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In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life. But often, this comes at the expense of neglecting our emotional well-being. Caring for your mental health is as crucial as looking after your physical health. We’ll explore the importance of nurturing your emotional well-being and provide tips to help prioritize your mental health.

 

The Importance of Emotional Well-Being

Emotional well-being refers to your ability to understand, manage and express your emotions constructively. It is vital to your overall health and affects various aspects of your life, including relationships, work and physical health. Here’s why nurturing your emotional well-being is essential:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Nurturing Your Emotional Well-Being

Now that we understand the importance of emotional well-being let’s explore some practical steps to nurture it:

Prioritize Self-Care

Self-care doesn’t necessarily mean bubble baths and expensive trips to the spa. (They are nice if they do help you though!) Dedicate time to self-care activities that make you happy, whether it’s reading, practicing mindfulness or pursuing a hobby.

Stay Connected

Maintain social connections with friends and loved ones. A strong support system can provide comfort during tough times. Schedule a coffee date with a friend or visit a relative you haven’t seen.

Exercise Regularly

Physical activity releases endorphins, boosting your mood and reducing stress. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days. You don’t necessarily need to do a grueling fitness class every day. Consistency is key in physical activity, so opt for activities you enjoy, whether it’s riding a bike, swimming or playing pickleball.

Seek Professional Help

If you’re struggling with your mental health, don’t hesitate to seek help from a behavioral health professional. They can provide valuable guidance and support. They can also refer you to helpful resources and programs, like our Foundations Intensive Outpatient Program. Substance use disorders can also hurt mental health. GHC-SCW Primary Care Providers offer compassionate care for substance use disorders, including specialized medication management and a supportive path to recovery.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, can help you stay present and manage stress. Looking for some simple exercises to get started? Check out the Spinal Breathing Exercise on our YouTube channel. 

Set Realistic Goals

While it’s tempting to do everything, tackling your entire to-do list all at once can be overwhelming. Break your goals into smaller, achievable steps. Make sure to celebrate your successes along the way, too!

Limit Screen Time

Screen time is unavoidable in many careers. For many, computers and smartphones have become essential tools for their jobs. However, excessive screen time, especially on social media, can negatively impact mental health. During your downtime, make sure to set boundaries for healthy device use. It can be as simple as turning off notifications, setting a timer to limit usage and keeping your phone or laptop out of the bedroom.

Get Quality Sleep

Prioritize sleep, aiming for seven to nine hours per night. Quality rest is essential for emotional well-being and vital to your physical health. To create a sleep-friendly space, keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet with comfortable bedding.

Express Gratitude

Regularly express gratitude for the positive aspects of your life. This practice can foster a more positive outlook. One way to do this is to keep a daily gratitude journal. You could start your day positively by writing down the things for which you are grateful. Another way to express gratitude is by taking time before bed to note events that brightened your day. Some events you could note in your journal may include witnessing a random act of kindness or seeing your favorite flowers on your daily walk.

Educate Yourself

Learning about mental health can be powerful in understanding these conditions. You can also be part of the movement to reduce stigma and support others who are struggling with these conditions. Our online health conditions pages provide helpful information and resources on common mental health challenges, such as anxiety and depression.

 

Nurturing your emotional well-being is valuable to your overall health and happiness. Incorporate these tips into your daily life to prioritize your mental health and contribute to a more emotionally fulfilling existence. Remember, seeking help when needed is a sign of strength, and there’s support available for everyone. Your mental health matters, so make it a priority.

Winter has arrived, and along with it comes the magic of snow-covered landscapes. However, it also brings a potential hazard that we all need to be aware of – slippery surfaces that can lead to painful slips and falls. Here are some valuable winter walking safety tips to remember while navigating icy and snowy surfaces.

 

1. Stay Informed

Before heading out into the winter wonderland, staying informed about the weather is essential. Keep an eye on the weather forecast to know what to expect regarding temperature changes, snowfall, and ice accumulation. Staying informed allows you to prepare and take preventive measures accordingly.

2. Choose the Right Footwear

Selecting the proper footwear is crucial to prevent slips and falls in winter. Invest in non-slip shoes or boots with excellent traction to keep yourself stable on slippery surfaces. Your choice of footwear can be your best friend in avoiding winter accidents.

3. Walk Carefully – Small Steps and Shuffling

Walking safely on icy sidewalks or snowy paths requires a unique approach. Take small steps and shuffle your feet to maintain better balance. Avoid rushing and give yourself extra time to reach your destination safely. Remember, “slow and steady” is the key to staying upright in icy conditions.

4. Keep Walkways Clear

Keeping walkways clear of snow and ice is essential for a safe winter season. Make sure to regularly salt or sand outdoor pathways and promptly remove any accumulated snow to provide a secure walking surface. Ensure that entranceways are dry inside your home, with mats in place to prevent wet floors.

5. Use Handrails

Handrails can be a lifesaver when navigating stairs, especially in icy or slippery conditions. Always use handrails for added support and stability, whether you’re going up or down stairs. This simple practice can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.

 

Still Not Confident Walking in a Winter Wonderland?

If you need help maintaining balance while walking on snowy or icy surfaces, GHC-SCW has resources that can help!

Our Physical and Occupational Therapy (PT/OT) team can work with you to address your concerns to help prevent falls. They can educate you on any personal risk factors you may have, and provide training and exercises that can help. Using the knowledge, tools and resources they provide, you can feel more confident facing winter walking hazards.

Want to get started working with a PT/OT specialist? Schedule an appointment with PT/OT by calling (608) 662-5060.

 

As we embrace the beauty of the winter season, let’s also embrace these practical winter walking safety tips to prevent slips and falls. We can all enjoy the season safely and responsibly by staying informed, choosing the proper footwear, walking carefully, keeping walkways clear and using handrails. Stay safe and savor the magic of winter!

Men’s health is a topic that often takes a back seat in the conversation about wellness. For years, many men have hesitated to discuss their health issues openly. However, times are changing, and organizations like Movember work tirelessly to promote men’s health and well-being. In this blog post, we’ll explore the significance of Movember and how it’s positively impacting men’s lives across the globe.

Movember: A Movement for Men’s Health

Movember, a combination of “mustache” and “November,” is an annual event in November. It began in Australia in 2003 when a group of friends decided to grow mustaches to raise awareness about men’s health issues, particularly prostate cancer and depression. To read the full story, check out this blog from the Movember Foundation. It has evolved into a global movement encouraging men to grow mustaches during November to spark conversations about their health.

The Impactful Movember Initiatives:

  1. Prostate Cancer Awareness: Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men worldwide. Movember raises awareness about this disease and encourages men to get regular check-ups, including prostate cancer screenings. Early detection can significantly improve the chances of successful treatment.
  2. Behavioral Health Support: Movember is equally committed to addressing behavioral health issues, including depression and suicide. Many men struggle with mental health challenges in silence. This movement helps raise awareness that suicide is a global health crisis that disproportionately affects men. Movember provides a platform to reduce the stigma around behavioral health and encourages men to open up about their feelings, seek help and access resources for mental health support.
  3. Physical Activity and Well-being: Movember encourages men to adopt a healthier lifestyle by being physically active and making better dietary choices. These changes can significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Breaking Down the Stigma:

One of the most significant barriers to men’s health is the stigma surrounding vulnerability and seeking help. Movember challenges these stereotypes and encourages men to:

By addressing these issues openly, Movember aims to create a world where men are not afraid to seek help and prioritize their health and well-being.

How You Can Get Involved:

Movember is a movement that relies on community participation. Here are some ways you can join the cause:

  1. Grow a Mustache: Participate in the iconic Movember challenge by growing a mustache during November. It’s a fun and visible way to show your support.
  2. Start Conversations: Use your mustache as a conversation starter to discuss men’s health issues with friends, family, and colleagues.
  3. Donate: Contribute to the Movember Foundation to support their initiatives in men’s health, including research, education and support programs. Click here to check out their website and learn more.
  4. Get Active: Participate in physical activities or host events to raise funds and awareness for men’s health.

Movember is more than just growing a mustache; it’s a movement transforming how we think about men’s health. By encouraging open conversations, promoting early detection and providing resources for mental health support, Movember is breaking down the barriers that have prevented many men from prioritizing their well-being.

Summer is when we can enjoy the warmth of the sunshine on lazy, hazy days. But what happens when the air gets a little too hazy? You may have recently noticed less visibility in the air, along with warnings about air quality issues from local meteorologists and on your weather app.

 

What causes air quality issues? Common sources of air quality problems are pollution, including, as we’ve seen more recently, smoke from wildfires, such as in Canada or the western United States. Breathing in this type of air is dangerous, as it can contain harmful substances that can negatively affect our bodies. People at the greatest risk for health problems during this time are older adults, pregnant persons, infants and children, and individuals with lung or heart issues.

 

When there are problems with the air quality in your area, you may notice yourself coughing more, having trouble breathing or having a scratchy throat. Your eyes might sting or water due to the smoke in the air. Experiencing these physical symptoms due to poor air quality raises an important question: How can you stay informed and monitor the air quality in your area? There are many resources you can use to check the local air quality, including visiting airnow.gov. You can also sign up for air quality alerts from the Wisconsin DNR.

 

If an air quality alert is issued for your location, there are steps you can take to keep yourself healthy and safe. Avoid going outdoors, especially at peak negative air quality levels. Make sure all the windows and doors are closed. Have an air purifier running in your home to filter out the harmful substances in the air. Avoid exercising outdoors, as breathing in smoky air during physical activity can put additional strain on your body.

 

But what can you do to protect yourself if you need to be outside, such as for work or running necessary errands? You can wear a KN95 or N95 mask to protect against breathing harmful particles in the air. If you are driving, ensure your climate settings are on recirculating air, not the fresh air setting, as this will prevent more problematic air from being pulled into your vehicle.

 

We can’t stop the Canadian wildfires, but we can improve air quality by:

 

While we may not have control over the air quality in our area, prioritizing our health and taking proactive measures during periods of poor air quality is essential. By staying informed about air quality updates and following guidelines, we can make informed decisions and minimize our exposure to harmful substances in the air.

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast Cancer knows no gender, and GHC-SCW wants you to be informed of the risks and methods you can use to monitor yourself for symptoms.

 To understand more, we sat with Kristen Ruf, GHC-SCW Medical Imaging Manager and Dr. Kathryn Ledford to understand more about how you can self-check yourself for signs of breast cancer and information about the process of getting a mammogram. 

How can I self-check for lumps or signs of breast cancer?
While current recommendations from the United States Preventive Service Task Force no longer recommend teaching a self-breast examination, they encourage awareness of one’s body and its changes. In my practice, I advise regular self-checks and “knowing your breasts,” as I believe my patients know their bodies better than any clinician. Use the finger pads of 3 fingers to apply gentle pressure in a circular motion around the breast – you can “scan” up and down or in a circular motion, so long as you are sure to check all parts of the breast, including under the areola and the armpit.

How often should I self-check for lumps?
There is no clear recommendation for the frequency of self-checks, and I recommend that my patients check “regularly” – consider monthly to one’s cycle or on the first of the month. If you have a menstrual cycle, check at different times to note the changes in your breasts based on your varying hormone levels throughout the month.

If I find a lump, what should I do?
Call your clinic. Your PCP may want a clinical breast exam or recommend you start with a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound.

When should I start getting mammograms?
The USPSTF recommends starting mammography screening at age 50 and every other year. This recommendation considers the pros and cons of screening, early detection, the possibility of false positives, and data from millions of people. That said, recommendations vary between clinical groups, and many still consider preventive screening reasonable for persons with breasts in their 40s. I always consider a patient’s personal history, family history, and preferences. I ask them to consider, “What will I do if I get called back for further evaluation?” “Will I feel better knowing I had the screening done?” “If I get a false positive scare, will I keep up with regular screening in the future?”

What is the process of a mammogram?
An order for a mammogram is placed by your PCP. You then call GHC Hatchery Hill to schedule your mammogram there. You will meet with a radiology technician who will perform the exam at the appointment. The mammogram is like an x-ray of your breast; you will need to undress (top only), and each breast will be examined. The radiation from a 3D (tomosynthesis) mammogram is comparable to having 2-3 chest x-rays.

If you see something on my mammogram, what are the next steps?
Mammograms are “graded” by the reading radiologist to determine the best next steps for evaluating any abnormalities seen on the mammogram. Possible next steps include ultrasound, repeat mammogram at a closer interval, and maybe even a biopsy. You will have clear guidance from the radiologist and your PCP to determine the next steps.

With fall high school sports starting in the upcoming weeks, high school athletes and parents need to be ready to prevent injuries so they can stay in the game!

This week, we sat down with Shannon Jegla, DPT and Rebekah Steidinger, DPT, to learn more about common injuries in high school athletes, what it means to get a concussion, and how to prevent injuries before they happen.

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Back to school is coming up, meaning high school sports are coming back! Are there any common injuries you see in athletes?
Unfortunately, we will see an increase in ACL tears in young athletes beginning this fall and continuing throughout the year. The sports with the highest incidence are soccer, basketball, and football; we see them more commonly in our female athletes. Outside of more acute injuries, we are seeing more and more overuse injuries in young athletes who are now at a level within their sport that requires year-round training. These include stress injuries to bones and tendons.

What can athletes do help prevent these injuries, on the field and off the field?
When it comes to overuse injuries, cross-training is essential. Doing the same motion most days or daily can overload the tissue, especially in growing bodies. Using “off days” to rest from the sport is important. Still, it can also be helpful to move in different ways than your sport demands—think swimming or yoga for a running athlete or lacrosse or baseball for a hockey or basketball athlete. Variety is key!

On the field, it is vital to have proper, well-fitted equipment or footwear on the field and to ensure those stay in good shape throughout the season. And listen to your body! If something happens during practice or a game that doesn’t feel right, talk to your athletic trainer or coach and let them know what is happening. Ignoring the problem isn’t going to make it go away.

Concussions are a big concern in sports like football, soccer, and even swimming! What happens when an athlete gets a concussion?
Concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries, can occur from a direct impact to the head or a rapid movement of the brain within your skull. This leads to physical, mental and emotional symptoms due to chemical changes in the brain and mechanical stresses to your neck. The body and brain are typically very good at healing after a concussion if given proper treatment and rest. Symptoms can happen immediately but sometimes can be delayed for several hours after injury, so you should always take yourself out of any gameplay if you feel like you may have experienced a concussion. Symptom duration will last days to months, depending on the person and situation.

Why should parents/high school athletes be concerned about concussions in sports?
Concussions are essential to prevent, identify and treat correctly as they can affect many aspects of your life. The most common symptoms include difficulty with cognitive tasks and concentration, memory issues, headaches, dizziness, balance deficits, sleep issues, neck pain, mood changes, and sensitivity to light and sound. They can also take longer and be harder to heal from the more concussions you experience.

Is there anything athletes can do to prevent concussions?
One meaningful way to prevent a concussion is always wearing a helmet when needed on the field, on a bicycle, skiing, or in any other activity where you are at risk of sustaining a head injury. It is also important to play smart and avoid making illegal contact with other players. With any sport that involves stunting, make sure always to use spotters in a safe environment. If running or biking outside for conditioning or sport, make sure you are visible to cars and others around you. Game administrators can do their part by ensuring that equipment is in good condition, tripping hazards are minimized, and fields are in good condition. If you sustain a concussion, it is crucial to avoid any activity that may risk a repeat injury to the head and be evaluated by a medical provider.

What advice would you give to athletes before starting their season?
Pre-season preparation and progressive conditioning after a scheduled rest period is the best way to ensure your body is ready for the demands of your sport. If you have any nagging injuries, make sure you connect with your coach and athletic trainer to have a plan in place to manage them. Adequate sleep, proper nutrition, and consistent hydration are part of the foundation of injury prevention, especially as the school year gets rolling and busier.

 

 

May Mental Health Awareness Month

With Mental Health Awareness month coming to an end , it’s important to reflect on ourselves.

Sometimes, we may need some extra help with our mental health. And that’s okay! Normalizing taking care of our bodies and minds is something that GHC-SCW encourages and embraces.

At GHC-SCW, we have many behavioral health services available to help you take the first, second, third or even fourth step to taking care of your mental health and well-being. Although May is coming to an end, every day is a good day to start taking care of yourself.

GHC-SCW Behavioral Health Department

You can learn more about GHC-SCW’s behavioral health programs here. Different options are available to help with your behavioral health needs, including class options, resources, programs, crisis hotline information and more.

Primary Care Behavioral Health

Our Primary Care Providers (PCPs) and Behavioral Health Consultants work together on your care team to support your overall physical and emotional health..

Working with Primary Care Behavioral Health means making the right plan for you. Once you’ve identified your needs, the Behavioral Health Consultant and your PCP will work with you to help you get those needs met and accomplish your goals.

GHC Foundations – Intensive Outpatient Program

GHC-SCW also has a program called GHC Foundations Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). This new program benefits patients who are either stepping down from higher levels of care or could use more intensive services than outpatient therapy and medication management.

The GHC Foundations Intensive Outpatient Program features group therapy, psychotherapy, wellness and more elements. Patients will have the opportunity to practice skills while exploring symptoms and experiences in a safe environment. You can learn more here.

GHC Care OnDemand Teletherapy

As a GHC-SCW member, you also have 24/7/365 access to behavioral health services through GHC Care OnDemand*, which makes therapists accessible via virtual therapy appointments, also known as teletherapy. Therapists specializing in addiction, stress, depression, child and adolescent issues and much more are available through GHC Care OnDemand. Visits are free* for most members.

Learn more about GHC Care OnDemand and Teletherapy here.

*Members with BadgerCare, Medicare or HSAs have restrictions or limitations. Members with HSA-eligible plans must reach their deductible before visits are free.

 

May is National Blood Pressure Awareness Month. Ensuring a healthy blood pressure is essential to overall health, and a high, uncontrolled blood pressure puts you at a higher risk for stroke, heart disease, heart attack, and kidney failure.

We spoke with GHC-SCW clinical pharmacists to better understand the importance of managing your blood pressure!

What is the importance of checking your blood pressure?

Checking your blood pressure is the only way to know if you have high blood pressure or hypertension. Usually, people do not feel any different when their blood pressure is high.

Can I check my blood pressure at home?

Checking blood pressure at home is a great idea! The American Heart Association recommends choosing a blood pressure monitor that inflates automatically and has an upper arm cuff. Here is a list of blood pressure monitors that have been validated, meaning they are clinically accurate. It is essential to closely follow the instructions included with your blood pressure monitor.

GHC pharmacies carry validated blood pressure monitors for sale, and GHC clinical pharmacists have blood pressure monitors to loan to patients.

What is a healthy blood pressure level?

Healthy blood pressure is systolic (upper number) less than 120 and diastolic (lower number) less than 80.

What can I do to improve my blood pressure?

What is the risk of high blood pressure?

If high blood pressure goes untreated, it can cause damage to your organs and blood vessels over time. This can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss, sexual dysfunction, angina, and peripheral artery disease.

If you have any questions about your blood pressure or any questions about managing your blood pressure, reach out to GHC-SCW clinical pharmacists,

Ever wonder why a seemingly minor injury to your back can cause so much pain?

Your brain keeps eyes on all of the systems in your body, similar to the dashboard of a car. These systems have sensors that read you and your environment, including temperature, stress, joint movement, stretch, and blood flow. An injury to your low back can also trip your sensors and put you into fight or flight mode. Sometimes the nervous system’s sensitivity is so high that normal motion is painful even though it’s not causing harm.

The stress of any kind will cause your nervous system to be more sensitive. It could be work stress, money worries, family stress, or anxiety. Stress can make it that it doesn’t take nearly as much to trigger pain with your movements and daily activities. Learning how your alarm system works can help decrease your body’s sensitivity to movement and allow you to do more with less pain.

At GHC-SCW, we have PTs and OTs ready to help you learn how your alarm system works. Whether through minimizing outside stress/triggers or learning physical and energetic modalities to reduce stress and its physical symptoms, we are here to help you along your journey of relieving lower back pain.

To learn more about how stress impacts your body and ways to desensitize your alarm system to help your physical pain consider seeing a GHC provider in the PT/OT Department.

There are so many fad diet and exercise plans that promote a variety of rules about how to be “healthy”. The sheer number of choices can be very overwhelming and hard to maintain. The truth is that at least 30 minutes of movement a day is enough to provide some wellness benefits. GHC-SCW Physical Therapist Gina Droessler, PTA, CSCI, CPI outlines more information on why daily movement is important and doesn’t have to be irritating! 

How much movement should a member really get each day?

Try to get at least 30 minutes of movement every day. The great news is that it is just as beneficial to take two 15 minute movement breaks, three 10 minute breaks or complete all 30 minutes at one time. It doesn’t matter how the time is divided, just focus on actually finishing! 

What are some options to get in a good workout while still staying socially distanced?

When the weather is nice, take advantage and get outside! A simple walk or run is a great way to stay moving. It doesn’t need to be complicated. 

Is it possible to get physically fit at home without going to a stocked gym?

You can get physically fit anywhere. Some people might feel more challenged in a group setting due to competitive class factors. But anyone can get a good workout at home with minimal equipment. Using body weight and free weights can even be more effective than machines.

What are some simple items members can get to enhance their home workout experience?

A full-length mirror can be purchased for under $20 at Target or WalMart and can be extremely helpful to check posture and exercise form. A set of dumbbells in weights ranging from 5 to 15 pounds are a great investment and can be bought for a range of prices. Finally, a cost-effective set of resistance bands are an awesome tool. The exercise can be easier or harder depending on where the bands are held!

Are there any low or no cost fitness apps or websites that you recommend? 

Click HERE for a PDF of some great options. 

For members who have very busy schedules – what are some tips to incorporate healthy movement into their regular day?

When commuting to work or doing errands always park far away from the entrance. It’s a small thing, but can result in many extra steps. Drink more water throughout the day for another reason to get up to visit the bathroom more. Take a walk during half of a lunch break. Little bursts of exercise are helpful too, like standing on one leg while brushing teeth or waiting for the microwave. Do squats or jog in place during commercials or while on hold on a call.  

Click HERE to learn more about PT/OT at GHC-SCW!