Learn to manage your holiday stress

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – but it usually comes with a side of stress. If you’re having a hard time managing the demands of the holidays, here are some tips that will help.

Change your mindset. Christmas only comes once a year – but it does come every year, without fail. That means if you’re too busy to participate in every party or family tradition, don’t worry about it. You can always do it next year.

Practice the power of no. Saying “no” is liberating. Don’t feel like you have to say yes to every party invitation or opportunity to volunteer. You’ll enjoy the holidays more if you pick and choose the ones that mean to most to you. Simply say, “I’m sorry, I already have plans for that time.” You can even practice by saying no in small ways, such as politely refusing a cookie from a well-meaning coworker.

Simplify your celebration. Holiday traditions create lasting family memories, but you should make sure they fit your lifestyle. Do you really need to cook a meal for your entire extended family? Or, this year, would it make more sense to fix a different main dish and ask everyone to bring a side or a dessert?

Focus on others. Instead of getting wrapped up in giving gifts, attending parties and baking goodies, find a way to give back to your community. Volunteer at a toy drive for underprivileged children or help out at a local food bank.

Choose a charity gift. Go to TisBest, JustGive or Network for Good and give someone a “charity” gift card. These cards allow the recipient to donate the money to a non-profit of their choice.

Don’t skip your regular workouts. The holidays provide plenty of excuses for cutting back on your exercise schedule, but it won’t help you feel any better. Exercise is an excellent way to relieve stress.

Boost your immune system. There’s nothing more stressful than getting sick during the holidays. Make sure you’re getting plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and washing your hands. You should also get a flu shot to protect yourself from the most common strains of the flu virus.

Be flexible. Instead of trying to pack multiple family celebrations into a single day or weekend, create your own schedule for festive gatherings when it’s more convenient for everyone. For example, if you celebrate Thanksgiving with one side of your family, invite the other side over a few days later to celebrate leftovers day.

Take a day off. Rather than trying to fit all your holiday errands in on the weekend, use one of the vacation days you were saving for the holidays for some stress-free mid-week shopping. The mall will be less crowded and you’ll be able to zip through all the tasks on your list.

Get out of town. Need a fool-proof excuse for skipping out on holiday obligations? Book a vacation. It can be just you and your significant other, or you can bring your immediate family along. Use the money you would have spent on gifts to fund your trip and accumulate memories instead of stuff. Who knows, maybe winter travel is a new family tradition that you can pass on to the next generation–the gift of a totally stress-free holiday season!

Take a deep breath. If you find yourself feeling too stressed out and overwhelmed to even consider any of the suggestions above, pause for five minutes and take a few cleansing breaths. Then get a piece of paper and write down all the tasks that are swirling around in your head and driving you crazy. Once you have a plan in place, you can focus on checking off tasks instead of worrying how to juggle everything.

Eight tips to avoid holiday weight gain

The holidays are a great time for getting together with loved ones, but they are a terrible time for trying to lose weight. In fact, you might consider it a success if you can make it through the holidays without gaining weight.

To help you do just that, here are eight surefire strategies to avoid taking new pounds with you into the new year.

1. Get moving. This one is obvious, but effective. Regular, sustained aerobic activity is one of the most effective ways to maintain or lose weight.

2. Cheat a little, but only once a day. If you must indulge in a holiday treat, allow yourself just one small serving. Savor the texture and aroma. Then, compensate later on by reducing your calorie intake or burning a few extra calories through exercise.

3. Control the risk for temptation. Clear your office and home of tempting holiday goodies. When you bake, only keep a small amount for your family and give the rest away.

4. Eat your fruits and veggies! You should aim for seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. They’ll satisfy your stomach without adding empty calories. Plus, the fiber will help you feel full.

5. Never go to a party hungry. Eat one serving of fruit, fat-free yogurt or raw nuts beforehand. Approach the party food only if you feel hungry.

6. Be in charge of your party choices. Bring a heart-healthy appetizer or dessert so you’ll have at least one nutritious option. Use a smaller plate to control portion sizes. Bypass the rich sauces, the high-fat meatballs, and the wings.

7. Say no politely. You’re not obliged to eat high-calorie foods, even when they’re homemade and your host encourages you.

8. Focus on socializing, not food. Conversation is calorie-free and standing burns more calories than sitting. Get out there and mingle – and even offer to help clean up!

Sunscreen matters, even when it snows

No matter what time of year it is, it’s important to wear sunscreen — but it’s only really effective if you’re using the right kind. Here’s a crash course to help you better understand what you’re getting when you purchase your next bottle.

SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor,” and the higher the number the stronger the protection. SPF 15, for example, indicates that it will take 15 hours in the sun for you to receive the same amount of sun damage as you would by spending one hour in the sun unprotected. It blocks about 93% of UV rays. That sounds impressive, but it’s far from the most effective sunblock you could purchase: SPF 50 lets you spend 50 hours in the sun before receiving the equivalent of one unprotected hour in the sun, and it blocks 98% of UV rays.

Whatever sunscreen you wear, though, you should reapply every two hours. You should also make sure it is water-resistant and non-comedogenic. Water-resistant sunscreen means you’ll stay protected even if you decide to take a dip in the pool, while non-comedogenic sunscreen doesn’t block pours, which reduces the chance for pimples and blemishes.

You should apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside to allow the active ingredients time to bind to your skin. The ideal amount to cover your entire body is one to two ounces, which is equal to the size of a ping pong ball or an egg. Make sure you apply it to commonly missed spots, like behind the ears, the back of the neck and on top of your feet.

And, don’t assume that you only need protection from the sun on sunny days. The reality is that the sun’s UV rays can penetrate your skin when it’s cloudy – or even when it’s snowing! In fact, snow and sand increase the need for sunscreen because snow reflects 80% of the sun’s rays, while sand reflects 25%.

LIFE Center teaches fitness to Wheelersburg Middle School

tabataWebEmployees of the SOMC LIFE Center recently made a special visit to Wheelersburg Middle School to teach various fitness classes to the school’s 6th, 7th and 8th grade female students. Shelly Wisner and Laura Wooten taught classes Nov. 2 and 4, demonstrating the effectiveness of tabata and yoga.

How to make sweet treats a little healthier

What if you could eat healthier over the holidays without sacrificing sweet treats? It may seem unbelievable, but you can. All you have to do is swap out processed ingredients with more nutritious, lower-calorie alternatives.

Here are some examples.

Instead of using sugar for baking, try using:

  • 1 cup of applesauce (for cakes, cookies and muffins)
  • 6 dates or prunes (for cookies and sweet breads)
  • 1/2 cup raw honey (for cookies, cakes and sweet breads)
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup

Instead of using butter, oil or shortening, you can use:

  • 1 cup of pureed avocado
  • 3/4 cup of mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce, plus 1/2 cup of fat
  • 1 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, plus one cup of water

Instead of eggs, you can use:

  • 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup of egg substitute
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, plus one cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of pureed silken tofu
  • You can also replace one cup of chocolate chips with one cup of cacao nibs, one cup of Rice Krispies with one cup of brown rice cereal plus two tablespoons of flax meal and one cup of all-natural, whole-grain graham crackers for one cup of crushed cookies.

This kind of creativity is important during the holidays, and not just when it comes to gift giving. By thinking outside the box, you can find ways to cut calories and make this holiday season your healthiest yet!

SOMC Earns An “A” Rating for Safety

Southern Ohio Medical Center recently received a Hospital Safety Score of “A,” based on information obtained by The Leapfrog Group as well as publicly reported data.

The Leapfrog Hospital Survey is the gold standard for comparing a hospital’s performance on national standards, and assigns “A,” “B,” “C,” “D” or “F” grades to more than 2,500 hospitals in the United States.

“We are pleased to have maintained our ‘A’ Hospital Safety Score,” Christy Aeh, director of SOMC Safety Services, said. “Safety is one of SOMC’s strategic values, and something we take very seriously. It is rewarding to see our efforts recognized by such a highly respected organization.”

In addition to earning a Hospital Safety Score of “A,” SOMC also received scores that surpassed state and national averages in 13 quality measures, including those for surgery and medication safety, readmissions, patient falls, and more.

“We hold ourselves to a very high standard in everything that we do,” Vice President of Safety and Support Services Ben Gill said. “It means a lot for our efforts to be recognized in this way.”

For more information about Southern Ohio Medical Center, visit www.somc.org or like SOMC on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SouthernOhioMedicalCenter.

SOMC offering Holiday Grief Support Group

The holidays can be a difficult time of year for those still grieving the loss of a loved one. That’s why SOMC is offering a five-week “Surviving the Holidays” support group.

The group will show those suffering from loss how they can still enjoy the holidays, while also helping them cope with their sadness. Participants in the group will have the opportunity to share holiday memories and make a keepsake ornament to honor their loved one. They will also have the chance to ask questions and offer support for others who are also dealing with loss.

“Surviving the Holidays” will begin Tuesday, November 24, at 5 p.m. The support group will meet in the conference room of SOMC’s Gibson Building, located on the East Campus.

Space is limited, so registration is necessary. To register, or for more information, call Susan Goins at 740-356-2676.

Ash Dash participants prove they’re up to the challenge

AshDashWebParticipants in this year’s Raven Rock Ash Dash showed their commitment to healthy living by completing a 5k like no other.

The Ash Dash, which included several challenging obstacles, is designed to push competitors while providing a unique and enjoyable experience. The Ash Dash encourages the community to give up unhealthy habits, such as smoking, and replace them with healthier past-times like physical activity.

To see more photos from this year’s Ash Dash, visit the SOMC LIFE Center Facebook page.

SOMC offering lung cancer screenings

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in our community and in the United States – but with early detection, patients are able to live longer, healthier lives.

In fact, CT screenings have proven to reduce lung cancer deaths by up to 20 percent for qualifying high-risk lung patients.

Southern Ohio Medical Center has developed a lung cancer screening program to meet the needs of this high-risk lung-patient population. Screenings are available to patients who meet the following criteria:

• Age 55-77

• Tobacco smoking history of at least 30 pack-years (which means, on average, you’ve smoked one pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years)

• Current smoker or one who has quit smoking within the last 15 years

• No diagnostic CT scan of the chest in the past 18 months

• No history of lung cancer

• No signs or symptoms of lung cancer

To refer yourself, or for more information, please contact SOMC Lung Health Navigator Jenny Woodyard at 740-356-LUNG.