Health e-News 
 December 2011

Ask the Expert   

 Beating Holiday Stress
Advice from Affinity EAP

Stressed? Of course you are --it's the holidays. Shopping, party schedules, Aunt Mildred's insults -- these are just a few of the reasons we dread the joy of the season. How do we keep ourselves from stretching our mental health too thin? Here are some uncommon tips from your friendly Affinity EAP counselors.


Take off work.

This time of year, we could all use extra hours in the day. Claim yours by taking vacation time off from work to do your shopping, baking, or errands. Trying to cram everything into limited after-hours adds stress on top of an already stressful to-do list.


Remember why we celebrate.

If you're buried beneath a pile of sale ads, it's easy to think Christmas is all about shopping. Take an emotional break from consumerism by focusing your attention on something meaningful--inspirational literature, a favorite family photo album, or a classic holiday DVD.


Make your prep a party.

Why not combine holiday preparations with socializing? Invite friends or neighbors over for a gift wrapping or baking party.


Ask for help.

Here's a novel idea: you don't have to do it all yourself. Hosting this year? Delegate cleaning duties to your spouse and kids. Ask family members to bring a side dish. Throw everyone a towel for drying dishes after dinner. Cooperation can be part of the fun.


Recruit a child wrangler.

Big parties often mean lots of kids--which means lots of noise and energy underfoot. Designate one adult or teenager to organize games for the kiddos in a separate space. This allows the kids to be kids while the adults can enjoy some grown-up social time.


Forgive and move on.

Family gatherings can be stressful. Grudges, hurt feelings, and strained relationships are as common around the table as pumpkin pie. This holiday season, before you set the table or load the trunk with gifts, make a decision to forgive someone--even if they don't deserve it. You'll be amazed at how it lightens your own load.


For more tips on beating holiday stress, click here.


Try This!
Workplace Wellness Tip

 Deck the Halls    


Want to add a little light-hearted spirit in your workplace? Host a holiday decorating contest. Desks, doors, cubicles --whatever your workstations are made of, the person or team with the best decorating job wins. Consider dividing the votes into categories: most colorful, most creative, funniest, classiest, etc. Winners get a free sub for lunch or, if you can swing it, an extra hour off for holiday shopping.

With the Experts 



The Top 5 Updates in
Labor and Employment Compliance

Presented by Robert Simandl, Attorney with Simandl & Prentice, S.C.

Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2011

7:30 - 9:30 a.m.

Bridgewood Resort and Conference Center
1000 Cameron Way, Neenah


A frequent and requested speaker at Breakfast with the Experts, attorney Robert Simandl, of Simandl & Prentice, S.C., will present on "what's new" in labor and employment law. Mr. Simandl will discuss the following hot topics as well as address your questions in an extended Q&A session.

1. The changes adopted by the NLRB in case handling, deferral of matters to arbitration and how to deal with Unfair Labor Practices.
2. ADA: the importance of return to work programs in the accommodation analysis.

3. Social media policies: when is enough enough?

4. Violent and threatening employees: the tools of employers in safeguarding the workplace.

To register for this free seminar, contact Tammy Davis at (920) 628-1532 or

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Quick Links

This time of year, you have plenty on your plate. So we're not going to fill it up with more business as usual. In this holiday edition of Health e-News, we're keeping it light -- light on stress, guilt, and all those holiday calories!

Check out the articles below for some fun info that's helpful, yet a little on the fluffier side -- kind of like Grandma's pistachio cool whip salad, which you just can't get enough of on the holidays.

Pass it on! This edition contains several articles of interest to employees and their families. Their version of this newsletter is available at:  

Happy Holidays!
Lisa Kogan-Praska
Director, Employer Solutions and Urgent Care

Like a Kid Again  


Exercise over the holidays? It can be done! All you need is a little childlike spirit. Become a kid again with these fun cardio activities that burn calories and work your muscles--all while having tons of family fun.

Ice skating: Strap on the skates for some healthy figure-8's. Ice skating burns approximately 500 calories per hour.

Snow shoeing: Take the family on a winter nature walk! Trekking through the snow burns 400 or more calories an hour.


Cross-country skiing: This excellent sport works muscles you didn't even know you had, burning more than 400 calories in an hour.


Downhill skiing: Feel the exhilaration of brisk air in your lungs while you zoom downhill to the tune of 300 calories per hour.

Build a snowman or snow fort: Aw, come on, who doesn't love a snowman? This fun family activity can be good for your mental and physical health. Rolling and trudging through snow in the yard burns 285 calories an hour.

Sledding: Climbing uphill is great exercise -- burning nearly 400 calories an hour -- all for the bonus reward of whizzing back down with happy kids shrieking in your ear.


All calculations are based on a 150-pound person.


ShovelDitch the Guilt 


Have you finished wrapping? Mailed out those Christmas cards? Hand-sewn your daughter's angel costume for the church pageant? And what about those 10,000 sparkling lights on the front yard trees? Got those hung yet?


'Tis the season for crazy to-do lists -- and drowning beneath the guilt of not keeping up. What can we do to soften our guilt-o-meter this time of year? Start by asking yourself three basic questions.


Does this really matter?
What tasks need to get done, and which ones can be erased? Johnny can't miss his fifth grade band concert, but the neighborhood cookie exchange might do without your gingerbread men this year.


What is motivating me?
Consider the possible motives behind your task. Are you doing it because:

  1. It's required?
  2. You enjoy it?
  3. You're worried about appearances?
  4. Other people are pressuring you to do it?
  5. You've always done it?

Reasons 1 and 2 are legitimate. Reasons 3, 4 and 5 -- forget about it. Drop any tasks from your calendar that are placed there primarily by unhealthy motives.


Are there other ways to complete this task?

Problem: Shopping woes.
Stress-saver: Buy online in your pajamas. Free shipping deals abound this time of year.

Even better: Gift cards are one-size-fits-all.


Problem: Tired of tasting envelope glue.

Stress-saver: Some online card companies will mail your Christmas cards for you. Supply them with addresses, and consider it done.

Even better: Send Easter cards instead.


Problem: Too much cooking for one tiny kitchen.

Stress-saver: Order out. Local grocery store delis and restaurants are happy to take the brunt of your menu chores.

Even better: Start a new tradition. Pizza for Christmas--kids love it.


You get the picture. Give yourself permission to take shortcuts.


What will happen if this does not get done?

Amazingly, the world will not stop spinning if you neglect to bake Great-Grandma's famous fruitcake. If you can cut down your to-do list without jeopardizing safety, family harmony, or your bank account--then by all means, skip the task AND the guilt!


LightsLight Safety Tips 

Since our theme this month is keeping it light, let's talk real lights -- Christmas lights, that is! Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind when displaying your shining glory this season.


1. Outdoor vs. indoor: If you're hanging lights outside, make sure they are designed for outdoor use. Packages will usually indicate whether or not a set of lights or extension cord is appropriate for outside elements.


2. Check for damage: Frayed cords, blown bulbs, loose connections, cracked sockets and other damaged parts should be replaced every year. Make sure the lights are unplugged before fixing bulbs or wires.


3. Don't overload: No more than three standard size sets of lights should be used per one extension cord. And only one extension cord should be used per outlet. Keep cords away from children, animals and Christmas tree water.


4. Climb smart: Inspect your ladder to make sure it's in good shape, and have somebody else stand below to help while you string lights on high places. Be careful of icy patches and generally be aware of hazards in your surroundings.


5. Hands off: Do not allow children to touch bulbs. Some Christmas lights can grow hot enough to burn.


6. Enjoy! When you follow some basic safety rules, holiday lights can be great fun for your household and passersby.


ForkDrop the Fork 


Cookies, candy, cake and pie. Appetizers, eggnog, cheese logs, oh my! It seems the holiday season is centered on food, food, food. Here's a trick for making your celebration a little lighter on the fat and calories. Simply plan around an activity, rather than a meal.


Kick up your heels. Company parties are an ideal setting for a light dinner and dancing. Whether it's jive, limbo, hip-hop or country line grooving, getting down on the dance floor can whittle away the calories you consumed in no time.


Make war. Build two snow forts and engage all the family in a heated game of snowball tag. Men vs. women, kids vs. adults, in-laws vs. natives -- have fun with it! Winners earn bragging rights and first dibs at opening their presents.


Get your act together. Act 1 and 2, that is. Cast willing family members to take part in a short family play, and perform your masterpiece for a supportive audience (i.e., Grandma). Use costumes and props from around the house to reenact a classic holiday scene, from the manger drama to that bit in A Christmas Story where Ralphie gets soap poisoning.


Bring your A game. Host a board game tournament. In each room of the house, set up a familiar board game. Teams get 10 minutes to claim winning status before moving on to the next table. This is a fun activity for mixed crowds involving families, co-workers or friends.


Serve the love. Here's one exception to the non-food focus -- a soup kitchen. This time of year, many people in our own community go hungry, and several local organizations host free holiday dinners. Instead of congregating around bowls of chip and dips, why not volunteer as a family or department, serving up a square meal for people in need. You just might find your own holiday table takes on new meaning.

Lighter Cooking 

Here's a lighter take on a holiday staple! 

Garlic Roasted Mashed Potatoes


Yukon Gold potatoes give this dish extra flavor without added fat.


1 whole garlic head

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 pound peeled Yukon Gold or red potatoes, quartered

3 cups water

cup 1% milk

teaspoon salt

teaspoon pepper


Heat oven to 375.


Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate cloves). Rub oil over garlic head; wrap in foil. Bake at 375 for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Set aside. Discard skins.


Place potatoes in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 15 minutes or until very tender. Drain. Heat milk in pan over medium heat until hot (do not boil). Add potatoes, salt, and pepper, and beat at medium speed of a mixer until potato mixture is smooth. Add garlic pulp, and stir well.


Source: Cooking Light

HandsShine Your Light 
Regardless of your beliefs, the holidays are a spiritual time of cheer and goodwill. Find opportunities to come together as co-workers and neighbors, counting blessings from throughout the year and helping others who are less fortunate.

Some ideas:
Bring a meal to an elderly neighbor. Deliver Christmas gifts to a family whose mom or dad is stationed overseas. Invite the soccer team over for cocoa and a movie. We can all step out of our comfort zones to spread love and kindness this holiday season.


Looking for ways to give back? The Volunteer Center of East Central Wisconsin compiles a full list of holiday volunteer opportunities throughout our area. To find the right fit for you, click here.

Year round, Affinity's hospitals welcome new volunteers. For more information or to apply, click here.


Your Affinity Occupational Health Sales Team 
Holly Tomlin, coordinator of account management for Affinity Occupational Health, enjoys building relationships with clients while finding creative solutions for their needs.  Holly's background includes 15 years of experience in the health care field, with a strong background in employee assistance programs and occupational health. 

Riley McDermid, employer health and wellness consultant, is passionate about identifying opportunities for local businesses to enhance their occupational health programs.  In addition to her role in new business development for Affinity Occupational Health, Riley is a certified tobacco cessation specialist.

Tammy Davis, customer account liaison for Affinity Occupational Health, provides immediate response to customer service requests.  She works closely with Holly and Riley to coordinate educational programs and provide clients with valuable services information.  Tammy has 14 years of experience in marketing, sales and customer service.

To contact Holly, Riley or Tammy, call the Affinity Occupational Health office located in Menasha, at 1-800-541-0351, or e-mail, or