Let it Snow! Learn how cold weather can affect your health:

Skin: 

Jack frost nipping at your nose?  The windy weather and dropping temperature can dry out your skin. This can be strenuous for someone with eczema. What you can do is moisturize your skin. Try showering in warm water, not hot water. For hot water can further dry out your skin. The warm water will give your skin a chance to replenish and moisturize. Drinking water will also help you stay hydrated and prevent flakey skin. 

Balance: 

Although those snowy sidewalks and misty mornings look beautiful, they can be very icey. Watch your step as surfaces covered in ice can make you lose your balance. It makes falling easier, and puts you at risk for fractures. Be careful! Make sure you wear appropriate snow boots with grip and use handrails. 

Heart:

The cold weather can be a vasoconstrictor, meaning that the cold can narrow blood vessels which can raise your risk of chest pain or heart attack. What can you do? Bundle up and try avoiding strenuous activities in the cold weather. 

Immune System: 

Although cold weather itself doesn’t cause the flu and colds, it does bring people together. The cold weather outside drives a lot of people together inside in public spaces. This causes more people to come into close contact and increases the spreadability of a virus. The solution is simple:  wash your hands and get a flu shot. If you feel sick and contagious, take off work.  It will help prevent the spread of unwanted illnesses. 

Asthma: 

Dry cold weather can irritate asthma. It narrows airways and can increase your chances of an asthma attack. What you can do to prevent from this: Avoid exercise outside and keep an inhaler nearby. 

If you have any questions about health during the winter months, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay safe and healthy!

-Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

Resources: 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-does-cold-weather-affect-your-health

https://signaturemd.com/concierge-physicians/concierge-physician-blog/how-cold-weather-affects-your-body/

Healthy New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep

2021 is here, and for many, the start of a new year gives us the motivation we need to make healthy changes in our lives. Whether you enjoy the tradition of New Year’s resolutions or prefer setting new goals for yourself at any time of the year, improving your health can seem like a daunting task— but it doesn’t have to be.

To make sure you don’t abandon your resolutions after a month or two, make sure you’re setting SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This technique is a great way to keep yourself focused and accountable so that you can achieve your goals. Let’s look at some examples of SMART resolutions to make 2021 your healthiest year yet:

  1. Drink more water: If you’re simply trying to up your intake, you can set an hourly goal for yourself, like drinking 1 glass of water every hour between 9 am and 5 pm. Another great way to do this is to replace your usual daily soda or second or third coffee with a glass of water— this way, you can cut back on sugar and stay hydrated at the same time!
  2. Reduce screen time: Now, more than ever, we depend on our phones, computers, and TVs for both work and entertainment, which is why it’s increasingly important to take some intentional time off. Set a goal to spend no more than 30 minutes on social media daily and use your phone’s screen time feature to hold yourself accountable. Alternatively, you can build screen-free time into your daily routine, like putting your electronics in a separate room an hour before you go to bed.
  3. Eat more fruits and vegetables: Both are necessary for you to get the vitamins and minerals you need, and together, they should make up half your plate at each meal (check out our basics of a balanced diet post to learn more!). Set a goal to eat 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables throughout the day— every meal or snack is an opportunity!
  4. Exercise regularly: If you prefer traditional workouts, you can aim for at least four 30-minute workouts weekly. That’s not the only way to get exercise, though. If you find yourself sitting most of the day, you can start taking a 5-minute walk every two hours (walking is a great cardio exercise!).
  5. Get more sleep: Sleep is essential for good health. Setting a bedtime for yourself and following that schedule every night helps regulate your body’s clock so that you can fall asleep faster and sleep better. How much sleep you need can vary from person to person, but most adults should get at least 7 hours per night.


Wanting to improve your health is a great decision that you should be proud of yourself for taking. If you choose to focus on any of the goals above, don’t forget to modify them as needed to make them attainable and relevant for you. Happy New Year, and as always, stay healthy and stay safe!

–The Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

Sources:

Health Literacy

October is Health Literacy Month, and even without knowing what that means, you likely already understand the importance of it. Not only that— if you’re reading this right now, you’re already actively taking steps to improve your health literacy.

Are you now curious about what this term means? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines personal health literacy as “the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.” In other words, health literacy describes your comfort level with the healthcare system and with your health. When you’re sick, having a limited health literacy can make an already-stressful situation even more overwhelming, and it can have very real consequences for your health.

Healthcare organizations and providers have a responsibility to make health-related information clear and easy to understand for all of their patients—that’s what they’re there for. However, by taking steps to improve your personal health literacy, you can facilitate communication with your healthcare provider and better equip yourself to make decisions about your health and that of your loved ones. Here are some ways you can do this:

  1. Plan ahead. In the days leading up to your appointment, it may be a good idea to make a list about things you’d like to talk about with your doctor or nurse. Otherwise, it can be easy to forget to bring something up that you were wanting to talk about.
  2. Ask your healthcare providers questions. Don’t be afraid to speak up. You know your body best, so this is your chance to share your concerns. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has developed a Question Builder tool that you can use before your next appointment if you’d like some ideas on questions you should be asking.
  3. Make sure you understand your provider’s instructions. A great strategy for this is to repeat back the instructions to your doctor or nurse, so that they can correct you if you say something that isn’t right. The medical field uses a ton of specialized words that the average person may not understand, so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for clarification.
  4. If it makes you more comfortable, take a friend or family member to your appointments. In addition to putting you at ease, they may ask a question that hadn’t occurred to you, helping you to avoid confusion down the road.
  5. Be aware of your right to an interpreter. If you don’t speak or understand English well, tell your doctor’s office. You have the right to an interpreter at no cost to yourself.
  6. Continue educating yourself about your health. Like I mentioned earlier, if you read this blog, you’re already taking a significant step towards improving your health literacy— keep up the great work!

Have a great rest of the month, and as always, stay healthy and stay safe!

–The Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

Sources:

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

 This month is dedicated towards: 

  • Raising funds for breast cancer research (on treatment, prevention, and cures) 
  • Informing and supporting those affected by breast cancer
  • Increasing the population’s awareness of the breast cancer 

To begin, what is Breast Cancer? 

Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breasts grow out of control. In the U.S., 1 in 8 women have a lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. This disease can affect both men and women. Although it is less common in men, approximately 1 in 100 men will have breast cancer. 

There are different types of breast cancers. The type of breast cancer is determined by which cells in the breast turn cancerous. 

The two most common types of breast cancer are: 

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma- The cancer cells grow outside the ducts into other parts of the breast tissue. 
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma. Cancer cells spread from the lobules to the breast tissues that are close by. 

Both of these types of breast cancer can be spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body which indicates the cancer’s stage (1-4). In addition, there are several other less common breast cancers such as  paget’s disease, medullary, mucinous, and inflammatory breast cancer

Early detection is key. How can one detect it? 

  • Regular breast checks for symptoms 
  • Mammograms 
  • Gene testing (if have family history) 

Symptoms to look for while doing a regular breast check: 

  • Any changes in breast size 
  • Nipple tenderness 
  • Pain in the breast area 
  • New lump in the breast or under the arm 
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk) either clear or bloody  

Mammograms: 

Mammograms are x-ray screenings of the breast to check for any cancerous growth. 

It is advised that women between the age of 45-54 should get annual mammograms.  

Some local mammogram centers in Memphis: 

  • Methodist Lebonheur healthcare

https://www.methodisthealth.org/healthcare-services/womens-health/breast-health/?gclid=CjwKCAjwoc_8BRAcEiwAzJevtX8vU3NxCk_tD20vtmjKyS3GVSXg4VnDUIK-lsQP-jCkeeJXDvcLIBoCro4QAvD_BwE

  • St. Francis Hospital Memphis 

https://www.saintfrancishosp.com/services/diagnostic-imaging/mammogram

  • Women’s care center of Memphis 

http://www.wccofmemphis.com/our-services/screening-mammography/

  • Mccdonald + Murrmann center for wellness and health
  • Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women 

https://www.baptistonline.org/services/womens-health/breast-health

Gene testing

It is true that family history is an unavoidable risk factor for developing breast cancer. If you have a family history of breast cancer, it might be beneficial to have a genetic testing for the mutated BRACA1 or BRACA2 genes. The BRACA1 and BRACA2 gene mutations are the most known gene link to increasing your chances of breast cancer. However, just because you have the mutation, doesn’t necessarily mean one will develop breast cancer.  If you have tested positive for the mutated BRACA1 or BRACA2 gene, here are the steps you can take after knowing: https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/what-to-do-if-youve-tested-positive 

What are some risk factors? 

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/risk_factors.htm

There are both controllable and uncontrollable risk factors for breast cancer.Some controllable things you can do to lessen your chances of getting breast cancer include staying physically healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, eating fruits and vegetables, not smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption. 

Possible risk factors that can not be controlled include: 

  • Family history- inheriting a genetic mutation
  • Getting older- risk for breast cancer increases with age. Most are diagnosed after 50
  • Exposure to hormones- those who are exposed to hormones longer are more likely to develop breast cancer
  • Having dense breasts- this can sometimes make it difficult to see a tumor in a mammogram
  • Family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer
  • Previous treatment using radiation therapy near the chest area

Survivors: 

There are approximately 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. Life may look different as a survivor, but know there is a community of people there to support you. Read some stories and lessons about cancer survivor’s experience with breast cancer: https://www.sharecancersupport.org/breast-cancer/breast-cancer-stories/ 

If you have any questions about breast cancer, or think that you may have it or be at risk for it, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay safe and healthy!

-Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

References: 

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/breastcancerawareness/index.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/what-is-breast-cancer.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/men/index.htm

https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/BreastCancerScreeningforWomenatAverageRisk.html

Respiratory Care Week

This week is Respiratory Care Week, a week dedicated to promoting awareness of lung diseases and recognizing the hard work of respiratory therapists, nurses, and doctors to support lung health. When President Reagan announced the first Respiratory Care Week in 1982, over 17 million Americans were affected by chronic obstructive lung diseases. This number hasn’t gone down much in the past 4 decades, but that can change. Here are some ways you can take care of your lungs and contribute to lowering that number:

  1. Stop (or don’t start) smoking. Cigarette smoke is a significant cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States, and in 8 out of 10 cases, it’s caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. The good news is that COPD is preventable, and by avoiding smoking, you’re significantly lowering your risk and protecting the people around you from secondhand smoke, which can cause many of the same diseases as first-hand smoke. Once you start smoking, the nicotine in cigarettes makes it hard to quit, but it’s far from impossible, especially with plenty of online resources and support from your healthcare provider, peers, and loved ones.
  2. Exercise. On top of the already-numerous benefits of exercise for building muscle, losing fat, improving your mood, helping you sleep better, and keeping your heart healthy, getting enough physical activity (30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week) is important for your lung health, too. As you become more fit, your lungs become more efficient at oxygenating your blood and transporting it to the rest of your body. It’s equally important for people with lung disease to exercise, but you should consult with your healthcare provider to make a plan that works for you.
  3. Minimize your exposure to both indoor and outdoor air pollution. Both of these can cause or exacerbate symptoms of respiratory diseases, including asthma, which 25 million Americans currently suffer from. To keep your home safe, keep it smoke-free and test for radon and carbon monoxide regularly. For outdoor air pollution, try to minimize your time outside on days when the Air Quality Index (AQI) is high—this is something you can easily check from your phone’s weather app or from watching the local weather forecast.
  4. Wash your hands and wear a mask. As the weather gets colder and people spend more time indoors, respiratory diseases like the cold, flu, and COVID-19 can spread easily. Now, more than ever, it’s important to practice good hygiene and wash your hands to prevent infection. Keep your distance as much as you can, and when you can’t, be sure to mask up to protect not only yourself but those around you.


Taking steps to improve your own lung health is a wonderful way to celebrate Respiratory Care Week, and of course, if there are any respiratory care workers in your life, be sure to send a “thank you” their way! As always, stay safe and stay healthy!

–Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

Sources:

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is a topic that must be acknowledged and talked about more, as it is a serious issue that occurs everyday. The statistics are unnerving; according to the CDC, intimate partner violence affects more than 12 million people per year. More than 1 in 3 women and more than 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced physical/sexual violence or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Every minute in the US, 20 people are victims of domestic violence. According to the World Health Organization, 8,000,000 paid work days are lost every year by women because of the abuse perpetrated against them by current or former male partners. This loss is equivalent to over 32,000 full-time jobs. And 10,000,000 children are exposed to domestic violence annually. 

Domestic violence affects millions of people each year, and includes physical abuse, stalking, manipulation, coercion, treats, isolation, non-stop texting, and so much more. If you feel afraid of your partner, wonder why they criticize you and put you down, or believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated, then you may be a victim of domestic abuse. The chart below from helpguide.org describes the signs that can help you or someone that you may know is in an abusive relationship.

You’re not alone in this, and there is help for people who are in abusive relationships. If you see yourself or others in your life in the chart above, then reach out for help. Talk to the resources below, or call us here (901) 306-5433 at the Wellness and Stress Clinic of Memphis. Talk to a friend, pastor, physician, counselor, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit their website at http://www.thehotline.org/. We believe you, and we’re here for you every step of the way.

Local resources include:

Rape Crisis Center (901) 222 4350

Exchange Club Family Center (901) 276-2200

Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County (901) 222-4400

Memphis Area Legal Services (901) 523-8822

Memphis Area Women’s Council (901) 378-3866

Memphis Child Advocacy Center (901) 525-2377

Memphis Police Department Domestic Violence Investigative Unit (901) 636-3741

Shelby County Crime Victims Services (901) 222-3950

Shelby County District Attorney General’s Domestic Violence Unit (901) 222-1485

Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Domestic Violence Unit (901) 222-4400

Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (901) 578-4371

YWCA of Greater Memphis (901) 725-4277

References:

https://www.breakthecycle.org/blog/it’s-national-domestic-violence-awareness-month

https://www.methodisthealth.org/healthcare-services/employee-assistance-program/for-employees/eap-newsletters/2017/domestic-violence-awareness-month.dot

This Upcoming Monday…

Come by the clinic tomorrow for drive-thru COVID-19 tests (4-5:30) for anyone who wants to get tested and in-person primary care and social work services for the uninsured (6:00-8:00pm). To see a social worker or health care provider you must have an appointment.

Our phones are open from 3-5pm today and all day Monday. Call us at (901) 306-5433.

Managing Type 2 Diabetes

More than 34 million American have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar, aka glucose. Glucose is an important source of fuel for the body, and if the body cannot metabolize sugar correctly, then you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Increased thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Increased hunger
  • Frequent hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent infections
  • Areas of darkened skin, usually in the armpits and neck

When you have type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin, which is a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into the cells in your body, or it doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. When your body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, you may start to experience the symptoms above.

If you suspect that you may have developed type 2 diabetes or that you are at risk of developing it due to environmental factors, genetics, and/or lifestyle factors, then it may be time to see a doctor. Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed using the:

  • Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test: This blood test indicates the average blood sugar level for the past 2-3 months. Normal levels are below 5.7%, and a result between 5.7 and 6.4% is considered pre-diabetes, while an A1C 6.5% or higher means that you have diabetes.

To treat and manage type 2 diabetes, you may need to:

  • Lose weight
  • Eat healthily
  • Exercise regularly
  • Possibly include diabetes medication or insulin therapy
  • Monitor your blood sugar

By losing just 5-10% of your body weight, you can make a difference in your A1C because losing weight can lower your blood sugar levels. To do this, you may need to eat fewer calories, fewer refined carbohydrates, fewer foods that contain saturated fats, and more vegetables and fruits, especially those that contain a lot of fiber. Changing your diet plus aiming for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate (or 15 to 30 minutes of vigorous) mixed aerobic exercise and resistance training offers more benefits than either type of exercise alone. Examples of these exercises are:

  • Aerobic: Walking, Dancing, Biking, and Swimming
  • Resistance: Yoga and Weightlifting

If you have any questions about type 2 diabetes, or think that you may have it or be at risk for it, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433 to schedule an appointment. As always, stay safe and healthy!

-Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

Coping During COVID-19

Does COVID-19 have you feeling stressed? Maybe depressed? Worried? Or possibly grateful? Blessed? Sometimes even happy? As each week, and sometimes each day, changes before our very eyes, I have come to realize that life during this pandemic is something that I cannot fully control nor plan out. This is coming from someone who loves to have every 30 minute-increment of the day planned out from when I wake up until I fall asleep, which basically went down the drain as soon as the quarantine started (cheers to all of the money lost by buying a 2020 calendar!). But, coming to let go of control and planning comes the realization that our emotions during this time might be on all ends of the spectrum and can cause us great grief and confusion if we do not have the accurate coping mechanisms and tools that are needed during this uncertain time. In this post, I’ll talk about the ways you can cope for some of the most commonly experienced emotions during COVID-19.

Stressed? DEPRESSED? ANXIOUS?

  • Get outside! Let the sun give you that much needed Vitamin D and try your best to relax.
  • Workout as often as you can, whether it is done inside or outside. Working out increases the production of endorphins, and like Elle Woods said, “Endorphins make you happy!”.
  • Keep a journal and write when you can. I find that making an entry everyday, even if it’s just a sentence or two, makes me feel better.
  • Distract yourself with productive work, but don’t try to not feel your emotions. It’s important to feel you feelings, but sometimes cleaning, learning something new, reading, etc,. helps to put us in another place mentally and emotionally so we can make our emotions work for us instead of against us.
  • All of these emotions are valid, but it is important to try our best to not live in them, as long term affects of stress, anxiety, and depression can lead to serious mental and physical health effects.

Denial? Anger? Fear?

  • It is completely okay to feel angry or to deny that this pandemic is happening, but we cannot control much in this situation, so it is important to try and control what you can: yourself. By making sure you follow the social-distancing and quarantining rules that are currently instated, you are helping to not only keep yourself safe, but others, too!
  • It’s normal to be angry that this is happening and possibly wreaking havoc on your life (mentally, financially, emotionally, physically, etc), but we cannot stay in this emotion for long, as anger and fear tend to go hand-in-hand.
  • If you can, try to meditate and say positive affirmations, as they will produce more positive feelings to combat the negative ones. Taking time to yourself to feel grateful and peaceful will help the fear and anger that occurs when thinking about how COVID-19 may have ruined a lot of things for us.
  • Remember, this will not last forever. This is just one part of our lives that is occurring and we will get through it.

Grateful? Blessed? HAPPY?

  • While for some it may be hard to understand how these feelings can occur right now, I have noticed that there are some who are experiencing these emotions as time goes on.
  • Feeling grateful/blessed/happy tends to come from looking on the bright side of things, and those who are experiencing this may be in a place where they went through the above feelings and came to the conclusion that they cannot control this situation, then became okay with that, and then remembered that will not last forever, so they decided to make the best out of the situation that they are currently in.
  • This may include journalling, trying to keep a bit of a new-normal schedule, and finding ways to keep busy and active.
  • Spending time with family and friends (social-distancing included, as usual!) will also help if you are in need of a happiness boost!
  • It is completely valid to feel happy that some things are cancelled and that you have more time to yourself, or that some of your responsibilities are on hold so now you have time to watch more TV/workout/relax/spend time with family/etc. This is a weird time, and finding what makes you happy is important!

We will get through this, one day at a time. The Wellness and Stress Clinic of Memphis will be open today, Monday April 20th, from 5-7:15pm. We will be offering Tele-Health Appointments during those times, which if you are interested in making an appointment, please call (901) 506-5433. If you would like any self-care tips, please refer to the “Self-Care and COVID-19” post from a few weeks ago. Stay safe and healthy, and remember to help #StopTheSpread in any way that you can.

–The Wellness and Stress Clinic Team

Spreading Kindness

Being kind is not only beneficial for others, but also for yourself! Recent research has shown that both giving and receiving kindness helps promote good health and general well-being. By infusing the community with kindness, you can help create a “ripple effect” that can branch into an entire network of positivity. It may seem hard to spread kindness during the quarantine, but I hope I can give you some ideas about how to create this ripple effect from the comfort of your own home.

  1. Smile
    • Whether you’re quarantining by yourself, with your pets, friends, or family, it will help you to spread kindness!
  2. Express Gratitude
    • Journal your appreciation and admiration, or tell your friends and family members how much you love and care for them!
  3. Act Generously and Give Back
    • Donate to charities, food banks, and people in need during this time. By giving back to the community, you’re spreading kindness and creating the ripple effect of positivity that the world needs right now!
  4. Post Positively
    • If you’re an avid poster (or re-poster), then make sure the content you are sharing is adding to people’s lives and creates a more positive and kind view. By sharing positive content, you’re helping to shape a more positive world.
  5. Practice Self-Kindness
    • Kindness starts with yourself. It’s important to treat yourself with the same love and care that you would treat others with. Take some time for yourself, practice self-love and self-care, and remind yourself that you deserve all of the goodness that the world has to offer.

By using these 5 tips, you can effectively spread kindness to all who need it, including yourself. If you are in need of any health services, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433. We are open tonight, April 13th, from 5-7:15pm CST and will be offering tele-health appointments. Stay healthy and safe, and remember to help #StopTheSpread by using these tips and through the use of social distancing.

–The Wellness and Stress Clinic Team