Although we designate this time of year for celebration, the holidays can also take their toll on physical and emotional health. Here are some tips to help you have a healthy and happy holiday season.
Stay Active. Holiday parties, relaxed work schedules and cold weather all lead to excuses for skipping workouts. Schedule your workouts and even take advantage of the season. Sledding, ice skating and just running around snow are great ways to stay fit!
Prevent Illness. Tis’ the season for colds and flu. Remember to wash your hands regularly (especially before eating), stay hydrated and ensure your diet includes immune system boosting foods like cruciferous vegetables.
Safety First! Winter weather means icy surfaces. Slow down and ensure proper footwear to reduce the chance of a fall.
Mindful Travelling. Prepare for long lines and inclement weather. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going to reduce the stress of arriving late.
Reduce Stress. Practice daily mediation and stretching, and add a weekly yoga class.
Practice Kindness. The holidays can be especially challenging for friends and family who suffer from depression and seasonal effective disorder. Take an active and positive role in the lives of people who may need your help.
Take Care of Yourself. The holidays are all about giving, but be careful not to over extend yourself. Treat yourself to simple things – a mid day nap or the pumpkin spiced latte you’ve been craving.
Have a happy and healthy holiday season from your friends at Curtis Health!
If set up incorrectly, your workstation can lead to general discomfort and even chronic injury. The best way to prevent injuries is to ensure your work station is ergonomically correct and promotes good posture.
Here are some easy ways to adjust your workstation accordingly:
1. Be aware of your posture – Do you slouch? Round your shoulders? Be aware of how you sit. Engage your core muscles and sit up tall as if someone was pulling you up by a string.
2. Concentrate on the setup of your workstation –Typically, aches and pains from office work are caused by physical stress from prolonged and awkward positions, repetitive motions and overuse. When applied to your workstation, these helpful tips will help promote good posture and correct ergonomics:
Chair position –Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest comfortably on the floor, with your knees about level with your hips, making sure your seat is not pressing against the back of your knees.
Back support –Keep your backbone straight, shoulders back, abdomen and buttocks pulled in, and chin tucked. If your chair doesn’t allow this, try placing a cushion between the curve of your lower back and the back of the chair.
Footrest –Rest your feet on a flat surface. If your chair is too high consider using a footrest.
Computer monitor –Position your monitor 18 to 30 inches from your eyes. The top of your screen should be at eye level or below so you look slightly down at your work. If glare is a problem, turn off some or all overhead lights and close blinds if possible.
Key objects –Arrange frequently used objects – such as pens, phones and your coffee cup – within 10 inches of your body.
Headsets –Use a headset if you frequently talk on the phone and type or write at the same time.
Wrist rest –Keep your wrists in a straight, natural position when using your keyboard. Do not use your wrist rest while typing. Use it to take occasional breaks from typing.
Mouse –Place your mouse to the side of your keyboard so you don’t have to reach too far to use it.
3. Take Breaks – for every 20 minutes sitting, take 1 minute to stand up and stretch (even better if you can take a brisk walk).
Interested in learning more? Click the link below for your free copy of our how-to exercise guide for seated desk careers!
Want to win a $50 Kintec gift certificate? Help us celebrate Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month by letting us how your employer supports a healthy workplace. Click the link below to participate!
All you have to do is leave a comment about where you work and what employee wellness initiatives are available to you (i.e. onsite fitness centre, free exercise classes, wellness workshops, etc.) between now and October 15th. We’ll choose one winner at random!
Successful employers understand that workplace wellness programs need to reach beyond just physical fitness. Wellness workshops can provide a wide variety of useful health education topics in an interactive and engaging format. Hosting professional speakers to educate employees on issues that may be affecting their overall health can create positive behavior change and drive health initiatives within the organization.
Here are some tips to ensure your wellness workshops are successful:
Provide food. The best time to offer a workshop is during the lunch hour. If employees need to push deadlines or cancel meetings to attend, turnout drops significantly. And free food always draws a crowd.
Don’t make them mandatory. Health education is a choice and should not be forced. Successful workshops are filled with engaged participants, not those busy constantly checking their watch.
Make sure your topics are relevant to your workforce. Do your employees work long hours in a high-stress environment? Try a work-life balance workshop. Are food options onsite limited? How about a workshop on easy ways to pack a healthy lunch? If you know your employees, you know the issues they are faced with.
Hosting wellness workshop for your employees shows that you care about their health and well-being, which leads to improved morale and greater retention rates.
Designing an employee wellness program can seem overwhelming. How do you address the individual health needs of an entire workforce? Sometimes, you just need to know where to start.
Determine the needs of your employees. Crunching data on lost productivity only tells us one side of the story. Asking employees for input on wellness program offerings will help you determine not only which programs to put in place, but give ownership to those who will benefit the most. Surveys, wellness committees and coordination with department leaders provide valuable input.
Create a plan. Once you assess the needs of your employees, what will it take to put them into place? What is your budget? What is the level of commitment from key company leaders? How will you determine success? These are all questions that need to be addressed to start the framework of your program.
Get people involved! Now the real work starts. You’ve developed a program, but how do you increase participation? Create a marketing plan, recruit wellness ambassadors, determine incentives and coordinate with department managers to help ensure their employees have the time and resources they need to take advantage of program offerings.
Ask for constant feedback. Successful wellness programs are constantly adjusting to meet the needs of their employees. Survey data and enlisting the help of wellness committees and ambassadors can provide a steady stream of necessary information to keep your program on track.
Change is good. Adapting to the ever-changing needs of your employees is crucial to program success. Combining key data points with employee and manager feedback will lead to the advancement of your program.
With so many employers beginning to understand the need for quality wellness programming, it is important to enlist the help of industry leaders with a proven track record of success. Curtis Health has been helping individuals and companies improve the health of their workforce for over thirty years. Contact us today to find out how we can help you!
Parents know that getting kids to adopt healthy eating habits can be a daunting task. We understand how important proper nutrition is, but the combination of busy lives, picky eaters and the availability of cheap and easy meals often leads us to make poor food choices for ourselves and our children.
With the new school year upon us, here are some simple ways to start making healthy eating habits together.
Share meals together – The benefits of eating together as a family have been studied extensively. According to numerous reports issued by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), “children who eat at least five times a week with their family are at lower risk of developing poor eating habits, weight problems or alcohol and substance dependencies, and tend to perform better academically than their peers who frequently eat alone or away from home.”
Lead by example – Children look to their parents for guidance. If you choose to take the time to prepare a meal instead of stopping for fast food, your kids will take note. Keep healthy foods on hand to avoid falling into the convenience trap.
Have your kids help – Get them involved in the cooking process from start to finish. Let them choose ingredients and help them come up with a healthy meal. Instill a sense of pride in them that comes with seeing an idea turns into a finished product.
Stock your pantry with healthy snacks – When we’re hungry (or think we’re hungry), we grab easy snacks that we think will satisfy the taste we’re craving. If the only options are healthy ones, we’ll make better choices or realize we’re not as hungry as we thought.
By following a few simple guidelines, we can create healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
When I was eight years old, I started smoking. Well, I didn’t start smoking until I was twelve. But when I was eight, I had my first cigarette.
My mother was a smoker. In 1960’s California, it was the thing to do. I remember seeing a picture of her and her friends on a beach blanket, Pacific Ocean in the background, smiling and laughing with cigarettes in hand. This same image would be used for decades by cigarette companies to show you how fun and exciting their product was.
When I was eight, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. My friend and I stole a cigarette from my mother’s pack and retreated to the side of the house. After some initial fumbling with the matches, we got it lit and puffed in the smoke, coughing and wondering why anyone would engage in such a painful activity.
In the 1980’s, things changed. Doctors and researchers were finally able to break through the deep pockets of the tobacco lobby industry and go public with news the cigarette companies did not want you to know – smoking causes serious diseases, and could kill you.
My mother continued to smoke, but thought that she could escape the potential damage by “cutting down,” a time-tested trick of the addictive mind to lessen the chances of adverse reactions to dangerous substances. She adjusted her smoking habits to deal with the shame that came with doing something that had been proven to cause serious physical problems. She hid her cigarettes from plain view, would only smoke outside, and became embarrassed if you ever caught her with one in her hand.
Even armed with so much information about the dangers of smoking, no warning is stronger than a teenager trying to fit in. My first day of high school reunited me with old friends that had attended the local Catholic school. All of them were smokers, and I wanted to be a part of their tribe. I asked to borrow a cigarette, and started a smoking habit that would span my teenage years and most of my adult life.
Over the years, my mother and I attempted to quit using every method available. Cold turkey, nicotine patches, medications, even hypnotism. Nothing worked. Some resulted in varying breaks of tobacco use, but we always returned to our addiction. In the late 1990’s, my mother and I briefly worked with one another, taking our breaks together to smoke. With every drag, came a hint of shame. For her, seeing that her habit transferred to me, and for me, showing her that even though I knew it was wrong, I was unable to quit myself.
In 2001, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. After several rounds of chemotherapy, my mother’s life was temporarily extended, but less than six months after diagnosis, she had passed away.
Even after losing my mother to a smoking-related death, I continued using tobacco. It would less frequently – with a drink, at a party or any other excuse I could dream up to justify inhaling tobacco smoke after seeing my mother buried at fifty-two from a smoking-related disease.
In 2008, my wife informed me that she was pregnant with our first child. I instantly dialed up the memory of stealing a cigarette from my mother in 1983 and lighting it up. I also remembered the constant harassment my mother was exposed to by my father and siblings for her smoking habit and the dangers associated with it.
By using these memories, I had finally had found my motivation to quit smoking forever. I wasn’t going to be responsible for giving my future child a reason to pick up a cigarette. I wasn’t going to deal with the guilt that came with the label “smoker.” And I wasn’t going to leave this world before my time because of a disease that I had brought on myself.
Finding your motivation to stop unhealthy habits can come from numerous influences. A doctor who issues a strong warning, running out of breath while playing with a child, waking up with pain instead of energy and even the overwhelming feeling of guilt that is often associated with addictive behaviors.
When you do find your motivation, it is always helpful to enlist people and programs that can help you stay on track. Aligning yourself with health professionals can turn your motivation to be healthier into positive, lifelong behaviour changes. Curtis Health has numerous programs designed to help turn your motivation to be healthier into a reality. Contact us today to find out how!
Each of the four seasons brings change and focus along with it. In the fall, we wind down summer trips and enjoy our last lazy days by the pool as we prepare for the air to cool, the sun to set a little earlier each day, and for parents, the start of a new school year. In the winter, we physically and mentally prepare ourselves for chilly weather and get excited about the upcoming holiday season. In the spring, we wake up from our winter slumbers and anxiously await the warmth of the sun and the new growth that comes along with it.
But what about the summer? Along with increasing temperatures and the excitement of upcoming vacations, it’s easy to forget to take time for yourself each day. Summer is about increasing your energy and creating joy in your life. When we hear of seasonal effective disorder, summer is usually the last season on the list.
So how can you use mindfulness to help balance summer days?
Spend time outside. While too much of the sun’s warm rays can be harmful to your skin, the right balance can have lots of mood lifting benefits. According to a Harvard Medical Study “sunlight and darkness trigger the release of hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. This is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.”
Imagine your favorite summer place. Feel the warm sun, the sounds and the smells that surround you. Smile slightly. Let the feeling of this perfect place swirl throughout your entire body. Fell yourself becoming more relaxed with each exhale.
Know when to slow down. In summer, it is easy to get swept up in upcoming travel plans or the stress that comes along with covering for coworkers who have their own. Take time to step away and re focus. Take a walk. Call a friend. Exercise. Our brains work better when we give them the intermittent breaks they need.
Try something new. Summer is about fun and excitement. Do something out of the norm, or start to check things off your bucket list. Capitalize on the spontaneous energy that summer offers.
Practice mindfulness daily, and make this summer one to remember!
Ahhhhhh…. Fruits. Most especially of the summer variety. We love them for the way they taste, as an easy snack or a flavorful complement to a salad or meal, and especially for the benefits they provide our body.
Peaches. Especially flavorful, peaches are an excellent way to satisfy a sweet tooth without packing on the calories. Peaches can be used as natural remedy for dark circles and wrinkles, being a great benefit for the skin.
Watermelons. Like a cool drink of water, watermelons are good for hydration. This fruit is a lot more than what meets the eye; they contain potassium, antioxidants, carbs, Vitamin A, B6 and C, calcium and fiber. You are doing your body good by consuming this plentiful fruit and watermelons have also been known to make refreshing drink. Bottoms up!
Blueberries. Low in calories? Works for me! This delicious fruit is low in calories because they are made up of lots of water. They also contain fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin K and are well known for their antioxidants.
Raspberries. Add some of these little beauties to a meal and your taste buds hit the roof. Other perks, they provide vitamins and fiber and are useful for weight loss.
Strawberries. These help strengthen our immune system, a benefit not to be passed up. Also being an excellent source of vitamin C, these are a booster for eyes and skin.
Fruits can be added to almost any breakfast dish either on top or as a side. Use fruits in salads for lunch or dinner, as a garnish, or a go to in between meals!