All posts filed under “Worksite Wellness

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Bring your dog to work day, week or indefinitely

Who could possibly have a bad day when a dog is sitting by your desk? Recent studies have shown that bringing your dog to work has lowered stress levels of both dog owner and non-dog owner employees. Not only does the dog’s presence in the workplace cause a sense of calm but it also increases the likelihood of employees taking their breaks. Employee breaks will tend to be more active as they will need to walk their dog allowing the employee to go outside and get some fresh air. This helps employee’s stay away from less healthy habits they might indulge in on their break such as smoking, remaining sedentary or eating even if they aren’t hungry. Not only will it increase the physical activity for dog owners but it will also increase the physical activity of non-dog owners at work. Who could resist denying an animal some attention?

Having dogs in the workplace does not only benefit the employee but it also benefits the employer. Allowing dogs in the workplace has become a huge factor and incentive when deciding to interview for a job or take a job. This service attracts a younger population which consequently,  makes the company more compelling and even more competitive . Having dogs in the workplace also creates a better sense of morale and bonding between employees and upper level management. These benefits create a more comfortable and responsive work environment which will allow employees to be more productive. Thus, the employer can show that they provide a healthy and enjoyable work environment.   Replacement LTD is an example of a company who has successfully integrated having dogs in their workplace. They have allowed dogs in the workplace for over 15 years and the majority of their employees have worked for the company for over 10 years! Did you know that Moda Health’s location in Milwaukie, OR also allows dogs in their workplace?

People might be asking what about employees with allergies? Even though that is a serious factor to consider, the service can be modified. Maybe dogs can be in the workplace on certain days of the week, once a month or quarter. This could allow employees to still be able to receive the healthy benefits from this service as well as being mindful of the other health situations.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Mike Spasoff

blog-bento
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Think inside the bento box for healthy lunches

What is Bento?  The official definition is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine.  A traditional bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquer ware.  Although bento lunches are readily available in many places throughout Japan many Japanese homemakers often spend time and energy on a carefully prepared lunch box for their spouse, child, or themselves.

Why bento?  Portion sizes can be the stumbling block for adults and children when it comes to eating healthy.  The pre-formed size of the food spaces in the bento boxes make it easy to keep the portions small and within the USDA MyPlate.gov standards.

Be careful not to stress portion sizes to kids. Just pack their lunches and let them enjoy their new bento box.

Building a bento – don’t confuse bento with a box of snacks. 

  • Protein (eggs, yogurt, low fat cheese, low sodium deli meat, chick peas, edamame, chicken, turkey,)
  • Grain (muffin, pita bread, crackers, pasta salad, quinoa, tortilla)
  • Vegetables (baby carrots or carrot sticks, cucumbers, celery, peppers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, radishes)
  • Fruit (grapes, apple, water melon, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, raspberries, orange slices – mandarin oranges, pear slices)
  • Snack (dried fruit, pretzels, popcorn, small cookie, chocolate covered raisins, gold fish crackers, nuts, seeds, fig newtons, bunny grahams)
  • Olives, pickle

Enjoy the process and have fun thinking inside the box.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by buzzymelibee

Disaster Kit
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The Great Oregon ShakeOut

When it comes to natural disasters, sometimes it feels like there is nothing you can do. So, why worry? Even though an earthquake cannot be prevented, shakeout.org has developed ways to help protect ourselves and loved ones during an earthquake. Shakeout explains that Oregon lies between two tectonic plates in a constant state of collision. The 600 mile long fault line known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone spans from California to British Columbia.  After years of pressure and slow movement the plates will rip apart causing massive earthquakes.

In order to protect ourselves during a large earthquake, shakeout.org has organized a worldwide earthquake drill. In 2015 over 43 million people participated in the shakeout.  This year on October 20th at 10:20 a.m. another worldwide drill is set to take place. At this time, over five million U.S. participants are signed up, and the numbers are growing daily! In Oregon alone, there are nearly 25,000 individuals registered for the drill. The top three participating areas are as follows,

1)      Washington County

2)      Marion County

3)      Multnomah County

How to Participate in The Great Oregon ShakeOut

Visit shakeout.org and enroll to participate with millions of others worldwide. Then, on October 20th at 10:20am follow the four recommended steps below.

1)      Drop, Cover and Hold on: Don’t waste time, Drop to the ground. Cover yourself; find shelter under a nearby desk or table. Hold on tight for one minute.

2)      Now, take a look around, imagine what would be happening around you in an actual emergency.

3)      (optional) Practice what your next steps would be following an earthquake.

4)      When you are finished, talk with coworkers, friends or family about what you learned, and your disaster plan.

Participation will be tracked through online enrollment. Individuals, as well as businesses, schools and nonprofit organizations can all take part in this amazing opportunity.

For more information regarding The Great Oregon ShakeOut and other useful disaster information click here.

 

  Feature photo by  Global X

Erase Stress
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Stress: how to cope better with life’s challenges

What causes stress

Imagine you are walking down a beautiful trail, taking in the scenery, smelling the flowers and enjoying your day. Your brain is having a positive response to the relaxing environment, serotonin is released, and you feel happy, at ease. Now imagine, around the next turn you are face to face with a brown bear. In an instant the chemicals in your brain change drastically, digestion in halted, your heart beat speeds and blood flow to your muscles increases. These chemical changes are your body’s instinct to defend itself, your fight or flight response. These changes are also called stress.

Stress can be a good thing in moderation, or when you need that boost to dive out of harm’s way. But stress can cause unhealthy physical symptoms when it goes on for too long. Stress in everyday life can negatively impact physical and mental health. Most often, there is no fight or flight response needed, yet your body prepares to run, working overtime. This can cause you to feel anxious, worried, afraid or uptight.

What changes may be stressful

Simply, any change can lead to stress. This can be good change or bad change. Although, it may not be the change itself causing stress, rather how you react to it. It is also important to remember that stress is different for everyone. Going to the grocery store might be stressful for one individual and therapeutic for another.

Can stress hurt my health

Stress can cause or complicate health problems. A few possible signs of stress can include

  • Anxiety
  • Neck and back pain/tightness
  • Head aches
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Depression

How can stress be managed

Firstly, try and recognize the common signs of stress. Shoulder and neck tension, as well as clenched fists are often early warning signs of stress. The next step is to select a method to deal with your stress. Ideally, avoiding the thing that causes your stress is best, but that is not always an option. Here are some tips for dealing with stress,

  • Choose a hobby – something you love, or want to get better at
  • Try not to worry about the things out of your control
  • Take care of your little problems first – this can help you to feel more in control
  • Try to prepare for the stressful things in advance
  • View change as a positive challenge, forward momentum
  • Exercise regularly
  • Choose healthier food options

Why Exercise

Exercise is a great way to release pent up energy, as well as release your “happy” brain chemicals. For example, serotonin production is increased during exercise. Serotonin increase has been shown to improve mood and increase energy.

The silver lining

If you are feeling stressed, you get to choose your hobby, something you love. These hobbies can include music, puzzles, walking, yoga, and video games; the list is infinite, because there isn’t a correct answer.  Get lost in the things you enjoy, and remember to take a deep breath.

Contact your doctor if you want help or advice on how you can tackle stress.

Sources:

FamilyDoctor.org

For the full article, follow the link here.

  Feature photo by  Alan Cleaver

achoo
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Don’t say “achoo” because you can beat the cold and flu!

It is the time of year when everyone is starting to catch a cold, or is recovering from one. I am somewhat of a germaphobe, so being in the office this time of year makes my germ senses go off the radar.

How do I get over my germ phobia? First of all, I try not to think about it too much and I definitely don’t go anywhere without my hand sanitizer! Some other things that I make sure to do are:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get enough Zzz’s
  • Get my flu shot
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Wash my hands constantly (and then apply hand sanitizer)
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Wish on my lucky stars that I don’t get the cold or flu!

This has been a good strategy for me the last few years and I have not had the flu while using this method (knocking on wood now). I hope these simple little tips will also help you fend off the cold and flu this season!

Do you have any methods to avoid the cold and flu this season? This germaphobe would appreciate any tips and tricks to staying healthy all the way through the holidays!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Allan Foster

bike commute challenge
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How your transportation could be transforming your waistline

UPDATE: Moda Health came in 9th place for the bike commute challenge!  The 78 bikers who participated clocked in over 6,000 thousand miles, which is about equal to biking from Portland to Miami, and back again. Way to go Moda employees! To learn more about the Bike Commute Challenge and Moda Health, check out the article HERE.

September is coming which means we are gearing up for the Bike Commute Challenge. This event  challenges employees to stop driving and start biking to work. Many different companies in the area are competing against each other to see who bikes the most.

Not only does biking to work save you from car expenses, but a recent study shows that people who walk, bike, or even take the bus to work have lower levels of fat than those who drive! The average weight difference was about 6 pounds for men and about 5 pounds for women.

Try biking, walking, or riding the bus to work to cut your car costs and lower your risks of complications from obesity. Let us know how you get to work!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by clappstar

stop diabetes
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Stop type-2 diabetes today

Are you at risk for type-2 diabetes? Take an easy test from the American Diabetes Association HERE.  After you finish the test, you will get information about what steps you can take next.

With obesity rates climbing, the number of Americans with prediabetes and type-2 diabetes is climbing too.

Being over-weight increases your chance of having type-2 diabetes. The good news, prediabetes is reversible when you choose to take action and make healthy choices. For a healthier lifestyle try to:

  • Eat a healthy diet low in saturated fats and sugar
  • Get active- even a little exercise can make a big impact
  • Maintain a healthy weight- see the pounds drop as well as your blood pressure and sugar
  • Kick the tobacco habit- quitting helps lower your risk for diabetes and heart disease
  • Check in with your doctor to get the right medications to help you take control of your diabetes

Knowing your risks can help you make healthy choices. What are some ways you are living healthy? Leave a comment and let us know!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Robert Fornal

small win
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Don’t forget to celebrate the small things

Setting long-term goals are great, but what about the small wins that get you to achieve those long-term ones?

I know that I can get caught up in achieving the big win – like losing weight by a certain date or traveling around the world. But don’t forget to celebrate the small wins that help you reach your ultimate goals.

These can be anything from:

  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Drinking water instead of a soda for lunch
  • Working an extra day to save up for that around the world vacation
  • Eating an apple instead of cookie for a snack
  • Running an extra 5 minutes to burn more calories

Celebrating the small wins can spark your excitement for getting to your end goals. So give yourself a high-five, or buy new workout clothes to help celebrate the small things that you have done!

What are some small wins that you have accomplished lately?

caption-arrow  Feature photo byRich

thankful challenge
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The Grateful Challenge

When was the last time you stopped to think about what you are grateful for?

My family has a tradition around Thanksgiving and Christmas to go around the table and say what we are thankful for. This always makes me appreciate my family so much more, but it  also makes me wonder why we limit ourselves to just the holiday seasons to tell each other.

The challenge this week is to write down something you are thankful for each day. Write it down in a journal, on a piece of paper, or on your computer. Just thinking about these and writing them down will help lift your mood.

I will share one of mine with you now. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to write these posts and share my thoughts my with. Kind of cheesy I know, but to me the small things make all the difference.

If you feel up to it, share something you are grateful for, and see how it lifts your mood!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by John

headband relax
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The Muse: A headband that trains your brain on the beach

Headbands aren’t just for style anymore, they can now help you manage your stress. The new Muse headband from InteraXon will help you learn to focus and effectively manage stress.

Stress is a daily part of our lives but is not always easy to manage. The Muse uses a mindfulness technique that takes you to a scenic sunny beach. When your brain starts to drift,  the scene will change, causing you to focus back on the relaxing beach image.

You can  track your mindfulness activity by adding the app to your phone. You can practice for as little as 3 minutes, so there is no room for the excuse that you don’t have enough time in the day!

This is definitely on my wishlist for Christmas this year! Anything that involves the beach has me hooked.

Do you think this would help you manage your stress? Tell me what you think by commenting below.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Adrian in Bangkok