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4 habits to kick for your health in 2022

Few things in life are harder than breaking old habits and making new ones. But our health requires that we take a look at our actions and think about ways we can make better choices. A new year is a great time to examine your habits and consider which ones you could change over the next 12 months. Even small changes can make a big difference! Talk with your doctor about things you can do to improve your overall health, but until then, here are four common habits to kick and a few new resolutions to help you get started on your new journey.

Smoking cigarettes.

Smoking is linked to a number of negative and fatal health outcomes including lung disease, heart disease and cancer. It is one of the easiest ways to cut your life short. What’s especially challenging is that cigarettes are addictive, making it very difficult to stop once you’ve started smoking. Many physicians have resources to help you quit, including prescription-strength medication that can make the process of quitting easier. But you are capable of quitting on your own! The CDC has free resources to help anyone who is currently a smoker kick this bad habit.

For many people, a smoke break serves as a much-needed time to cool down and de-stress, which is something we all need! A good habit to replace a cigarette break is taking time to breath and meditate. It’s really easy and can do wonders for your emotional fitness. Here’s a simple breathing exercise you can try.

  1. Set a one minute timer.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Take a slow breath in through your nose as you count to six.
  4. Hold your breath as you count to four.
  5. Slowly breath out your mouth as you count to six.
  6. Repeat this until your timer runs out.

Consuming excess sugar.

Sweets are delicious, but in excess they can be bad for our bodies. If you have a sweet tooth, you’re like a lot of Americans! On average, we consume nearly 57 pounds of added sugar per year. This can impact our body’s natural processes, contributing to weight gain and other negative physical side effects. And like cigarettes, sugar is addictive, meaning reducing your intake might be more challenging than you think.

Experts agree – some added sugar is OK. But how do you determine how much is too much? And how can you cut back in meaningful ways?

A great habit to pick up is reading food labels! We associate sugar with cakes, cookies and other desserts. But everyday items (even some we consider healthy) like granola bars, salad dressings and marinades contain more sugar than we realize. Becoming aware of which products contain hidden sugars and which don’t can help you cut back more easily.

Another way to reduce your sugar intake is to reserve desserts for special occasions. When you have a slice of cake at your daughter’s birthday party, or a piece of grandmother’s pie on the Fourth of July, you’re enjoying life! Eat that dessert without guilt. But reserve those treats for occasions that warrant celebration.

Staying up late.

We’ve all had to stay up to get things done for work or around the house. But making a habit of choosing activities – fun or productive – over sleep can negatively affect our health. Skipping sleep can hurt your body from head to toe, so it’s important that you find a good bedtime routine as part of your 2022 resolutions. Falling asleep and staying asleep isn’t easy for everyone. We encourage you to talk with a physician, like those at the Wellness and Stress Clinic, about your sleep troubles to determine if there is something deeper keeping you up at night!

Spending too much time on the couch.

After a long day at work, a few hours spent on the couch can be just what the doctor ordered. But our bodies need movement as much as they need rest. If you find yourself spending most of your time seated, it’s time to make changes that can benefit your body!

This might be one of the easiest habits to kick because the solution is simple. All you need to do is prioritize 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise per day. That could be time spent walking the dog, biking your neighborhood, or strolling with a friend. All you’re looking to do is move your body and get your heart rate up a little bit. Adding strength training and more intense cardio can have additional benefits, but talk with your doctor before you begin a strenuous fitness routine.

Building a balanced budget

As the new year approaches, New Year’s resolutions are often at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Whether you have health-focused goals or want to read more, the New Year is a wonderful time for a fresh start – especially when it comes to budgeting. Budgeting can often be intimidating, but like most things, it takes practice! Creating a balanced, functional budget that works for you and your family is a great way to improve your financial and mental health. Check out a few recommendations to set your mind (and your wallet) at ease.

Create goals

Budgeting is important, but have you asked yourself what you want to achieve through this style of money management? Establishing goals for your budget often makes it easy to track progress and can motivate you to continue down the budgeting path. Here are a few examples of budgeting goals:

  • Monitor spending to cut unnecessary costs and save money.
  • Pay off loans or debts.
  • Save money for the future.

Review your spending

Now that you’ve created your budgeting goals, it’s time to evaluate your spending habits. Review your spending over the last few months and organize your charges into categories like food, car, rent, utilities, etc. From here, you can create an average expense that becomes your budget for that category.

Start small

Once you’ve established each category’s budget, get to saving! It can be overwhelming, so we recommend starting small. Is the majority of your food budget spent on dining out or fast food? Money Under 30 estimates that a meal prepared by a restaurant is $13, whereas a meal created at home using store-bought groceries is only about $4. That’s around a 325% increase! Simple switches like bringing lunch from home instead of grabbing whatever’s at the food truck is an easy way to cut costs.

Reward yourself

We get it – budgeting isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, so why not make it fun? With the extra money you saved, consider using some of it to go to the movies or a new restaurant you’ve wanted to try. Associating budgeting with something special or fun makes it that much more rewarding!

At the Wellness and Stress Clinic of Memphis, we focus on the whole person – mental, physical and spiritual. Budgeting is another tool to assist you on your daily journey to overall wellness.

If you’re interested in learning more about budgeting or our free services, please contact us at 901-306-5433 or email info@wellness901.org.

Volunteer spotlight – Evan Ward

The work of the Wellness and Stress Clinic of Memphis wouldn’t be possible without our volunteers. As a thank you, we’re shining a light on their contributions! This month, we’re proud to introduce Evan Ward.

Evan began volunteering as a physician assistant at the clinic in December 2020. Outside of the clinic, he works as a full-time physician assistant and assistant professor for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center physician assistant program. He also assists UTHSC PA student volunteers during their didactic service at the clinic.

When asked what working with WSC means to him, Evan said, “The Wellness and Stress Clinic is a group whose goal is to make excellent, patient-centered care and services accessible to uninsured and underinsured Memphians. The WSC family of health professionals truly understand the importance of physical, spiritual and emotional wellness. I am honored to have the opportunity to be a volunteer with this exceptional organization and share the mission of service to the surrounding community.”

Evan, we thank you for your time and dedication to the clinic and our mission!

September is National Yoga Awareness month

Supporting one’s health involves more than just dietary health, it also involves physical and mental wellness. This awareness month is designed to help educate people about the health benefits of yoga and inspire a healthy lifestyle. This dedicated month was created in 2008 by the Department of Health and Wellness. Although there are many types of yoga, the activity has been growing in popularity and does have some health benefits. 

What are the health benefits of yoga?

  1. Increased flexibility 
  2. Increased muscle strength 
  3. A focus on breathing 
  4. Mental benefits

According to the American Osteopathic Association’s website: “The purpose of yoga is to build strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body,” (Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California).

More information can be found from: https://osteopathic.org/what-is-osteopathic-medicine/benefits-of-yoga/ 

How do I get involved? 

If you’re interested in trying yoga, it is very easy to get involved. All you need to do is just start it with a little guidance.  That guide can be found in the form of a class or a virtual teacher. Search your nearby area for yoga studios, or look online for yoga instructors with videos. Need equipment? To get started, all you need is a yoga mat. They can be easily found online or in athletic stores. If you want to get more involved with equipement, you can also buy blocks, weights, or elastic bands. But to start, a yoga mat is perfect. 

Yoga is for all. 

Yes. Yoga should always be an activity that states do as much as your body can allow and feel comfortable to do. The yoga routine will not be the same for everyone, because everyone’s body is different. Some weeks, you will be more sore in your legs, so focus your energy on stretching your legs. If you can’t do a stretch, don’t.  Yoga is for acknowledging and reconnecting with your body.
Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannecroteau/2019/09/02/september-is-national-yoga-month–how-you-can-get-started/?sh=643dc0bb2b30

Weight management with diabetes

When it comes to managing your weight, there’s no shortage of extreme diet trends, supposed miracle recipes and wacky exercise fads. While these methods claim to be effective, they are often complicated to follow or unhealthy in general. On top of this, these weight management methods don’t always account for illnesses, like diabetes, where blood sugar can be dangerously affected by certain diets or exercise routines.

Weight management is an important part of treating diabetes, but the clutter of all these unhealthy methods can make it difficult for people with diabetes to find healthy and effective ways to manage their weight. Below we offer some helpful tips and reminders for weight management with diabetes.

Set achievable goals
Instead of starting extreme diets and excessive exercise routines, try setting realistic health goals. Focusing on creating new habits and changes you can maintain for a long time will help you manage your weight more effectively. Start with realistic goals that fit your life, like taking a walk every other day or eating more vegetables than sweets. When you start with more realistic goals, you create habits. Over time, these habits become easier and can be upgraded for a new challenge when you’re ready!

Focus on nutrition
While monitoring calories and cutting down on certain types of ingredients can help with diabetic weight management, overemphasizing this can actually be harmful to weight management goals. For long-term, sustainable weight management, it’s important to focus on providing your body with the right amount of nutrients rather than a certain number of calories or types of food. Restricting calories can be dangerous for a person with diabetes and can also make you more likely to want to binge eat later on. Likewise, restricting our diet to only “healthy” foods can make us feel frustrated and give up on our goals. It’s important to find balance in your diet by focusing on consuming nutritious foods, while allowing yourself to eat foods that make you happy!

Reach out for support
Managing your weight with diabetes can feel frustrating, but you’re not alone. Creating a support system of doctors, dietitians, counselors and friends and family who understand your
experience and can offer support will help you stay on track to accomplish your health goals. This also has the added benefit of being able to talk about the emotional struggles that come with diabetes. Treatment for illnesses like diabetes often only focuses on treating your physical health, but addressing your emotional wellness is essential to achieving long-term success.

Managing your weight with diabetes can be difficult, but with the right approach and trustworthy support, it’s achievable. The Wellness and Stress Clinic of Memphis is committed to providing free medical services to our community. Our one-on-one health consultations and educational courses can help you learn more about diabetes and how you can best control it. To learn more about our services, visit our website or call us at 901-306-5433.

Mammograms: All your questions answered

You may have heard that women over a certain age should get mammograms regularly, but without knowing what they are and why they’re important, it can be easy to dismiss this recommendation. However, mammograms are important screening procedures that are worth learning about (and then getting, if you choose to do so).

What are mammograms?

Mammograms are low-dose x-rays that are used to detect breast cancer, especially in its early stages. This is when breast cancer tends to be the most treatable.

Who should get mammograms, and how often?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) currently recommends screening mammograms every two years for women between the ages of 50 and 74. Some other organizations have slightly different recommendations, and your personal risk factors (such as genetics, family history, and past history of breast cancer) can also help determine when and how often you should get screened.

What can I expect during the procedure?

A mammogram requires you to be undressed from the waist up, so it may be a good idea to wear a shirt with a skirt or pants (as opposed to a dress). You should also avoid using deodorant, perfume, or powder on the day of your appointment, since these products can actually show up on the x-rays and make them harder to read.

To take the x-rays, you will be asked to stand in front of a special x-ray machine with a lower plate to place your breasts on. An upper plate will be lowered to compress your breasts briefly to take the x-ray. Some people find the pressure of the plate uncomfortable, but it should only last a few seconds. If it hurts, you should tell the person administering the mammogram. Typically, two views are taken of each breast, which comes out to a total of four x-rays.

Where can I get a mammogram?

The Wellness & Stress Clinic will be offering free mammograms at our next Women and Children’s night on November 15 (not the upcoming one on August 23). Information on how to sign up for one will be provided closer to time.

If you have a regular doctor, you can also talk to them about when and where to get a mammogram. In addition, if you are on Medicare, you can call 1-800-633-4227 or visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website.

As always, stay healthy and stay safe!

–The Wellness & Stress Clinic Team

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Seasonal Foods and Recipes for August

Why eat in season? 

There are many reasons to eat foods that are in season! 

  1. They taste better! Just imagine: this is the food’s season! It loves this weather and will produce the best fruit or vegetable during this time because these are the conditions that this plant thrives in.
  2.  Less unnatural additives. Since these plants are in season, they are able to fully ripen without unnatural assistance. Thus, less unnatural additives to your produce. 
  3. Cheaper. Since the produce is flourishing during this time, there tends to be an abundance. Thus, with the higher supply, the price will normally lower. 

Produce in season for August: 

Fruits: 

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Figs
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Vegetables: 

  • Peas
  • Sweet onions
  • Green beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Summer squash
  • Corn
  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Hot peppers

Late summer recipes:  Here are some online recipes that make use of the beautiful August produce!

Greek Quinoa Bowls: https://peasandcrayons.com/2016/01/greek-quinoa-bowls-recipe.html#wprm-recipe-container-16727 

Caramelized Onion, Fig & Goat Cheese Pizza with Arugula: https://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/caramelized-onion-fig-goat-cheese-pizza-arugula-video/ 

Corn Tacos: https://rainbowplantlife.com/3-incredible-vegan-taco-recipes/

Peaches and Cream Puff Pastry Tart: https://rainbowplantlife.com/peaches-and-cream-puff-pastry-tart/

Source: https://askthefoodgeek.com/in-season/august/

Safety Tips for that Summer Sun

The summer heat is in full swing! Are you protected from the rays? 

Why can the heat be damaging?
The sun emits UV rays which can be harmful to humans.  UV rays are the #1 cause of skin cancer. Additionally, too much unprotected sun exposure can lead to dehydration or skin aging. Thus, skin protection from the sun is vital. 

How to stay safe from the sun: 

  1. Cover up: Wear protective clothing or sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30 (more is even better)!  According to the American Cancer Society, sunscreens with higher SPF numbers do lend more sun protection, but this difference becomes less significant as the SPF gets higher. Any sunscreen with an SPF less than 15 can protect you against sunburn, but not against skin cancer or skin aging.
  2. Seek shade when possible: Limit your exposure to sun. UV rays are most intense from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  3. Hydrate: This is extremely important. You do not want to get dehydrated on a hot day. It can lead to dizziness, faintness, extreme thirst, confusion, or more complicated, long-lasting problems. An easy way to prevent this is to drink water frequently. Additionally, if your body is low in sodium due to excessive sweating, you will want to replenish that salt deficiency. Some ways to replenish include fast salt fixes such as olives, pickles, or sports drinks.  

We hope these tips help you stay cool during the summer heat!

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What should I do about my workplace injury?

Workplace accidents result in injury more often than one may think. Each workplace is legally responsible to protect the health and safety of the workers by preventing workplace accidents. Injuries can happen to anyone, so it’s important to know your rights and the appropriate action to take when dealing with on-site accidents. Keep reading to learn more!

Inform your supervisor.

If you’ve been in a workplace accident, notify your supervisor or boss immediately – regardless of the injuries you may or may not have received. It’s best to have your experience documented as most states require it. Be sure to file immediately to avoid losing your legal right to compensation benefits due to state deadlines.

Seek medical care.

If your injury or illness requires immediate attention, seek medical care. Do not wait to speak to your supervisor or boss, as your health and well-being are top priorities. If you’re not seriously injured, ask your employer if you’re required to see a certain doctor or if you can choose your own. If you’re unhappy with the doctor’s diagnosis, you may be entitled to a second opinion under workers’ compensation. Keep in mind the doctor’s report can impact the benefits you receive.

Consult an attorney.

It’s often a good idea to talk to a workers’ compensation attorney before filing a claim. With years of experience handling workers’ compensation claims, they can greatly benefit your case. An initial consultation is usually free and can help you understand the benefits you’re entitled to and what steps you should take.

File a claim.

As an employee, you are entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. Filing a claim is not a lawsuit; rather, it is a request for benefits. The first step to filing a claim is notifying your employer. No matter the circumstances, your employer must offer you a claim form immediately. You must complete the form before being eligible for benefits. If you do not complete the form, your employer has no obligation to provide benefits. You will receive a copy of your claim from your employer that you should keep for your records.

If you need additional guidance regarding an on-site injury or accident, the Wellness and Stress Clinic of Memphis offers legal guidance from volunteers with the Memphis Area Legal Services every first and third Monday of the month via phone consultation. Appointments are necessary, so give us a call at 901-306-5433 to set yours up!

Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month

It’s commonly assumed that arthritis only affects the elderly, but this isn’t true. That’s why the month of July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, to bring attention to the condition that affects nearly 300,000 children and teens in the United States.

What is juvenile arthritis?

Juvenile arthritis (JA) is actually an umbrella term that encompasses multiple inflammatory and rheumatic diseases. Different factors can cause the synovium—the tissue lining the inside of joints—to become inflamed, and it’s considered to be juvenile arthritis when this occurs in children 16 or younger. JA also happens to be an autoimmune disease, which means that it involves the immune system (whose normal purpose is to attack foreign invaders) attacking healthy joint tissues instead.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

In some cases, children with JA experience no symptoms at all. In other cases, JA can cause joint stiffness, pain, swelling, or tenderness. Other symptoms can include limping, fatigue, blurred vision, rash, or persistent fever.

There is no specific test for diagnosing JA, so doctors typically make their diagnosis by eliminating other conditions that could lead to similar symptoms. Common tests that may be ordered include a complete blood count, x-rays, MRI scans, tests for viruses and Lyme disease, among others.

Treatment Options

With a combination of exercise, physical therapy, medications, and regular doctor visits, it’s possible to manage the symptoms of JA and slow its progression. Two of the most common classes of medications used to treat JA are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and slow-acting anti-rheumatic drugs (SAARDs). Newer and more effective drugs are also continuously being developed.

If you have any questions about JA, the Wellness & Stress Clinic is here for you. Please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay healthy and stay safe!

–The Wellness & Stress Clinic Team

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