Feeling Unmotivated? Remove this Word from your Vocabulary in 2019

December 13, 2018  
Filed under Feature Stories, Health & Wellness

By Carol Tuttle

 

I want you to pause for a moment and think of that thing you needed or wanted to do this year—but it’s December and you still haven’t gotten around to yet, and you keep putting off.

The idea or project is just sitting there, and the unfinished-ness of it is weighing on you. But when it actually comes down to doing it, you seem to have lost all motivation.

So how do you recover motivation to do something you think you should do?

You can start by giving up this one word in 2019—and replacing it with something much more powerful!

 

Say goodbye to the S-word

Should.

That one word can zap your motivation to do something faster than anything.

I’ve found that whenever I used the word “should” I would procrastinate and avoid the activity or project I thought I “should’ do. That’s because the word “should” in the dictionary indicates a meaning of obligation or duty.

Notice how often you might say something similar to these:

  • I should go work out.
  • I should eat healthy.
  • I should lose 10 pounds.
  • I should get out of debt.
  • I should clean that closet.
  • I should learn how to ____.

Why ‘Should’ can sabotage your success

Whatever it is for you, it might even be a necessary or good idea (organize a closet, clean out the car, take a class, plant a garden). But if you’re trying to force it, you either just won’t make the time or have the energy, or you’ll probably keep putting it off because you don’t enjoy it. Or it might be a good thing to do, but maybe not for you to do. Or maybe not at this time.

 

Get clear on what you want first

Now, for every “should” statement you say, ask yourself, “Is this what I want?” Or do you think you should do it because someone told you to or you feel under some obligation to do it? Sometimes our choices are influenced more about what others want than we want.

Although they might all be great choices, until we personally own them for ourselves we will not be motivated to follow through.

So, the first step to healthy motivation in the new year is to examine your “shoulds” and get clear on what it is YOU want.

You can also clarify what it is you want so it matches the outcome you want to create (i.e. I want to clean the closet so I can always find what I need.)

Once we claim a choice for ourselves, we then can declare them with “I am” statements.

Then replace “I should” with “I am”

  • I am working out
  • I am eating healthy.
  • I am losing 10 pounds.
  • I am debt free.
  • I am cleaning that closet.
  • I am learning how to ____.

Take your choice even higher with gratitude

An even higher vibration of belief is to act as if you have already accomplished it and imagine your success with these statements of gratitude:

  • I am grateful I choose to workout.
  • I am grateful I eat healthy.
  • I am grateful I lost 10 pounds.
  • I am grateful I am debt free .
  • I am grateful I cleaned the closet.
  • I grateful I have learned  how to ____.

This simple but powerful shift can make a world of difference!

Remember, when you declare your intentions you uplift your energy so it can support you with the motivation to do it when it is right and timely for you.

Mobile Devices and Neck Pain: How to Avoid ‘Tech Neck’

December 12, 2018  
Filed under Business, Health & Wellness

Are you reading this on your phone, computer or another mobile device? Are you looking down, shoulders hunched, while doing so? If so, your posture may be contributing to neck pain, headaches and other symptoms consistent with “tech neck,” according to Kaliq Chang, MD, of Atlantic Spine Center.

 

Tech neck, also called “text neck,” is a growing phenomenon that’s due to the ubiquitous presence of screens – such as cell phones and tablets – in our daily lives. In 2017, Americans spent nearly 6 hours each day using digital media, including more than 3 hours on non-voice activities on mobile devices, according to a survey done by eMarketer.

 

But the curved posture most of us assume while emailing, texting or reading on our devices simply isn’t good for the cervical spine, better known as the neck, Dr. Chang says. Since our properly positioned neck muscles are designed to support the weight of our head – about 10 to 12 pounds – constantly dropping our heads forward to look at a device actually puts about 60 pounds of force on the neck, he explains.

 

“Tech neck is actually an overuse or repetitive stress injury,” Dr. Chang adds. “Rolling our heads and shoulders forward places a great deal of strain on the spine and can pull it out of alignment, even leading to pinched nerves and disc herniations. It’s not necessarily a minor problem.”

 

Symptoms of tech neck

How do you know if you’re dealing with tech neck? In addition to soreness in the neck and shoulder areas, Dr. Chang says symptoms also include:

 

·        Stiff neck

·        Neck spasms

·        Unexplained headaches

·        Upper back pain, ranging from nagging discomfort to sharp spasms

·        Shoulder tightness

·        Radiating pain down the arms and into the hands

 

Even more concerning is that children and young adults – among the heaviest users of mobile devices – are developing these symptoms as their spines continue developing, Dr. Chang notes.

 

“Some research suggest that tech neck can lead to chronic spine problems and even early development of arthritis in the neck,” he adds. “Because the consequences can be lifelong, it’s especially important to avoid tech neck and to see a doctor if your symptoms won’t go away.”

 

How to prevent tech neck

Prevention, of course, is always the best option when it comes to health problems, including tech neck. But since cell phones and other mobile devices can’t be ignored in modern-day society, how can this be accomplished? Dr. Chang offers these tips:

 

·        Hold your cell phone or tablet at eye level whenever possible. “Even better is to also keep your laptop or desk top computer screen at eye level as well,” he says.

·        Take breaks every 20 to 30 minutes. “Look up from your screen for several minutes,” Dr. Chang recommends. “Even better, get up from your chair and walk around.”

·        Limit device use to only necessary tasks. “Reducing screen time is a healthy goal for many reasons, not just spinal health,” he says.

·        Exercise and stretch muscles in the neck, shoulders and upper back on a regular basis.

 

Dr. Chang, an interventional pain management specialist, also suggests sitting at a slightly reclined position when using devices – not strictly upright.

 

“Sitting at a 25- to 30-degree angle, with good lower back support, places much less force on the spinal discs in the back and neck than sitting up ramrod-straight,” he says. “This way, neck and shoulder muscles aren’t taxed to hold your head up.”

 

“The bottom line is to be mindful of your neck and shoulder position whenever you’re using a mobile device,” Dr. Chang adds. “Vigilance is key to preventing tech neck.”

Response to daily stressors could affect brain health in older adults

November 20, 2018  
Filed under Aging Parents, Health & Wellness

Taking typical daily annoyances such as a long wait at the doctor’s office or a traffic jam on the freeway in stride may help preserve brain health in older adults, while emotional reactions could contribute to declines in cognition, a new study from Oregon State University has found.

“These results confirm that people’s daily emotions and how they respond to their stressors play an important role in cognitive health,” saidRobert Stawski, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and the study’s lead author. “It’s not the stressor itself that contributes to mental declines but how a person responds that affects the brain.” Read more

DVHA Launches Tool to Help Vermonters Compare 2019 Health Plans and Save Money

October 22, 2018  
Filed under Health & Wellness, News

Recent changes mean that Vermonters who take a few minutes to compare plans will find more choices and more financial help than ever before

 

In preparation for open enrollment, state officials have launched the 2019 version of an online tool that helps Vermonters weigh insurance options and choose the health plan that best fits their needs and budget. The 2019 Plan Comparison Tool is accessible from VermontHealthConnect.gov and allows individuals and small business employees to easily screen at least 26 health plan options.

As in past years, the tool allows members to compare total costs in an average year or bad year, view doctor directories and drug lists, and much more. New this year, the tool also provides members with the ability to see their total costs in a low-use year (or “good year”) and the likelihood of someone with their age and health status having a good year.

With big changes on the horizon, the tool is an essential five-minute step for all current and prospective members of Vermont’s health insurance marketplace.

Three big changes in marketplace

First, it’s important to note that most Vermonters who purchase health insurance on their own qualify for financial help to lower the cost of coverage. Due to a complex set of events initiated by recent federal changes, that financial help will go way up in 2019. Subsidized single members will receive over $1,200 more in 2019 than they did in 2018, while couples and families will generally receive over $2,500 more.  This means that most members will see significant savings if they explore all options (see what the typical member pays in 2018 vs. 2019).

A second change is that premiums for silver-level qualified health plans (QHPs) are increasing much more than other metal level plans. This is especially notable because three out of five (60%) individuals are currently enrolled in silver plans. It is especially important for these members to actively explore their alternatives.

Finally, to help small business employees and higher income individuals whose incomes are too high to qualify for financial help, Vermont developed “reflective silver” plans. These plans – available only by calling Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) or MVP Health Care (MVP) directly – give unsubsidized members the opportunity to buy silver plans for closer to the price they paid for similar plans in 2018. Reflective silver plans are displayed on the 2019 Plan Comparison Tool, but only if the tool determines that the user does not qualify for subsidies.

“We want Vermonters to know that there were policy changes at the federal level that could impact the cost of their current plans,” said Governor Phil Scott. “I want to thank the members of my Administration, legislature, and stakeholders across the state who came together to respond to these changes with a focus on affordability for Vermonters. The key remaining step is for Vermonters to pick the right plans and, fortunately, the Plan Comparison Tool is here as a resource to help them do just that,” Governor Scott added.

Time to take action

Current Vermont Health Connect members aren’t required to compare health plans or to take any action at all. As long as they continue to pay their bills, members are automatically renewed into the 2019 version of their 2018 plan. In past years, most members have gone this route. Due to this year’s changes, however, officials are strongly encouraging members to invest the time needed to be sure they’re in the best plan for them.

“This is not the year to auto-renew,” said Cory Gustafson, Commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access. “Comparison shopping is how Americans try to get the best deal possible for all kinds of consumer choices. That is true for every purchase, every year, but it’s especially true for health insurance in 2019. The difference between the ‘right plan’ and ‘wrong plan’ could easily be thousands of dollars. Fortunately, the Plan Comparison Tool will help Vermonters identify the right plan.”

About the Plan Comparison Tool

The Plan Comparison Tool was developed by the non-profit Consumers’ Checkbook and has won the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s award for best plan choice tool. This is the fourth year that Vermont is using the tool. It has been used in nearly 60,000 sessions over the last twelve months.

After taking a couple minutes to enter age, income, health status, and expected use of medical services, the anonymous tool tells the user if they qualify for financial help to lower the cost of coverage. It also presents the estimated total annual costs (premium minus subsidies plus estimated out-of-pocket) of each of the 26+ qualified health plans. The user then has several options for sorting and screening results, or they can dive into plan details and link to more information on the BCBSVT and MVP websites.

“This kind of resource is very important because a consumer just can’t figure out: is a plan with the $200 deductible and a $10,000 out-of-pocket limit better for me than a plan with a $2,000 deductible and $4,000 out-of-pocket limit—and how about differences in co-pays, co-insurance, etc.?” said Robert Krughoff, president of Consumers’ Checkbook. “People don’t know how much various health services cost or their likelihood of needing different services – and even health insurance experts can be hard-pressed to figure out which plan is best without a helpful tool. Vermont Health Connect is a leader in making this help available.”

About 2019 Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment is the time when new applicants can use the marketplace to sign up for health and dental plans for the coming year. It is also an opportunity for existing members to change plans – an option that many more members than usual will want to consider for 2019.

This year’s Open Enrollment runs from November 1 to December 15, just like last year. Vermonters who sign up or request a new plan will have a start date of January 1.  Those who miss the deadline could have to wait until January 2020 to start health coverage, although residents who qualify for Medicaid can sign up throughout the year and those who qualify for a Special Enrollment Period generally have 60 days to sign up.

Starting November 1, applicants can sign up in one of four ways: online, by phone, by paper, or with an in-person assister. For more information or to get started, visit http://VermontHealthConnect.gov or call 1-855-899-9600.

 

Sleep and Memory: How They Work Together Psychiatrist & Sleep Medicine Specialist Dr. Alex Dimitriu Offers Tips on Improving Both

October 22, 2018  
Filed under Health & Wellness, News

“Sleep on it.” We’ve long known that a good night’s sleep confers important benefits on mood, alertness, concentration, and judgment. Research over more than a century has also established that sleep plays an important role in memory retention. More recently, studies have begun to establish more precisely how the connection between sleep and memory works. “Sleep and memory are both mysterious,” says psychiatrist and sleep specialist Dr. Alex Dimitriu. “Exciting research is being done to unearth the secrets of the connection between them. We’ve known that the quantity and quality of sleep affect our ability to learn and remember in two ways. First, adequate sleep enables us to concentrate so we can learn efficiently. Then, sleep itself is needed to consolidate memories of what has been learned. Now neuroscientists are learning how different facets of memory and different stages of sleep work together.”

There are three necessary steps for memory to function properly: acquisition occurs when we learn or experience something new; consolidation is the process that stabilizes the new information in the brain – makes it stick; and recall is the ability to access the information after it is stored. Acquisition and recall occur when we are awake, consolidation while we sleep. “When we are awake,” says Dr. Dimitriu, “our brains are optimized to react to external stimuli and encode new memories that are, at that point, unstable and subject to forgetting. The sleeping brain, with greatly reduced exposure to external stimuli, provides optimal conditions for the consolidation processes that strengthen and integrate the new memory into existing knowledge networks for long-term storage.”

 

“At one time,” says Dr. Dimitriu, “it was thought that sleep played a passive role in enhancing memory by protecting it from interference by external stimuli. Now we know that sleep plays a more active role. It was also thought that rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep played the primary role. Now we know that slow-wave sleep (SWS) plays an important role in consolidating memories. Scientists now believe that different kinds of memories are processed during different stages of sleep.”

 

The stages of sleep alternate in a cycle over the course the sleep period. SWS, which is deep, restful sleep, is predominant during the early part of the cycle and then decreases in intensity and duration; REM sleep, when dreaming most frequently occurs, becomes more intense and longer-lasting toward the end of the sleep period. While the relationship between types of memory and sleep stages is complex, some studies have suggested that declarative memory, which is fact-based – what we know – benefits primarily from sleep periods dominated by SWS and procedural memory – remembering how to do something – is related to REM sleep.

 

“There’s a lot we don’t know about the relationship between sleep and memory,” says Dr. Dimitriu. “But we know that adequate sleep will improve concentration to help you learn and will help you remember what you’ve learned.” Dr. Dimitriu offers these suggestions for improving the quantity and quality of sleep:

·        Exercise early in the day, not within several hours of bedtime.

·        Reduce or eliminate stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine during the day and alcohol in the evening.

·        Avoid naps or limit them to 30 minutes; don’t nap after 3:00pm.

·        Stick to a sleep schedule, going to bed and waking at the same time each day, including weekends.

·        Relax and clear your mind before bedtime – read a book, listen to quiet music, take a hot bath

·        Keep your room cooler than during the day. Use a fan or noise machine to mask distracting sounds. Try room-darkening shades if morning light is waking you too early.

·        Consider changing your mattress and bedding if it’s more than 5-8 years old. Bed, mattress and pillow are important to quality sleep and eliminating back pain.

·        Don’t eat a heavy meal or drink a lot of liquid close to bedtime.

·        Increasing exposure to sunlight or bright light during the day can improve sleep at night.

·        The opposite is true at night. Don’t use a computer, tablet or smart phone right before going to bed! The light from the screen stimulates the brain and makes it hard to fall asleep.

 

Alex Dimitriu, MD, is double board-certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine

Taking Control of Stress and Menopause Symptoms

September 27, 2018  
Filed under Health & Wellness, News

It’s another one of those chicken-or-the-egg dilemmas…do bothersome menopause symptoms create stress or does stress bring on menopause symptoms? The correct answer might not matter since a new study suggests that higher mindfulness may lower stress and the impact of menopause-related symptoms such as hot flashes. Study results will be presented during The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting in San Diego, October 3-6, 2018.

Mindfulness has been a topic of increased popularity in recent years. Long-practiced in Far Eastern cultures, it has only recently gained attention in the West. The practice of mindfulness, which allows patients to be aware of the present moment, without concern for past or future consequences, calmly accepting their feelings about the present event or person, has been touted by some in the medical field as one of the most important developments in the mental health discipline in the past 20 years.

Thanks to a new study out of the Mayo Clinic, enhancing mindfulness may now be considered a viable treatment option for helping midlife women deal with stress and bothersome menopause-related symptoms. The cross-sectional study of 1,744 women aged 40-65 years showed that higher mindfulness correlated with lower menopause symptom scores, as well as lower stress scores in this population. A correlation was seen between higher menopause symptom scores and higher perceived stress. In women with higher stress, the benefits of mindfulness on menopause symptom scores were even more significant.

“Although more research is needed, this study provides a strong signal for the potential role of mindfulness in improving psychological symptoms, emotional response to menopause symptoms, and stress in women during midlife,” says Dr. Richa Sood, lead author of the study from the Mayo Clinic.

“This study provides encouraging results as it demonstrates that women may have a tool to help them control stress and menopause symptoms and improve their overall quality of life,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director.

 

Vermont State Women’s Golf Association

July 26, 2018  
Filed under Health & Wellness, News

Press Release – July 20, 2018

 

Parker Wins 10th Senior Women’s Golf Title

 

Defending champion Reggie Parker of Ekwanok Country Club in Manchester captured her 10th Vermont Senior Women’s Amateur golf title and the Ruth Raymond Jones memorial trophy this week at the Ralph Myhre Golf Course in Middlebury.

 

Parker went into the final day of play with a 3-stroke lead over Mary Brush of Burlington CC and held steady, finishing with a 2-day total 160 to Brush’s 164. Brush was awarded the Loretta Tupper Lillie Runner-up trophy. Nancy Devaux of West Bolton Golf Club, playing in her first Senior championship, finished in third place with 168.

 

Parker also won the Mary R. Emans Legend trophy for low gross score among players 70 years and older. Susie Bremner of Rocky Ridge GC won the Dolores Frenier Messier Super Senior trophy in the 65-69 age category.

 

The low Net winner was Lois Forester of Brattleboro CC. Williston GC and Burlington CC, always strong contenders, were the co-winners of the Pat Job Cup team competition. The first day featured a low-putt contest, which was won by Cathy Neff of Vermont National CC with just 26 putts.

 

The Ruth Raymond Jones Memorial Seniors’ Championship began in 1966. The event is open to women golfers 55 years and older who are Vermont residents or who belong to a Vermont real estate golf club.

Seventy women from around the state participated this year and enjoyed two perfect days of golf weather and the camaraderie of their fellow competitors.

 

Full field results and photos are available at www.vswga.org

 

 

 

Natural Pain Relief is as Close as Your Garden

July 3, 2018  
Filed under Food, Health & Wellness

By Melinda Myers

Busy schedules, over indulging, and strenuous summer activities can lead to sore muscles, indigestion and headaches. When searching for pain relief, look no further than your own garden or your local farmer’s market. These five foods fresh from the garden – or pot – are packed with super pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory power.

Mint
Infuse mint into your tea or ice water to refresh and rejuvenate, so you’re ready for more summer fun. Mint also helps relieve headaches and general aches and pain. Grow this vigorous perennial herb in a container so it won’t overtake your other plants.  Then at the end of the season, root a few cuttings to start new plants to grow indoors. All you need is a sunny window, quality potting mix and regular watering. Read more

Older Americans Who Neglect Oral Care Put Overall Health At Risk

June 19, 2018  
Filed under Aging Parents, Health & Wellness

 

Conscientious parents constantly remind their children to brush and floss, and routinely schedule dental checkups to make sure their teeth and gums are healthy – and staying that way.

But youngsters aren’t the only ones who who can use such reminders. Older Americans need to put a priority on their oral health as well, and research shows that as a group they aren’t doing so.

In fact, the statistics are grim. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost every single American over age 65 (96 percent) has had a cavity, and 20 percent have untreated tooth decay. Another 65 percent suffer from gum disease, an ailment that has been linked to a host of other problems, such as strokes, heart disease and diabetes.

“Anyone who thinks they can ease up on dental care as they age is making a big mistake,” says Dr. Harold Katz, a dentist, bacteriologist and developer of TheraBreath Healthy Gums Oral Rinse (www.therabreath.com).

“Not only do poor dental habits affect what’s going on in your mouth, they also affect your overall health.”

Some of the CDC’s findings that Katz says are troubling include:

  • Tooth loss. Nearly one in five adults aged 65 or older have lost all of their teeth. Complete tooth loss is twice as prevalent among adults aged 75 and older (26 percent) compared with adults aged 65 to 74 (13 percent).  The CDC points out that having missing teeth, or wearing dentures, can have a detrimental effect on nutrition. “It’s not surprising that people who have lost teeth, or wear denture, often are going to choose soft food they chew easily,” Katz says. “They will pass up fresh fruits and vegetables that are more nutritious, but are more difficult for them to eat.”
  • Oral cancer. Cancers of the mouth (oral and pharyngeal cancers) are primarily diagnosed in older adults; median age at diagnosis is 62 years. “That’s another reason it’s important for older people to have regular checkups,” Katz says. “Your dentist can check for signs of oral cancer during those visits.”
  • Dry mouth caused by medications. Most older Americans take both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, many of which can cause dry mouth. Reduced saliva flow increases the risk of cavities. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath, and also lubricates the mouth, making it easier to eat, swallow, speak and taste food. “Sometimes dry mouth might just cause mild discomfort,” Katz says. “At other times it can lead to significant oral disease that can compromise the person’s health, dietary intake and quality of life.”

“As  you age, proper oral care is just as important as ever,” Katz says. “It’s not something you want to ignore because your overall health is at stake.”

 

VT SENIOR GAMES ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES SUMMER SEASON OF EVENTS

June 19, 2018  
Filed under Health & Wellness, News

Hundreds of VT athletes over 50 get ready for major summer competitions

 

The Vermont Senior Games Association (VSGA), a program of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, announces its summer season of competitive athletic events for people over 50.

Read more

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