Monday, August 31, 2015

Working Yourself to Death?

We've all seen the motivational posters, listened to the greats and their motivational speeches, seen the books (maybe even read them), musical artists have songs on working hard, and we've read the bible's stance; But is there a fine between this kind of hard work and just working yourself to death?

A person who works 55 hours or more per week has a 33 percent greater risk of having a stroke and a 13 percent increased risk of developing coronary heart disease, compared to colleagues with a standard 35- to 40-hour work week, according to a large analysis published in The Lancet.

New research from the U.K. suggests that employees who work more than 48 hours per week are more likely to engage in risky alcohol consumption than those who work standard weeks. Risky alcohol consumption is considered as more than 14 drinks per week for women and more than 21 drinks per week for men. This amount of drinking is believed to increase risk of adverse health problems, including liver diseases, cancer, stroke, coronary heart disease, and mental disorders.

Elisabeth Kleppa and colleagues of the University of Bergen, Norway, analyzed data on work hours from a larger study of Norwegian men and women. Symptoms of anxiety and depression were assessed using a standard screening questionnaire. Anxiety and depression scores were compared for 1,350 workers who worked overtime, 41 to 100 hours per week; and approximately 9,000 workers who worked normal hours, 40 hours or less. Working overtime was associated with higher anxiety and depression scores among both men and women. The rate of questionnaire scores indicating “possible” depression increased from about nine percent for men with normal work hours to 12.5 percent for those who worked overtime.

So what do we do if we must work these crazy hours to get by?

Could you be experiencing job burnout?

Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints?
If you're concerned about job burnout, take action. To get started:
  • Manage the stressors that contribute to job burnout. Once you've identified what's fueling your feelings of job burnout, you can make a plan to address the issues.
  • Evaluate your options. Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. Perhaps you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Is job sharing an option? What about telecommuting or flexing your time? Would it help to establish a mentoring relationship? What are the options for continuing education or professional development?
  • Adjust your attitude. If you've become cynical at work, consider ways to improve your outlook. Rediscover enjoyable aspects of your work. Recognize co-workers for valuable contributions or a job well done. Take short breaks throughout the day. Spend time away from work doing things you enjoy.
  • Seek support. Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends, loved ones or others, support and collaboration may help you cope with job stress and feelings of burnout. If you have access to an employee assistance program (EAP), take advantage of the available services.
  • Assess your interests, skills and passions. An honest assessment can help you decide whether you should consider an alternative job, such as one that's less demanding or one that better matches your interests or core values.
  • Get some exercise. Regular physical activity, like walking or biking, can help you to better deal with stress. It can also help get your mind off work and focus on something else.
The bottom line? Keep an open mind as you consider the options. Don't let a demanding or unrewarding job undermine your health.

The Lancet
American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM)
British Medical Journal

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Medical Identity Theft

According to The Federal Trade Commission "A thief may use your name or health insurance numbers to see a doctor, get prescription drugs, file claims with your insurance provider, or get other care. If the thief’s health information is mixed with yours, your treatment, insurance and payment records, and credit report may be affected."

Identity Theft Resource Center reports the number of U.S. data breaches hit a record high of 783 in 2014 and since the start of the year, three major health insurers (Anthem, Premera, Carefirst) have been victims of major data breaches, with up to about 92 million records affected.

The ramifications of having your medical identity stolen can range from financial to medical. Not only do medical records usually contain payment and billing information, leaving credit card information exposed, but they also often contain sensitive data like Social Security Numbers and information that could enable a thief to obtain medical services under the victim’s identity. If the perpetrator’s medical information mixes with the victim’s, they could receive medication to which they is allergic, or their record may even contain the wrong blood type and other incorrect information.

Both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Affordable Care Act in 2010 have incentivized and required that health care providers digitize their health information. Now, most health information is held electronically, creating more targets for hackers.

The Fededral Trade Commission suggests: Read your medical and insurance statements regularly and completely. They can show warning signs of identity theft. Read the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statement or Medicare Summary Notice that your health plan sends after treatment. Check the name of the provider, the date of service, and the service provided. Do the claims paid match the care you received? If you see a mistake, contact your health plan and report the problem.
Other signs of medical identity theft include:
  • a bill for medical services you didn’t receive
  • a call from a debt collector about a medical debt you don’t owe
  • medical collection notices on your credit report that you don’t recognize
  • a notice from your health plan saying you reached your benefit limit
  • a denial of insurance because your medical records show a condition you don’t have

The Office of Inspector General - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers the following contact information:
  • Department Of Health & Human Services
    Office Of Inspector General Hotline 

    Report suspected Medicare fraud:
    Phone: 1-800-447-8477 (1-800-HHS-TIPS)
    TTY #: 1-800-377-4950
    Fax #: 1-800-223-8164
  • Medicare Call Center and Senior Medicare Patrols
    Report questionable charges to Medicare
    Phone: 1-800-633-4227 (1-800-MEDICARE)
    TTY #: 1-877-486-2048
    Online: External link
  • You can also contact  your local Senior Medicare Patrols who work locally to empower seniors to fight health care fraud and resolve errors.
    Phone: 1-877-808-2468
  • Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Hotline Report misuse of your personal information 
    Phone: 1-877-438-4338 (1-877-ID-THEFT)
    TTY #: 1-866-653-4261 
    Online: External link


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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Body Language: Hands

Recently there was a pretty big event a few people watched. We thought this would be a great time to talk about, Body Language

When you communicate, your brain automatically involves your hands to convey thoughts and emotions.

Using your non-dominant hand to make your point or putting your hands in your pocket can be signs of nervousness or lack of conviction. Submissive positions such as turning the palms upward implies pleading or begging, while finger pointing is dominating as in making a command ("Do it now!").

When the fingers are pressed together forming a steepled shape, pointing upwards, the person may be thinking. This may also be done with just index fingers pressed together and other fingers interlinked ('the church'), with all finger-tips touching ('the cage') or with fingers interlinked.

Steepling can indicate confidence and a sense of superiority over others. It can say "I know something you don't know."

When the hands are pressed together more, the person is feeling more tension and may be hoping for something. The face may give more clues about what they are thinking and feeling. The steepled position forms a barrier against the other person and may be held lower when the person wants to connect more, such as when they are listening.

When we become uncomfortable we tend to cover our vulnerable areas and do what is called the "Fig Leaf" position with the hands together in the front of the body covering the mid section.

No matter how much you practice and prepare, nervousness can make you go back on auto pilot and go back to your normal behavior. However; practice DOES make perfect. You can train yourself to use the right body language if you are preparing for a big presentation or event. Keep checking out our blog for more information.

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Test Anxiety

You may have paid attention in class, taken detailed notes, and even attended extra study sessions, so you should do great on that big test coming up, right? When the test is presented, you may instead, blank out thinking about the answers, look at other students to see what they’re doing and assume that they’re having a much easier time, or feel jittery and even faint. If this sounds familiar to you, then you might be suffering from something called, test anxiety.

Test anxiety is a form of performance anxiety and can also exist when giving a presentation or any other activity that creates pressure to perform. Although a little nervousness is common while taking a test or exam, test anxiety can cause fear and distress that can actually decrease test performance and impair learning. 

Thankfully you can develop strategies to stave off the symptoms. Visualize yourself taking the test in a calm and relaxed state. Doing this over and over again can expose you to the cause of your anxiety in a safe environment and will desensitize your midbrain so it will no longer perceive danger.  Try thinking of the test as an opportunity to show what you know rather than highlight what you don’t know. Remember, the examiner wants you to pass. Ask yourself, How many tests have you taken previously? How many have you passed? Probably almost all of them.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to seek help. If you’re having a difficult time working through your anxiety on your own, don’t hesitate to see a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. Performance and test anxiety are highly treatable, and you can absolutely get better!

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