Take Charge of Your Health and Wellness
Rachael: Welcome to today’s webinar entitled ‘Take Charge of Your Health and Wellness.’ We are thrilled to have Kris Hooks with us today, who is an Employee Assistance Program Expert. Kris is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Marriage and Family Therapist, a Certified Employee Assistance Professional and a Certified Wellness Coach.
Kris has provided and managed employees in the behavioral health field for 27 years. She has written and facilitated seminars and webinars for hundreds of organizations and many Fortune 500 Companies and without further delay Kris, I will turn things over to you.
Kris Hooks: Thank you very much, Rachael. I am very glad to be with you today, what a great way to spend 30 minutes. This is an investment in your well-being that can reap rewards.
Some things in life, like our gene pool, work stress, we really don't have complete control over, but our lifestyle, our habits, the daily choices we make, one decision at a time, we can move in a positive direction in terms of our health and wellness. That’s what we are going to be focusing on today, taking charge of your health and wellness.
Specifically, we are going to define health. What does that mean to be healthy? We’re going to look at the continuum of illness, wellness, that’s really a good model to help us start to think about moving in a direction of wellness.
We’re also going to identify barriers that help prevent optimal health and wellness. I think we can all see ourselves in those and then we have to figure out how to move beyond them and overcome barriers to get healthier and then we’re going to discuss tips and the practical tip for the most important one, I want you taking real tips from the webinar that you can make personal application today or this week. We’re going to focus on physical, emotional, and intellectual wellness.
So let’s look first at the definition of health. The World Health Organization, their definition helps us see, we need to move beyond just thinking of wellness as not being sick. Specifically they say, wellness, oh, I am sorry, health is state of complete physical, emotional, and social well-being, not just the absence of disease or infirmity to being sick.
Good health and well-being also encompasses intellectual, occupational, spiritual and environmental health. Today we are really going to be focused only on the three areas of physical health, emotional health, and intellectual health.
Check out this continuum. On one end, certainly the far left, we have got death, on the right end optimal wellness. We have to remember that we are constantly moving on this continuum from death, hopefully moving in the opposite direction towards really good health. It is never a static process. It’s a lifelong process and the daily decisions we make, make a big difference.
The choices can either help us move toward wellness or they are moving us away from it. When you think about chronic health conditions, we really have to work hard to manage those to help us be as far to the right as possible, things like diabetes or heart disease, or high blood pressure.
Let’s talk for a minute about the barriers to behavior change. One is that it gets in the way of us making healthier decisions, think about yourself. If in the past you’ve tried and not experienced success, there maybe a little voice in your head that say, you know what you’ve tried this before, it probably worked out well for you, why put forth the effort again, kind of a fear of failure, or fear of success. This can immobilize us.
The second bullet on here is the one that I hear the most, lack of time, I am just so busy. The truth is if we are going to focus on our health we have to prioritize it in a way that healthy behaviors get in our schedule.
What if you are just tired, you know have a little motivation, little energy, it’s hard to get going, but again we have to address that what we know, when we are working on healthier behaviors, we actually do get more energy going, that we can’t break the cycle and start it.
On work skills, sometimes people really don’t know what to do to get healthier and there is a certainly a lot of information out there that can be overwhelming, we have got a process through and find out what’s really going to work for us.
What about the confidence, again related to motivation? People who may feel low, self-confident or self-conscious either one where it’s just difficult to put yourself out there and work on getting healthier and maybe again you’ve reached the place, it’s just, it’s hard to care when people get overwhelmed, many times focused on self care goes out the window. No, I just don’t care can be an attitude that could develop.
Sabotage from family and friends, things like what do you mean, you are not eating this? I made it especially for you. And you go for a walk, come on this is our time to go to happy hour, those things can definitely be barriers. So we have got to be attentive to the barriers so that we are better able to focus on areas of wellness. We’re going to start by talking about physical wellness.
What do you think of, when you think of am I physically well? This includes things that most of us already know how physically active are you in the way of exercise, what your eating habits look like in the way of what’s -- in the way of food and how are you doing in taking responsibility for your own health, things like getting regular medical checkup and managing any chronic health condition, all of that is part of physical wellness.
We are going to look at now every slide that gives tips for optimal physical wellness, things to do to improve us physically. Look at that very first bullet. To avoid high-risk behaviors, again no surprise here but I think we need to start here, things like abuse of substances, unprotected sex, things that put us at risk, we have to really be careful of.
I might add there are some quick fix behaviors that temporarily we might do to try to deal with stress, things like drinking; there are certain prescription drugs, illegal drugs, that kind of thing, even excessive shopping, now we can go through the list of addicted behaviors, those can start off in a way that, yeah, this is helping me, I am feeling better, but when we look at the bigger picture, it’s causing us more problems, so we have got to pull the reigns in on those.
No surprises, the bullet number two here, to eat healthy, we all know that, we have got to work on that, we have to plan ahead to make that happen, same with the third bullet, exercising regularly, who among us does not know that, we know that.
When we are eating healthy, we are exercising regularly, and I might throw in sleep here, it helps us to be more resilient, we perform better cognitively, we can remember things, our energy is higher, endorphins are released, serotonin-dopamine that helps us to feel good, we control our appetite better, and metabolism is increased and we do better at managing weight, how is that for a sales pitch for eating healthier, exercising and getting enough sleep again I know there are challenges that we got to work on it.
To maintain work-life balance, very important. Again the only way we can work on our wellness is to prioritize that we can get it in our schedule. Take prescription medication as prescribed certainly and really stay in touch with our medical professional to make sure most of us want to be on the least amount of medication possible. Many times with improvement lifestyle factors we’re able to reduce medication which can be a great thing.
Use alcohol only in moderation, I talked about that one already and recommendations about alcohol, no more than one drink a day for females, no more than two drinks a day for men and we got to know what that drink is to find out, one 12-ounce beer, an ounce of hard liquor or four ounces of wine.
I have certainly seen 08:54 and some very large wine glasses hold way more than 08:56 we just have to be very attentive. To recognize early signs, we got to pay attention to our bodies, if we are having some red flags, don’t wait till things are majorly broken and there is a sleep bullet right along with resting and relaxation, very important for our physical wellness.
We have to include caffeine, avoid too much, although recently I have seen some research that some caffeine is good for us, no nicotine is good for us. To avoid nicotine, smoking, chewing forms of tobacco, people know that, it’s a hard habit to quit. One more slide about tips for optimal physical wellness.
Know your family history, know through your gene pool if you are at risk for things like diabetes, or heart disease because then we do a better job on getting checkups, managing any numbers that are out of the range of normal.
We have to plug dental appointments, and physical appointments, and eye appointments into our schedule, but it helps us. Again knowing our numbers, blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, your weight, your body mass index, body composition is actually a better measure of physical health than just BMI. People, some who have BMIs higher than 25, who are really in a very healthy place because their body carries more muscle amount which is a wonderful thing.
Make sure we get immunizations or vaccines as recommended, and I love it in the webinar, we have even included the websites that you can go to, to find out what vaccinations are appropriate for you, given your age, where you live, if you happened to be traveling that kind of thing.
Let’s shift and talk about – oh! Preparation for doctor visit, let’s close with this, one about physical wellness. The time with a medical professional I know personally is never long enough, we have got to be prepared before we go in, make a list. What are your questions, what are your concerns, make sure that physician has access to past records, either bring a list of all your medications or put them in a bag and bring them with you, communicate at that visit, what your goals are, what your symptoms are, are you concerned about any side effects from medication, and we all need to be proactive with our health and manage it the best we can, keeping results, test results very important.
Now we are going to shift to emotional wellness. When you think about what does that mean to be emotionally well? That involves what’s going on inside our head with thoughts, how we are doing emotionally with our feelings and what kind of behaviors we are having in coping kind of strategies and skills we are having based on the stress that we’re under.
Just look at some tips, for how to optimize our emotional wellness. We have got to monitor and explore our thoughts and feelings. Without self awareness, we’re really are pretty clueless. We won’t even realize that we’re upset about something, stressed about something, things will come out vitally, it will be irritable with other people, our immune system will be compromised, we get sick more easily, we have got to take charge here.
To identify obstacles and find solutions, if you find yourself in any kind of a negative pattern, now ask yourself how long have I been doing this, for how long have I been feeling this way, especially, check out how you are functioning in your life, at work, with family, with friends, that helps us take first step for getting better.
Do you know that optimism can be learned? We don’t often stop and think about that but absolutely if you find yourself in a negative pattern work on it. We can become more optimistic by changing the way we think about things, one tip for becoming more optimistic is to back away from something.
A week from now, two weeks, a month, six months, a year, you may have other five years, ten years, twenty years, at some point it’s not going to matter, I’d probably back away from something within some perspective.
Maintain good self-esteem and confidence. Think about the things you have control over in your life and really focus there, practice empathy. Stephen Covey’s habit 5 is about, Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood, that can so help us feel emotionally better, help us in relationship too.
Be honest with yourself; be honest with other people about how you are feeling. Don’t be passive or aggressive, get in the middle, be assertive, that can certainly help us emotionally and again help us in relationship.
You’ve got to cope with stress in healthy ways, without effort that does not come naturally. Think about yourself, we all have a tool bag for managing stress, sometimes tools gets rusty, get them out and sharpen them up, maybe drop a few new ones in.
Accept mistakes, we are just human, we make mistakes, we have got to learn from those, you know the definition of insanity. We do the same stuff over and over and think we are going to get different results, it just doesn’t happen that way.
To speak and give support; when we are able to be there for others in the flag volunteer work, and it doesn’t even have to be formal. If there are people around you – you are in need, to reach out and be there for them very rewarding.
Ensure that you have a mental health checkup when you have a physical checkup. We have got to treat our brain like any other organ. When you go to your medical professional, be very honest about how you are functioning, how is your energy, how are your habits, how are you managing stress, what’s going on in relationships, how are you doing it well and it might also add EAP is a great resource for that.
Speak to a mental health professional, if there any situations in your life that become unmanageable, again another commercial for EAP. To maintain life balance; there was an article in the New York Times recently that said, instead of calling it work-life balance, we should call it work-life fit, but it’s really pretty impossible to balance everything that we got to find a way to fit the puzzle together so it works for us.
Here is the tip again about little health screening. Make sure that you reach out, pay attention to symptoms, seeing this like, having trouble sleeping, changes with appetite, we need to make sure that we’re managing where anxiety or depression don’t trip into a place where we are just not able to pull ourselves out of it. EAP is a great place to start.
Okay, our third area, we have talked about physical wellness, we talked about emotional wellness, now we’re going to talk about intellectual wellness. So think what does that mean to be intellectually well? This means our brains are functioning at a high level, really well. We’re able to engage in creative and stimulating mental activities that help us learn skills, keep the knowledge we need at the forefront, okay and also help preventing certainly like Dementia or Alzheimer's.
We will go through some tips. What do we need to do to optimize our intellectual wellness? Look for stimulating mental activities. Keep yourself sharp, how do we do that? With technologies there is a lot available to us today that might not have been available in the past, things like games on your phone, there is just again computer games, video games, again we shouldn’t be swept away with that as our only form of relaxation and stimulation. We got to put boundaries around it, but those things help keep our brain sharp. Learning these skills, things like a new language, taking up a new hobby, I have 95-year-old grandmother who was in her very first tap dance recital at 90, that’s pretty expressional.
And think critically, you can people that you can engage in conversation with -- where it keeps your brain sharp. Sense of humor is absolutely essential that helps us in so many ways in our life and to find ways to be creative and remain curious, seek out people who challenge us intellectually.
So the three areas that we have talked about, physical wellness, emotional wellness and intellectual wellness, what we have got to remember is that no matter what your age, no matter what your health status you can improve your health and your wellness through those daily choices, one decision one day at a time.
Adapting a healthy lifestyle requires us to look carefully at what our challenges have been in the past. We don’t want to get stuck in rut that we feel like we can’t get out and all or nothing thinking I might add is very common where or either all in working a 100% on health and wellness or we spread our hands up, look the other way and go on, hey I will think about this Monday or I’ll think about it -- well on the first of the month or I’ll I will think about it when Monday falls on the first of the month or hey I will just wait for the New Year. This is the problem.
We have to get into the moment, start small, build on success, be prepared for doctor’s visits absolutely, make sure we communicate, how we feel of physically and emotionally and that mental health checkup very important.