Category: Uncategorized

The importance of vision screenings

We try our best to live healthy lifestyles, go to the doctor when we’re sick and take care of our longer-term health issues, but many people forget that eye exams are just as important as yearly health checkups. Annual eye examinations are a great way to keep your eyes healthy and protected. 

When should you get your first eye examination?

Eye exams can be needed at any stage of life. A pediatrician might recommend your young and school-aged children get an exam if they think there could be an issue such as a lazy eye, crossed eyes, misaligned eyes or if they’re exhibiting signs that they can’t see well. Adults should get their eyes examined once every two years to make sure their eyes are still healthy and to see if glasses are needed or need to be updated. Elderly people should go to the eye doctor every year to check for any age-related issues like macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma. At any age, you should see a doctor if you experience any problems with your eyesight.

Why should you get your eyes re-evaluated?

Going to a routine eye exam can help catch issues at early stages. The earlier an issue is found, the easier it can be to treat and/or correct it. Catching an issue early can decrease the chances of needing more invasive procedures later. You should also get your eyes checked to see if you might need to start wearing glasses to help you see better. Glasses wearers should get reevaluated to see if their prescriptions are still up-to-date or need to be altered. 

What can I expect during an eye exam?

During an eye exam, your doctor will check how clearly you can see, how your eyes are aligned and how the muscles in your eyes move. You’ll read letters off of an eye chart, and your doctor will use a device called a phoropter. This device has different lenses in it to test what adjustments help make your vision clearer. Your doctor could also put drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils. Dilating your pupils is normal and can help the doctor see different parts of the eyes like the cornea, blood vessels, retina and optic nerve. Your doctor will also use a machine to blow a small puff of air onto your eye in an eye pressure test, which is used to check for glaucoma. 

If you can’t remember the last time you had your eyes checked, it’s probably time to set up an appointment. The Wellness and Stress Clinic can help refer Memphians to vision specialists to improve their overall health and strengthen their sight. Call 901-306-5433 to schedule your appointment today. 

What you should know about breast cancer and screenings

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer for women. The National Breast Cancer Foundation found that one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. When it comes to breast cancer diagnoses and treatments, there are still inequalities. Cancer researchers report that Black women’s breast cancer death rate is 40% higher than that of white women. Breast cancer is also the leading type of cancer death for Latin women and nearly half of women without insurance delayed care or went without it because of the cost. 

Why should you have regular breast health screenings?

Getting breast cancer health screenings can help find the disease before symptoms are noticeable. Early detection and treatment are two of the most important ways to prevent death from breast cancer. Going for your yearly mammogram is helpful for early detection. In an annual woman’s physical, many physicians will check your breast for lumps which could indicate cancer. They may also perform a mammogram. Mammogram machines take low-radiation x-rays of the breasts and can typically find changes that could be cancer before symptoms can occur. While mammograms are not always 100% accurate, they are a good practice to adopt. Talk with your doctor about when you should start getting an annual mammogram – general recommendations say you should get your first mammogram at 40, but your health and family history may cause you to start earlier. 

What can you do to screen at home?

While medical professionals can perform a clinical breast exam by feeling for irregularities in breast tissue, women can also do this at home with self-examinations. Women are very familiar with how their breasts look and feel, so they might be able to detect any changes and alert their doctor or go in for a mammogram. At home, women should see if there are any changes in the way breasts look from discolorations to changes in shapes and sizes (example: skin puckering, skin dimpling, visible distortions or swelling). Women can also feel their breast tissue while lying down and standing up for any lumps. It’s important to remember that at-home screenings should not replace routine medical care like mammograms. 

An important note: If you notice any of the following symptoms, call the Wellness and Stress Clinic. We can refer you to a health care provider for a mammogram and an examination:

  • Lump or hard knot inside the breast or under the armpit area.
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast.
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin.
  • Itchy, scaly, sore or rash on the nipple.
  • Pulling in of the nipple or other parts of the breast.
  • Nipple discharge, especially if it begins suddenly.
  • New pain in one spot of the breast that does not go away.

Why should I know my family history?

Knowing your family history is important. If you have close relatives who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, your chances of developing the disease are higher. Women with a family history of breast cancer should attend all yearly screenings. People can also make lifestyle choices that help keep risks low: not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious food, limiting alcohol consumption and adding regular exercise into routines. Higher risk women should also talk to their doctors about increasing the need for breast cancer screenings. 

The Wellness and Stress Clinic is here to help ease the disparities in health care. We’re not just here for your primary health needs. We also offer mammograms on specified nights to help make sure everyone gets the care they need. Give us a call to schedule your appointment. 

What should I expect in a child’s physical?

An essential part of child wellness is taking your child to the doctor for regular physicals. At these appointments, a pediatrician will conduct routine examinations to help ensure your child is growing and developing as they should. So, what will the doctor evaluate, and why are these exams important? We’ll get into it here! 

How often should my child see a pediatrician?

How often your child should go to the doctor depends upon how old they are. You will see a pediatrician in the hospital when you have a baby. They can tell you about all of the recommended infant appointments – they should be seen every few months during the first year of life. This is because they are rapidly growing and regularly hitting milestones as they head toward their first birthday. After one, they need to go less frequently, but should still go a few times per year. Between the ages of 2 and 5, Child Protective Services recommend your child see the doctor every year. Once they turn five, they can go every one to two years until they’re 18. 

What will happen at a physical?

What happens during your child’s physical depends upon their age. But there are a few common things to expect. First, the nurses will record key statistics like your child’s measurements – weight, height and head circumference. Then, they might ask you questions about your child’s health, like how they’re meeting developmental milestones around movement, language and coordination. They may also want to know about how your child is eating and sleeping. After that, the doctor will come in and examine your child’s eyes, ears, throat and reflexes. They will then see if you have any questions. This is your chance to talk with a health care provider about anything that might worry you or other questions related to your child’s health. Don’t be afraid to speak up; your doctor is a partner in your child’s health! 

What should I do if I can’t afford to see a pediatrician?

Visiting the pediatrician can be expensive if you do not have insurance. And even if you do have insurance, the number of appointments your child has to have during their early years can become expensive quickly. The Wellness and Stress Clinic can provide wellness screenings for children at our Monday night clinic. These appointments are free and can help you keep your child’s health in check. Get started by calling us today. 

The importance of preventive health and wellness exams for transgender people

The Wellness and Stress Clinic of Memphis is an inclusive place for all people to receive free, high-quality health care. We are a team of gender-affirming clinicians who support Memphians who do not have health care but need to see a physician for preventive care, disease management, emotional wellness or a number of other reasons. Preventive care is critically important to maintain overall health outcomes – but many people neglect to seek preventive care because of stigmas or distrust of medical institutions.

Transgender people face discrimination across industries, including in the medical profession. But preventive care, especially related to sexual organs for people who have not had gender confirmation surgery, is essential to check for cancer and other life-threatening conditions. Understandably, seeking medical care that is typically gendered can be uncomfortable enough to keep a person from routine care. At the Wellness and Stress Clinic, our discrete process will help you feel at ease to seek the care you need to remain well. Here are some of the screenings recommended for transgender people. 

As a note, our recommendations here address the unique medical encounters a transgender person might have related to their sexual organs. Transgender people, like all people, should also receive preventive care for overall health conditions like hypertension, diabetes and pulmonary function. 

For transmen

Transgender men may not feel safe or comfortable in a gynecologist’s office. But anyone with a uterus, ovaries and breast tissue needs regular pap smears and mammograms to check for abnormal cells or masses that could indicate cancer. They may also need support with menstruation-related challenges like endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome. The Wellness and Stress Clinic offers routine gynecological exams for all people who need them and can provide birth control support if a person needs it. 

For transwomen

Similarly, transgender women need specialized medical care to support long-term health. Prostate cancer is one of the leading forms of cancer among people assigned male at birth, and everyone should be tested regularly to detect any abnormal cells early. There may also be additional colorectal care needed among people assigned male at birth – talk with our physicians about this during your wellness check. 

For all people

No matter your gender identity, it is important to receive preventive care related to your sexual organs and overall wellness. This can include the exams we discussed above, but should also include regular STI testing for anyone who is sexually active. Many STIs are treatable, and those that aren’t can be managed through an ongoing relationship with a health care professional. When you’re getting a routine checkup, talk with your provider about your sexual status to determine what STI tests are appropriate for you. 

How to kick unhealthy habits: Overspending

There are a lot of things that you need on a daily basis to feed your family, get to work and stay healthy. Paying for all of your essentials has probably become more expensive as gas, food and electricity prices continue to rise. So, it’s a really important time to look at your budget and try to cut costs where you can. 

Overspending is a really hard habit to kick. We all have things that we want to buy – things that aren’t essential but bring us joy or help us feel good. But, the stress that can come at the end of the month when it’s hard to cover your bills may not be worth the cost. 

With a budget that works for you and for your family, you can make room for the things you need AND the things you want. To get there, you have to look at your spending, make a spending plan and stick to it. Here are a few steps to help you clean up your budget.

Look at what you’re buying. 

Do you know where your money is going each month? If you don’t regularly look at your credit card statements, bank account or keep track of your receipts, it can be hard to tell where you spend your money. For one month, make a point to track everything you spend. At the end of the month, sit down and look at where you spent your money. Sort your purchases into three categories: 

  • Bills – Bills are expenses that come out of your account every month that you have to pay. The money should go toward things that you need. The amount you pay toward a bill can change each month – like your electricity bill. Or they can stay the same – like insurance payments, housing costs, a car note or medical debt. 
  • Needs – Needs are things that you have to have each month but that you go out and purchase on your own. Your largest need expenses will probably be food and gas costs. Other needs could include personal hygiene products, school supplies and pet care products.
  • Wants – Wants are the things that you enjoy in life, but that aren’t necessary purchases. Things like getting fast food, doing activities with your family and technology could fall into this category. One important note about wants is that they can sometimes look like bills. For example, TV streaming subscription service payments have a monthly cost that you pay online or through the mail like you would a bill. But, it is not an essential part of your budget.

Create a budget.

Now that you can see what you spend in a month, create a budget. Start by figuring out how much money you bring in each month after you pay taxes. Label that total as your income. Then, start subtracting the cost of your bills. For bills like electricity that change each month, it’s best to budget the highest amount you spend (usually in the hottest and coldest months) so you know you have enough money to cover the bill. After you’ve allotted the money for your bills, look at how much income you have left. That income should be used to pay for your needs. If you don’t have enough income left to cover the cost of your needs, check out the next step to see how you can create more room in your budget.

Make small changes to reduce the cost of your needs. 

While you can’t easily change how much you pay in rent or insurance, you can make changes to reduce how much you spend on some of your bills and needs. In hot months, try to run fans and keep window coverings closed during the day so your AC doesn’t run as much. You can also use outdoor cooking methods or opt for small appliances – like grilling or using the stovetop – instead of cooking in your oven to keep the inside temperature of your home cooler. In the winter, dress warmly and use blankets to try and reduce the amount of time you have to run your heat. You can open window coverings to let natural light in – this will provide some warmth from the sun while reducing the amount of time you need to have your lights turned on. Never use your oven or stove to heat your house. 

There are also things that you can do to spend less on needs like gas and groceries. Local grocery stores like Kroger and Aldi have monthly coupons that help you save a lot of money. Planning meals ahead of time based on what meats and produce are on sale can really help you save money at the store. The cost of packaged snacks can also add up quickly. Try to stick to produce (canned or fresh), meat (frozen or fresh) and low-sugar dairy products. Moving away from packaged drinks and using a water filter pitcher at home can also create major savings.

Another way to save money is to make small changes to the way you buy paper products and toiletries. You can save a ton of money each month and help the environment by using dish towels and cloth napkins instead of paper towels. The same is true if you switch from paper plates, bowls, utensils and cups to reusable plastic or ceramic dinnerware. You can purchase dinnerware sets very affordably from local dollar stores or big box stores like Walmart.

When it comes to products you need like toilet paper, soap, toothpaste and feminie hygiene products, it can sometimes be more cost-effective to purchase bigger packages. Next time you’re at the store, look at the cost per unit or CPU on the product price tag. You’ll find that buying a 18-pack of toilet paper has a lower CPU than a four-pack of the same brand and type. The same is probably true for a four-pack of toothpaste vs. a single tube. If it’s something you know that you’ll use and that you have to have, you save money by buying the larger quantity at one time.

Budget a small portion for “happy” purchases. 

One of the reasons that many people fail at budgeting is because they don’t feel like they get to buy anything they want. So, it is important to include fun money in your budget. Once you’ve tested your budget and used strategies to reduce the cost of your bills and needs, start adding fun things to the mix! A strategy that helps some people is to set aside money each week for fun purchases. Even if you designate $1-5 a week, that adds up throughout the month and can create a fund for you to buy things that you want – like a meal out or a new piece of clothing. 

Budgeting can be hard, and if you’re someone who tends to overspend, it can be disheartening to sit down and look at where your money is going. But when you make healthy budgeting choices and reduce your spending, you might find that you’re less stressed and able to handle unforeseen expenses that come your way. 

If you are stressed about money and making ends meet, the team at the Wellness and Stress Clinic is here to help. You can visit our clinic on Monday nights. Start by making an appointment today. 

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.