In the Face of Terminal Illness - Meaningful Things You Can Do

As a hospice social worker I considered it one of my roles to remind patients and families to take moments to slow it down; to look around at the person they were about to lose and the people who were about to experience the loss. I knew it was time that they wouldn’t get back. I learned this from my own experience of caring for a dying loved one before I had any grasp on the permanence of death.

It is so easy to get caught up in the doctor’s appointments, medicines, treatments. How do they feel now? How much breakfast did they eat? How much did they drink today? Meanwhile, time with this person is passing you by.

There is no perfect suggestion for managing your time when enduring the stress of illness and anticipatory grief. Although popular songs and movies may tell you otherwise, no, a person doesn't need to go skydiving or meet a celebrity in order to have meaningful moments at end of life. For some, illness or decline is rapid - in these cases “slowing it down” may mean just a minute of connection shared with another. Regardless of the amount of time, my wish is that anyone can find even a moment of meaning. Here are some ideas of things that can be done to “slow it down”, bring a sense of purpose to the person who is sick and create meaningful connections to the people around them. Read More »

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Microbiome Management: Natural Sources of Probiotics

Fermented-Veggies-

It’s hard to pick up a medical journal or news article these days without reading something about the gut microbiome. Thanks to the NIH Human Microbiome Project established in 2008, health professionals and the general public have learned much about the link between the condition of our gut microbiome and the state of our health.

It’s an exciting time because it lets us know that there is a lot we can do to take charge of our health. Unfortunately, what we’ve also learned is that Western cultures and lifestyle habits cause a lot of imbalance to the gut microbiome thereby threatening our health and wellbeing. Read More »

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"It's Not Fair!" Sibling Rivalry in Caregiving

As we are all well aware, providing caregiving for our parent(s) is complicated and messy.   Siblings can often be both a blessing and a curse in this process, providing much needed relief and support, or perhaps creating additional stress and barriers to important decisions and resources.

Why is this the case?

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Dosha, say what? Humors, colors, doshas: The power of personality

Recently I was in a staff meeting that involved a discussion regarding the impact of personality types on interpersonal relationships.  You may recall  sixteen personality types suggested by Meyers Briggs research (MBTI ®) such as ENFJ or ISFP.  Or perhaps you, like Cindi Lauper, see your True Color® shining through.  Galton (1884), and later Alport (1936) are associated with the five factor model which allowed them to survey and reliably identify personality dimensions. Understanding personality and associated traits has been relevant for thousands of years.  Hippocrates understood the importance of personality and its impact on health and medicine.  Whether you are sanguine, choleric, melancholic, or phlegmatic, body fluids and elements are associated with your personality type according to his theories.  This got me thinking of the relative constant of personality and the importance of understanding my own so I can better relate to other living beings.

What piqued my interest in the power of personality?  Yoga, believe it or not.  Yoga philosophy involves an understanding of energetic forces, biological humors, personality types, what have you, in the form of doshas.  Ancient Ayurveda, a 5000+ year old medicinal system of India, depicts these three mind/body characteristics as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.  Similar to Hippocrates’s humors, doshas are based around the elements:  in Ayurveda these are earth, wind, fire, air, and aether/space.  The elements combine to form all things, and energetic characteristics of the elements ebb and flow to form the doshas. Read More »

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Big Win for Consumers: “Added Sugar” Listed on New Food Label

CurrentvsNewFoodLabel

If you’ve followed recent health news, you’ve read reports confirming the negative health effects of excess sugar consumption.  High sugar intake has been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, brain diseases and more.  Numerous health organizations including the American Heart Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Institute of Medicine (IOM) and World Health Organization (WHO) have advised consumers to decrease their daily consumption of sugar.  The 2015 WHO recommendations suggest limiting Added Sugars to 5% of total calories (or about 25 grams maximum a day) while the IOM Dietary Guidelines  for Americans 2015 – 2020 suggest keeping Added Sugar to less than 10% of total daily calories (or < 50 grams a day). Read More »

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Are you missing too many recesses?

Just before my son's wedding this spring, I was considering what I could share about Michael at the rehearsal dinner.  As I sorted through pictures from his childhood, I came across one from 5th grade.  Michael played the main character in Leo Tolstoy's Christmas story, "Papa Panov".  During the performance, he stayed in character and delivered his lines flawlessly.  He received many compliments from the school faculty.  And, yet, Michael concluded, "I'm never going to do this again."  Why?  "Mom, I had to miss too many recesses for play practice."

As I reflected on our family narrative, Michael is the one member of our family who has understood and consistently lived out work/life balance. He knew when he was giving up too many recesses. I began to think about that.  Why do I struggle so with making the choice to say "no" to some things in order to say "yes" to a more balanced and healthy lifestyle?  Several reasons quickly came to the surface: Read More »

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Eagle: June Yoga Pose of the Month

Strengthen and stretch your thighs, ankles and calves.  Open your hips, shoulders and upper back.

Eagle (Sanskrit: Garudasana)

eagle

1. Stand in Tadasana/Mountain. Lift your left knee up engaging your core and focusing on something that’s not moving. Cross your left thigh over the right. Point your left toes toward the floor/ground and then hook the top of the foot behind the lower right calf or beside it.  Sit down into pose.
2. Lengthen your arms in front of you so that they're parallel to the floor. Spread your shoulder blades wide across the back. Cross the arms in front of torso so that the right arm is above the left and bend your elbows. Cradle the right elbow into the crook of the left. The backs of your hands should be facing each other. Raise the forearms perpendicular to the floor. If you have flexibility, press the palms together. If your wrists start to bend, keep the back of the hands together. Lift your elbows and fingers up.  Want more opening through the upper back?  Lean your arms forward at a diagonal.
3. Stay for 3-5 breaths. Unwind the legs and arms and repeat for the same length of time on other side.

Contraindications:  If you have knee problems/injuries, don’t wrap leg behind other leg or simply perform arms only.  If you have shoulder concerns, you can perform the lower body only.  Listen and honor your body.

Namaste - The light within me honors the grace and wisdom within you.

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Take Your Workout On Vacation

Waterscape Chelsea June 2016

It’s that time of year (hooray!) that we all begin preparing for our summer vacations. Soon you’re headed to the coast to soak up the summer sun and spend your days salty with a cold beverage in hand. Or, maybe you’re off to escape the heat and bask in the glory of the crisp, mountain air. Either way, you’re excited for a getaway! While we all need a vacation and time to rest, we also don’t want to get too carried away by breaking routine and throwing out all the hard work we’ve been spending in the gym out the window.   Read More »

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NEHFM Workout of the Week: Pick a Card, Any Card!

As we wrap up our final week of National Employee Health and Fitness Month, our last "Workout of the Week" is a new take on a card game! This one could be challenging, but definitely FUN!

Good luck and may the odds be in your favor! 😉

NEHFM 2016 WOW: Pick a Card Any Card!

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Eating Healthy at SAS

CafeC

We are so lucky here on SAS’s World Headquarters campus to have many wonderful food options!  Many of us take advantage of the cafés and food-to-go stations on a daily basis too.  As you can imagine, we get questions about what the healthiest options are in the cafes and food-to-go stations on a regular basis.  Luckily there are plenty of great options!!

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