Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Resolutions - how to succeed at your goals

A New Year’s Resolution is a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.

These promises to ourselves are most often made with the best intentions however they don’t seem to always “stick”.  Just a few days into the New Year, people often abandon that promise and revert back to their old ways.  Why does this happen?

The problem is that a New Year’s Resolution often becomes a wish without a plan.  “I want to lose weight” could very easily be rephrased to “I wish to lose weight”.  Or “I want to win the lottery” becomes “I wish to win the lottery”.  You can wish and wish all you like but unless you create a plan or some goals for yourself, nothing will happen!

To have success, you need to make a properly set “goal” for what you want to DO to keep that promise to yourself.  Your goal needs to be specific, measurable, realistic and achievable.

Here are some tips to consider when setting goals for yourself:

• Start small.  Don’t create a mountain of expectations for yourself!
• Identify one small goal to start.
• Create a plan of what it is you want to DO.  
• The idea for a goal has to be your idea – don’t set a goal simply to please someone else because it’s more than likely you’ll abandon that goal.
• Is your idea achievable and realistic?  If you can give yourself at least a 7 out of 10 chance of achieving your goal, then you are on the right path.  Anything less, then you are setting yourself up for failure.
• Be specific about your plan.  Clearly state what it is you want to do, how much, how often, when, where.
• Remember to re-evaluate your goal periodically.  Is it working?  How am I doing?  If things are not going so well, then revise the goal to something more manageable.

This may take some practice setting goals for yourself however once you start to see success, this will give you confidence, momentum and enthusiasm to stick with it!

Christina Vesty is a Registered Nurse and the Chronic Disease Management Coordinator at the Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network. 

Happy New Year!

Monday, 30 December 2013

New Year’s Resolutions – Activity

Ah yes … it’s that time of year again, when we all vow to make changes in our activity level. 

“I am going to start going to the gym every day.”
“I am going to get up earlier every day and go on the treadmill before going to work.”

Every January, fitness centres are jam packed with people and a month or two later, the gyms are deserted.  When it comes to both activity and eating healthier, we tend to go with the all or nothing mind-set and one setback can often send everything off the rails.  Sound familiar?  So many of us fall into a trap of making general wants and wishes:

“I want to lose weight.”
“I wish to be more active.”
“I want to eat better.”  

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, making those plans and goals as specific as possible will help with following through.  Create SMART goals to give yourself a better chance of success and sustainability. 

SMART goals are:


Read our blog post about making SMART goals here.

A SMART goal looks like this:

“I am going to walk on my lunch hour for 15 minutes three days per week.”

A goal such as this is manageable and will provide both health and postural benefits. 

Remember that it is wintertime and prepare for the weather. Dress in layers and wear proper footwear for walking outdoors in the winter. If the weather is really bad, walk indoors or climb the stairs.

Another goal is to register for an exercise class one or two days a week, then plan ahead by scheduling your day and meals around this class.  Signing up for a registered class for a pre-determined number of weeks is often a good way to stay motivated.  Little things like knowing there is an end date and having paid for the class upfront can sometimes be what keeps you going.  Workout buddies can also be good motivators for accountability; plan on meeting a friend at the mall and doing a 20-minute walk, at a brisk pace, before you do your shopping.  If you can’t get to a class or the mall, do your own exercise routine at home. 

The goal is to be healthier by being more active, which is the result of sustaining lifestyle changes that started with setting small and specific goals.   

Corinne Cutler is an Exercise Specialist at the Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network

Friday, 13 December 2013

Dealing with bereavement and grief during the holiday season

People grieve in different ways and any advice offered is done so for general purposes.  You may find some of these tips helpful and that others might not be for you.  There is no set way that people are supposed to grieve.  We all do it in our own time and in our own way.
Overall, we know that most bereaved people generally cope with their loss pretty well.  There is certainly sadness, but most people are able to continue moving forward and slowly rebuild their lives. During the holidays, however, many people find themselves having strong emotional reactions just as they would to other important dates such as the loved ones birth date or the date of their passing. These reactions are called “anniversary reactions.”  

The holidays come with an expectation of cheerfulness and joy that many people who are grieving the loss of a loved one can find difficult to live up to.  Those who are grieving often feel uncomfortable about expressing their sadness out of a fear of “being a downer.”  Others are often full of well-intended advice as to how to lessen the pain.  However, sometimes seemingly innocent remarks can be intensely painful for someone who is mourning.  For example, a blessing around the Christmas dinner table giving thanks “for the whole family being together” can feel like a knife in the heart.  The holiday season can bring with it sudden reminders of the loss through the endless parade of past rituals, traditions and memories.

Here are 10 suggestions of things to try if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one through the holiday season:

1. Do less - grieving takes a lot out of us physically and emotionally, leaving us depleted of energy.  Reduce the pressure on yourself to do it all.  Consider cutting back on things like sending out cards, entertaining, baking, decorating, putting up a tree, buying presents, etc.

2. Be direct - if you are not in the holiday spirit, be clear about this with others.  Let others know what they can, and cannot, expect of you this year.

3. Change your traditions - consider changing your normal holiday routine if the thought of a standard Christmas is too difficult to bear.  Perhaps this year you might decide to go on a special trip or have dinner with friends rather than the traditional family get-together.

4. Create new traditions - you may choose to honour your loved one by creating a new tradition that allows you to keep their memory present.  This might be done by setting a special place for your lost loved one at the dinner table, spending part of the day reminiscing about them or perhaps hanging a stocking filled with memory keepsakes of them.  Sometimes these honouring traditions give you and others permission to talk about your loved one and remember them at this time of year.

5. Ask for help - talk to someone.  Keeping your feelings all bottled up can exacerbate feelings of isolation.  Share your feelings with someone you trust.  You may also consider joining a grief group, or starting one of your own.

6. Leave when you need to - attending social gatherings can be a good way of coping with the loneliness and isolation of grief; however, there may be times that you feel the need to excuse yourself early…that’s ok.
7. Dedicate a gift - holiday shopping can remind of gifts that we would have thought to buy for our loved one.  Consider donating or dedicating a gift in your loved one’s honour.

8. Do something meaningful - give back. Volunteer.  Do for others.  Service is a very powerful healer and scientists have found that doing a kindness is an effective way to alleviate depressive symptoms.

9. Self-care - grief can wear our bodies down.  This, along with holiday stress, can deplete our body’s energy and can leave us prone to colds, flus, aches and pains.  Take care of yourself by getting proper sleep, eating healthy foods and exercising.

10. Be gentle with yourself - accept that feelings of anguish are normal and to be expected during the holiday season.  Don’t assume that if you’re having a difficult time with your grief during the holidays that this is a sign you are not healing.  Know that you are doing the best that you can and that bereavement takes time.

Local Resources for Grief:

Alliance Church (Grief Support Group)   780-986-1055
Peace Lutheran Church (Grief Support Group)  780-986-2668
The Support Network (Suicide and Grief Counselling) 780-482-4636

Sheila Gothjelpsen is a Registered Psychologist at the Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

6 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

The holiday season can be very overwhelming for most. LBD PCN Registered Psychologist, Sheila Gothjelpsen offers these tips on managing holiday stress:

1. Evaluate expectations - whether they’re yours or someone else’s, unrealistic expectations can lead to stress. Remind yourself that you don’t have to do it all.

2. Ask for help - enlist the help of family and friends to share the load of entertaining. Reach out to others for support, advice and assistance when needed.

3. Review what you value about the holiday - ask yourself: “Am I focusing on what I truly value this holiday season?”

4. Look after yourself - self-care is important during the holiday season as increased stress can increase your risk for colds, flus and mental health issues.  Try to eat healthy and exercise as much as possible to help manage stress (we know this one is a challenge).

5. Relax - use deep breathing, meditation or any other relaxation technique to help lower overall levels of tension.

6. Make a List - not a Christmas or holiday present wish list, but rather a gratitude list.  Note all the things you’re thankful for this holiday season and review it every day.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Top 10 Healthy Holiday Habits

The holidays are coming and with it are many health challenges. Here are 10 tips on maintaining your healthy lifestyle.
Click each page to view larger.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Frostbite – How To Avoid Getting Bitten And What To Do If You Are

When the temperature drops below 0ÂșC, blood vessels directly below the skin constrict to protect the core body temperature. When your skin is exposed to the cold for an extended period of time, blood flow to your hands, feet, nose, and ears can be severely restricted. The combination of poor circulation and extreme cold can damage the skin and underlying tissues, which is known as frostbite.

Mild frostbite (frostnip) makes your skin look yellowish or white but it is still soft to the touch. Your skin might turn red during the warming process, but normal colour returns once the area is warmed.
Symptoms of advanced frostbite:
  • pins and needles feeling followed by numbness;
  • hard, pale, and cold skin that has been exposed to the cold for too long;
  • the area may ache or throb;
  • lack of sensation; you may not feel it if someone touches you there.
Severe frostbite can cause permanent damage to body tissue if it is not treated immediately. Nerve damage occurs and frostbitten skin becomes discoloured and turns black. After some time, nerve damage becomes so severe that you lose feeling in the affected area and blisters occur. If the skin is broken and becomes infected, gangrene can set in which can result in loss of limbs.

Frostbite may affect any part of the body. The hands, feet, nose, and ears are the most vulnerable.
  • If the frostbite did not affect your blood vessels, a complete recovery is possible.
  • If the frostbite affected the blood vessels, the damage is permanent. Gangrene may occur. This may require removal of the affected part (amputation).
First Aid for the Person Bitten by frost bite:

Mild frostbite (frostnip) can be treated in two ways:

Passive warming:

·         Shelter the person from the cold and move him or her to a warmer place. Remove any constricting jewellery and wet clothing.  Wrap the person in blankets or reheat by skin-to-skin contact with another person.
·         If immediate medical help is available, it is usually best to wrap the affected areas in sterile dressings (remember to separate affected fingers and toes) and transport the person to an emergency department for further care.

Active warming:

·         This can be done along with passive warming. Soak the affected areas in warm (never hot) water -- or repeatedly apply warm cloths to affected ears, nose, or cheeks -- for 20 to 30 minutes. The recommended water temperature is just above body temperature (40- 42 °C). Keep circulating the water to aid the warming process. Severe burning pain, swelling, and color changes may occur during warming. Warming is complete when the skin is soft and sensation returns.
Once the area is thawed:

·         Apply dry, sterile dressings to the frostbitten areas. Put dressings between frostbitten fingers or toes to keep them separated.
·         Move thawed areas as little as possible.
·         Refreezing of thawed extremities can cause more severe damage. Prevent refreezing by wrapping the thawed areas and keeping the person warm. If protection from refreezing cannot be guaranteed, it may be better to delay the initial rewarming process until a warm, safe location is reached.
·         If the frostbite is extensive, give warm drinks to the person in order to replace lost fluids.
Severe frostbite requires immediate medical attention. While you are waiting for help to arrive begin treating it with passive and active warming.

What not to do:
  • Do NOT thaw out a frostbitten area if it cannot be kept thawed. Refreezing may make tissue damage even worse.
  • Do NOT use direct dry heat (such as a radiator, campfire, heating pad, or hair dryer) to thaw the frostbitten areas. Direct heat can burn the tissues that are already damaged.
  • Do NOT rub or massage the affected area.
  • Do NOT disturb blisters on frostbitten skin.
  • Do NOT smoke or drink alcoholic beverages during recovery as both can interfere with blood circulation.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your doctor or nurse if: 
  • you had severe frostbite;
  • normal feeling and color do not return promptly after home treatment for mild frostbite;
  • frostbite has occurred recently and new symptoms develop, such as fever, general ill-feeling, skin discoloration, or drainage from the affected body part.
Be aware of factors that can contribute to frostbite, such as extreme cold, wet clothes, high winds, and poor circulation. Poor circulation can be caused by tight clothing or boots, cramped positions, fatigue, certain medications, or diseases that affect the blood vessels, such as diabetes.
If you expect to be exposed to the cold for a long period of time, don't drink alcohol or smoke.  Consuming alcohol before you go out in the cold may increase your risk of hypothermia because it increases blood flow to the extremities of the body. You may actually feel warm even though you are losing heat.  Smoking constricts your blood vessels, impairing blood circulation.
Wear suitable clothing in cold temperatures and protect exposed areas. In cold weather, wear mittens (not gloves); wind-proof, water-resistant, layered clothing; two pairs of socks; and a hat to avoid heat loss through the scalp.  Wearing a scarf that covers the ears and nose is also recommended.  Synthetic and wool fabrics provide better insulation. Some synthetic fabrics are designed to keep perspiration away from your body which keep you dry and further reduce your risk.  If you get wet, change into dry clothing as soon as possible. You lose heat faster when you're wet.

When wearing layers of clothing, remove layers if you get too warm (before you start sweating) or add a layer if you get cold.

If caught in a severe snowstorm, find shelter early or increase physical activity to maintain body warmth.
Cherie deBoer is a Registered Nurse at the Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network.

Health Canada. (2013). It’s your Health: Extreme Cold. Accessed Nov 29, 2013 @ http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/environ/cold-extreme-froid-eng.php
Heller, Jacob. (2012). Frostbite.  Accessed Nov 28, 2013 @ http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000057.htm