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'wellness' posts

Five Healthy New Year's Resolutions for Men and Women

I'm a family doctor at Swedish's South Lake Union Primary Care Clinic - if you're into new year's resolutions, here are five healthy ones to try:

(Listen to the end for a 'bonus' resolution)

Reduce Your Holiday Stress

The holiday season generally puts increased demands on everyone. How do you have less stress and more fun during the holidays? Here are 8 ways to reduce your stress this holiday season.

1. Make the holidays about presence not presents. Avoid getting caught in the message that expensive gifts are a sign of love. Remember, your undivided attention and caring presence is your greatest gift to your loved ones. Create a memorable holiday by spending time with the people you care about. Never underestimate or diminish the lasting gift of your heart’s love.

2. Define what is important to you this holiday season. Unrealistic and high expectations promoted by advertisers can undermine the possibilities for happiness during the holidays. Your relationships, parties, dinners and gifts may never measure up to the perfection portrayed by the media. So, be realistic and make your holidays uniquely your own. Identify what you truly value during the holidays and create a celebration around what matters most to you. Avoid judging your holiday based on a magazine image.

3. Take care of yourself one day at a time. Drink plenty of water. Start a holiday tradition of walking with a friend or family member or participate in some other form of regular exercise. Deep breathe during your day and especially when you feel rushed or stressed. Listen to relaxing music. Avoid overdoing the sweets and alcohol. Keep healthy snacks, like fruit or nuts, nearby.

4. Rest in order to enjoy. If you are going shopping or attending holiday events that you know will tire you, make time for a nap or get to bed a little early. If you are doing added cooking and cleaning, remember to take extra time to rest and relax. If you are tired, you are not going to enjoy even pleasurable activities.

5. Pace yourself and delegate whenever possible. Make a conscious choice about the number of and which holiday activities you want to participate in. Trying to “do it all” can be exhausting. Be willing to say “no” and also share the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and added responsibilities with others whenever you can. Remember less can be more!

6. Norman Rockwell moments mostly happen in paintings...

Change your clock this weekend: it may help your ticker

Here’s a great reason to remember to turn your clocks back and sleep in an extra hour this weekend: it may be good for your heart.

More than 1.5 billion people reset their clocks every year, turning clocks backward by an hour in the fall and forward by an hour in the spring. These transitions can disrupt internal biologic rhythms and influence the duration and quality of sleep. But does losing or gaining that one hour have health consequences? A 2008 report in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Janszky and colleagues suggests that it does. The authors showed that there is a significant increase in the daily rate of heart attack in the first few days after we “spring ahead” and get an hour less of sleep, but that in the first few days after we “fall back” and gain an hour of sleep, there are fewer heart attacks.

Sleep deprivation carries a high risk. Sleeping less than 5-6 hours per night is associated with significant increase in the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and depression. But 40% of Americans...

6 Simple Steps to Prevent Medication Errors

Our medical director for quality and patient safety, Mary Gregg, MD, MHA, blogged for the Washington State Medical Association about medication safety - what we as patients can do to help keep us safe:

Medications fight illnesses, prevent disease and help improve quality of life. But it’s important to take them safely and as directed.

Dr. Mary GreggAs a cardiac surgeon, I’ve seen the consequences of not taking medications properly. I once had a heart attack patient come to the hospital. After a successful surgery inserting a stent to prevent blockage in his artery, he was discharged with a prescription for a medication to prevent clots. For one reason or another, the patient didn’t fill his prescription as instructed for several days and he ended up in the ER for emergency heart surgery.

Some easy simple steps to prevent medication errors:

Resuming a Routine (but this one includes lunch)

It’s that time of year to get back into your routine. Whether that means packing your child’s lunch, preparing your own, or (ah-ha) adopting the concept of this midday meal for the first time, lunch is definitely an exciting and much needed opportunity to refuel your body with the proper nutrients necessary to continue plugging away until evening! (Yeah right, who has time for that meal? Sit tight, future post to come.)

Excuses, excuses…

 

1. “I don’t have time”

You wait in line at Starbucks for your double tall, nonfat, 1.5 pump whatever, right? Then you have time to make lunch. I swear – Google it. Told you – 40.3 million results for “quick healthy lunch” discredits this excuse.

If you don’t want to Google a solution, here are some ideas:

  • Planned-Overs*! Purposefully prepare extra at dinner, and reserve some for tomorrow’s lunch. Grilling burgers? Grill up extra patties that you can use for tacos the next day. Salmon? Roast a few extra ounces and save for a salmon salad. Baked chicken? Cut into strips and use in sandwiches, dice and throw in pasta, or add to a can of your favorite soup for a protein boost.

*Word to the wise (or anyone who has experienced food poisoning from improperly handled leftovers): When using leftovers, you need to know the basics of food safety. Keep foods out of the “Danger Zone”, which is 40-140F. Bacteria that can make you miserably ill favors this temp range, so keep your hot food hot, and cold foods cold. Never keep perishable foods in the danger zone for longer than 2 hours (1 hour if it’s hot outside).

Click here to learn more about food safety, including steps to keeping foods safe, myths, dangerous mistakes, cooking temperatures, recalls and much more.

  • Don’t have leftovers to use? Mix and match from the columns to create numerous quick assemble, healthy lunch options:

 

Medicine comes in many forms

It's a well known fact that animals can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and promote healing. The Swedish Edmonds Therapy Pups (STP) program, which began in early 2008, has expanded to include more than 10 teams of volunteer handlers and their Pet Partners®. Presently, the teams visit patients on surgery floors, but they can be stopped for a visit any time you see them in the halls. While their primary purpose is to see hospital patients, they often visit patients’ family and friends too – and our staff!

So what do handlers and their therapy pups do during a visit? I asked a few of our teams to share their stories. Also, make sure you watch the ‘dog cam’ below!

Just Breathe

It’s no secret that we’re all just a little stressed these days. Between the economy and information overload on the internet, we have all sorts of things to worry about nowadays. Stress and anxiety can cause physical pain, emotional strain, and strain in your relationships. When you’re stressed, your body is secreting hormones that put you into that ‘fight or flight’ state. Long term, this state will wear on your body.

Our children pick up on our heightened state and become stressed and anxious, too.This is not a good state for children to thrive in. We learn best when we’re comfortable and relaxed, not if we’re nervous and anxious.

Parents need to learn how to regulate their own stress so that we may help our children learn the same coping techniques.

Tips to regulate stress in the immediate moment:

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