When the Holidays Get You Down

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thinking businessman

The holidays are a time for celebrating, getting together with family and friends, sharing great food, and joy. However, this is also a stressful time, with too much to do, unpredictable weather, and high expectations.

I am on the board of directors for Rose Hill Center, in Holly, Michigan, that specializes in the treatment of people with severe mental illness. Its CEO, Ben Robinson, wrote an article on holiday stress that I think can help all of us, so I am sharing some of his tips.

He notes that “people who have experienced significant losses, or who suffer from anxiety and depression can find this time of year to be very stressful, profoundly disappointing or worse. Additionally, many people also suffer from a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is brought on by the long nights, short days and gloomy weather.

“There are some strategies we can all put in place for ourselves, and also encourage others who may be suffering in silence to use, as well:

  • Say no when too many events or invitations come our way
  • Cancel or postpone scheduled events if inclement weather is present or forecast
  • Avoid shopping during peak times when stores and roads are the most crowded
  • Limit our intake of alcohol and food to our normal amount or less
  • Make time to exercise, read, worship and relax
  • Minimize our exposure to stressful family, social or work situations
  • Be realistic about what we can expect from the Holiday Season
  • Accept our natural feelings surrounding the loss of loved ones

“And most importantly: share feelings of anxiety or depression with close friends and family members – many of whom have had or are experiencing similar feelings. If needed, seek professional help from your family physician or another healthcare professional.”

I hope that these tips are helpful for you in keeping your stress level low during these holiday weeks. However, if you or someone you know needs assistance, we are fortunate that within the Henry Ford Health System we have an amazing Behavioral Health division that has many different options for care. Help is only a phone call away.

Remember that enjoying each other’s company and celebrating the season is much more important than the perfect gift or the best decorations.

As I close this final post of 2014, I want to acknowledge:

  • my amazing family – my husband, Tom, my kids, Mike and Lauren; they are truly my everything,
  • my outstanding Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital team – we are on an amazing journey together,
  • my extended Henry Ford Health System team – We are transforming lives and communities through health and wellness – one person at a time.
  • all of my friends.

May the spirit of this season fill you with joy and hope, and may the new year bring even more for all of us to celebrate!

The $5 Challenge

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Recently, I attended the United Way of Southeast Michigan Campaign cabinet meeting. I co-chair the Healthcare Subcommittee of this cabinet, and am proud to be part of such an outstanding group of individuals committed to supporting the UWSEM in their mission: to mobilize the caring power of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan to improve communities and individual lives in measurable and lasting ways.

United Way also has a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal,” which is “We believe it’s possible to make Greater Detroit a Top 5 Place to Live and Work by 2030.”

At each of our meetings, CEO Michael Brennan brings one of his team members to talk about work on an “impact” area. This provides the “why” of our campaign, and grounds us in the efforts of this amazing organization. Yesterday he did something very unique – he presented us with “The $5 Challenge.”

Every day in Southeast Michigan, some people in our community don’t know where they will get their next meal. These are people that attend our church, go to school with our children, maybe even work in our companies.

In order to qualify for the free and reduced lunch program, a family of four must have an income level of $44,000 or less. More than 350,000 kids qualify for this in our communities! UWSEM helps coordinate food for these kids during times they don’t get food at school – breaks, summer, etc. – through a program they call Meet Up and Eat Up. It is an amazing program, but they have bigger dreams.

So how does The $5 Challenge help? Many of these families also qualify for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides about $5 per day in food assistance.

Michael decided to see if he could eat for an entire day on $5, and found it was very challenging. He shared his experience with us, and challenged us to try this ourselves. In fact, he gave us each a $5 bill and the rules: $5.00, one day, and share your experiences with photos, tweets, Facebook posts, etc.

I’m going to take this challenge, and I know it will be difficult. Most days, I buy an iced coffee at Starbucks for $2.76. In fact, even coffee I make at home is probably out!

I talked with my team at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, and we decided to make this a leadership challenge in early 2015 – we will have some fun with it, and do a bit of fundraising at the same time!

So I wonder, as did several of us in the room yesterday, how could we make this go viral like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Imagine if we created something that goes so viral that it changes the way hunger in the tri-county region, the state, perhaps even the country, is handled.

Take The $5 Challenge with me, share your experience using #UWSEMFoodFor5, contribute to the cause, and help United Way help expand the Meet Up and Eat Up program!

 

 

A Diversity Hero

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Henry Ford Health System has 10 service standards for all employees, which support continuous improvement in service to patients. One of these standards is: Honor and Respect Diversity.

We celebrate diversity in many ways throughout the year, including educating our teams about various religious holidays, hosting culture workshops, and working one on one with patients and their families.

On Wednesday, December 10, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital is holding a Heritage Celebration 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the Ravitz Atrium. There will be entertainment, food, and information from Henry Ford Employee Resource Groups and Mango Languages. A staff cooking competition will be part of the event, in the Demonstration Kitchen, focusing on ethnic dishes.

Also, each year we honor an individual in the facility as our diversity hero – along with members of other Henry Ford facilities.

Recently, we held an event to honor Henry Ford diversity heroes, including our Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital Diversity Hero, Betty Lewis, environmental services associate.

Lewis, Betty Diversity

Betty is a smiling face that greets everyone – a patient, a coworker, or a visitor – with a warm welcome, and if needed, a hug. She participates in activities of the hospital, such as dressing up for Halloween and participating in our farmers market.

Betty fully embodies Henry Ford’s commitment to diversity:

We understand diversity to encompass not only obvious human differences such as age, gender, race and culture, but also more subtle dimensions like work style, lifestyle, physical capacity and characteristics. In an organizational context, diversity is found in the mix of differences we collectively create, rather than in the uniqueness of any individual group.

We hold each member of our team accountable for actively fostering a culture of inclusion in order to enhance the quality of care and comfort for each person that we serve.

When I told a member of the West Bloomfield team member that I was on my way to honor Betty at this event, he said, “Now there is a deserving individual! Give her a hug and congratulations from me.”

Thank you Betty, for all that you do for our team and our guests.

Breathe Deeply

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Six years ago, I took my first yoga class. I had been looking for an exercise that didn’t put stress on my joints, as I had just recovered from hip replacement surgery.   I discovered a practice that offered so much more to me, and continues to do so, even now that I go to the studio much less frequently.

The “asanas,” or poses, are described in ancient Sanskrit, and translated into descriptive English. A common pose is Downward-Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana.

Although these poses provide amazing physical benefits, such as stretching, flexibility, muscle toning and balance, the purpose is to teach you to continue to breathe deeply and maintain calmness when pushing your body into discomfort. Why? So your brain learns how to cope in the same way when faced with other challenges.

The breathing – deep, diaphragmatic breathing, called pranayama – is critical. In fact, my teachers tell me that breathing is really the most important aspect of yoga. Why? Because deep breathing is what is truly calming the mind, invoking the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).  PNS activation reduces blood pressure and slows the heart and breathing rates after a stressful event.

So combining the asanas and the pranayama (poses and breathing) creates an amazing practice that provides physical benefits and relaxation – contributing to an overall increased feeling of well-being. I know this is true for me, and helps explain why so many people find yoga to be addictive.

If you would like to learn more about yoga, please call Vita wellness center at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital at 248.325.3870 for a class that will fit your needs.

Downward Dog

Caught Being Healthy

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Veggies blog

I handed out my “Caught Being Healthy” cards yesterday.

The first went to Terry, who leads the team at the information desk at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.  At the end of a very busy day, I walked out with her and she shared with me that she had just gotten a massage at Vita.  We discussed how regular massages are an important part of our physical and mental health, providing tension relief and overall relaxation.  I was inspired by Terry as she described her commitment to this healthy practice, and how grateful she is that we have it right on our campus.

The second went to Tracey, who works in Physician Village.  Tracey is pursuing her degree at Eastern Michigan University, while working full time and helping her family with their many responsibilities.  I told her how proud I am of her that she knows that education is important for her, and how I view this as a healthy behavior that not everyone has the commitment to pursue.

These women are now looking to pass on their cards, finding colleagues and friends also pursuing healthy behaviors.

Here are some examples. How many can you do?

  • Schedule your mammogram, or encourage another to do so.
  • Get a heart screening.
  • Add vegetables (a pound per day is a good recommendation) to your daily diet.
  • Substitute one sugar-added beverage a day with water.
  • Take a walk on your break or at lunch, smiling at everyone you meet. Walking and smiling are healthy behaviors!
  • Take time to be grateful and show appreciation each day.
  • Commit to eating breakfast every day.

There are so many ways to add healthy behaviors to your life, and most of them don’t involve joining a gym, lifting weights, running a marathon, or any other overwhelming physical activity.  I encourage you to take the time today to think about what you can add to your life to improve your health. You and your family will be happier, and you may add years to your life.

 

Fed Up With Sugar

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 Sugar graphic

I am pretty focused on healthy eating and exercise – but by no means do I do it all correctly, or have all of the answers. I read a lot about the impact of food on our overall health, and have adopted a diet that includes lean meats, lots of fruits and vegetables, and occasional whole grains.

But I also have a huge sweet tooth. I can remember times when I ate an entire bag of jelly beans (a favorite) in one sitting — usually followed by a stomachache! So lately I have been learning about the impact that added sugar has on my health, as well as the overall health of our community, and the role sugar plays in the obesity epidemic in our country.

I recently saw the movie “Fed Up”. Its message is “for the past 30 years, everything we thought we knew about food and exercise is dead wrong.”

The movie tests our knowledge regarding sugar, school lunch programs, the healthcare industry’s commitment to educating the public on sugar’s impact, and ends with a challenge.

The Fed Up Challenge requires giving up all food and drinks that have added sugars for 10 days. (No exceptions, so don’t ask.) And these foods are everywhere.

The chart above from The Center for Science in the Public Interest shows where added sugars are hiding.

Your diet should be full of fresh, whole foods that are free of honey, molasses, agave, artificial sweeteners, and any one of the 56 hidden names for sugar, such as glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, and maltose. Say goodbye to liquid sugars, such as sodas, sweetened teas, fruit juices, and sports drinks, too.

Why go cold turkey? Sugar has the same addictive properties as tobacco and alcohol. The more you eat, the more you need to be satisfied. So if you cut all added sugar from your diet at once, you will avoid triggering the addiction center in the brain.

The World Health Organization has dropped its sugar intake recommendations from 10% of your daily calorie intake to 5%.   For an adult with a normal body mass index (BMI), that is about 6 teaspoons — or 25 grams — of sugar per day.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar intake to no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance: no more than 100 calories per day for women (about 6 teaspoons) and no more than 150 calories per day for men (9 teaspoons). They  have great educational resources to help you learn about managing sugar in your diet and why it is important.

I work for an organization with a mission to improve people’s health, and I firmly believe that what we eat is a foundational building block for health.

I encourage you to see “Fed Up,” know where the added sugar is in your diet, learn to read food labels to be aware of what you are eating, and consider taking the 10 day challenge.

When Blood Donation is Personal

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Poxon, Amanda

In my last post, I shared the story of David Schwartz, a dietitian at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.

Today I want to share another inspirational story about one of our team members.

Rebecca Peterson is a nurse in the Birthing Center. Recently, she sent me (and many others) an email titled: I need your help, please!

Many of you may have heard bits and pieces of the story of my sister in law over these past couple of months–this past March, she suffered from a pregnancy complication which almost resulted in her losing her life. One of the things that saved her life was her blood donors, since she received more than 15 units of blood, and platelets on top of this, and she is SO thankful for this. Her doctors told her that the amount of blood products she received would have taken 30-40 donors.

I have not seen her since February, since her and her husband moved to Colorado, shortly before this happened, however they will be in town in September.  One of the things she has been asking of her friends and family, when they ask how they can help support them, is to donate blood.  I would like to surprise her when she comes in town with 40+ blood donors, donating blood in her name.  If you are willing to help me out in accomplishing this, I am asking that you please consider donating blood/platelets/double RBCs, that you take a picture during the donation, with a smile, a thumbs up, and a “sign”, which can simply be a piece of paper with her name on it, reading either: Melinda, For Melinda, Team Melinda (feel free to write an inspirational quote if you wish) etc…and then please me the picture. Please send pictures to me by September 1st. If you are willing to do this, please encourage your spouses/SO’s and anyone else, but make sure I get the pictures. Please please please :-)  Thanks so much for your help.

We helped Rebecca by photographing donors who agreed to her request at our August 28 blood drive. Nearly two dozen donors held the For Melinda sign to show their support for her. What an amazing way to pay it forward by helping promote blood donations, and then including your sister-in-law who was saved by blood donations!