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Your Family’s Greatest Gift is You!

By Mary Kruse, President

My Mom loved to entertain and Christmas was a time for the extended family and friends to reunite. Christmas Eve was about catching up, good food, party libations and laughing a lot. Christmas Eve was one of my fondest memories.

It was Christmas Eve and I was 12. I was abruptly woken to my Dad having a heart attack. Rather than tearing into presents Christmas morning we spent it at the hospital with my Dad.

Although I was young, I learned quickly that Christmas wasn’t about presents; it was about having the ones we love in good health and by our side. That emotional Christmas was 40 years ago; it still feels like yesterday. The greatest gift you can give your family is taking care of “you” and making your health a priority.

Power in Planning

By Carolyn Peterson, Account Manager

There is power in planning. Most of us have felt the excitement and energy around a well-planned event, whether at work or at home. We almost can’t wait for it to happen, because we are ready! Wellness planning can have that same feel – it allows you to take a step back, connect with your wellness team and set goals that are important to your organization. Here are some guidelines to help you with planning your 2014 wellness program.

  1. Collect data from your health assessment, claims information and previous program evaluations. Use this information to see what is most important to improve employee wellness and to determine interests.
  2. Review past programs to determine what worked and what did not work with your employees.
  3. Meet with your leadership to determine what their goals are for the wellness program. Discuss the wellness programs in the workplace along with the company’s strategic goals.
  4. Set three to five health goals with metrics. This can include participation rates, health outcomes, satisfaction rates and/or self-efficacy goals.
  5. Put your plan to paper and create a calendar or list of upcoming employee wellness programs.

Consider a comprehensive approach to your plan that includes health awareness, behavior-change programs, risk or group specific approaches (such as tobacco cessation or training for a 5K) and environmental changes in your workplace. Don’t try to do too much, but work on having your staff wellness program become more visible in your organization on an ongoing basis.

3 Tips for Choosing a Wellness Provider

By Ed Boyle, CEO

Thinking about incorporating a wellness plan into your workplace? Here are 3 points to consider prior to starting:

  1. Search out and find a compatible employee wellness provider that will spend time on the front end getting to know your company and its culture; moving too fast could impact employee engagement and utilization
  2. Spend cautiously - you cannot spend your way out of a problem that you got yourself into - and make it a journey!
  3. Build a strategy - gain consensus from all stakeholders – develop a multi-year plan.

These are tips we share every day with our clients – it is why we are a trusted resource.

3 Stress Techniques to Survive the Holidays

By Emily Westlund, Program Coordinator

Ready or not, the holidays are upon us. If the thought of what’s to come (shopping! relatives! enormous family dinners!) leaves you feeling less than warm and fuzzy, try one of the techniques below. Some suggestions might jive with you more so than others, and that’s okay. The key is to find what works for you so that you can slow down and enjoy yourself during what is often a stressful time of year.

1. Positive Self-Talk

Change negative self messages to positive ones.  If your head is stuck on negative messages that play over and over, turn those messages around.

Practice:

  • Begin by noticing negative messages you say to yourself and others. Now change those negative thoughts to positive. For example, change “I should have…” to “Next time I will…”
  • Focus on positive ways to think and say things. Try some of these affirmations:

I am learning to let go of worry. If I can do something I will; otherwise I’ll let go.

I am a valuable and unique person.

I am worthy of others’ respect.

I am learning to be kind and forgiving to myself.

2. Envision a Pleasant Place

When family gatherings feel chaotic, take a mini vacation. Think about a favorite spot where you have been or would like to go. What makes it so inviting?

Practice:

  • Close the door or go somewhere quiet.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Take four deep breaths.
  • Put yourself in a favorite spot. For example: take a walk on the beach, feel the warm sand, smell the ocean, hear the calming pulse of the water.
  • Allow yourself to see the scene, smell the smells, hear the sounds, feel the sensations.
  • Open your eyes and gradually return to the “real world.”

3. Self-Massage

Exhausted after hours of holiday shopping? Massage will help relieve tension in tired or achy parts of your body such as your head, feet and shoulders.

Practice:

  • Temple release. Place palms on your temples, with fingers meeting at top of head. Gently apply pressure to palms while massaging in a circular motion.
  • Shoulder press. Reach across the front of your body to your opposite shoulder. In a circular motion, press firmly on the muscle above your shoulder blade. Repeat using the other arm.
  • Sinus-tension release. Place your forefingers at the bridge of your nose and slowly slide them down your nose and across the top of your cheekbones to the outside of your eyes.

These techniques, which are taken from our behavior change program “Creating Life Balance,” work best if practiced regularly. Pretty soon you’ll find you are able to relax within moments of starting the technique of your choice.

Happy, healthy holidays from all of us at HealthSource Solutions!

It All Starts with a Plan

By Annie Ketcher, Account Manager

Recently I had the opportunity to lead a planning meeting with a new company we are working with. This client is a busy law firm located in downtown Minneapolis. They have done several wellness initiatives in the past, but haven’t quite made the shift to a more comprehensive wellness program.

At the wellness committee meeting it was clear that this group was ready to take their program to the next level. We reviewed the HealthSource Solutions program model which encourages a comprehensive program to include awareness messaging, behavior change programs, targeted programs, environment and culture changes, assessments, data collection and evaluation.

We discussed the benefits of having a brand for their wellness program (name and logo) as well as a mission statement. The wellness committee agreed that this would help formalize their program and they were ready to move forward with putting these items in place right away. It was decided that they would gather suggestions from employees on what to name the program and then have all employees vote on their favorite. This helps employees feel like they are a part of the process and gets them involved early on.

They also liked the idea of setting wellness goals that would help them evaluate their program at the end of the year. Their initial goals will be created based on data gathered from an employee interest survey and their past medical claims.

This initial planning is a fun and exciting time for a wellness committee and it definitely plays a big role in setting the tone for the company’s wellness program. I encourage committees I work with to take the extra time when first launching their wellness program to put these important infrastructure pieces in place. This will start them down the right path for a successful wellness program!

Midwest Health Promotion Conference Follow-Ups

Thank you to everyone who attended this year's conference! We had a record-breaking year with 460 attendees and exhibitors. Please see below for follow-up handouts and links:

  1. For notes from Chez Raginiak's keynote presentation, Operation Appreciation, click here.
  2. For a handout by Brian Luke Seaward, "Life at the Speed of Change," click here.
  3. For the presentation notes from, "Who's Got Your Back: Build a Support Network for Better Career Well-Being", click here.
  4. For suggested Lean In Circle Topics, click here.
  5. For results from the networking activity around where you volunteer your time, click here.
  6. For results from the networking activity around where/how your company supports volunteerism, click here.
  7. For results from the networking activity around where you would volunteer your time if you had unlimited resources, click here.
  8. If you are looking for credits/CEUs, you can email conference@healthsource-solutions.com to request a copy of the certificate of completion. Participants are responsible for applying for approved credits within their certification/s.
  9. To take the post-conference evaluation, please click here. We appreciate your feedback!
  10. Take a break and practice along with the  Tai Chi video below, taken during the conference movement break.

Thank you again for being a part of our conference! We look forward to seeing you next year!

Tai Chi with Jean Jentz

6 Things You Need to Know About the Midwest Health Promotion Conference

The Midwest Health Promotion Conference is Thursday, November 7th! We’re looking forward to seeing everyone, sharing ideas, and re-energizing professionally. Here’s what you need to know ahead of time:

  1. Check-in and Breakfast: Check-in starts at 7:15 a.m. There will be directional signage throughout the RiverCentre to guide you. After you have checked in at the registration tables, enjoy some breakfast and networking with exhibitors!
  2. Parking: The parking ramp is located across the street from the St. Paul RiverCentre. The cost is $10 and you can pay by credit card, cash or check. For additional parking options, visit www.rivercentre.org/parking.
  3. Spare Change: This year we will be collecting money from all participants who wish to donate. Everyone who contributes will be put into a drawing. The winner of the drawing gets to choose a local charity to receive the donations. Please be generous and remember to bring some money with you! You can also donate ahead of time by clicking here.
  4. Attire: We recommend business casual attire for the day. Bring a sweater too – climate control in large spaces can be tricky, and it is often cool in the ballroom!
  5. Tweet with us: We will be posting on Twitter throughout the day and encourage you to interact with us! You can send pictures, quotes, questions or feedback to our handle: @HealthSource_MN. The conference hash tag is #MidwestHealth. You can also check-in to the conference via our event page on Facebook.
  6. Cancellation/Substitution: You can substitute a registration at any time. The deadline for getting a refund due to cancellation was November 1, 2013.

If you have any questions about the day, please contact Emily Westlund at (763) 287-0742 or emilywestlund@healthsource-solutions.com.

See you on Thursday!

Interview With a Happy Quitter

By Emily Westlund, Program Coordinator

Tracy, an employee at Apple Ford Lincoln - Apple Valley, was recently interviewed after completing our 5-week tobacco cessation program, Kick It Together. Here, she shares her success. Congratulations Tracy!

HealthSource Solutions: How many years had you smoked? How many times had you tried to quit previously?

Tracy: I smoked for 20 years and had never attempted to quit before.

HSS: How did the class work for you?

Tracy: Peer support. Knowing others are in the same situation as me and sharing ideas and do's and don'ts. Having a peer to confide in. Giving and receiving support/cheering for each other. Counselor support with multiple ideas and resources on how to successfully quit and quit for good. Having a professional to talk to about addiction fears and how to overcome them.

HSS: What was the most helpful suggestion from the counselor?

Tracy: Do it for yourself. Take it one day at a time.

HSS: Have you had any setbacks?

Tracy: None at all. I used a prescription tobacco cessation medication for the first 70 days - loved the product and highly recommend it!

HSS: How long have you been smoke-free?

Tracy: It has been almost 4 months! My quit date was 6/24/2013. 

HSS: Is there anything that will help you stay quit?

Tracy: Self determination. I quit. There is no going back.

Photo credit: Matt Trostle, October 17, 2011.

3 Things You Need to Know About the E-Cigarette

By Emily Westlund, Program Coordinator

E-cigarettes are suddenly a hot topic, even though they were actually first introduced to the U.S. market in 2006. If you read the comments section of articles on the topic, you’ll hear the angry cries of ex-smokers who were able to quit smoking thanks to the e-cigarette, and how dare anyone question the awesomeness of this product?! E-cigarettes still require inhaling a substance into the lungs, so we wanted to research it further.  It may very well be true that the e-cigarette can and will continue to help people quit tobacco, and that is great. Here’s what is not so great:

  1. There is no research to back up the safety of e-cigarettes, and they are currently not regulated. Manufacturers do not have to list all of the ingredients, so what you see on the label isn’t necessarily what you get.
  2. A study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that e-cigarettes did have trace elements of hazardous compounds, including diethylene glycol, one of the main ingredients in antifreeze, as well as nitrosamine, a known carcinogen. Yes, there were far less contaminants found versus in a traditional cigarette…but this is still poison and again, it is unknown what the long-term effects could be.
  3. Because e-cigarettes aren’t yet regulated and are sold online, they can be sold to minors. They come in a variety of flavors that appeal to youth. This could serve as a gateway to other tobacco products.

The bottom line is we don’t know enough about e-cigarettes yet. If they turn out to be a safe product to use or even a tobacco cessation alternative – we will be right there celebrating with everyone else. Until then, we hope people will exercise caution and explore other quit smoking options that are proven to be safe. 

Photo credit: Xavierrap23, June 18, 2012

 

Conference Keynote Speakers: Sneak Peek

 By Emily Westlund, Program Coordinator

Our morning keynote at this year’s Midwest Health Promotion Conference is Dr. Brian Luke Seaward, a renowned and respected international expert in stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and health promotion. In this video, Dr. Seaward provides some insight on stress and the human spirit. Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRrm38lm7xc

 

Our afternoon keynote speaker is Chez Raginiak, international speaker, songwriter and award-winning author. Chez’s message of appreciation begins with his own journey of escaping his native communist Poland and coming to America. You can listen to some of his incredible history by watching this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxPD0ckRGa8

 

We are looking forward to our conference – it’s just 4 weeks away! To see session descriptions and registration, click here. See you there!