December Wellness Corner

Mental Health Corner People, Pets & Vets

When the weather gets dreary, it can affect your moods. Seasonal Affective Disorder (known by the appropriate acronym SAD) is a type of depression that correlates with the seasons, usually starting in late fall or early winter and ending during spring and summer.

SAD is a type of depression, not a separate disorder. To be diagnosed with SAD, a person must meet the criteria for major depression coinciding with seasons for at least two years. Symptoms of major depression include low energy, feeling depressed for a majority of the time, sleep problems, low interest in hobbies, difficulty concentrating, and more. 

Luckily, there are treatments for SAD. Medications such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and other antidepressants can help. Light therapy can be used to replace diminished sunshine during fall and winter. Some people have found that using a lightbox daily helped their symptoms. Therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, can help treat SAD through identifying and replacing negative thoughts, as well as seeking out activities to help cope. Some also believe that Vitamin D supplements can help. specific to SAD include low energy, overeating, weight gain, and social withdrawal. Risk factors for SAD include being female, living far from the equator, having depression or bipolar disorder, a family history of depression, or being a young adult.

If you’re feeling the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder this winter, talk to your doctor about your options.

Physical Health Corner People, Pets & Vets

There are a lot of well-known “facts” out there about health and wellness – but are they are accurate? Let’s break down three common health myths.

Being Overweight Makes You Unhealthy

Losing weight is one of the most touted ways to get healthy. But the number of pounds on the scale isn’t always representative of your overall health. A study by the Cooper Institute tracked thousands of men over years and found that men who were overweight but exercised on a regular basis had half the death rate of men who were at a normal weight but out of shape. The study found that being in poor physical condition led to more risk than being overweight. However, this doesn’t mean exercise gives you a pass to feast on a diet of fast food – having excess abdominal fat does increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Focusing on regular exercise rather than weight loss could help you in the long run.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a BMI under 25 means weight is normal, 25 to 25.9 is considered overweight, and 30 or higher means obesity.

  1. Multigrain Equals Healthy

Seven-grain or enriched bread sounds healthy, right? But what you should really look for on a label is whole grain. Whole grain means all parts of the grain kernel are used — the kernel contains fiber, nutrients, and other healthy compounds. The germ of the grain is rich in B vitamins and essential fatty acids, its bran is high in fiber, and the endosperm is mostly starch.

If a product uses whole grains, its first ingredient should be listed as whole wheat or whole oats.

Products labeled as “multi-grain” are likely using refined grains, where the germ and bran (AKA the healthy parts) have been removed. Don’t forget to check your labels!

  1. Fats Are Bad for Your Body

When dieting, it’s a no-brainer to cut down on fats. But they aren’t all bad. Fat is necessary to your body. During exercise, calories are burned first, but after 20 minutes, your body burns fat to keep you going. It also keeps your hair and skin healthy, absorbs vitamins, and insulates your body to keep it warm. It’s important to know which fats are good for you.

Healthy fats include those with omega-3s, such as fish, nuts, and seeds.

Unsaturated fats such as avocados, olives, and vegetable oils can improve blood cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease. Avoid trans fats, as these can increase risk of heart disease and cancers.

When you’re trying to get healthy, do your homework.

Social Health Corner People, Pets & Vets

Hearing vs. Listening

Intentions matter. There’s nothing more off-putting than communicating something important only to find out that it wasn’t absorbed—or being the person who didn’t absorb it. Active listening is making a conscious effort to listen and fully understand the message being communicated.

Listening is an important skill that can affect you personally and professionally. We listen to learn, to receive information, to acquire direction, and for entertainment and happiness. However, Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience says we only remember 25% to 50% of what we hear.

Use the practices below to revitalize your intent to listen and engage with active listening.

listening vs hearingPractice One: Mentally repeat what is being said to you in order to reinforce the message and remain focused on the speaker and the message.

Practice Two: Acknowledge the speaker and the message. This can be as simple as using body language like nodding your head. Try to respond to the speaker to let them know you are hearing the message. Acknowledging the message also helps you as the listener retain the information.

Practice Three: Don’t interrupt. Allow the speaker to finish relaying their message completely before interjecting questions or comments they might address.

Practice Four: Have an appropriate response. Active listening fosters respect and understanding. You can disagree with a speaker and remain respectful without attacking or demeaning the speaker for their thoughts or opinions.

Emotional wellness is important to us at People, Pets & Vets. We offer a 24/7 FREE employee assistance program (CuraLinc) for all our employees (full and part-time) and any dependents in their household.

If you would like additional information on emotional and mental health, you can confidentially contact me at the information below.