Staying Healthy

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Did you see the February edition of “Healthy Living with Business Health Trust“?

Our monthly newsletter offers small employers in Washington the information and tools they need to design and manage a competitive employee benefits program, help their employees make good use of medical and wellness benefits, and keep up-to-date on policy issues that affect small businesses in the state.

Subscribe today to stay up-to-date with Business Health Trust!

 

Kaiser Permanente Weather Alert

Stay updated on facility closures and care options

When winter weather brings snow and ice, Business Health Trust partner Kaiser Permanente wants you to stay safe and be able to get the care you need. While Kaiser Permanente is working hard to keep care locations open, some facilities may need to close for the safety of members and staff.

If you plan to visit a medical facility or urgent care center, please check the Weather Updates page before you travel, or call ahead. If you have a scheduled appointment and you don’t feel safe to travel, please call your doctor’s office to reschedule.

Get quick care without leaving home

If conditions make it difficult for you to travel to a medical facility, you have other options.

  • Consulting Nurse Service. A nurse listens to your concerns and gives you care advice or directs you to the best ways to get care. Call (206) 630-2244 or 1-800-297-6877, 24 hours a day.
  • Care Chat. Real-time online medical care from a Kaiser Permanente care provider is available 7 days a week, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sign in to kp.org/wa to get started.

In-person care

If you would like to be seen in person by a Kaiser Permanente provider, CareClinic by Kaiser Permanente at Bartell Drugs may be easier to get to than a medical facility or doctor’s office. These walk-in clinics offer care for minor medical issues for everyone ages 2 and up. Find an open CareClinic location near you.

Tips For A Healthy Heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It is also a major cause of disability. There are many things that can raise your risk of heart disease. They are called risk factors. Some of them you cannot control, but there are many that you can control. Learning about them can lower your risk of heart disease.

What are the heart disease risk factors that I cannot change?

  • Age. Your risk of heart disease increases as you get older. Men age 45 and older and women age 55 and older have a greater risk.
  • Gender. Some risk factors may affect heart disease risk differently in women than in men. For example, estrogen provides women with some protection against heart disease, but diabetes raises the risk of heart disease more in women than in men.
  • Race or ethnicity. Certain groups have higher risks than others. African Americans are more likely than whites to have heart disease, while Hispanic Americans are less likely to have it. Some Asian groups, such as East Asians, have lower rates, but South Asians have higher rates.
  • Family history. You have a greater risk if you have a close family member who had heart disease at an early age.

What can I do to lower my risk of heart disease?

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to reduce your chances of getting heart disease:

  • Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly – at least once a year for most adults, and more often if you have high blood pressure. Take steps, including lifestyle changes, to prevent or control high blood pressure.
  • Keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control. High levels of cholesterol can clog your arteries and raise your risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. Lifestyle changes and medicines (if needed) can lower your cholesterol. Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood. High levels of triglycerides may also raise the risk of coronary artery disease, especially in women.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight or having obesity can increase your risk of heart disease. This is mostly because they are linked to other heart disease risk factors, including high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Controlling your weight can lower these risks.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Try to limit saturated fats, foods high in sodium, and added sugars. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. The DASH diet is an example of an eating plan that can help you to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, two things that can lower your risk of heart disease. Try these Heart-Healthy recipes.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise has many benefits, including strengthening your heart and improving your circulation. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. All of these can lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Limit alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. It also adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. Both of those raise your risk of heart disease. Men should have no more than two alcoholic drinks per day, and women should not have more than one.
  • Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. You can talk to your health care provider for help in finding the best way for you to quit.
  • Manage stress. Stress is linked to heart disease in many ways. It can raise your blood pressure. Extreme stress can be a “trigger” for a heart attack. Also, some common ways of coping with stress, such as overeating, heavy drinking, and smoking, are bad for your heart. Some ways to help manage your stress include exercise, listening to music, focusing on something calm or peaceful, and meditating.
  • Manage diabetes. Having diabetes doubles your risk of diabetic heart disease. That is because, over time, high blood sugar from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels. So, it is important to get tested for diabetes, and if you have it, to keep it under control.
  • Make sure that you get enough sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, you raise your risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Those three things can raise your risk for heart disease. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Make sure that you have good sleep habits. If you have frequent sleep problems, contact your health care provider. One problem, sleep apnea, causes people to briefly stop breathing many times during sleep. This interferes with your ability to get a good rest and can raise your risk of heart disease. If you think you might have it, ask your doctor about having a sleep study. And if you do have sleep apnea, make sure that you get treatment for it.

Source: Medline Plus, How to Prevent Heart Disease, Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/howtopreventheartdisease.html, on 2/8/2019

Business Health Trust (BHT) members enrolled in medical through Premera Blue Cross have access to up to three in-person visits with a counselor through Wellspring EAP. For more information on the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through BHT, view the plan summary.

If you would like to access your Wellspring EAP benefits, go to WellspringEAP.org; or to purchase Wellspring EAP services, connect with us at BusinessHealthTrust.com/contact-us.

Heart-Healthy Recipes

Winter weather keeping you indoors? Enjoy cooking some heart-healthy comfort food to keep your hands busy and your belly full!

The National Institutes of Health, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has a library of recipes featuring all kinds of meals.

Search the full library, or check out some of the featured Soups and Stews below!

  • Minestrone Soup
    A cholesterol-free version of this classic Italian vegetable soup—brimming with fiber-rich beans, peas, and carrots.
  • Corn Chowder
    Using low-fat milk instead of cream lowers the saturated fat content in this hearty dish.
  • Beef and Bean Chili
    Chili can be an easy and healthy option—this hearty recipe has just the right balance of flavors!
  • Bean and Macaroni Soup
    Beans and veggies make this soup hearty and healthy!
  • Chicken Stew
    Save leftovers for lunch the next day!

For more information on cardiovascular healthy, check out these Tips for a Healthy Heart.

Business Health Trust (BHT) members enrolled in medical through Premera Blue Cross have access to up to three in-person visits with a counselor through Wellspring EAP. For more information on the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through BHT, view the plan summary.

If you would like to access your Wellspring EAP benefits, go to WellspringEAP.org; or to purchase Wellspring EAP services, connect with us at BusinessHealthTrust.com/contact-us.

Is Your Mouth Ready for the Most Romantic Day of the Year?

When was the last time you showed your teeth some love? If it’s been a while, chances are that you may not be ready for Valentine’s Day, which is almost here! That means right now is the perfect time to focus on making sure your mouth (and your breath) are in tiptop shape and ready for anything the month of romance may bring.

To help you get a head start on Valentine’s Day, here are some of the best tips we’ve put together to ensure you have the cleanest kisser for the month of February.

Sign up for MySmile Today info box.

Tip #1 – Get Your Teeth Deep Cleaned

If you haven’t done so, the beginning of the year is a good time to get your yearly teeth cleaning done. A deep clean will help give your mouth the jump start it needs to keep your breath fresh for Valentine’s Day and beyond. Before you make an appointment, make sure to activate your MySmile account so you can get familiar with your benefits and options available to you.

Tip #2 – Clean Your Tongue Regularly

It’s not romantic, but the truth is that our mouth and tongue are inundated with bacteria. One of the best (and most forgotten) ways to combat bacteria in your mouth is to brush your tongue regularly with a tongue scraper. You’ll know your tongue is squeaky clean because it will be a fleshy pink color.

Tip #3 – Get Rid of Bad Breath

Bad breath is not only the ultimate mood killer, but it can also cause major health problems down the line if left untreated. An easy first step you can take to get rid of bad breath is to start flossing every day and night. Because flossing keeps bacteria from building up in the small nooks and corners of your teeth, you’ll have much fresher breath that you and your valentine can enjoy.

* Delta Dental of Washington, 2019

Starting The Year Out With Positivity

One of the most powerful influences on your attitude and personality is what you say to yourself. It is not what happens to you but how you respond internally to what happens to you that determines your thoughts, feelings and your actions. By controlling your inner dialogue (what you say to yourself), or your “self-talk,” you can begin to gain control over every part of your life.

Below are some examples of how we undermine our own success, followed by a more positive way to handle each scenario.

  • Expecting the worst: “What if I don’t make a good impression?” Expecting the worst does not encourage you to behave as though you can succeed. Expecting the worst only promotes stress.
    Instead: Ask questions that presuppose positive outcomes: “How can I make a favorable impression?”
  • Focusing only on problems: This also is known as complaining. We dwell on problems, instead of solutions. ​
    Instead: Assume most problems have solutions and ask: “How do I want this situation to be different? What can I do to improve the situation?”
  • Thinking in absolutes: We exaggerate reality with words like “always,” “never” and “everyone,” as in, “I always eat too much — I will never lose weight.”​
    Instead: Replace exaggeration with words that more accurately reflect reality. Example: “I often eat more than I need, but I can change that.”
  • All-or-nothing thinking: We distort reality by thinking only in extremes. Our efforts become total failures or complete successes — with nothing in between. Example: “Either I go to the gym 5 days a week, or I’m going to quit going.”​
    Instead: Give yourself options or choices whenever possible. Example: “I want to go to the gym several times a week. Even once a week is an improvement. I will keep trying harder instead of giving up when things aren’t perfect.”
  • Negative labels: Negative labels are the tools we use to lower self-esteem in ourselves and others. Example: “I’m not disciplined enough.”  When we say phrases like these often, they become a part of our identity and we can begin to dislike who we are.
    Instead: Change your negative “I am” statement into a statement about behaviors. Example: “I make unhealthy choices when it comes to food.” It’s easier to change a behavior than to change your identity.

Negative self-talk perpetuates negative emotions, such as pessimism, guilt, fear and anxiety. When you catch yourself negative self-talking, take a deep breath, relax or get up and stretch, take a walk, get a drink of water. Do something to interrupt your train of thought and get out of the negative rut.

If you have difficulty changing your negative self-talk, speaking to a counselor may be helpful.

Business Health Trust (BHT) members enrolled in medical through Premera Blue Cross have access to up to three in-person visits with a counselor through Wellspring EAP. For more information on the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through BHT, view the plan summary.

If you would like to access your Wellspring EAP benefits, go to WellspringEAP.org; or to purchase Wellspring EAP services, connect with us at BusinessHealthTrust.com/contact-us.

Find a Fit Future with the Business Health Trust

The Active&Fit Direct™ program makes it easy to hit the gym.

Exercise boosts your strength and overall health. As a Premera Blue Cross member enrolled in Business Health Trust, getting exercise is easier — and more affordable — than ever. What’s not to like?

With the program you get:

  • Access: Choose from over 9,000 fitness centers across the country
  • Flexibility: Change fitness centers to find your best fit
  • Low cost: Pay just $25 a month (plus a $25 enrollment fee and applicable taxes)

You also get:

  • Guest pass: Try out a fitness center for free before you enroll
  • Fitness tracking: Track your progress online from wearable fitness devices, apps, and equipment
  • Maps: Get to the gym quicker with an online fitness center locator and directory maps

Register today! To learn more, sign in to your online account on premera.com and visit the Member Discounts page.

On behalf of Premera Blue Cross, American Specialty Health is an independent company providing wellness discount programs. The Active&Fit Direct program is offered through American Specialty Health Fitness, Inc., one of the nation’s leading fitness networks serving millions of members.

Ready, Set, Goals: Three Simple Steps to Better Oral Health in 2019

This is where your oral health routine comes in!

It’s easy to forget how connected our oral health is to our bodies, but don’t be fooled. Poor oral habits can lead to diseases like endocarditis and cardiovascular disease. If you’re pregnant, it’s even more important to keep up with your dental care as conditions like periodontitis has been linked to unwanted birth defects like premature birth and low birth weight.

So, what is the easiest way to avoid these dental-induced health dilemmas? Set healthy oral health goals for 2019, and commit to sticking with them.

Sign up for MySmile Today info box.

Goal #1 – Commit To Going To The Dentist

Many people, even those with dental coverage, do not take advantage of this benefit. Think about going to the dentist the same way you would your yearly flu shot vaccine. Preventative care can only help if you decide to use it, so do your best to take advantage. Want to be reminded when it’s time for your yearly cleanings? Make sure to register your free MySmile account and we’ll handle the rest.

Goal #2 – Kick a Bad Habit

In general, habits require about 30 days of practice before they become second nature to you. In the spirit of breaking bad habits, the start of a new year is the perfect time to put a sunset date on that smoking habit that may be yellowing your teeth, or practice relaxation techniques to prevent you from grinding your teeth at night or when stressed.

Goal #3 – Challenge Yourself To Floss Daily

Add regular flossing to your hygiene routine and you can have a tremendous and positive impact on your oral health. Because our teeth develop with five unique surfaces, brushing alone isn’t enough to remove bacteria and plaque buildup. Even with an electric toothbrush, nothing is quite as effective as taking the time to floss. If you find that you’re having trouble keeping yourself accountable, try to make flossing fun by challenging a friend or a partner to a flossing challenge for 2019.

Do you have health goals for the new year?

Join the conversation and share them with us on Twitter!

* Delta Dental of Washington, 2018

 

 

 

Get Help for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that some people develop after experiencing a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people will recover from those symptoms naturally.

People who develop PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are no longer in danger. The symptoms usually begin within 3 months (even later) of the traumatic incident and last more than a month. They can be severe enough to interfere with functioning in relationships or work, and may include:

  • Flashbacks — reliving the trauma
  • Bad dreams and frightening thoughts
  • Avoiding places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event
  • Being easily startled, feeling tense, or ‘on edge’
  • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts
  • Trouble remembering the key features of the traumatic event
  • Negative thoughts about oneself or the world
  • Distorted feelings like guilt or blame
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities

Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some experiences, like the sudden or unexpected death of a loved one, can also cause PTSD. If you think you or someone you know might be experiencing PTSD, talk to a qualified mental health professional.

Adapted from: National Institutes of Health, retrieved from https://bit.ly/2yorwzT on 6/6/18

If you would like to access your Wellspring EAP benefits, go to WellspringEAP.org; or to purchase Wellspring EAP services, connect with us at BusinessHealthTrust.com/contact-us.

Health and Wellness Support Beyond Medical Coverage

In this season of thanks and giving, the Business Health Trust (BHT) wants to remind you that we care about your health, nutrition, and fitness. That’s why Premera Blue Cross, the medical carrier for the BHT’s Industry Health Trusts, offers special perks through its Member Discounts Program.

The program is separate from your medical benefits plan. These member discounts are just another way Premera supports the health of you and your family beyond providing medical coverage.

Popular discount categories include:

  • Diet, nutrition, and supplements
  • Eye care services and hardware
  • Fitness clubs and gyms
  • Health products and devices
  • Hearing aids and screenings
  • Newborn services and products

You and your covered dependents can take advantage of discounts that stretch your dollar and meet a variety of health needs—vitamins and supplements, electric toothbrushes, products to baby proof your home, weight loss programs, and more.

Go to premera.com/discounts for more details. Offers might not be available in all locations. Please check with the company offering the discount before making your purchase.