Health e-News
June 2014
How a Happy Workforce Equals a Healthy Workforce
Welcome Shelly Rutz Maxwell
Healthier Picnics
Make Time for Vacation
The Power of Laughter in the Workplace
Men, Is It Time to See Your Doctor?
Quick Links

 

Do you have fun at work? Studies have shown that happy employees are healthier employees, and for that reason, this edition of Health e-News is all about making work fun! 

 

Read about the psychology of a happy workplace. Discover how laughter makes a difference in the work day. And find out why you should take a vacation! Plus much more.

 

From all of us at Affinity Occupational Health, we wish you and your families a fun and relaxing summer!   

 

To your good health,   

Linda Hale-Graves

Director, Wellness and Employer Solutions

Affinity Health System

How a Happy Workforce Equals a Healthy Workforce
By Shelly Rutz Maxwell, Affinity EAP counselor
 
Creating and maintaining a healthy workforce requires numerous factors. First, mental wellness in the workplace is a two-way street between employee and employer. Both play a role in promoting mental and physical wellness for the individuals and the organization. We all know that healthier employees are happier employees. But what about the other way around? Why should we pay attention to mental wellness?

Research repeatedly demonstrates a high correlation between mental wellness, happiness and success. Happier employees tend to be more productive and efficient; they also get sick less often. Studies in Europe show that employees suffering from stress are more likely to report depression and other complaints. In addition, studies found that overly stressed individuals had longer recovery times from illness (and missed days from work) due to exhaustion and fatigue.

What does it mean to be a happy employee? 
Research has shown that we don't need the perks of working in Silicone Valley to be happy employees. While perks create loyalty to the organization and increase morale, perks can't make up for toxic attitudes or environments. In fact, job satisfaction tends to be rated higher over perks.

We also don't need a stress-free life to be happy. Moderate levels of stress help us feel energized, alert and on-task while too little stress can cause boredom and low motivation. On the other hand, high levels of stress cause anxiety and difficulty problem solving, and they also paralyze our thinking.

The field of Positive Psychology examines the positive, adaptive, creative and emotionally fulfilling aspects of human behavior. Current research in this field focuses on:
  • self-efficacy (the ability to accomplish a task)
  • personal effectiveness (being able to plan and implement the means for accomplishment)
  • flow (when abilities are well matched to the demands at hand)
  • flourishing (goodness, generativity, growth and resilience) 
  • mindfulness (focus on immediate experience). 
Some of the discoveries from Positive Psychology include that someone is more likely to experience depression when they doubt or don't have the ability to accomplish a task/goal despite their personal effort (low self-efficacy). They have also found that high self-efficacy is associated with a healthy immune system, aids in stress management, decreases pain and creates positive change (such as overcoming addictions and maintaining a healthy lifestyle). Flow is found to be inherently rewarding and assists with achieving goals and improving skills. Flow can occur anywhere and anytime you experience intense concentration, loss of self-awareness, a feeling of being perfectly challenged (neither bored nor overwhelmed), and a sense that "time is flying."
 
Can you remember an extended amount of time that you felt focused, stimulated and engaged in what you do? How did that impact others around you? Did you feel satisfied and happy? How did this contribute to your overall well-being?

On the other hand, can you recall an extended period of time when you felt uptight, nervous, frustrated or stressed? How did that affect your life/relationships at home and at work? Were you productive? Were you happy? How did this contribute to your overall well-being?

The Employee Assistance Program is a great place to start if you are struggling with stress, depression, family or work conflict. The EAP is also a great source if you are looking to improve on your job satisfaction and mental well-being. Counselors can meet with you one-on-one or with family members affected by your struggles.

As an organization, we impact each other. Our attitudes defy gravity. They trickle up, trickle down and across organizational charts. When we as individuals begin to flourish through flow, high self efficacy and effectiveness, so does our team, so does our department, and so does the entire organization. 
 
For more information on Positive Psychology presented by one of its founders, Dr. Martin Seligman, watch www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0LbwEVnfJA.

Welcome Shelly Rutz Maxwell, Affinity EAP Counselor 

 

The Affinity Employee Assistance Program is pleased to welcome Shelly Rutz Maxwell, LCSW, MSW, to our counselor team. Shelly earned her master's degree from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. She previously worked at the UW Oshkosh Counseling Center.

 

Shelly draws on a wide array of work experiences to provide a holistic approach to her clients. She works to create a safe atmosphere to identify the issues creating difficulty and to figure out the best response. Shelly's specialties include mental health, family and relationship issues, grief, stress management, identity development, and life transitions.

If your employer offers the benefit of Affinity's EAP, we welcome you to make an appointment with Shelly by calling the EAP at 1-800-894-9327. 

Healthy Picnic Choices
By Heidi Hayes, wellness account specialist

Company picnics, family picnics, backyard barbecues with the neighbors -- these are all great reasons to fire up the grill and prepare some healthy cuisine. Impress your hungry friends, family or co-workers with these tasty ideas. 
 
Better Burgers
If you are choosing to include traditional picnic items on your menu, try chicken or turkey brats or burgers from the local butcher shop or meat market as opposed to the conventional fare. Grilled chicken and grilled vegetables are also a great alternative to higher calorie meat products. For the buns and bread, focus on the 100 percent whole grain variety. You can also try a whole wheat English muffin or the buns marketed as 100 percent whole grain sandwich thins.

Crunchy Sides
Chips are staples of most cookouts or picnics, but they are not always a healthy choice. If you're craving something salty and crunchy, try making your own kale chips instead. Or make your own taco chips by using authentic corn tortillas, misting with olive oil on both sides, sprinkling with a little sea salt and baking at 375 for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. By doing it this way, you can control the amount of sodium and ingredients in the tortilla chips. Try using garlic and onion in place of the salt for a different option.  
 
Yes, You Can Still Eat Potato Salad
Love potato salad? Some simple modifications can make it healthier without sacrificing flavor. Sneak extra fiber into the salad by keeping the skins on your potatoes. Try adding white wine vinegar, mustard and a little olive oil in lieu of regular mayonnaise. Plain Greek yogurt is also a wonderful substitute for high calorie mayo and sour cream used in coleslaw; try adding a little apple cider vinaigrette to give it the right flavor. See our recipe below!
 
Simple Desserts
Desserts are a picnic highlight, especially fresh berry pies; however, they're usually a bit high in calories. Instead, create a healthier version of a slice of pie by crumbling two graham crackers, pilling on the berries, and topping with low-fat Greek yogurt for a refreshing treat. 
 
Try These Healthy Picnic Recipes
Need some healthy cooking inspiration? Here are a few recipes to help mix things up.

Spicy Fish Kebabs 
Makes: 6 servings 
Prep: 20 minutes 
Grill: 10 minutes
 
Ingredients 
1 1/2 pounds halibut  
3/4 cup packaged peeled baby carrots 
2 small zucchini or yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices 
1 cup fresh sugar snap peas, trimmed 
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
3 tablespoons olive oil 
1/4 cup orange juice 
1 cup quick-cooking couscous 
1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel 
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
 
Directions 
1. Rinse fish and pat dry. Cut into 1-inch cubes. Set aside. 
2. In a covered medium saucepan, cook carrots in a small amount of boiling water for 1 minute; add squash and cook for 1 minute more. Drain. 
3. On 6 skewers, alternately thread fish cubes, squash, carrots, and sugar snap peas, leaving a 1/4-inch space between pieces. Set kebabs aside. 
4. In a small bowl, stir together cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over low heat. Add spice mixture; heat and stir for 1 minute. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture to a small bowl and whisk in orange juice. 
5. Stir couscous into remaining mixture in the saucepan. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add orange peel and broth. Bring to a boil; cover and remove from heat. Let stand. 
6. Brush orange juice mixture on the kebabs. Place on a greased rack directly over medium coals. Grill, uncovered, about 10 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork, turning and brushing with remaining orange juice mixture halfway through grilling. Serve with couscous. 
 
Nutrition facts per serving: 325 calories, 29g protein, 29g carbohydrate, 10g fat (1g saturated), 3g fiber
 
Light and Fresh Potato Salad  
Dressing: 
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar 
2 tablespoons canola oil 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
 
Salad: 
5 cups cubed red potato (about 2 pounds) 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 cup chopped peeled cucumber 
3/4 cup sliced grape or cherry tomatoes 
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper 
1/2 cup chopped orange bell pepper 
1/4 cup chopped green onions 
1 (2 1/4-ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained

Directions  
1. To prepare dressing, combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. 
2. To prepare salad, place potato and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Cover with water to 2 inches above potato; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until tender; drain. 
3. Add potato to dressing in bowl, tossing gently to coat; let stand 15 minutes. Stir in cucumber and remaining ingredients; toss well. Cover and chill.

Nutrition facts per serving: 90 calories, 1.8g protein, 14.9g carbohydrate, 2.8g fat , 2g fiber 
Make Time for Vacation

Remember holiday vacations? Many employees struggle to take time off. This isn't healthy for anybody, says Affinity EAP counselor Kadihjia Kelly.

"People have this thought that if they leave for a couple days, they'll just come back to more work," Kadihjia says. Consequently, they skip vacation time, forge ahead on the job, and eventually become burnt out and less productive. This harms employees and the company they work for.
 
Taking your earned vacation time makes a huge impact on personal well-being and family ties, especially for people who are easily consumed by work. "If we do not take time off, we miss those moments with our families. It's really necessary to take time off once in a while so you're 100 percent present in those relationships," Kadihjia says.
 
In order to reap the benefits of vacation, Kadihjia advises people to turn off work--literally. No cell phones, no e-mail. "Yes, it might create some anxiety to not know what's going on at work. That's why it's key that folks put things in place beforehand so they'll be better able to turn off," she says. "Prep better for the vacation, and you'll be able to enjoy it." 
The Power of Laughter in the Workplace

Got stress? A little laughter goes a long way toward relieving tension and boosting creative energy. Here are some ways to infuse kicks and giggles into the workplace.

Laughing lunch. Play a slapstick comedy DVD over a couple lunch hours. Book a conference room or other common area where you and your co-workers can congregate, chuckle, and eat popcorn.

She said what? Keep a running quote board of funny comments co-workers make. Quips that made sense in context - "Has anybody seen my eyeball?" - can be fodder for silliness for weeks to come.

Daily jest. Reserve a small corner of your company intranet or bulletin board for daily jokes, funny quotes or short humorous stories. This might even motivate co-workers to check communication boards regularly.

Jump start with jokes. Start each meeting with a joke or funny story. If blood pressures rise during the meeting, try ending with one, too. 
Men, Is It Time to See Your Doctor?
 
June is Men's Health Month! In most families, health care decisions fall to the woman of the household. Moms and wives are often the ones to schedule check-ups for the kids and stock the cupboard with vitamins. It can sometimes become easy for men to neglect their own health.

This month, in honor of men's health awareness and Father's Day, Affinity Occupational Health wants to remind men to get regular wellness checks. Find a doctor you trust to discuss your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and other basic health factors. Talk with your doctor about any health concerns you may have--especially ways to prevent health problems in the future.

Don't have a trusted primary care provider? Affinity's connection specialist, Sarah Stern, is available to talk with patients one-on-one to connect them with the right provider for their needs. Sarah can also come on-site to your workplace to meet with employees at their convenience.

To connect with Sarah, contact Tammy Davis at (920) 628-1532 or Cindy Budiac at (920) 628-1533.
 
Your Affinity Occupational Health Sales Team 
 
Holly Tomlin, manager of wellness and employer solutions 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. As a certified massage therapist, Holly has a special interest in educating others on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, including wellness and prevention initiatives. 


Tammy Davis, account manager for Affinity Occupational Health, provides corporate clients with valuable information regarding services offered through Affinity Occupational Health. She works closely with clients to determine their specific needs for health and wellness services. Tammy has a bachelor's degree in business administration from UW Oshkosh and over 20 years of experience in marketing, sales, and customer service. 

 

Cindy Budiac
, account manager for Affinity Occupational Health, is available to help clients determine the right services and programs for their needs. Cindy has more than 15 years of experience in clinical health care, sales and business development. As our newest account manager, Cindy looks forward to meeting you and partnering on all your occupational health needs. 

To contact Holly, Tammy or Cindy, call the Affinity Occupational Health office located in Menasha, at 1-800-541-0351, or e-mail htomlin@affinityhealth.orgtadavis@affinityhealth.org, or cbudiac@affinityhealth.org.