NEWS AND INFO
Tiffani Flaws RN DC
Joint Arthroscopy: What Is It and How It’s Done
Have you heard someone say they had arthroscopic surgery but didn’t really know what that meant? Or maybe you have been told that you need to have a joint “scoped” and are unsure what that entails. Well, read on to gain a little more insight into arthroscopic surgery.
I’m sure you have heard the term arthroscopic surgery, but do you really know what it is? Often times we hear it in relation to the knee, but arthroscopy can be performed on any joint. Many people have had multiple arthroscopic surgeries, which can make us think that it’s no big deal, but it is a surgical procedure. Sure it’s minimally invasive, but it still requires the use of anesthesia and incisions.
Arthroscopy basically means to look within a joint. Physicians use arthroscopy to diagnose as well as treat several joint conditions. Even with all the advanced imaging techniques we have today, occasionally the only way to really know what’s going on within a joint, is to look. Once the tiny camera is inside the joint a picture is projected on a screen for the physician to examine. Your physician will then be able to determine if further procedures need to be done, and if they can be done without the larger incisions of an “open” surgery. If it is determined that treatment can proceed in this fashion, special thin instruments are inserted through other small incisions to perform any necessary procedures.
Some of the common conditions for which arthroscopy is recommended include: loose bone or cartilage fragments, damaged or torn cartilage/menisci, impingement syndromes, torn ligaments/labrum, bone spurs, inflamed joint linings, and for treating scar tissue within a joint.
If you have been diagnosed with any of the above conditions and conservative treatments are not the answer, it may be worth a discussion with your medical provider regarding arthroscopy.
While it is a surgery, recovery time is generally much quicker after arthroscopy than traditional “open” surgical procedures.
Depending on your job activities, you may be able to return to work within just a few days. If you have further questions regarding your diagnosis and if arthroscopy might be right for you, TEAM may be able to help, depending on your benefit plan. Please call us today at (651) 642-0182 or (800) 634-7710.
TIFFANY FLAWS, RN, DC and ELISE VERDEGAN, MS, RDN, LD
What is Osteoporosis and What You Can Do To Lessen Your Risk.
Most people have heard the term osteoporosis, which simply means porous bone, and most people probably associate that condition with women and old age, but that is not entirely correct. While osteoporosis is more common in women, men can also suffer from decreasing bone density. Also since there are many factors that can cause a loss of bone density, younger adults can also be afflicted.
There are factors that can lead to decreased bone density that may be beyond our control such as certain diseases/conditions, age, medications (steroids), and medical procedures. However, there are also things you can do to build strong bones. By engaging in those while still young, and able to build bone, you can help your bones stay strong into the future. Without the use of medications that promote bone growth, our bones are the strongest they will be around age 30. After that, they begin to decrease in density and strength. That means it is of the utmost importance to follow some simple steps in childhood and young adulthood to ensure your bones have a good base from which to start.
Get plenty of weight-bearing exercise - bones need to work to stay strong
Don't smoke - it makes breaking a bone much more likely
Limit alcohol use
Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D – if you don’t feel you get enough of these nutrients you can ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels to see where you stand.
Vitamin D is important since it promotes calcium absorption. Foods high in calcium and vitamin D are also nutrient dense in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protein and vitamin K providing even more bone nourishment.
Some examples of foods to include in your diet are low-fat and fat-free fortified milk, fortified soy beverages, cheese, eggs, and non-fat fruit yogurt. Fortified ready-to-eat cereals are great sources of both vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Fatty fish like canned sardines, tuna and salmon, as well as mackerel and halibut are high in both calcium and vitamin D and are great dietary sources of protein.
Low-fat yogurt, fortified orange juice, and soymilk are great sources of both calcium and vitamin D. It may surprise you but mushrooms, oranges, and green leafy vegetables like turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach, kale, broccoli and peas are high in calcium and other nutrients mentioned. Pinto beans and corn tortillas contain calcium as well. It is also important to get a variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure optimal nutrient intake.
Making sure you are consuming adequate amounts of dietary calcium and vitamin D can be challenging if you do not drink milk. Dry powdered milk can be added to many foods and calcium supplements should be used if dairy products are poorly tolerated.
If you do use calcium and vitamin D supplements, make sure they are supplementing dietary intake and not replacing dietary intake.
As mentioned, regular smoking can block calcium absorption, and may decrease bone density. Also alcohol can increase calcium excretion. If you find you are in this category or feel you may benefit from supplements, make sure and talk to your doctor before doing so.
Remember, foods high in calcium and vitamin D should be consumed at every stage and age of life to support and maintain bone health.
You can also discuss with your Doctor if you should have a bone density scan. Generally, screening for osteoporosis is recommended for women 65 and older, and for women 50 to 64 with certain risk factors. Screening for osteoporosis is commonly done using a non-invasive, painless DXA/DEXA scan.
Osteoporosis is silent, you can’t feel a loss of bone density. Often times, getting shorter, noticing your upper back curving forward, or breaking a bone is the first sign. If any of these have happened be sure to have a conversation with your medical provider regarding osteoporosis.
Chad Ronayne, TEAM Resource Coordinator
Importance of Sleep
“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” — Thomas Dekker
We all know that getting a good night’s rest is vital to our well-being. Here are ways that sleep affects our health and good habits to start training ourselves to get into.
According to Psychology Today, “Sleep is the balm that soothes and restores after a long day of work and play.” Certainly sleep is essential to our daily function. Here are 3 different ways that sleep affects our daily lives.
Mood Stability- Sleep helps our brain to process through all of the emotions that we experience throughout the day. When we aren’t getting enough sleep, we tend to have more negative emotional reactions and less positive ones. Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can lead to mood disorders such as depression or panic disorders.
Healthier Heart- When we sleep, our blood pressure naturally drops. This eases our heart and blood vessels. The longer we are awake, the longer our heart has to work at a faster pace. This can lead to heart disease, including stroke.
Weight Control- There is a link between the amount of sleep we receive and our appetites. Sleep deprivation affects specific hormones that help regulate hunger (leptin and ghrelin). When that imbalance occurs, we are more likely to give in to the temptation to eat.
Sleep plays a vital role in how our bodies heal and recover from events during the day. It’s important to establish routines to ensure that you get the best sleep possible. Good sleep routines to consider include shutting off devices 30 minutes before bed, take a shower or bath, journal, pray or meditate, and read a favorite book. The goal is to unwind our bodies from our busy days and begin to relax before turning the lights off for the night.
Reference and further reading:
ELISE VERDEGAN, MS, RDN, LD
Four Foods That Show You Really Are What You Eat
It’s an old cliché, but one with so much truth. So to help give you quick, easy, actionable tips for living as healthy a lifestyle as possible, we’re sharing a few foods that truly do reflect their benefits.
Has it ever occurred to you that a walnut looks like a brain? Maybe it is a coincidence but walnuts have a favorable lipid profile, specifically their polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) content. PUFAs are considered a “healthy” fat that can promote lowering total blood cholesterol as well as LDL and HDL cholesterol production.
Alpha-linoleic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid and linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid are essential, meaning our bodies are not capable of making them. Walnuts are a great source of these essential omega-3 fatty acids needed for brain health. 1 ounce of walnuts (roughly 14 halves) has around 185 calories, 4 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbohydrate, almost 2 grams of fiber and 18 grams of total fat, most all of that being the healthy fats mentioned above.
You may not have thought about this before but if you slice a carrot, it looks like the human eye. This is no surprise as they are packed with vitamin A which promotes normal vision and helps our eyes adjust to different lights allowing us to see normally in the dark.
Beta-carotene, which kind of sounds like the word “carrot” is considered a pro-vitamin which means it converts to vitamin A in the body, acting as an antioxidant, promoting healthy skin integrity cell growth and health throughout the body.
Bok choy is a Chinese cabbage. Though it doesn’t come from a head, it instead has several white bunched stems with thick green leaves at the end. Bok choy can be eaten raw, cooked and with a variety of different dishes. One cup of bok choy has about 10 calories and 6% of your daily calcium needs. Knowing this, don’t the white stems reflect our bones? Dark leafy greens are also great sources of vitamin K, which also promotes bone health.
One medium sweet potato with skin has about 105 calories, 24 grams of carbohydrate and 3.8 grams of fiber.
When we consume carbohydrates, the beta-cells in a healthy pancreas are triggered to release insulin in response to this rise in blood sugar.
Individuals with type 2 diabetes can benefit from a diet high in fiber as it may slow stomach emptying.
Because carbohydrates break down more slowly, the sugars are released and absorbed more slowly, potentially preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar. Fiber also promotes feelings of satiety which can help prevent overeating.
The sweet potato is also rich in vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, which helps act as an antioxidant as well, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
So maybe a sweet potato looks a little like a pancreas after all.
Tomatoes are red and contain “chambers” just like the heart.
They are a functional food that is rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotene, folic acid, and lycopene.
Lycopene, which gives tomatoes their red color, is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are known to protect the body against free radicals.
If the body has too many free radicals, oxidative stress in the body can occur.
Lycopene could also be an important factor when trying to improve one’s lipid profile which can reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis in combination with healthy diet and regular exercise.
Tiffani Flaws, RN, DC
Osteoarthritis of the Knee
Knee pain is common and osteoarthritis is a common cause. This article may help you understand the diagnosis a bit more, and also give you tips on what can be done.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is common. According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 27 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis, with the knee being one of the most commonly affected areas. Although anyone can get OA, women are more likely than men, and older aged persons are much more likely than the young. In fact, advanced age is the most common cause of osteoarthritis. It has been said that if one lives long enough, nearly everyone will develop some degree of osteoarthritis.
While we all may end up with some arthritis later in life due to the decreased ability of our cartilage to heal as we age, there are several risk factors that will speed up the progression. Some of these factors such as age, gender, heredity, traumatic injuries, and other instigating illnesses, we are unable to change. Other factors such as weight, excessive or lack of exercise, and repetitive motion injuries, can be altered to reduce the risk.
So what is osteoarthritis and why should it concern you? OA is a non-inflammatory degenerative disease of articular cartilage. Articular cartilage is what covers the bones at the point where two bones meet to form a joint. In OA, the cartilage gets thinner and deforms which results in cartilage defects and bony destruction. Protrusions (osteophytes) can form on the bone in the area of the joint which can cause pain and can worsen over time and lead to reduced mobility of the knee. The pain can become significant and severely limit one’s mobility, which can make activities of daily living difficult. It is at that point that many look to surgery.
So what are some lifestyle changes you can make to lessen your risk? If not already there, you can try to reach a healthy weight. Losing even a few pounds can help reduce the pressure on weight bearing joints, especially the knees. It has been reported that every pound of extra weight can add up to 4 pounds of pressure on your knees.
Another thing you can do is get an appropriate amount of exercise of a type that does not put unnecessary stress on the joints. Low-impact exercises such as swimming and biking can be good options for those suffering with knee pain. Strengthening the muscles around the knee which support the joint can make the joint less prone to injury and also decrease pain. Stretching exercises can also help by allowing the knee to remain more flexible and mobile. High-impact exercise, such as running, is often discouraged in people with OA, as it can increase pain.
If you have been diagnosed with OA, there are many treatment options available depending on the severity of your condition. You should expect to collaborate with your medical provider on a plan that addresses your specific symptoms at a level with which you are comfortable. Treatments can be non-invasive like ice or topical creams/gels. Some involve devices being purchased from specialty stores such as braces, canes, or shoe inserts. Some treatments can be purchased on your own, like OTC medications and supplements, while others may require a prescription. Some are considered alternative, such as acupuncture, while others are more mainstream, like physical or occupational therapy. Some require substances like cortisone or hyaluronic acid to be injected into the joint. Others like platelet rich plasma are newly emerging treatments. When other treatments have failed, there are also several types of surgeries as well.
No matter where you are on the knee pain spectrum, TEAM can help. We can help you understand your diagnosis, find a provider, get a second opinion, and even help with self-care, weight loss, and nutrition.
Tiffani Flaws, RN, DC and Elise Verdegan, MS, RDN, LD
What to do and what to eat to keep your joints in good condition.
While taking care of our joints should happen throughout life, often times we overlook our joints as a priority, until they start to cause us trouble later in life. Joints are crucial to keeping us mobile and allowing us to maintain an active lifestyle. If they become inflamed, stiff, or sore it’s gets more difficult to do even simple daily chores.
So what is a joint? A joint is created by the space between two bones in our body. Depending on the type of joint, and how much movement it allows, there may be fluid within that space for cushion, so the ends of the bone do not rub together. There are also tissues that surround and support the space, which as a whole, create the joint. Without joints we would not be able to bend and move.
Many things can cause increased wear and tear on the tissues and structures which make up a joint and may lead to pain, and possibly debilitating joint conditions. The good thing is that most risk factors, other than age, are within our control. Here are some things you can do to help keep your joints healthy.
Stay active-ideally with low-impact activities (swimming, biking, walking), but don’t overdo it!
Utilize proper posture and body mechanics
Maintain an ideal body weight
Strengthen muscles and increase flexibility
Eat a healthy diet (anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants, healthy fats)
So what does a joint supporting diet look like?
Antioxidants can be found from dietary sources in the form of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, protecting the body from potential free radicals.
To make sure your diet is rich in antioxidants, be sure to eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, allowing yourself to get these health benefits from dietary sources as opposed to supplements. Make sure you consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and vitamin E are antioxidants that can be found naturally in red, yellow and orange fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, fortified cereals, peanut butter and almonds.
Other fruits and vegetables of the red blue origin contain flavonoids, phytonutrients that are responsible for the color in these foods that can contain antioxidant properties that could combat inflammation. Some examples are red apples with the skin on, onions, blueberries, cranberries and strawberries.
Fat-free milk, eggs, yogurt, salmon, and tuna not only contain vitamin A but are examples of good protein and healthy fat sources as well. If you aren’t a fan of salmon, trout, sardines, walnuts, ground flaxseed and chia seeds are great sources of these omega-3 healthy fats as well.
The Mediterranean diet is not only beneficial for heart health but it also has anti-inflammatory properties as well.
It is also important to note that while your diet should contain whole fruits and vegetables as mentioned above, weight loss can be an important factor in arthritis and joint pain management.
Even slight weight reduction of a few pounds can reduce the consequences of joint injury. This is because excess weight can increase the chance for inflammation on joints.
By incorporating fresh and colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet, including healthy fat sources and doing what you can to be active, you can be sure you are doing your part and putting your health first to achieve a desirable weight for your joints and your health.
For more on the Mediterranean Diet, follow this link to our source for some of the information in our post:
Author: Elise Verdegan, MS, RDN, LD
A quick guide to understanding what cholesterol is, how your body produces it, and what you can do to manage it.
High blood cholesterol is a major modifiable risk factor for developing heart disease along with high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and physical inactivity. Other modifiable risk factors include alcohol consumption, diet and nutrition and stress. Factors that aren’t modifiable include increasing age (65+), male gender and heredity, including race.
To understand how cholesterol impacts your risk for developing heart disease, it’s important to know what exactly cholesterol is.
Cholesterol is a soft waxy substance that is both made by the body and present in foods of animal origin. While high blood cholesterol is undesirable, our bodies do need some cholesterol to function normally as cholesterol is part of cell membranes and is important for production of hormones, fat-soluble vitamins and bile acids.
Two things affect blood cholesterol levels; the cholesterol our bodies produce that is synthesized by the liver and the kinds of fat in your diet.
Total cholesterol can be broken down into HDL and LDL, this makes up your lipid profile.
HDL is considered “good” cholesterol (H = Happy), Desirable HDL levels for men are 40 or higher and 50 or higher for women. A HDL above 60 is considered “heart-protective.”
LDL is referred to as “bad” cholesterol, this is the cholesterol that ends up as plaque in your arteries. The goal for LDL is 70, less than 100 being optimal. Anything higher can indicate increased risk for heart disease.
Lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, decreasing your trans-fat intake and increasing your monounsaturated fat intake (healthy fats like peanut butter, olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds) are things you can do to help lower your LDL cholesterol. Our bodies naturally produce all the LDL cholesterol we need so eating foods high in saturated at trans fats causes our bodies to make even more, increasing LDL blood levels.
Dietary cholesterol is found in animal products like meat, dairy, seafood, butter, eggs and other animal products. Dietary cholesterol may not raise blood cholesterol as much as saturated and trans fats.
Saturated fat is usually solid at room temperature and is found primarily in animal meat and dairy products, coconut and palm oil, deep fried foods, pastries, pies, biscuits, and high-fat snack foods. This is because dietary cholesterol is found in many of the same foods that have saturated fat.
Therefore, limiting foods with saturated fat could mean consuming less dietary cholesterol as well. The American Heart Associates recommends that individuals who need to lower their cholesterol includes no more than 5-6% (11-13 grams for someone on a 2,000 calories a day diet) of saturated fat.
One way to do this would be to cook or bake with healthy oils mentioned above instead of butter or margarine, have a slice of avocado on a sandwich instead of mayonnaise or butter, remove the skin from chicken and turkey, choose lean cuts of meat and replace high-fat processed snacks with a one ounce serving of mixed nuts.
While all fats are equal in terms of calories, all fats are not created equal when it comes to the health benefits they possess.
For more on cholesterol, follow this link:
www.heart.org - American Heart Association, great resource for those looking for more information regarding heart disease and information relevant to this article
Author: Chad Ronayne, TEAM Resource Coordinator
A helpful tool to cope with Anxiety and Depression
Mindfulness is a great technique to use and has a variety of different benefits to improve your mental and physical health.
What is mindfulness? According to the American Psychological Association (APA), mindfulness is defined as a moment-to-moment of one’s experience without judgment. Many activities such as yoga and tai chi promote mindfulness, but even taking short breaks during the day to close your eyes and focusing on your breathing can be an activity of mindfulness.
3 Benefits to Practicing Mindfulness:
Reduces Anxiety. Many studies have shown that practicing mindfulness—even for a few minutes throughout the day—have significantly greater reduction in anxiety. Mindfulness brings the mind into focusing on the here and now and helps to calm the racing thoughts.
May Prevent and Treat Depression. According to Willem Kuyken, PhD, at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, “People at risk for depression are dealing with a lot of negative thoughts about themselves and can easily slide into a depressive state.” He has conducted a study that this type of therapy helped to prevent depression recurrence as effectively as maintenance antidepressant medication did.
Helps Relationship Satisfaction. APA has stated that several studies have shown that regularly practicing mindfulness can help a person respond well to relationship stress and even communicate one’s emotions to a partner skillfully.
Apps like Calm and Headspace are wonderful tools to help walk us through mindfulness activities.
Need another tool to address your anxiety, depression, or relationship issues? Give us (TEAM) a call at 651-642-0182 and we will set you up with a counselor!
Author: Tiffani Flaws RN DC
If you’ve had gout, you know the pain. If you haven’t had gout, you’re lucky. Here are some tips to help try and avoid experiencing it for the first time, or experiencing a recurrence.
Gout is common. More than 8 million Americans (about 1 in 50) suffer from this form of arthritis. It can affect anyone, but is most common in middle aged men. Gout is caused by excess uric acid in your blood, from the breakdown of purines. Purines are produced naturally in your body and are also found in certain foods and beverages, which is why following diet guidelines can help reduce gout attacks. Extra uric acid usually gets filtered by the kidneys and excreted. If too much is produced or not enough is excreted, sharp urate crystals can build up in the joints and tissues, causing inflammation and pain.
Gout symptoms appear suddenly, often in the middle of the night, and are intense! It can feel like the affected area is on fire. Upon inspection the joint is red and swollen, feels warm, and is very tender. Even the weight of a sheet covering the area may be intolerable. Using the joint can be excruciating. While symptoms come on quickly, it can take a while for complete relief. The more severe pain can last days to weeks, but it may take several more weeks for any discomfort to completely subside.
The initial attack of gout often affects the big toe, but can appear in any joint. Often times with subsequent attacks other joints are affected such as ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, thumbs, or fingers. The good thing is that gout usually only affects one joint at a time. If you are lucky, and diligent in making some changes, it’s possible only to experience gout once. For most people however, another flare-up awaits.
When gout strikes it is important to get a medical professional involved. There are tests that can be performed to determine what is causing your symptoms. Gout can look like other conditions or other types of arthritis which require different treatments, so an accurate diagnosis is essential. Long term medical management may also be required if flare-ups become recurrent. If left untreated gout can become chronic and can lead to joint destruction and kidney stones when hard lumps of uric acid, or tophi, develop and are deposited in the skin, tissues, and joints.
If your symptoms become recurrent your provider will work with you to determine if a prescription medication to help lower the uric acid level in your blood, and hopefully reduce the number of flare-ups is warranted. For acute attacks NSAIDs are the best option to help reduce pain and inflammation. You can also use rest, ice, and elevation, to help combat the inflammatory response.
So what can you do to prevent gout? The first thing is to limit modifiable risk factors such as weight and diet. This means, maintaining a healthy weight and drinking/eating healthy. Drink water instead of sweetened beverages and limit or avoid alcohol. Eat plant based proteins instead of meats and seafood, or get protein from low fat dairy products. Eat complex carbohydrates such as whole-grains, vegetables, and fruits. Some studies have also shown that raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and cherries may help lower uric acid levels. Unfortunately, other risk factors like family history, age, concurrent conditions, medications you may need to take, recent hospitalization/surgery/trauma, cannot be changed.
If you have further questions on gout or dietary guidelines, TEAM is here to help. Please reach out today.
Author: Tiffani Flaws RN DC
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and What You Can Do About It.
Inflammation is an important protective measure for the body, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be destructive as well. Knowing a little bit about inflammation can help you decide if it’s time to call your medical provider.
According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, inflammation is a response triggered by damage to living tissues. The inflammatory response is a defense mechanism that evolved in higher organisms to protect them from infection and injury. Its purpose is to localize and eliminate the injurious agent and to remove damaged tissue components so that the body can begin to heal. The response consists of changes in blood flow, an increase in permeability of blood vessels, and the migration of fluid, proteins, and white blood cells from the circulation to the site of tissue damage.
The four classic signs of inflammation include redness, heat, swelling, and pain, but all 4 need not be present.
Inflammation is part of the body’s defense mechanism against invaders, and also aids in the healing process. Inflammation helps defend the body by launching an attack to rid the body of the invader which could be anything from a splinter to a virus.
Generally, an inflammatory response should be short-lived. Unfortunately, sometimes chronic inflammation develops which may increase the risk of various diseases. These can include, but are not limited to, some types of arthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even obesity.
Then there are times when the immune system initiates an inflammatory response when there is nothing to fight. In those situations, there is nothing protective going on, but rather the immune system responding as though something is awry when it’s not, and causing damage to the body’s own healthy tissues. This reaction can lead to autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, asthma, and even some types of cancer.
What you can do about it:
There are several possible treatment options for inflammation. For immediate relief from an acute injury, rest, ice, compression, and elevation can help. For more chronic inflammation various self-care techniques such as rest, exercise, and an anti-inflammatory diet can be helpful. Over-the-counter NSAID medications can also be utilized. Other options such as prescription medications or surgical intervention require consultation with a medical professional. No matter the treatment, the goals of pain relief, decreasing stress, maintaining function, and managing the underlying disease process are the same.
For more information on managing an inflammatory condition medically or through diet, please reach out to TEAM at (651) 642-0182 or (800) 634-7710.
Author: TEAM Leadership
George Floyd Tragedy and Twin Cities Protests
Some Help Managing Your Reactions and Responses
Author: David Sack, M.D.
Reprinted Article: 5 Signs It's Time to Seek Therapy
Most people can benefit from therapy at some point in their lives. We’re linking to this article, and reposting its contents below, by Dr. David M. Sack, to explain why. Find more of Dr. Sack’s articles at his page Where Science Meets the Steps
Contrary to popular misconception, you don’t have to be “crazy,” desperate, or on the brink of a meltdown to go to therapy. At the same time, therapy isn’t usually necessary for every little struggle life throws your way, especially if you have a strong support system of friends and family. So how do you know when it’s time to see a therapist?
Most people can benefit from therapy at at least some point in their lives. Sometimes the signs are obvious—but at other times, something may feel slightly off and you can’t figure out what it is. So you trudge on, trying to sustain your busy life until it sets in that life has become unmanageable. Before it gets to this point, here are five signs you may need help from a pro:
Feeling sad, angry, or otherwise “not yourself.”
Uncontrollable sadness, anger, or hopelessness may be signs of a mental health issue that can improve with treatment. If you’re eating or sleeping more or less than usual, withdrawing from family and friends, or just feeling “off,” talk to someone before serious problems develop that impact your quality of life. If these feelings escalate to the point that you question whether life is worth living or you have thoughts of death or suicide, reach out for help right away.
Abusing drugs, alcohol, food, or sex to cope.
When you turn outside yourself to a substance or behavior to help you feel better, your coping skills may need some fine-tuning. If you feel unable to control these behaviors or you can’t stop despite negative consequences in your life, you may be struggling with addictive or compulsive behavior that requires treatment.
You’ve lost someone or something important to you.
Grief can be a long and difficult process to endure without the support of an expert. While not everyone needs counseling during these times, there is no shame in needing a little help to get through the loss of a loved one, a divorce, or significant breakup, or the loss of a job, especially if you’ve experienced multiple losses in a short period of time.
Something traumatic has happened.
If you have a history of abuse, neglect, or other trauma that you haven’t fully dealt with, or if you find yourself the victim of a crime or accident, chronic illness or some other traumatic event, the earlier you talk to someone, the faster you can learn healthy ways to cope.
You can’t do the things you like to do.
Have you stopped doing the activities you ordinarily enjoy? If so, why? Many people find that painful emotions and experiences keep them from getting out, having fun and meeting new people. This is a red flag that something is amiss in your life.
If you decide that therapy is worth a try, it doesn’t mean you’re in for a lifetime of “head shrinking.” In fact, a 2001 study in the Journal of Counseling Psychology found that most people feel better within seven to 10 visits. In another study, published in 2006 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 88 percent of therapy-goers reported improvements after just one session.
Although severe mental illness may require more intensive intervention, most people benefit from short-term, goal-oriented therapy to address a specific issue or interpersonal conflict, get out of a rut or make a major life decision. The opportunity to talk uncensored to a nonbiased professional without fear of judgment or repercussions can be life-changing.
You may have great insight into your own patterns and problems. You may even have many of the skills to manage them on your own. Still, there may be times when you need help—and the sooner you get it, the faster you can get back to enjoying life.
Find Dr. Sack’s original article here:
Author: Tiffany Flaws, RN, DC and Elise Verdegan, MS, RDN, LD
What You Can Do To Build Your Immune System
The immune system is a defense system that protects against disease and is essential for life. Without an immune system, our bodies would be open to attack from organisms that can cause disease, also known as pathogens. The immune system protects us by locating and destroying these potentially harmful pathogens. This system is constantly searching for invaders, and once spotted, a complex attack is mounted.
The immune response involves white blood cells, chemicals, and other proteins. There are two main types of white blood cells. Phagocytes, which surround and destroy pathogens, and lymphocytes, which remember previous pathogens so if they appear again, they can be dealt with more quickly.
Everyone’s immune system is different but, in general, it becomes stronger during adulthood as we have been exposed to more pathogens and developed more “memory” to assist in fighting off invaders.
While our immune system is responsible for fighting off everything from the common cold to infectious viruses, we are responsible for what we put into our bodies to support a strong immune system.
We know that zinc, found primarily in animal based protein food sources and fortified grain products, supports immune function and wound healing. We also know that vitamins E and C act as antioxidants in the body, with cell-protective properties. Good sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, whole grains, green vegetables, and almonds while good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, dark green and yellow vegetables, and potatoes. It is also important to note that vitamin A, found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, carrots and green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, helps regulate the immune system and promotes healthy skin integrity. This is important as our skin is one component in our body’s first line of defense against pathogens.
Good nutrition is vital in maintaining a strong and healthy immune system. By eating a well-balanced diet consisting of whole grains, lean protein and a variety of fruits and vegetables, you can be sure you are doing everything in your power to support a healthy and strong immune system.
Author: Tiffany Flaws, RN, DC and Elise Verdegan, MS, RDN, LD
Depression and Nutrition – What You Can Do In The Kitchen
Depression is a complex illness. No single theory fully explains the cause of depression. It is generally accepted that depression is caused by a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors. In other words, both genetics and environment play a part.
We do know that neurotransmitters play an important role in depression. Decreased availability of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine may result in depression. Studies have also shown that there is altered activity in different areas of the brain in people with depression.
Many factors can play a part in depression by contributing to neurotransmitter imbalances. Nutritional deficiencies are one factor. Lacking the correct intake of amino acids such as tryptophan or tyrosine, or minerals such as magnesium or iodine, or less than the recommended amount of B vitamins such as B2, B6, or folate, or missing omega-3 fatty acids in the diet can all lead to symptoms of depression. Other factors which can lead to depression are medical issues/illness, blood sugar and hormone imbalances, stress, lack of exercise, medications, a family history of depression, and substance abuse, which is often linked with depression.
So what can you do? While many of the things listed above are out of our control, we can have an impact on our mental health by ensuring that we eat a well-balanced, nutritionally complete diet.
To ensure you are getting nutrients mentioned above, make sure to have a well-balanced diet consisting of whole foods like fruits, vegetables and high-quality protein. If your diet is reflective of this, you are most likely consuming adequate amounts of tryptophan, the precursor of serotonin and other essential amino acids. Some examples of high-quality protein food sources include poultry, tuna, salmon, sardines, milk, low-fat dairy products and eggs.
To ensure you get adequate amounts of specific nutrients, some foods are fortified with folic acid and other B vitamins. Common items fortified with these nutrients are breakfast cereals, rice, and bread. When foods are fortified, they contain more of a certain nutrient in a form that your body can better absorb and utilize.
Meat, poultry, spinach, low-fat dairy, 100% orange juice, potatoes, beans, avocado and peanuts, acorn squash, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, bananas and peanut butter are great dietary sources of folate, other B vitamins, and many other nutrients that support proper brain processes.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also important to obtain from dietary sources like salmon, canned tuna, halibut, and herring. Plant based omega-3 sources include ground flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil, soy nuts, and chia seeds.
If you have some of these food items in your house, many of which are canned and shelf-stable, now would be a great time to use them now that you know the positive benefits they can have when dealing with symptoms of depression.
Author: Joe Boyle, Bilingual EAP Counselor (Spanish)
HOW BEST TO SUPPORT YOUR EMPLOYEES THROUGH COVID-19
A Tip Sheet for Foremen and Superintendents
As leaders in your organization it’s important to model your expectations and support your crew of essential employees in dealing with their reactions to COVID-19, many of which you also are experiencing.
Be Informed: Promote trusted sources of information such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). Limit news/media consumption to 15 minutes in both the morning & the evening
Recognize Stressors for Essential Workers: Fear of contracting the virus; Fear of infecting loved ones (if living together); Isolation & loss (If living apart); Chronic trauma; Feelings of anxiety & overwhelm; Pressure & hyper-responsibility; Dealing with the stigma (people fearing contracting the virus from them, social judgement because of putting your family at risk by doing your job); Fear of unknown and uncertainty of the future and Feelings of guilt or resentment
Recognize Stressors For Family Members of Essential Employees: Fear and concern for the health & safety of essential worker, themselves & other family; Adjustments to working from home (if they also work); New demands with parenting & homeschooling; Challenges managing uncertainty & change; Loneliness and Resentment, Anger & Guilt
Promote Discussion: Encourage crew to check in with each other and to share strategies for adjusting to this new way of living, our new normal. It may be helpful to create a buddy system for workers to pair off and promote them checking in with one another frequently every day. Create new routines.
Promote Good Physical & Mental Health: MOVE- Stay physically active, Get enough sleep& rest; Stay hydrated; Avoid excessive caffeine or alcohol; Eat Healthy foods. Stay Connected & reach out to others as it is mutually beneficial.
Redirect subordinates who you are concerned about or whom you see as struggling to contact TEAM-MN to have a conversation with one of our counselors. Feel free to contact us to talk about how to have the conversation.
Take Comfort in the Fact That All of Us Are Going Through This Together
Author: TEAM- Carrie Johnson
The Impact of COVID-19: Financial Stressors,
Childcare, and Other Family Needs
COVID-19 has affected all individuals all across the world in some form. Whether you lost a job, lost childcare for your children, or have other limited resources; TEAMs Work Life is here to offer resources in hopes of lessening the impact.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has brought on many stressors to most of the world’s population. The Pandemic of COVID-19 has affected many individuals’ financial situations. These financial afflictions vary; leaving some families with lost portions of income and others with little to no income, leaving them unable to provide food or pay bills. TEAM’s Work Life is here to help provide you with resources located in your area that may help lessen these stressors. Since everyone’s situation is different, the resources may vary from person to person, or family to family. Work Life may be able to provide you resources for food banks, vouchers, or other resources dependent upon your location.
Another area of life for many individuals that has been greatly affected by COVID-19 is childcare. Many working parents or legal guardians have run into issues with childcare now that more than 50 million children have been sent home due to school and childcare center closings. Many are struggling with the lack of options they have for childcare during this time. TEAM’s Work Life is here to lend a helping hand with locating childcare resources that best fit your needs. We can provide you with resources for out-of-home childcare providers, hiring an in-home childcare provider, and more.
TEAM understands the challenges you may be facing during this COVID-19 pandemic. We are here to help you through our Work Life services, by not only providing financial and childcare resources, but also many other resources that may be beneficial during this tough time. By accessing our TEAM website, you can find more information about other resources we offer through Work Life. If you would like more information or to be provided with any of these resources, please give us a call at 651-642-0182
Link to Work Life Resources. Password: TEAMEAP
Author: Elise Verdegan, MS, RDN, LD. Dietitian
Managing Stress with Self-Care during COVID-19
Taking it back to basics during COVID-19 to manage stress
Normally the Spring months are a time for us to come out of hibernation from Winter and take in the fresh air and sunshine with family and friends. This year as we are required to limit our distance and contact with others in public places, you might find yourself experiencing different feelings and wondering how to manage those.
When you focus on controlling what you can, such as what you eat or how often you exercise, you can be sure you are being proactive in your approach to manage unfamiliar territory as you may experience these stressful feelings.
While everyone handles these feelings differently, we could all benefit from good food practices along with self-care and physical activity to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. If you know what self-care practices work for you, be sure to make time for these in your day.
One thing to remember is that it is important to maintain a consistent eating schedule when everything else feels out of control. To give yourself and your body this sense of normality, try to mimic your “typical” eating patterns at home during this time. Though you may not have food as easily accessible as it normally is for you, do your best to work with what you have at home.
In addition, it is important to honor your body and the way you feel. Now is a great time to develop a “new normal” with a foundation of healthy habits around food, mental health and physical exercise. If you feel overwhelmed and getting outside feels like too much, allow yourself time to rest and be okay with that. Practicing mindfulness during times of increased stress can help alleviate uncomfortable feelings that may arise. When everything seems a little uncertain, you can be certain that you are prioritizing your physical and mental health from your home.
Author: Joe Boyle, Bilingual EAP Counselor (Spanish)
Dealing With the Uncertainty of COVID-19
In these difficult times it is absolutely normal to have worries, fears and anxieties in dealing with an unknown threat of this global pandemic
Give yourself permission to identify and to respect your feelings and fears
Recognize that you have been come through other difficult situations
Remember that we have normal reactions to abnormal situations as humans.
What have we lost? All of us have experienced loss due to this situation!
It is normal to have anxiety about safety concerns for yourself, your family, your friends & even others.
Emotions of grief & loss, anger and sadness are very normal reactions.
Own your own feelings and then connect them to actions to make things manageable.
Focus on your strengths and opportunities. Focus on the areas within your control.
We are in this together! It’s ok to accept help from others and you will get the chance to pay it forward in the future so use community programs and resources available for the moment.
We all have different coping skills and ways to get our needs met.
Basic Physical Needs:
Use social distancing and stay away from folks showing signs of illness or symptoms such as coughing.
Wash your hands frequently.
Using disinfectants, wipe down common shared areas, kitchen & bathroom countertops
Have cold medicines, pain relievers, tissues and a thermometer handy
Fill your pantry with soups, broths, non-perishables and healthy comfort foods.
For Your Emotional/Mental Health:
To decrease your stress & anxiety limit the time you spend on media coverage of COVID-19
Talk to your support system about your emotions & feelings
Seek help from a counselor to process your reactions
Eat Healthy food, Get sufficient rest, Get physical exercise daily, Meditate and/or Relax.
What Have We Gained From This Event?
We are having more time with our immediate family.
We are being forced to slow down and consider what is really important.
With every crisis comes the opportunity to appreciate what we have and to help others.
Together We Can and Will Get through This Difficult Time.
Author: CARRIE JOHNSON - Care Coordinator
Kid-friendly Easy Three Ingredient Pancakes
Have you found yourself struggling to find the joy in cooking? Have you ran out of healthy recipes? Do your kids like to help in the kitchen? If so, I have the perfect recipe for you! Wake up and grab the family. Everyone can be involved in making these delicious flourless three ingredient pancakes!
Not only are most of us stuck at home due to COVID-19, but most restaurants are closed as well. While takeout and drive thru’s are open, our options are still limited. You may find yourself cooking more than usual during this time. Maybe cooking is not your “thing” so you have been skipping breakfast or grabbing premade snacks from the pantry. Whatever you are going through, get your family in the kitchen and try out these three ingredient pancakes.
The three ingredients to make the pancakes include:
Two small or one large ripe banana
One cup old fashioned oats
Half cup of milk of choice. We use unsweetened almond milk to make it dairy free
** Cinnamon, vanilla or fresh fruit optional
Author: TEAM – Nancy J
Mastering the Art of Isolation
Six disciplines that drive emotional wellness
Voluntary social distancing is critical to mitigating the spread of Covid-19. While lying low for a while seems to be a simple sacrifice to make for the safety of all, few of us are truly prepared to “shelter at home” for long periods.
According to submarine captain Ryan Ramsey, a good routine and a positive attitude are key to emotional wellness. Submariners are trained to deal with isolation, whereas the public is not. Ramsey states, “For the general public, it’s a wicked problem that they’re trying to tame. “The first thing to do is get into a routine it requires discipline.”
Practice doing the same things in the same order every day.
Switch it up on the weekends, do something different, you must differentiate time.
Limit your exposure to the daily coronis virus news.
Stay informed but a steady diet of negative news can be toxic. Balance it with a light-hearted sitcom or comedy show. We are emotional sponges so be careful what you absorb.
Exercise every day.
Physical health lends itself to mental health. Take a walk, ride a bike, start a garden, get outside and “move it . . . move it.” Greet neighbors from a safe distance, this gives us renewed sense of community and keeps us connected.
Don’t let weather dictate your mood.
On rainy days, dive into a good book. Reading can transport you into another reality. “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss. You can sign-in to a virtual library using overdive.com https://app.overdrive.com/
Dust off your old games and jigsaw puzzles.
Proactively manage conflict.
Sustained, confined space can cause friction. Understand what is important to you and to those you are confined with. What emotional and physical boundaries are needed to maintain a healthy domain? This may reflect time needed together, individual space, time on the computer or telephone. Be purposeful about creating an environment that brings balance and minimizes conflict and stress.
Through all of this may you have the serenityto accept the things you cannot change, the courage and the discipline to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Stay well, stay positive and be disciplined!
TEAM is here to see you through
Author: TIFFANY FLAWS, RN, DC, ELISE VERDEGAN, MS, RDN, LD
Importance of Nourishing Your Body When You Are Anxious
Anxiety disorders, much like depression, do not have one exact cause. Instead, anxiety may develop from a complex set of risk factors including genetics, chemical imbalances, dysregulation of neurotransmitters, environmental stressors, medical issues, and life events, to name a few.
There are several types of anxiety disorders which can range from phobias, to obsessive-compulsive disorder, to panic attacks, and PTSD. While each type is very different, they all have similar physical symptoms. Some of those symptoms are increased heart rate, sweating, restlessness, shortness of breath, dry mouth, numb or tingling hands or feet, nausea or diarrhea, and dizziness.
Depending on severity, you may need to seek professional help, such as talking with a therapist or trying medication, but there are also many things that you can do on your own. Things such as attending support groups, lowering your stress level, utilizing deep breathing, practicing meditation, laughing, exercising, getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet can all help lower anxiety.
Studies have also shown that getting the proper amounts of amino acids, vitamins B12, C, and D, and minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and iron, may all help decrease symptoms of anxiety. During these challenging times, when anxiety is running higher than usual, adding in some of the best food sources of these nutrients may be beneficial.
While some people experience symptoms such as deceased appetite during feelings of anxiety, it is still important to include nutrient rich meals and snacks to help take care of yourself and your energy needs.
To get the most out of your meals we have provided a few ideas. A canned tuna, salmon or chicken sandwich on whole-wheat, or enriched white bread, with a serving of almonds, walnuts or cashews would be a good source of zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamin D and B12. If you don’t like tuna, another option could be a peanut butter sandwich with raisins, apricots, a hardboiled egg, or yogurt on the side.
Vitamin C is found in most red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables as well as a few outliers such as broccoli, green peppers and baked potatoes.
To help yourself during feelings of anxiety, it is important to take care not only of your mental health but also your physical health by nourishing yourself with a well-balanced diet.
TEAM – Nancy J
Recovery Connections Online:
Empowered or Powerless, You’re in Charge
The conscious and unconscious effects of social distancing
Decades of research shows that social connectedness is linked to both psychological and physical health including a stronger immune system, faster recover from disease and even longevity.
According to the late John McCain, the worst part of the torture he endured in Vietnam was solitary confinement: "It's an awful thing, solitary. It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment."
At a time of “social distancing” and quarantine it is up to everyone to find the right means to maintain social integration from a distance.
Maintaining community is foundational to the 12 step recovery programs. As described in chapter 2 of the book of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), “We are like passengers of a great liner the moment after rescue from shipwreck, however, our joy in escape from disaster does not subside as we go our individual ways. The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one of the elements in the powerful cement that binds us.
Each day, somewhere in the world, recovery begins when one alcoholic talks with another alcoholic, sharing experience, strength, and hope. AA Pg. xxvi.
Adapting to the drastic changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, AA meetings are going virtual, giving us the opportunity to stay socially connected.
Here's how it works, AA chapters are using services like Facebook, Zoom and Skype, allowing members to participate in video chats at regularly scheduled times. There are also dedicated phone numbers for individuals to call.
The Mayo clinic tells us that “laughter is no joke”, it stimulates organs, activate and relieves your stress response and soothes tension. You will always find laughter in the rooms of AA. Take the first step and connect.
TEAM is here to see you through
Author: TEAM Staff
Recent Webinar on Staying Healthy During the Covid-19 Pandemic
On April 9, 2020, TEAM presented a live video event, discussing ways to help stay physically and emotionally safe and healthy during the Covid-19 pandemic, including recent updates and best practices.
Here is a full list of links referenced in the presentation:
This site allows people to look at the projections for infection and mortality in the US and per state
MN Department of Health and CDC sites:
Link to the PDF for DYI cloth masks
Links to nutrition guidelines
Links to at home workout options
Guided Meditation – Lifetime on Demand ~12 minutes
Yoga – Lifetime on Demand – FLOW ~30 minutes *No equipment needed. Yoga mat optional.
Strength – Lifetime on Demand ~30 minutes *Weights optional. Yoga mat optional.
Warrior Sculpt – Strength and Yoga – Lifetime on Demand ~33 minutes *No equipment needed. Yoga mat optional. Weights optional.
Author: TEAM LEADERSHIP
ALL TEAM SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE DURING COVID-19
Here’s a one-page summary of TEAM’s response to the COVID-19 situation and our plan for continuing participant care without disruption.
TEAM COVID 19 Flyer