Tips on Staying Healthy During Stressful Times from Loyola University Health System
MAYWOOD, Ill. - The unemployment rate is currently at one of the highest levels it's been in our nation's history. Reports of a worsening economy pound the airwaves. Retirement savings disappear in the blink of an eye and everyone seems to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. Amidst the swarm of depressing news and stress it can be difficult to stay healthy, and even harder to keep the work environment positive and productive. "Our physical health can be affected by our attitude and it's connected to our emotional well being," said Dr. Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer, medical director of Loyola University Health System's Occupational Health Services. "If you start feeling ill, pay attention to your symptoms, they could be the result of stress. Common problems include trouble sleeping, difficulty paying attention and feeling thirsty." To help keep you on the right track Dr. Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer has some suggestions: 1. Keep track of positive things that happened during the day and replay those in your mind when negative thoughts intrude. 2. Stay connected with people you care about. Support each other. Let them help you and give back to them as well. 3. Good habits in good times are good habits in bad times. Watch what you eat, get at least seven hours of sleep, and keep exercising. "Often when we're stressed we get distracted and stop exercising, lose track of our diet and don't go to the doctor. During these times it's even more important to attend to our basic health care needs. This allows you to be your most successful when dealing with stress," said Dr. Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer. In a hurting economy comfort foods and fast food restaurants are often the cuisine of choice, but just because funds are tight doesn't mean your pants have to be too. "As a registered dietitian who loves to cook, I have learned there are ways you can save money while maintaining a healthy diet," said Gina Bucciferro, clinical dietitian at Loyola University Health System. Here are a few of her tips for hitting the grocery store: 1. Buy in season. For example, buy watermelon in the summer and apples in the fall. 2. Be prepared. Clipping coupons can save you up to 15 percent on your bill. Check your shelves at home so you don't buy items you already have and stick to your list. 3. Check dates. Make sure you will be able to eat the food before the expiration dates. If you notice vegetables, herbs or meat in your fridge that you won't be able to use; chop them, wrap them up and freeze them. They'll retain their nutrients, and you'll have an easy meal for busy days. Even with life at home and personal health needs in check, stress of the unknown at work can take its toll. According to Dr. Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer, communication and understanding in the work place are key to keeping the office productive and stress at a minimum. "Company leaders need to understand that fear of the unknown is more damaging to morale then straight facts," said Dr. Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer. "It's human nature for us to fill in the blanks and turn to gossip to find answers. During times of uncertainty it's important for leaders to be as honest as possible. Employees will feel reassured if they know they are receiving information from a leader with integrity." She also says it's important for managers to make sure little irritants don't turn into magnified problems. "Something as simple as who does the dishes in the break room, which normally might not be an issue, can turn into a huge problem during stressful times. Managers need to keep an eye out for the little things and make sure a line of communication is open at all times," said Dr. Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer. To help its employees, Loyola University Health System is offering a variety of tools to assist them in coping with the unstable economy including access to support and counseling from the pastoral care team or the Employee Assistance Program and through seminars on budgeting, retirement plan options and debt management. Loyola Occupational Health Services provides onsite company stress management and wellness workshops. For more information call toll-free (888) LUHS-888.