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Posts from December, 2014

Work Life Balance: Sleep Problems are a Pain in the Gut!

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, December 30th, 2014

A new study suggests getting too little or too much sleep might raise your risk of ulcerative colitis – yet another reason for our healthcare workers to focus on work life balance.

“Both short and long durations of sleep have important health implications, and are associated with increased overall mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer,” study author Dr. Ashwin Ananthakrishnan, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston said.

Sleep deprived student“Our findings indicate that ulcerative colitis may potentially be added to this list,” he said. “We found that less than six hours of sleep per day and more than nine hours of sleep per day are each associated with an increased risk of ulcerative colitis.”

The study, published recently in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, included women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study I in 1976 and the Nurses’ Health Study II in 1989. Every other year, the women completed detailed questionnaires. The researchers noted the extended follow-up period allowed them to analyze the link between sleep and disease incidence.

In a previous study, the investigators also found that six months of poor sleep quality was associated with a twofold increase in risk of flare-ups for another inflammatory condition, Crohn’s disease.

This data supports a growing recognition of the impact of sleep disruption on the immune system.

To learn how to better care for your body, mind and spirit and improve work life balance principles, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. To explore this program that increases nurse engagement contact me today!

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas!

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, December 25th, 2014

Merry Christmas

Work Life Balance: Wellness Programs and Preventative Care

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, December 23rd, 2014

090903-N-5726E-083More than a third of American adults are obese, 78.6 million to be exact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 29 million, or 9.3% of the population, have diabetes. These statistics underline the need for improved work life balance and also prove that we can no longer treat people only when they are sick. We have to take preemptive action and provide preventative care.

That’s why there is increasing interest and participation in wellness programs. Part of the interest is due to the Affordable Care Act, which increased the premium reduction employers can offer employees who participate from 20% to 30%. Paying lower premiums is one of the most popular incentives.

Employers are putting more of an emphasis on identifying chronic conditions like diabetes, and identifying those who are at risk of developing chronic diseases to help them take immediate action.

To learn how to improve your wellness programs and work life balance visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today so we can implement this powerful program that increases nurse engagement and health.

Work Life Balance: Can a One Minute Workout Improve Health?

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, December 18th, 2014

Last spring, the new York Times published a story about the scientifically proven 7-minute workout routine to stay fit. Now scientists have discovered that just one minute of all-out, high-intensity exercise three times a week can markedly improve muscle and heart health in overweight individuals. So when it comes to work life balance, exercise and “not having enough time,” we really don’t have an excuse anymore, do we?

Researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada recruited 14 overweight men and women who were in good health, to test the expedited fitness regimen. The participants all regularly exercised two or fewer times per week, and were far from reaching the recommended 150 minutes of weekly moderate exercise.

Researchers record1 minute workouted participants’ baseline health information and took blood and muscle samples. Then, they put participants on a 6-week training regimen where they individually customized each person’s diet using a mathematical formula to calculate their required calories — roughly 2,600 calories for men and 1,800 calories for women.

Participants returned to the lab three times a week for a supervised training session. Each workout consisted of 3 sets of all-out cycling against resistance for 20 seconds separated by 2 minutes of low intensity cycling. Each session also included a 2-minute warm-up and a 3-minute cool-down. Therefore, the weekly regimen involved a total of 3 minutes of all-out pedaling, and an ultimate time commitment of 30 minutes per week if you include warm-ups and cool-downs.

The results showed that just 1 minute of intense exercise three times a week for 6 weeks was potent enough to induce physiological changes in the bodies of 14 overweight people, based on measurements following their workouts.

Blood pressure and blood glucose readings for both men and women improved. Their bodies’ maximal oxygen uptake increased by 12 percent. Researchers write that their study “provides further evidence of the potential for very brief, intense bursts of exercise to elicit physiological adaptations that are associated with improved health status in a time-efficient manner.” In other words: there is no excuse for not exercising anymore!

To learn how to care for the bodies, minds and spirits of your healthcare givers and to become the workplace that values work life balance, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. To discuss this culture-changing program that engages nurses, contact me today!

Work Life Balance: Night-Shift Workers at Higher Risk for Weight Gain

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, December 16th, 2014

night shift_ work life balanceWorking the night shift increases a person’s risk of weight gain, according to new research at the University of Colorado, Boulder, increasing the need for these workers to learn proper self care and work life balance. Night workers expend less energy during a 24-hour period than their day-shift counterparts, according to the study.

Researchers believe this is due to an interruption in a person’s circadian rhythm, or sleep pattern.

“Shift work goes against our fundamental biology,” said Kenneth Wright, director of CU-Boulder’s Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory and senior author of the study. “Shift work requires our biological day to occur at night and our biological night to occur during the day, and that’s very difficult to achieve because the sun is such a powerful cue.

“We can have some change in our clock — a couple of hours — but then on days off, it goes right back. Shift workers never adapt.”

Circadian rhythms can shift over time with the use of artificial lights and less sun exposure. But night-shift workers usually switch back to daytime schedules on their days off, so their biological clocks never fully adjust.

“When people are on a shift-work-type schedule, their daily energy expenditure is reduced and, unless they were to reduce their food intake, by itself could lead to weight gain,” Wright said. Plus, the amount and type of food eaten at night tends to be different and less healthy than that consumed during the day, Wright said.

“What we can say is that it’s perhaps even more important to have a healthy diet for shift workers as well as a healthy amount of physical activity,” Wright said.

To learn strategies for self care and work life balance, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to discuss your facility’s challenges with getting staff to care for themselves so they can care for others.

Work Life Balance: Exercise Improves Brain Function

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, December 11th, 2014

yogaExercise is proven to be good for our brains, improving memory and thinking skills (and is good for work life balance!). A new study asks whether the apparent cognitive benefits from exercise are real or just a placebo effect. If we think we will be “smarter” after exercise, do our brains respond accordingly?

While many studies suggest that exercise has cognitive benefits, those experiments all have had a notable scientific limitation: They did not use placebo. There is no placebo for exercise and no way to blind people about whether they are exercising. They know if they are walking or bicycling or not.

Scientists at Florida State University in Tallahassee and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign came up with a clever workaround. They decided to focus on expectations, on what people anticipate exercise will do for thinking. If their expectations coincide with the actual benefits, then at least some of those improvements are probably a result of the placebo effect and not exercise.

Recruiting 171 people through an online survey system, the researchers asked half of the volunteers to estimate by how much a stretching and toning program performed three times a week might improve various measures of thinking, including memory and mental multitasking. The other volunteers were asked the same questions, but about a regular walking program.

In actual experiments, stretching and toning generally have little if any impact on people’s cognitive skills. Walking, however, seems to substantially improve thinking ability.

But the survey respondents believed the opposite, estimating that stretching and toning exercises would be more beneficial for the mind than walking. The volunteers’ estimates of the predicted cognitive improvements from gentle toning averaged about a three on a scale from one to six. Estimates of benefits from walking were lower.

“The results from our study suggest that the benefits of aerobic exercise are not a placebo effect,” said Cary Stothart, a graduate student in cognitive psychology at Florida State University, who led the study.

If expectations had been driving the improvements in cognition after exercise, Mr. Stothart said, then people should have expected walking to be more beneficial for thinking than stretching. They didn’t, implying that the changes in the brain and thinking after exercise are physiologically genuine.

To learn ways to increase exercise, the physical, mental and spiritual health of your people and work life balance principles, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to discuss how we can customize this program for your staff.

Nurse Retention: Highly Stressed Employees Seeking Wellness Programs

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, December 9th, 2014

Some 64% of employees report high levels of stress, which has negative effects on productivity, mental and physical health, according to the latest StressPulse report by ComPsych® Corporation. Stress also has a negative correlation with nurse retention.

stress stressing me outResearch found:

– 64% of employees have high levels of stress, with extreme fatigue/feeling out of control

– 29% miss 3 to 6 days per year due to stress

– 16% miss more than 6 days per year due to stress

Additional trends:

– Stress remains one of the top four reasons employees call the employee assistance program.

– Health coaching related to stress is among the top wellness requests.

To learn how to reduce stress and sick days and increase productivity and nurse retention, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to bring this life-changing program to your nurses!

Work Life Balance: Boom in Wellness Programs

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, December 4th, 2014

work life balanceEmployers are getting smarter about what really motivates employees and are moving away from perks like big bonuses, lavish retreats and limitless expense accounts and are instead focusing on restoring work life balance.

Corporate wellness programs, which encourage people to take steps to prevent the onset or worsening of health conditions, to adopt healthier lifestyles, and live a life of balance have grown steadily in the past few years, according to the latest MetLife Annual Employee Benefits Trends Study.

Nearly half of employers offer such programs, almost double the number in 2005. Among companies with 500 or more employees, the number jumps to about 75%.

Some companies can’t afford to give merit increases as they did in the past, but they still want to do the right thing and take care of their employees and encourage them to have work life balance, so they offer wellness programs. Not only do they improve the health of the staff, but they also increase productivity while saving the company money.

Studies show that for every $1 a company puts into corporate wellness programs, $3 is saved through decreased sick days, increased worker productivity and employee retention, according to the National Business Group on Health in Washington, D.C.

Wellness programs aren’t just to lower insurance claims and pharmacy costs but to decrease absences, illnesses and injuries, resulting in a more effective employee.

Do your employees take advantage of your wellness program and are you encouraging a culture based on work life balance?

To learn work life balance skills that teach employees to take care of themselves physically, mentally and spiritually, visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to discuss how this program can change the lives of your employees.

Nurse Retention Tool: Encourage Nurses to Continue Education

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, December 2nd, 2014

nurse education 1Recent research has estimated there is a need to increase baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce to 80% and double the population of nurses with doctoral degrees. Current nursing workforce falls short of these recommendations with 50% of registered nurses prepared at the baccalaureate or graduate degree level.

Many nurses have elected to go back to school and take a break from the nursing workforce, or new grads decided to go on for more education while waiting for the ideal job. Hopefully, this will help alleviate this expected nursing shortage and meets the increased demand of nurses with higher education.

Does you facility encourage nurses to continue their education? How so? Offering education incentives is a great nurse retention tool!

To learn more strategies to increase nurse retention and nurse recruitment visit SelfCare for HealthCare™. Contact me today to discuss how we can customize this program for your facility.