river!” He said, “Well then, stop looking at them!” Because that’s exactly what I was doing: going down the river, staring straight at the things I was most afraid of, and therefore, heading right for them. “ Message received. Focus on what’s right and not what is wrong and you will feel better, more positive, and more hopeful. What daily practice can you implement that keeps your focus on what is good and not on what is bad? 7. Write a new story This starts by literally writing out how you’d like your days to look from start to finish. What you’re doing and creating, who you’re doing it with, and the types of things you’re doing for fun. Writing out a new story creates momentum around how you want to live your life and puts you in a position of personal power and positivity. And there is no room for those negative thoughts to enter. You are too busy feeling good which is a great place to be. And the added bonus is - People who had a positive view of life live an average of 7.6 years longer than those who had a negative view. When will you start writing your new story and how will you keep it in view daily as a reminder? 8. Surround yourself with good people When you spend quality time with good people who love you, you develop a natural support system for your new habits and you are able to rewrite your story in a nurturing environment. And when you are with people you trust they can often guide you out of a negative thinking pattern because they care. Who are the good people in your life you can trust with your desire to start creating a more positive story for yourself? 9. Practice every day Once you know what you need to change, (like limit my time on facebook or take a break from it for a while) practice this every single day – no matter what. You need to break the “addictive thinking pattern” and it is an addiction for sure. How will you schedule time every day to practice time-out from negative triggers? 10. Get support Changing our old patterns of thinking that no longer serve us is no easy task because most of us have been conditioned with them since being young. One of my “not so favorite” ones from childhood on is “I’m not good enough or smart enough for that”. Even tho I am cognitively aware that is not true, it still sneaks in and I can obsess over that thought for days. So it’s important for me to not only challenge that thinking but also to seek out the right support and encouragement from others who can challenge me when I can’t do it for myself. And it may be getting professional support as well. How will you know if you need to pursue professional support to break the cycle of “stinking thinking”? Hope this gives you some useful ideas. Remember, even if you only can manage one small step from this list, there is still great power in making small shifts. Please share what is working for you. References: How Do Thoughts and Emotions Affect Health? Change your story: Your Three Steps to a Breakthrough 4 Ways to Change Your Story and Change Your Life Want To Change Your Life? Change Your Narrative. Here's How. Change Your Story, Change Your Life
  2. Carol Ebert

    Wellness Meets COVID-19

    Many of us have given our power over to healthcare professionals instead of taking back our power to affect our own health. For example Not eating healthy Not exercising, Becoming obese and developing Diabetes Expecting the healthcare system to fix us with more and more meds And, all of this could have been prevented. Now who is at risk for the virus the most? Those with chronic conditions. As the healthcare system becomes overloaded with patients, our access to providers may become limited if not impossible. So what is the solution? We are left to rely on our own self-care practices to do what we can to keep ourselves as healthy as we can be. That’s where wellness comes in Because of my career focus on Wellness, I am now fortunate enough to be free from chronic diseases and meds, but of course, it took work on my part to develop healthy lifestyle practices that have served me well. The good news is that it is never too late to tweak your health habits to help your body and mind become more resilient and boost your immunity – especially when we need all the immune support we can get right now! Here are some tried and true wellness strategies that you can start today to boost your immune system. Sleep It’s essential for good health any time, but even more so when everyone around you is coughing and sneezing. Make sure you get 7-9 hours starting at 9-10 pm. An increase in sleep actually increases the number of your white blood cells. Lack of sleep, less than 6 hours, increases inflammation in your body which can lower your immune system. Food Eat healthy whole foods like leafy greens that are filled with nutrients. Warm foods will help your digestion too. Stay hydrated as well. Drink only water or herbal TEAS rather than sugary sodas. Remember, for every cup of caffeine, you need 2 cups of water. Coconut water is one of my favorite treats when I need a boost. Avoid sugar and processed foods It appears that high blood sugar unleashes destructive molecules that interfere with the body's natural infection-control defenses. Eat foods that are naturally high in antiviral nutrients Such as coconut oil, raw garlic, oregano, ginger, kimchi, and other fermented foods, walnut, pomegranate, green tea, apple cider vinegar, and medicinal mushrooms (shiitake, maitake, reishi, cordyceps, turkey tail). The probiotics contained in fermented foods have incredible immune-boosting powers. Fermented kimchi, was found to have significant effects in preventing and fighting the H1N1 influenza. Other examples of fermented foods to try include sauerkraut, pickles, miso, kefir, and kombucha. Bone broth Now you probably heard of this one as it’s all the craze at the moment. It’s easy to find in health food stores and it’s pretty easy to make. You just need some bones and parts of meat that you don’t eat and cook it for several hours. Sauté an onion in olive oil, add some chopped garlic after the onion becomes translucent. Use the whole onion, skin and all. Put in the turkey carcass and any meat and skin you have. Now add a bunch of veggies that you’d like. For example, parsley, turnips, carrots, etc. Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Add 1-2 chopped green apples. Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 6-8 hours covered. Stir occasionally. Let cool completely. Strain and use immediately or freeze for later. Sneeze into a tissue or your elbow Then wash your hands immediately. Only about 40% of your sneeze makes it into the tissue, the rest ends up on your hands. So wash them whenever using a tissue. If there are no tissues handy, use your elbow to catch your sneeze. If you have a cough or sneeze, then stay home. If you have to go out, wear a mask. Exercise Aerobic exercise pumps up your heart and moves oxygen from your lungs to your blood. This helps increase the body’s natural virus-killing cells and immune response. Meditate daily A daily practice of meditation or even just thinking happy or calming thoughts can boost your immune system. Try 5 minutes of deep breathing, as this will lower cortisol levels, which increase when you feel stressed. STRESS and FEAR have been proven to lower your immune response. Do a media fast Take a break from all the media coverage and do something that brings joy which boosts your immune system. If you want to catch up on the news, my favorite is NPR. It's clear and simple without opinions or hype. It will get you informed without fear. Take immune boosting supplements If you aren’t taking supplements, this might be the best time to start to get the extra support you need right now. Make sure you seek out “pharmaceutical-grade” quality. Vitamins, Antioxidants, Multiminerals Fish Oil (high quality, potent, pure) Vitamin D3 Grape Seed Extract Vitamin C Zinc Beta- Glucan Complex with reishi, shiitake mushrooms, and baker’s yeast extract. Probiotics. Look for Bifidobacterium BB-12® and Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG®†. Both strands are clinically shown to survive the harsh acidic environment of the stomach, providing a full range of benefits such as sustaining healthy immune function. Hopefully, this information will be useful for you and those around you as we face the challenges ahead. Here is a helpful survival guide from Dr. Oz that you can post at home or work. Dr Oz Corona Virus Survival Tips (2).pdf
  3. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Stop Putting Your Life on Hold

    Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow, or next month, or next year, or … Maybe never. Nurses are busy. As caregivers, we tend to put other’s needs in front of our own. We strive to do as much as we can, for as many people as possible, in the least amount of time. This can lead to missing breaks, staying for a second shift, or not taking that class we were thinking about. We might feel like we don’t have time to add one more thing, or we’re too tired to spend our personal time the way we’d planned. After a while, the tendency to put things important to us off until another day may become reflexive, and this behavior can leak into our personal life. When we keep putting our life on hold it could eventually affect our physical and mental health if we deprive ourselves of meeting our needs. Why Not Me, Why Not Now? I’ll Be Happy When… Why do we wait for happiness? Sometimes we associate a new job, finishing a class, losing weight, or a specific day of the week, as what’s standing in the way of happiness. But often once we reach that desired destination, we realize that it wasn’t the barrier. Or we discover that there’s something else we believe we should accomplish first before we can be happy. If we continue with this pattern of putting our happiness on hold, dissatisfaction may become our default emotion. I’ll Do That When I Have Time to… So far no one has had any more luck coercing Father Time to slow down than they have had in fooling Mother Nature. As much as we try, we all have the same 24 hours each day. The key is dividing up and prioritizing how we want to spend this time. If we feel as if we have no time to do what we want, or what we enjoy, it can take an emotional toll. Make living life now a priority, instead of waiting to enjoy life. They’ll Be Upset If I Don’t… Sometimes it’s difficult to say no when helping others can feel satisfying. It can provide us with a sense of pride and purpose. But if we spend too much time giving to others and neglecting ourselves it can build resentment. We can still be helpful to others, although if we always say, yes, and never say, no, we might never have any space on our calendar for ourselves. Time to Let It Go We’re allowed to change. What worked at one stage of our life might not bring us joy in another. There are many things that occur in our lives that can cause us to shift our schedule, or our priorities, or to put goals on hold. They could be related to different stages of our career, our life, or those of our family, that require our attention. Although the years may pass, and things may change, sometimes we’re left with the mindset from a different time of our life. It might be time to let go of obligations that don’t fit what we want out of our life now. If we do a self-assessment, we might determine that we might be compromising aspects of our self-care. This could result in us pushing our bodies harder than we should to meet what we feel are our obligations day after day. We should be able to shift our perspective to feel joy, instead of guilt, when we reach for what we want instead of putting our needs on hold. Self-Care Isn’t Selfish It might feel as if we’re being selfish in making ourselves, and our lives, a priority. As nurses, we educate our clients about taking care of themselves with proper sleep and nutrition for better overall health and well-being, but we don’t always listen to our own advice. We know that listening to our body can help more than just us. When we work to meet our needs first, and our goals, we shouldn’t think of it as being selfish. It can help us be more productive, to be able to give more to others, and care for our patients easier. Self-care should extend to examining the goals we’ve put on hold for our personal and professional life. Even starting with small steps toward bigger goals and dreams can help refresh our mindset and help us remember what’s important. Gain a Positive Return on Investing in Yourself Don’t put your personal wellbeing on the back burner by always saying yes to things you don’t want to do, or that don’t serve you purposefully, or that take time away from meeting your goals. You might find a much more positive return on investing in yourself. What have you put on hold in your life?
  4. By Stuart Fisk, RN, CRNP, Director, Center for Inclusion Health, Allegheny Health Network, and Anne Dabrow Woods, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, AGACNP-BC, FAAN, Chief Nurse, Health Learning, Research and Practice, Wolters Kluwer The evolution of today’s care model from the traditional episodic/disease or “sick” care model to one of more sustainable value-based wellness, continues. The industry is currently building on the success of earlier strategies aimed at chronic disease management, taking performance to the next level by advancing wellness models to focus on early intervention to minimize the potential for disease onset. Central to these advancements is the proactive outreach tactics that bring clinicians and patients together as partners in care. As wellness models mature, the role nurses are playing naturally increase in importance due to their proximity to patients. Simply put, nurses are uniquely positioned to effect positive change as the healthcare professionals who are the most skilled at blending the “art” and “science” of care and delivering it to their patients. Consequently, healthcare organizations are best positioned for success when they equip nurses with the best resources for blending critical thinking skills with the latest evidence to empower patients towards healthier lifestyles. Wellness: Broadening the Boundaries of Care To realize the efficacy of wellness, providers must move outside the traditional boundaries of caring for patients within the four walls of a traditional acute care facility, and into the community at large to reach their most vulnerable populations. Strategies for helping patients best manage chronic diseases are an important part of this equation, as are tactics that can help the most at-risk patients make better choices before long before they contract an illness and require high-cost interventions from the healthcare system. For example, the disabled, low income/homeless, and the very young/very old are groups that often experience greater risk factors, less access to care, and higher rates of serious illness and death. Moving the performance needle to the next level requires that clinicians get as close to these patient populations as possible and establish partnerships built on trust to improve health outcomes. Take patients who have contracted the HIV virus, for example—a population the Center for Inclusion Health, at the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) in Pittsburgh, PA, has worked with since 2000. Moving into this population as a care provider required a clear understanding of the patients being treated—patients who have little trust in the healthcare system because of both past, and in some cases present, stigmatization. To establish trust, the caregivers had to move into their world and live by their rules to be able to treat them. Team-based care is patient-driven, multidisciplinary and is designed to meet the goals patients feel are most important. Promoting health while reducing harm is the foundation of the AHN model. That’s part of the “art” of nursing. But, to apply critical thinking to these vulnerable patient populations, nurses and other clinicians increasingly need to consider a patient’s social determinants of health (SDoH), which include a range of personal, social, economic and environmental factors that can influence a person’s health status and their subsequent outcomes. Do patients have access to transportation to get them to their appointments? Can they afford their medications? Does a patient have a support system that will help promote a healthy diet and exercise? As today’s nurses and other healthcare professionals are increasingly tasked with caring for patients not only at the bedside, but outside the boundaries of healthcare institutions as well they need access to critical SDoH data and an understanding of how to make the best use of it. This focus must become part of greater strategies that support the continued professional development of nurses and provide advanced resources that help nurses navigate a fluid healthcare climate Equipping Nurses with the Best Tools and Education In a recent survey conducted by Wolters Kluwer of nearly 2,000 healthcare professionals, a full one-quarter of younger nurses believe a top priority for nursing over the next few years is to improve the health of individuals, families and communities by addressing SDoH. Another 29% agree that hospitals need to prioritize gaining access to data that helps them better respond to a patient’s social and/or lifestyle needs. Notably, AHN’s Center for Inclusion Health recently designed and integrated the first SDoH screening tool, which is now part of the standard of care at the center. Innovation and standardization of practice like this must become a priority in healthcare organizations as they equip nurses with the tools and knowledge needed to manage complex patient populations. With the right data, necessary clinical skills and support tools that provide point-of-care access to evidence-based procedures and decision support, nurses can more effectively participate in and even drive the multidisciplinary approach to the care needed to improve outcomes for high-risk groups. By learning to care for the most complex patients who experience disparity and stigma in our society and healthcare system we raise the standards of quality and value for everyone who walks through our doors. Nurses have to be at the front lines of this approach, hand in hand with other disciplines, because that is what they are trained and educated to do. Healthcare is evolving, and the role of nurses is increasingly important as the clinical professionals closest to the heartbeat of patients. As the concept of care delivery becomes broader and more proactive, nurses must be equipped to address wellness, reduce disparities and elevate value in healthcare. Visit: Care Without Judgement
  5. Carol Ebert

    Food and Your Mood

    Today that theory has been debunked, and if you want proof that it was a bad idea, check out how many overweight people there are today with health consequences of diabetes and blood sugar control problems, heart disease, etc. Currently 75% of men and 60% of women are overweight. So giving permission to the masses to eat all those carbs in large quantities took its toll. There is still conflicting and sometimes false information about the best way to feed yourself, but I do know now that the early food pyramid was the worst diet you could be on. The good news is the pyramid has been stood up on it's head. Current thinking says those carbs should be eaten only sparingly or not at all. That is a huge turnround. So are all carbs bad? No - just those "fast carbs" that are processed, packaged and sugar-ladened that quickly digest and lead to sugar spikes and drops. We still do need good carbs, but the "slow" kind which are the ones that require more chewing, digest slower, and keep your blood sugar from spiking. Like fresh vegetables and fruits that are not only loaded with nutrition that your body craves, but are a beautiful array of bright colors. This backstory sets the stage for another big benefit from eating healthier - your mood can improve! You don't have to be a negative grump if you just change the way you eat. (Disclaimer: food alone may not solve all your mood problems, but it is an important factor not to ignore.) I have noticed the food-mood connection intuitively after eating ice cream and then not being able to sleep and the following day being exhausted and crabby. Or overeating a carb and sugar ladened celebration meal and feeling uncomfortable and cranky and only wanting to "sleep it off". Or having pancakes with syrup for breakfast and within 2 hours I'm HANGRY (hungry and angry). Yes, your food choices affect how your day goes, and you don't want to be the one that people avoid because you are in a bad mood. So let's start by doing a personal inventory Which foods energize you? Which foods slow you down? Which foods cloud your brain? What revelations do you have from your answers? Now let's explore some solutions that might help you improve your mood using food. These are just some first steps, and there is always more to learn as you get going. Eat foods that balance your blood sugar When you eat alot of "high glycemic" foods all day your blood sugar spikes and drops and leads to hormone rushes that affect your mood. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, binge eating, weight gain, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, hormonal irregularities and insomnia are all possibilities, depending on the individual. One big set of chemicals that control mood are the neurotransmitters in the brain led by the pleasure "drug" serotonin. These substances determine whether you feel good and energetic or tired, irritable, and spacey. They run on sugar, preferably the form that comes from low glycemic carbohydrates which maintain a stable blood sugar level through the day, slowly feeding these substances into the brain. So eat whole real foods, avoid junk food, focus on "slow carbs" that take longer to digest and eat frequent small meals to keep your blood sugar level. Here is a resource for low-glycemic foods. How likely are you to adopt this type of eating? If likely, what would be your first step? Follow a Mediterranean diet The key to the Mediterranean eating plan is to eat real food like fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, whole grains, olive oil and lean protein, while reducing ultra-processed, fried and sugary foods. This feeds the brain the right combination of nutrients, which helps boost serotonin, the neurotransmitter that's responsible for happiness and well-being. How likely are you to adopt this type of eating? If likely, here is a resource for you to get started. Choose mood boosting foods for snacks Grapes Grapes are packed with antioxidants, especially flavonoids, which have been found to affect mood. Raw nuts Nuts are full of serotonin, a feel-good chemical that's in short supply when you're depressed. Strawberries Strawberries are rich in an array of vitamins and nutrients like vitamins A and C and manganese to serve as a strong line of defense against brain degeneration, while also boosting the happy chemicals your brain produces. How likely are you to adopt this type of snack? If likely, here is a resource for you to get started. Hopefully this information will get you started on the path toward making mood-boosting food selections so your days will be filled with good feelings and your body with thank you for it. Any stories you want to share?
  6. My husband is obese, has Diabetes and is non-compliant when it comes to checking his blood sugars and following a Diabetic Diet. And his A1C is over 8, and that really scares me. He's already been thru open heart surgery to fix four blockages, a stent put in two years later, and now is experiencing shortness of breath. So back for more tests and another possible surgery. Things are happening that have me worried and I am starting to feel afraid that I could lose him. The most frustrating part is that I know what he needs to do to improve his chances of living longer and healthier but I can't get him to do it. I'm sure it hasn't been easy for him living with "Nurse Wellness" since he's addicted to junk food and doesn't want to change from pizza and hamburgers to whatever I have concocted that is super healthy and not loaded with sugar and grease. A definite dilemma, but it doesn't mean that I give up trying to change him, despite knowing you can't change anyone but yourself. I will admit I have had to get sneaky over the years trying to trick him into adopting healthier eating habits. For example, when I started my own wellness business with a focus on nutrition, I really learned the facts about using "food as medicine" so I was very motivated toward helping him lose weight, bring down those blood sugars and maybe get off of the many drugs he was on. One of the programs I had at my disposal was called a Sugar Cleanse and it was part of a weight loss program, so I thought this would be perfect for him. It consisted of replacing meals with shakes for 5 days, taking vitamins twice a day, eating nutrition bars in between meals and after 5 days he could lose 5 pounds. But how to get him to do it? Step one. I knew that he had loved having milk shakes as a treat, so I suggested he might like to try one of my nutrition shakes. And guess what - he liked it! Step one was accomplished and he was willing to drink a shake every morning for breakfast. Step 2. Getting him to take the vitamins. He was already taking medications for his Diabetes, so what's a few more pills? I told him they had been giving me more energy, I felt better and was sleeping better so he decided to give them a try. So I added them to his pill box and he took them all together without flinching. Just a few more pills - no big deal. Step 3. Getting him to do the 5-day Sugar Cleanse. Since I hadn't tried it myself, I wanted to know what it was like so I could better support my customers about what to expect. I also knew that it helps with weight loss and blood sugar control so I asked him to do it with me and he said YES! And he agreed to check his blood sugars during the 5 days to see if it was working. NOTE: I believe that even tho he originally seemed to be resistant to changing his lifestyle toward more healthy living, he really did want to get healthier but didn't know how to proceed. Sometimes when something comes along that sounds like it could work and is non-threatening, people jump on board. Timing is everything! And so the experiment began. Day one his blood sugar was 180, and by day 5, it was 90. He was thrilled! And guess what - he lost 11 pounds over 5 days to my 5. Yes, men seem to lose weight faster than women - not fair! Now he was on a roll and stayed on a modified version of the program for the next 6 months, lost over 40 pounds, got off of his blood pressure and cholesterol med and one of his Diabetes meds. And felt a whole lot better and became a believer in eating "low glycemic" foods for weight and blood sugar control. So being sneaky and trying to trick him into making some healthy lifestyle changes may not seem fair, but a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do. And in this case it worked. But now for the rest of the story. I wish I could say that there is a happy ending and he stayed super healthy for the rest of his days. But truth be told, this plan worked for several years but gradually his food addiction sneaked back in with his old habits and he gained all his weight back and finally ended up taking insulin for his Diabetes. So here we are again, back at the beginning. However, this time we're older and now I'm worried that his life could be in jeopardy. But my nature is not to give up. Especially when I know the results he had before were spectacular and life saving. I am also armed with success stories from other clients who use this program and are healthier and extremely grateful to have found something that works, when all the meds in the world have not helped. Even one man was able to drop his A1C from 8 to 5 and resolved his Diabetic Neuropathy! And again I am amazed at the power of "food as medicine". So rather than giving into the fear of the "inevitable" with my husband, I prefer to take the high road and become the "trickster" again and try to work my magic once more. After all, he is worth it and the path of healthcare with all those drugs and procedures should be the "path less traveled". Wellness is the way to true health and longevity. Do you have a spouse or partner who has health issues you wish you could change and how are you handling it? Please share your stories so we can learn from your experiences.
  7. Carol Ebert

    Aging or Ageless: What path are you on?

    Change your perception of YOU If you think you are old, you will be old before your time. Don’t act your age. Stop feeling guilty when you are drawn in the clothing section of a store when teens hang out. Their clothes are more exciting and fun than the ones you “think” you should wear. If dressing youthful makes you feel youthful, then your mind thinks you are younger too. Watch what you say Red flag language is: I’m having a senior moment I’m too old for that I can’t remember anything Replace your negative language about aging with positive words about how cool it is to be older and wiser. Look for positive role models My current favorites are Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin - both in their 80’s and still rocking! And what about RBG and Nancy Pelosi. There are more and more public figures who are showing us that older is even better. Activate personal healing practices Ask your body what it needs to flourish Reduce stress by establishing a habit of rest and restoration Create balance between activity and rest Embrace a daily nap Exercise daily but protect your body from over-doing it. Nourish your body with food it desires Relax with yoga, mindful practices, music, breathing, warm baths Grieve and release Be aware of past hurts, grudges, resentments that drag you down Create a ritual for release like writing it all down and then burning the paper Practice shifting your thoughts to something pleasant when old negative thoughts pop into your head Shout out loud – “get out of my head, I am done with you!” Forgive old resentments by praying for them briefly every day for 10 days and then feel the release Nurture relationships Nurture yourself first – how would you treat yourself if you were the love of your life? Protect your priceless energy by saying NO to toxic relationships, even family members Have fun with your friends Have fun with your partner Protect your space by setting healthy boundaries Say NO to rescuing others who need to rescue themselves Eat with Pleasure Treat your meal like an event Arrange to eat with people you enjoy who are not in a hurry Get excited about knowing that your body craves vegetables more than anything! Start with a ritual of appreciation for this wonderful nourishment for your body Look, listen and savor the food Slow the pace of chewing to slow the pace of the meal Pay attention to how your body feels Stop eating when you feel full Thank the food for nourishing your body Move with Joy Select movements that give you pleasure, stretch your muscles, get your energy flowing and make you feel alive If you like to dance but not go to dance classes or clubs, choose Jazzercise If you walk, change the pace and location If you want freedom of movement try NIA If you like being home put on music and make cleaning, dusting, gardening into dance moves If you sit all day set a timer every hour and get up to do stretches, hip swivels, yoga, tai chi Practice balancing on one foot at a time when on the phone, cooking dinner, watching TV Be Beautiful Look in the mirror every day and say “Hello gorgeous – you look awesome”. Do a morning beauty ritual for your face and enjoy the process, feel, fragrance and transformation Treat yourself to a professional beauty treatment in a salon and savor the process and feeling Wear only clothes that make you feel great even if they are “way out” Make an entrance into a room with head held high as if you are a movie star on the red carpet Connect with your spirituality Journal daily in peace and quiet and see what is revealed Remember to be who you really are and not what others think you should be Ground yourself by connecting with nature regularly Practice mindful meditation and see what comes up Connect with a spiritual community Create meaningful daily affirmations Personalize your environment Rearrange your living space to reflect good feelings and rejuvenation Purge and declutter one drawer at a time Create a small meditation alter or zone Locate a perfect place outdoors to replenish yourself Schedule daily time to be with yourself Affirm your true ageless self I will bring more pleasure into my life I will leave worry and fear behind I will be more joyful I will honor my spirituality I will live in the moment in alignment with nature I will have faith that what is meant for me will always come I will surround myself with supportive people Resource: Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality and Well-Being by Christiane Northrup, MD Please share how you are embracing “Coming of Age” and your strategies for living “Agelessly”.
  8. Let’s focus on some personal results from being too busy and challenge how it affects your lifestyle: YOU aren’t present. When have you been so swept away in a busy situation that you waived off an overture from your spouse, child, friend because you didn’t have time for them? YOU miss out on opportunities. When has an opportunity arisen that you really wanted to pursue but were too busy to take the time to explore it? YOU forget to love and care for yourself. When is the last time you did something nice for yourself, like a massage, spa day, weekend getaway? YOU don’t make time for doing nothing. How often do you unplug, detach and just “be” without doing? YOU don’t have time to think. When do you take the time to ponder and process issues in your life and work? YOU neglect to set boundaries. What is the effect on your day when you don’t set boundaries? YOU aren’t working to your potential. What goal do you wish to achieve that you are too busy to pursue? YOU become emotionally unavailable. What relationships are in jeopardy because you are too busy to nurture them? YOU forget to dream. How would your life be different if you took the time to imagine a perfect life for you? YOU forget your “why”. How often do you take the time to contemplate the reason you are here on this planet? Does this exercise give you some insights about the effect of busy-ness on the quality of your life? Or does it cause even more stress than you already have? Not to worry. I have solutions. But before I share, YOU need to make a decision about whether you are willing to make some changes in your life and take back the time and energy you lack right now. Top 10 solutions for reducing busy-ness and improving your health: 1. Examine your lifestyle Write down everything you do in a day Label what is important and what is not Stop doing what is not important 2. Follow your intuition Sit quietly for 10 minutes with eyes closed Imagine that your intuition is speaking to you about your busy-ness. What is it saying? Check in with your intuition whenever you feel overwhelmed and ask for answers 3. Say no Before you say yes - ask yourself: Do I have time for this? Do I want to do this? Does it fit with my values? 4. Network for support Talk with someone who seems to have their life in control Ask them what techniques they use to prevent being too busy Find an accountability partner while you begin making changes 5. Prioritize your health Determine how important your health is to you Schedule “health improvement time” on your calendar daily Create a reward system for yourself as a motivator 6. Calm your mind Focus on taking slow deep breaths whenever you feel tense Count to 10 if you feel you might blow up at someone Schedule time daily for meditation, calming music, relaxation strategies 7. Refresh your body Get up and move around every hour; or sit down every hour if you are always on your feet Do stretching exercises every hour Take breaks by walking outside or up and down stairs 8. Use food for brain power Create your lunch and snacks at home so you don’t waste time at work finding food Eat whole real food, low glycemic, not processed Drink a lot of water, half your weight in ounces 9. Create a workable schedule Honor a start and end time to your day and stick with it Avoid taking work home. If you must, determine if it’s necessary or can wait until the next day. Create an annual calendar that locks in self-care days off and vacations 10. Get enough sleep Pull the plug on technology after 8pm Spend quiet time to unwind before going to bed Set a sleep schedule of 7-8 hours Hopefully, these tips will be useful for you in your quest to reduce the busy-ness in your life and restore well-being. Feel free to share how you manage your busy lifestyle so we can all learn from each other. For a more in-depth look at this issue, I have a new book being released soon – Too Busy for YOU – How to Prioritize Yourself for a Balanced, Mindful and Happy Life. Let me know if you want to be notified when it is available. Resource: 21 Reasons Why You Should Not be Proud of Being Busy
  9. Here is Lori’s story as an example of a nurse practitioner I have coached on retooling herself. Lori was a self-described “burned out nurse” ready to retire. “I don’t want to go back to any kind of clinical nursing” she told me. Instead, she started retooling her nursing skills to reflect a more holistic approach to health and got trained as a Wellness Coach, aligned with a nutrition company that provided business training as well as an online store of high quality nutritional products and began her new journey while remaining grounded in her nursing foundation. She is a lot happier now and doesn’t see retirement as stopping, but just transitioning into who she has evolved to be as a nurse. Her story reminds me of how easily our nursing education and experiences can be retooled into new and interesting directions whenever we need a change. If this resonates with you, here are a few tips to help start the re-tooling process: 1. Do you really want to change once you are retired? There are times in our lives when we’re forced to reinvent ourselves. For example, when my last job got so stressful and I knew it was killing me, I knew I needed a change. I was also close to retirement but still wanted to work, so I thrust myself into the world of the unknown – trying to reinvent myself without having a clue as to how to do that. I actually had never thought about what retirement would look like for me, but I knew for sure I would never stop being productive doing something. So, do you really want to change? YES or NO 2. Stop thinking of yourself as being retired. Let’s retire the word retired and focus on being re-tooled. Create a positive mindset about entering Your Third Act and appreciate all the surprises, challenges and joys that will unfold Make a personal affirmation to convince yourself that you are not done, but are taking another path towards a fulfilling life. Fill in the blank: In the future I will be joyfully working at _______________________. 3. Assess your work history for skills Evaluate your resume and highlight the skills you already possess Examine your job experiences and make a detailed list of all the things you do well and enjoy List the skills that that were never part of your job description, yet were required for you in order to succeed. List all soft-skills as well as hard skills. List educational presentations you have made that have been persuasive List research skills you have developed How skilled are you at writing and communication Consider all the extraordinary experiences you have had on the job that helped you develop creative thinking skills or sharpened organization capabilities. 4. Attach yourself to the right people. In today’s interconnected world it’s easier than ever to network with people from all over the world. While people have associated social networking with meeting new friends and finding job opportunities, you can also connect with people who can change you for the better. Linkedin is a great business social media site where you can connect with other nursing groups who may have interests that inspire you. Or connect with me for support. 5. Learn. Whether if it’s reading or attending a workshop or webinar, find ways to enhance your knowledge. It will make you a more well-rounded individual and help you grow both personally and professionally. Lifelong learning also makes you more motivated, develop mental skills, and introduces you to new people and thoughts. There are so many FREE Webinar Series with content you can immerse yourself in that you will come away with ideas, connections and motivation. Take a class for inspiration or develop new skills. Many colleges offer free tuition to retirees Find a local program that focuses on entrepreneurship if what you want is to run your own business. 6. Work part-time Volunteer Freelance in an area that fits your talents If you have always been a nurse but always dreamed about being a writer, then start writing a blog on your life experiences and ultimately it could be a book that generates some income. (I did that to create my book Too Busy for YOU?) 7. Find a mentor. Here are types of mentors: Direct. The mentor is in front of you and will guide you. Indirect. These are mentors who aren’t physically with you, like authors. Everything can be a mentor. If you have a mentor that insists that you do things their way, learn it their way and then do it your way. My favorite mentor is someone successfully doing what you want to do 8. Manage your finances. Reinventing yourself won’t always be free. For example, if you want to change careers, you may have to take workshops or college courses. Because of that, it’s important that you create a realistic budget so you have the funds to complete your transformation. Remember “it takes money to make money”. 9. Take one step at a time. Reinvention is a process that could take years. Don’t overwhelm yourself by getting consumed on the big picture. Take steps to accomplish your end goals. For example, if you want to get in better shape, than the first step would be going for a walk, the next step would be setting a schedule, then getting a gym membership and finally eating healthier. Take it one step at a time. 10. Believe in yourself. Once you leave your nursing job it takes a toll on self-confidence and self-esteem. But you must remind yourself of all of your personal accomplishments. You were good at your job, in fact, you were great! You achieved goals, impressed bosses and yourself, had grateful patients and you can do it again. Inspired by: Consider these Five Ways to Reinvent Yourself Five Essentials of Reinventing Yourself Entrepreneur How could you retool your nursing skills for a NEW third Act?
  10. In a relatively short time – over the past 15 to 20 years – options for nursing professionals have expanded significantly with the increased focus on disease prevention, wellness, aging issues and improved longevity. This increase has been driven by the consumer as well as the various medical institutions and industry interests looking to lower health care costs and increase consumer satisfaction. With escalating levels of chronic disease, and the associated staggering health care costs it became imperative that national medical oversight organizations begin to address some of the underlying factors that have contributed to these rising problems. Because of the high price tag on our health care, we Americans like to assume that we have the best healthcare money can buy. However, a 2016 report compared the healthcare system in the U.S. to 16 other countries health care offerings. The study showed the U.S. 12th out of the 16 countries, with China ranking as the #1 system in the world. The Centers for Disease Control statistics show that 90% of national health care dollars are spent on the care and treatment of chronic disease and mental health. This has become an important flashpoint to address and reduce healthcare costs in the U.S. while decreasing chronic health conditions. Much of medical acute care is also directed at the urgent care treatment of chronic presentations, with the obvious exception of trauma. Not only is consumer dissatisfaction driving initiatives to find successful alternatives, in addition, dissatisfaction among health care workers and professionals a concern as well. This particular issue, which has a significant impact on the nursing profession, has manifested in several ways. First being that currently there is a large population of nurses who are interested in moving away from symptomatic medicine towards prevention and “wellness” environments. This move away from acute care, symptomatic treatment of illness towards disease prevention, have crafted two “camps”, if you will, of nursing professionals pursuing two different objectives within nursing practice. The current focus towards prevention and patient autonomy is also impacting the practice of acute care medicine. This point is well made in the January, 2017 Orthopedic Nursing journal regarding healthcare transformation and the changing role of nursing: “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health asserts that nursing has a critical contribution in healthcare reform and the demands for a safe, quality, patient-centered, accessible, and affordable healthcare system (IOM, 2010). To deliver these outcomes, nurses, from the chief nursing officer to the staff nurse, must understand how nursing practice must be dramatically different to deliver the expected level of quality care and proactively and passionately become involved in the change. These changes will require a new or enhanced skill set on wellness and population care, with a renewed focus on patient-centered care, care coordination, data analytics, and quality improvement.” Many nurses today do feel passionate about patient-centered care, which invites the patient into the center of their own health and wellness, refocusing control from the doctor or provider to the patient, who then has greater autonomy and decision making over the quality of their health care but also the quality of their life. At the same time, many nurses are looking to provide more whole-patient focused care, there is data showing an increase in turnover and job dissatisfaction in traditional medical care facilities. There may be a strong correlation between these two trends. According to a 2012 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 57.3% of nurses are currently working in hospitals. There is, however, a significant problem with nurse retention. From the 2018 National Healthcare Retention and RN Staffing and Report: “Hospital turnover is on the rise and executives need to be concerned since this is a leading indicator of future financial pressure, and patient & employee satisfaction. 2017 recorded the highest hospital turnover since launching this study almost a decade ago. For-Profit hospitals with under 350 beds and located in the North-Central and West experienced turnover below the national average and tend to have a greater retention level. Conversely, the profile of a hospital with the highest turnover is a facility with 350-500 beds and located in the South-Central region. The 2016-17 percent change in regional turnover ranges from -0.6% to +1.9%. The North-East experienced the greatest decrease in turnover from the prior year, while the South-East experienced the greatest increase.” The U.S. culture is also trending towards a more self-care, self-directed lifestyle with many Americans, of all ages, turning to alternative health care as an option for staying healthier longer and avoiding many of the health care crises that can arise from sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle habits. A mere 25 years ago, organic foods, vitamin supplementation, daily workouts, meditation, yoga, having enough sleep and stress reduction were considered to be too “unproven” and “nutty crunchy” for mainstream medicine. Today, vanguards like Harvard Medical School and its Ivy League peers, all offer online health information subscriptions and health education libraries to help make available to the general population, information they can use to create healthier, longer lives, including previous “alternatives”. There are currently more options, than ever before for nurses to work with patients and tap into their passion to serve others. The integrative health field, wellness as a lifestyle, anti-aging, disease prevention, patient empowerment through advocacy, patient health education and lifestyle support, healthcare coaching, patient navigators and more options are available for today’s nurses. It’s a wonderful time for nurses! References: 2018 National Healthcare Retention and RN Staffing Report Centers for Disease Control Healthcare Transformation and Changing Roles for Nurses Nursing Where the Jobs Are Quality of Healthcare in the US and World