When we create broad, sweeping goals for ourselves at the start of a new year – lose 50 pounds! Yoga every morning! – we set ourselves up for failure. Research shows that making small, digestible changes to our habits is a much more sustainable way to improve our lives. Going all out with major lifestyle changes may leave you feeling great at first, but will almost certainly lead to burnout and a return to your old ways. That means that as you create your 2020 new year’s resolutions, you’re more likely to succeed if you make them small, manageable, realistic goals. Here are just a few ideas that we hope will serve as inspiration as you decide on your 2020 resolutions.
1. One Walk Per Day
Virtually all of us have 10-15 minutes to spare in a given day. Resolve to spend those minutes going for a walk. Walking has a multitude of health benefits, including lower stress, improved mood, better cognitive function and memory, lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, lower body mass index (BMI), and a longer life. Daily walking increases your metabolism and keeps your body burning calories faster and longer. Need we sing its praises anymore? Walking is a simple yet incredible way to improve health. It may require cutting into your TV time or time spent reading your favorite book, but you’ll reap the benefits immediately, feeling better inside and out.
2. Journal Once a Week
While the start of a new year is a time when many of us resolve to improve our physical wellness, it’s important not to neglect our mental health. Journaling is a great way to reorient, refocus, and remind yourself what is most important to you. It creates a richer, more intentional experience of life and allows us to get more out of it. When was the last time you gave yourself five minutes to simply be still and think about how you’re feeling? If you can’t remember, you’re not alone. But journaling will go a long way in improving your mental wellness. If you’ve never written in a journal before, here are a few questions to get you started:
3. Try a New Healthy Food Every Month
One of the great secrets of sustaining a healthy diet is finding nutritious foods that you actually love to eat. The whole experience becomes less about forcing yourself to do something, and more about enjoying simple pleasures. Granted, it may be harder than finding junk food that tastes good – but delicious healthy food is out there! It all depends on your taste buds and preferences. Start your search for healthy foods you love by trying a new one each month. Kimchi, black beans, pomegranate, dark chocolate, almonds – you name it. Add something different to your grocery cart and experiment with different ways to prepare and eat it. You’re bound to find something you like eventually, so much so that you can easily incorporate it into your regular diet. In addition to improving your physical health, trying new things is good for the brain – it helps prevent us from getting into ruts, and keeps us young.
They say the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year – but for those of us who have recently lost a loved one, that’s not always the case. Every little tradition, from decorating the Christmas tree to opening presents on Christmas morning, can serve as a painful reminder of those who have passed on.
If you find yourself feeling depressed during the holiday season, you’re far from alone. This time of the year is a lonely and difficult period for many, many people. But you don’t have to suffer in silence and put on a brave face for celebrations with family and friends. Instead, try to deal with the holiday blues in a healthy manner using one of these tips.
Tip #1: Seek Comfort in Friends & Family
You don’t have to pretend like everything’s peachy for your friends and family. Not only will they understand the sorrow that often surrounds the holidays after a tough loss, but chances are they have experienced that sorrow themselves at some point. We all lose loved ones; it is a tragic but inescapable reality of life. Your friends and family know this, and they don’t expect you to pretend like everything’s fine when it’s not.
So seek comfort in the trusted friends and family that remain. Simply talking about our feelings of grief and loss goes a long way in helping us heal. To have another human being listen to our suffering is incredibly powerful, and can immediately take some of the weight off of our shoulders. You don’t have to carry the burden of life and loss all by yourself – that’s what friends and family are for, to help us shoulder some of that burden. On the other hand, pushing those feelings away and instead putting on a brave face can be detrimental to one’s mental well-being. It only delays and prolongs the healing process – not to mention, it’s positively exhausting.
Tip #2: Turn to the Church
Church provides an important sense of community and belonging to billions of people across the world. It is a place where we can keenly feel that we are a part of something much, much bigger than ourselves, and that feeling can be comforting to those suffering the recent loss of a loved one. It helps us tune into the ongoing, ever-changing cycle of life.
In addition to the spiritual benefits of church, it also acts as a safe haven to many who would otherwise feel alone, but find an entire family in their congregation. Your fellow churchgoers will be there for you always and especially when you need it most. Don’t be afraid to turn to them for help, companionship, and support. We all deserve a loving community that we can turn to during our most difficult times.
Tip #3: Speak with a Professional
Many of us prefer to handle our problems on our own, shrugging off the idea of therapy as unnecessary, expensive, or too much of a hassle. But even if you don’t go to a therapist regularly, the holidays might be a good time to book a session or two. We all need a little help to get through life, and professional psychiatrists and therapists are often the people most equipped to help us. There’s no reason to be ashamed of seeking professional help when you need it. It’s amazing what the right therapist and the right medication can do for your life. It’ll leave you wondering why you didn’t bite the bullet and reach out sooner!
Tip #4: Create New Traditions
Change is inevitable, so we might as well embrace it. Hang onto your family’s old traditions for as long as you want to, but don’t forget to create new traditions, too. It will help you reframe the idea of life changes into more of a positive concept. Take your grandchildren to a Christmas movie. Treat yourself to a holiday spa day. Bake your favorite cookies and enjoy them all yourself if you want to! Whatever new traditions you decide to create, enjoy and embrace them. It’s what your loved ones of past would have wanted you to do.
Wishing a Merry Christmas and happy holiday season to all in our HealthKeeperz family! But if it’s not a happy time for you, that’s okay, too. We understand that this can be a highly difficult time of year for many families, especially those whom we meet through our hospice division. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and remember, we’re always here for you.
Love, your HealthKeeperz family
From vast mountains of mashed potatoes and gravy, to honey-baked hams the size of your head, to tempting Christmas cookies at every house you visit – the holidays aren’t always the kindest to our diets or our waistlines. But are they really the grave threat to our health that so many make them out to be? Let’s discuss, with a few tips for staying healthy during the most decadent time of the year.
Tip #1: Portion Control
Here’s a revolutionary idea: When you’re watching your figure and you see that fresh-baked pecan pie, you don’t have to run screaming. In fact, “forbidding” ourselves from certain foods only has the psychological effect of making us crave them more. Instead of seeing certain holiday treats as the enemy, allow yourself to enjoy them in moderation. Savor each bite and enjoy the experience fully without guilt. One cookie here and there, one helping of creamy green bean casserole, isn’t going to kill you – or even make you gain weight. It’s only repeated overeating that has that effect. So instead of tricking your brain into wanting these foods even more than you already do, give yourself complete freedom to enjoy them in reasonable portions. Life is way too short to miss out on that one dish you look forward to the whole year.
Tip #2: Incorporate Movement into Holiday Festivities
This tip is particularly useful if you have hyperactive grandchildren. There are many enjoyable ways to celebrate the holidays while moving around, from family flag football games to strolling around town to admire Christmas lights. It won’t even feel like exercise, but it’ll help offset some of those extra pounds that many of us pack on during the holidays. Plus, it’ll wear out the kids, making for a more relaxing and stress-free holiday celebration – because tired kids are happy kids. (That’s often true for adults, too!)
Tip #3: Lay Off the Booze
A glass of eggnog (or two) can make the whole holiday feel instantly more fun and less stressful. There’s nothing wrong with having a little something to take the edge off at big family gatherings – just be careful not to overdo it, because alcohol is one of the most fattening beverages you can consume, without filling you up like food does. Plus, in large quantities, it will only lead to hangovers and headaches, which suck all the fun out of your day. To best enjoy holiday parties, either abstain or maintain a smart balance with your alcohol consumption.
Tip #4: Stay Calm
Gaining a little weight over the holiday season is completely normal, and nothing to beat yourself up over. Trust that your eating habits will level off once the new year comes around, and don’t stress too much. Did you know that many scientific studies have found that stress can actually contribute to weight gain? So not only is it unproductive to stress, but it can actually be counterproductive to your weight goals. Try to keep a calm mindset about normal holiday weight gain. It doesn’t mean the end of your health journey.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays from your HealthKeeperz family! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @HealthKeeperz and share with us ways that you’re staying healthy this holiday season.
Earlier this week, I began reading an advent season devotional with my family each evening. Advent is the Christian season of waiting, anticipation, and eager expectation of the coming of Christ.
The season of Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. In our fast-paced modern world, Advent is often forgotten due to the ever-increasing emphasis on Christmas Day. Now I'm not suggesting that Christmas Day is any less important than it has ever been. After all, Christmas Day is the day that we celebrate one of the most significant events in human history, namely, that God incarnate was born, and his name is Jesus.
Now I realize that, traditionally, the Christmas season has begun the day after Thanksgiving with the infamous Black Friday shopping day. But historically, this is inaccurate. Throughout church history, the Christmas season—Advent—didn’t start until Christmas Day and the days leading up to Christmas, and explicitly beginning four Sundays before Christmas (you should Google “Advent” for more of the historical foundation of this wonderful season).
Now back to my Advent reading. The theme of one of our devotions this week was willingness. The devotion was centered on the willingness of Jesus, God the Son, to come and be born in human flesh, to live a righteous life fully as a man, and to give his life sacrificially for the redemption of sinners. Although in fewer words, this was essentially the message of the angel Gabriel to Joseph, Jesus' earthly father, regarding the purpose of the Christ-child in Matthew 1:21. Jesus was born to die and to die “willingly." Let that sink in. The author of the devotional, Pastor Paul Tripp, simply asks this question throughout the reading: "Am I characterized by willingness?"
I haven't been able to lay this question down. I've mulled over it now for 48 hours, as of the time of this writing, and I must say that I'm surprised by how unwilling I can be at times. Sometimes my unwillingness shows up in a lack of patience with my children or a friend or a coworker. I can be unwilling to be mildly inconvenienced for someone or unwilling to be interrupted. Unwilling to serve, unwilling to. . . well, I could go on and on.
But let me share with you how I intend to celebrate the Advent season this year. I want to be willing, and I mean to take steps to do it. Since I read that Advent devotion, I have set in my heart and mind by praying for God's help to be aware of any opportunity I have to demonstrate a willing spirit. In doing this, I have found seemingly endless possibilities to bless others by allowing the willing Spirit of Christ, which is in me, to do what he always seeks to do. And what is that He seeks? It is to help me live like Jesus, even if it should mean laying down my life for others.
So how's it going for these last 48-plus hours, you ask? It's both wonderful and challenging. I've had to slow down and think anew about my holiday celebrations and how they ought to point me to Jesus. I've had to think about gift-giving in terms of giving gifts out of my love for someone versus because I drew their name. And may I say that name drawing is a wonderful way to decide to buy a gift for someone? It’s much like praying, "Lord, I want to bless someone with a special gift. Would you choose who I need to show some special love to?"
Remember, it is better to give than to receive. And I think it's better because being a good giver of gifts is demonstrating a willingness that finds its root in the greatest gift that has ever been bestowed on mankind. That is the gift of God coming in human form to live with us and willingly die for us.
May our Advent and Christmas seasons be filled with the love, joy, and peace that has been secured for us in Jesus Christ.
Yours, joyfully in Christ,
Chaplain James Chavis
Whether you love it or hate it, you probably see the word “exercise” at least once a week in the news or on social media. It feels like we’re constantly bombarded with photos of young, impossibly buff people lifting giant weights at the gym, and articles about how we’re all going to die in the next ten years unless we suck it up and hit the treadmill.
Let’s take a step back and reexamine some of the common narratives that surround exercise in the news media. Because, despite what some social media influencers may tell you, you don’t have to spend hours in the gym every day to be fit.
Myth #1: If you want to be healthy and active, you have to start going to the gym … No matter how much you hate it there.
There are literally hundreds of different ways to meet your exercise goals, and the vast majority of them don’t even require a gym. The best way to start an exercise program that will be sustainable and successful is to ask yourself, what kind of exercise do I like to do? Maybe it’s playing light tennis with your spouse on the weekends, or pushing your grandchild around the park in a stroller. If you’d rather knock it out by walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes or completing an at-home workout video, more power to you. The main idea is to choose something that you would enjoy doing even if you didn’t have to do it for the sake of your health. A lot of people find enjoyment in aerobic dance classes such as Zumba and Jazzercise. These classes are fun and uplifting, and you can almost always participate at your own pace, based on your individual physical capacity.
Myth #2: I want to make a commitment to my fitness, so I have to devote at least an hour each day to hard exercise.
Both the American Heart Association and the Department of Health and Human Services recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week; that’s just over 20 minutes per day, or 30 minutes, 5 days per week. An alternative is 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or some combination of the two. No matter which way you add it up, it translates to a relatively small time commitment. Most people have 20 minutes to spare in a given day, or at the very least, could probably wake up 20 minutes earlier. If you’re particularly pressed for time, at-home workouts are a great way to eliminate the added hassle of travel times.
Myth #3: I can’t exercise because I have a wheelchair/walker/area of physical weakness.
People of any and all physical abilities can take measures to improve their aerobic health, even if it means a simple form of exercise that only strains a select few areas of the body. For example, many people requiring wheelchairs enjoy the physical strength that comes over time with wheelchair yoga and wheelchair-specific workouts. Hundreds of people have even made a career out of this by becoming professional bodybuilders!
It’s all about finding the perfect workout for your body. Bad knees? Try the elliptical, an effective, but extremely low-impact way of doing cardio. Swimming is also low-impact, but still challenging, with the potential to significantly improve your cardiovascular health. A quick internet search will yield plenty of inspiration from people with similar physical capabilities who have created workouts and workout plans tailored for people like you.
Myth #4: All exercise is boring. And terrible.
Just to drive home how wrong this common misconception is, let’s look at some of the most interesting ways that people have chosen to reach their 150 minutes per week.
Having shared both funky and practical ways to incorporate exercise into your life, we hope you’ll give one of them a try. If you do, drop us a line on social media! You can find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @HealthKeeperz.
Have you ever used the phrase, “trying to make it through,” to describe your living out of a day?
For example, a co-worker greets you around mid-afternoon with a polite “How’s it going?” Then you find yourself replying, “Just trying to make it through the day.” It sounds as if we are ships navigating through uncharted waters, or we’re on an obstacle course trying to avoid bumping into things on our way to the finish line. Whatever the illustration we use, we are indeed on a journey, and each day is a new stretch of that journey.
Now along the way, we are likely to bump into some objects and/or people. And real problems are created when two people, going in opposite directions, bump into each other. When the two come to an impasse, someone is out of their lane, right? Well, maybe not. Perhaps they are both in the correct lane, but someone is going the wrong way. That someone should turn around, assuming that they have the same destination as the other.
But even with people who have the same goal, are traveling in the same direction, and doing so at relatively the same speed, there can be some lane creep. On the actual interstate, when this happens, we blow our horns to alert the creeping driver. Although horns can be annoyingly loud and seem rude at times, in this instance, it’s precisely the right action to take. You’re saving yourself and that person from a potential catastrophe. But in life, in our relationships with people, should we be so quick to blow the rude and annoyingly loud horn when there’s “lane creep” by our family, friends, or associates?
Now my illustration may begin to break down if we press it too far, but my point is this:
We are going to bump into one another and have a little lane creep, even when we have the same goal and destination and are traveling the same direction. But our knee jerk reaction shouldn’t be, “Hey! Move over!” Or “Get back in your lane!” The truth is, I just might be a little tired because the journey feels long sometimes, and the last thing I need is a blasting horn that startles and disorients me. If I am tired, I probably need your shoulder to lean on for a bit while we travel. And while I’m leaning on you, you can remind me that, together, we can make it.
At HealthKeeperz, we share a common goal that is communicated in our mission statement. We want to see God glorified through our caring for one another and the people we serve. To someone outside, that may sound simple enough, right?! But, to those of us who know of all the moving parts that are simultaneously working to bring about that care, it’s not simple at all. And we all bump into each other regularly! That likely will not change, for such is life. But what can change is how I respond to a little lane creep or when things get bumpy. We are indeed in this together, and we are certainly better together.
May God strengthen us all at HealthKeeperz to be humble, selfless, encouraging, and caring pilgrims. May He make us like Barnabas, who was simply like Jesus.
Yours in Christ,
Chaplain James Chavis
We’re excited to announce the launch of the official HealthKeeperz Instagram account! This page will focus on recruiting individuals to join our home health care team, in addition to sharing company news, announcements, and local events.
Following us on social media, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or now Instagram, is a great way to stay in the know about what’s happening at HealthKeeperz and in your local community.
Medical professionals with an interest in making a career of true service will find more information about open positions on our social media pages. We are always seeking caring and skilled home healthcare professionals to join our team. HealthKeeperz lives by the principle, “Caring for all people for the glory of God.”
Find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @HealthKeeperz. And please, feel free to say hello on social media! We like staying in touch with our extended HealthKeeperz family.
HealthKeeperz was honored to be the premier sponsor for last weekend's Boots & BBQ event, an annual fundraiser that benefits the Southeastern Regional Medical Center Foundation. The SRMC Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that seeks to expand quality healthcare at Southeastern Health. With help from the generous contributions of its donors, SRMC provides financial assistance to grow medical services offered in the area. SRMC has worked tirelessly since 1983 to meet the healthcare needs of the communities where they serve.
The 9th annual Boots & BBQ was a super fun and casual event with over 400 attendees and their guests. We enjoyed excellent refreshments courtesy of Fuller’s BBQ, and a wonderful performance from Kasey Tyndall and her band.
HealthKeeperz is always happy to support a cause that advances and enhances the health and wellness of our community; however, the BBQ and music certainly made it extra special! Thank you to the SRMC for letting us be a partner in this event. We’re humbled to help with their mission, which resonates deeply with our own. Please visit http://www.srmc.org/foundation/ to learn more.
Change is not always easy, and often it's unavoidable. And some of the best change is the hardest change.
On September 16, many of us at HealthKeeperz began the process of change together as we started converting to a new electronic medical record system (commonly known as EMR). Jokingly, I recently said to our president, Tim Brooks, that I have never had more prayer requests in a day and week in all my five years at HealthKeeperz!
But it's actually true. And since then, the requests have continued, and I think that I have found a common thread either expressed or communicated in body language. It has to do with coping with the frustrations with learning a new system, working out of two systems in the interim, and encountering the expected and often unexpected mishaps. I've summed up the common prayer request this way: ”Lord, if I become frustrated, help me not to say anything or act in some way hurtful to others, regretful to myself, and dishonoring to you."
First, I must say that I am so excited to have coworkers who think this way and are humble enough to ask God to help them with their human weaknesses. I know from my own personal experience that the temptation has been present to say or do what I ought not. Praise God for His help!
Second, I am grateful that at HealthKeeperz, there is an undercurrent that is moving us along that flows out our mission statement, “Caring for all people for the glory of God.” That undercurrent is our culture of encouragement, the Barnabas Culture. Simply stated, it's a way of life in the workplace, where being caring, selfless, and humble, as well as encouraging people lifts us all and helps each of us flourish.
I couldn't help but think of a few Proverbs from the Bible that will help us not only glorify God but will also help us support one another in the coming weeks and months as we seek to excel in the EMR transition phase. Listen to three of them and notice how powerful a kind word of encouragement is.
Proverbs 16:24 (ESV)
24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 15:4 (ESV)
4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Proverbs 12:25 (ESV)
25 Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.
Don't you love the pure beauty of God's wisdom in His word? A gracious, gentle, good word is so accessible to us. We need only speak it and watch it heal and rejuvenate a weary soul, bear life giving fruit, or dispel anxiety from a heavy heart. I think this is how we will make it, and not only during this transition, but every day. With so many negative or discouraging words out there, what do you say we commit ourselves to gracious, gentle, and good words for the glory of God and the good our neighbor!
Yours in Christ,
Chaplain James Chavis
Pros and Cons: Alternatives to Nursing Home Placement
Assisted living facilities and retirement homes provide a source of care, joy, and community for many older folks. But for some, they’re just not the right setting, feeling “too clinical” or “cold.” This article is dedicated to those who might feel the latter emotions. We’re going to take a look at several viable alternatives to nursing home placement, focusing specifically on the pros and cons of each.
Moving in With Family
When it becomes too much to care for oneself, many people turn to their children or other able-bodied relatives to help out. Provided that everyone in the family gets along, this can be a wonderful option. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend their retirement days surrounded by grandchildren? This option is also highly cost-effective. There’s no need to pay for a room, and in many cases for medical care, so long as the type of help you need is minor enough that family members can cover it.
Doesn’t seem to have any drawbacks, right? Well … not quite. There are a few important things to keep in mind before making the decision to move in with your children and/or other relatives. First, is the care you require going to be too much for unpaid, non-medical professionals to handle? Many grown-up kids love the idea of taking care of their parents, but soon realize that it’s more than they can handle on top of their own busy lives. It’s smart to have a concrete idea of what exactly care will look like before going into this situation; that will help prevent anyone from biting off more than they can chew. Many people opt to move in with family members and hire a home health care aide to assist with certain duties and ensure a proper standard of care.
Due to the hefty expenses associated with retirement and daily medical care, more and more seniors are choosing to form intentional communities or “communes” where they can live together and pool resources. It’s not only a barrel of fun, but also much more affordable than going at it alone. Some groups choose to hire a single live-in nurse or team of home health professionals, splitting the cost between everyone at the commune. Additionally, the benefits of being around other people all day are huge for both mental and physical health. Studies show that socialization is linked to the prolonged retention of one’s mental and physical faculties, as well as lower rates of depression.
The big “if” with regard to intentional communities is the people. Make sure that you and your loved one make a careful, well-informed decision together about who you will be living with. Can everyone agree on daily chores? Expenses? Medical care? Try and assemble a team of like-minded friends who want the same things out of retirement.
Home Health Care
For many Americans suffering from a condition that requires frequent medical attention, “home health care” are the three magic words. They mean the comfort, security, and convenience of your own home; they mean less disruption to your day-to-day life; they mean no more days spent driving to and from doctor’s appointments. Home health care provides immense relief from the stress associated with medical care.
There aren’t any real cons to home health care. With advances in medical technology, it’s now possible to receive the same quality of care at home as you would receive in a facility without paying a fortune. One important thing to note is that having everything you need at home can sometimes lead to social isolation, especially in seniors. If you do go the home health care route, make sure that your loved one is still getting plenty of social enrichment. While HealthKeeperz’ medical professionals are extremely warm and friendly, they can’t meet all your needs for fun and socialization. So, make sure to visit with friends and family and get outside when you can, to get up and get going.
Interested in receiving home health care services for yourself or a loved one? Please contact HealthKeeperz at 800-309-3784 to begin a conversation.