Whole You Spring 2020
Your healthy source for living well.
Welcome back to Whole You from Sunflower Health Plan. We hope you enjoyed our last issue. As always, you can use this newsletter as a way to stay updated on local events and your health plan benefits, and improve your well-being.
In this issue, learn about headache relief and how to care for your mental health. Read tips for making healthy breakfasts and organizing your home. We’ll also cover tips for getting the most value from your health plan. Learn about caring for yourself when you’re a caregiver. Then, test your movie knowledge with our emoji brain teaser.
In our next issue, expect more content for the whole you.
Do your headaches disrupt your day? It may be time to talk to a doctor. Try some of these prevention tips in the meantime.
- Drink water. Develop a routine. Drink at least eight 12-oz. glasses each day. Put reminders on your calendar or set your phone alarm. Keep a water bottle handy and bring it with you to meetings and on routine outings. Drinking enough water not only helps stop headaches but also combats fatigue, prevents muscle cramps and keeps skin hydrated and glowing.
- Rest up. Follow a schedule. Make sure you’re getting at least six to eight hours of sleep every night. This includes weekends! Establishing a sleeping pattern helps repair and replenish your body. This balance can limit headache pain.
- Tame triggers. Keep a journal or diary on your headaches to discover what could be causing them. When did the pain begin? What started it? How long did it last? What helped ease it? Of course, there are unavoidable triggers like pollen, changes in barometric pressure and humid weather. Take special care with what you can control, like food and household triggers.
- Exercise. Take up an activity. Trying walking, jogging or cycling. These activate your muscles and increase blood flow to lower your chances of a headache. Regular exercise also prevents heart disease, cancer and stroke.
- Cut caffeine. Caffeine is powerful. It can give you a boost of energy and increase alertness. But, it can also cause headaches. Limit your intake of coffee, tea and soda. Try sticking to one caffeinated drink a day. Or you can make your cup half-caf, half-decaf. It’s the same great taste but with half the caffeine!
Learning how to deal with overwhelming times is important. Here are some tips to help you manage your mental health.
- Have healthy habits. Too much stress can take a toll on your body. Develop healthy coping skills to protect yourself from harmful effects. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, organize your thoughts for a minute. Take a break from the stressor. Do something that relaxes you like going for a walk or talking to a friend.
- Respect your limits. You may feel the need to be available at all hours and to always say “yes.” Whether at home or work, try to keep a healthy balance. Set your own rules for taking breaks from your phone or computer. Let your mind recharge! This way you’ll find more stress-free time for yourself, your family and your favorite activities.
- Pick up on patterns. Everybody has stressful days, but it’s important to take note of what caused you to feel this way. Record what you felt and how you reacted during these times. Find the patterns that best help you to manage your feelings.
- Surround yourself with support. Build a strong support system. Knowing you have trusted family and friends to listen will help you feel more relaxed. Even a quick chat with someone who cares can be helpful.
- Find fitness. A great way to take your mind off things and melt stress away is physical activity. Whether it’s going for a run around the neighborhood, heading to the local gym or playing a favorite sport, exercise is a great way to help manage your mental health.
Visit https://app.mystrength.com/go/epc/kansas to sign up for a free account. You’ll need your Sunflower member ID number.
Kick your day off with a breakfast that’s high in protein. This will help keep your energy up and improve your body’s metabolism. It will also build and repair your muscles. Start using these foods in your breakfast and see how you feel:
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal is full of protein and fiber. You can prepare it many different ways. Plus, it will keep you full until lunch! Increase protein even more by using milk instead of water to make it. Sprinkle fresh fruit and your favorite nuts on top to add some crunch and extra health benefits. Want a savory breakfast? Use oatmeal for your base, add some cheese and dust with pepper or other spices. Top with cut-up veggies like tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. You can even toss in some turkey bacon or other lean meats to up the flavor and protein. The variations are endless!
- Eggs. Eggs are an affordable protein source. They give you important nutrients like vitamins B2, B12 and D, iron and zinc. Eating eggs may help maintain healthy skin, improve the immune system and increase brain and liver function. Top your bowl of savory oatmeal with a freshly cooked egg. Try making hard-boiled eggs the night before for a quick breakfast to grab on your way out the door. You can even make a frittata ahead of time. Don’t forget to sneak some veggies into your morning meal!
- Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt can help maintain muscle mass. It can also give new life to your hair and skin! Try creating your own peanut butter yogurt bowl. Start with yogurt as your base and add two tablespoons of natural peanut butter. Top off with chopped blueberries and bananas for fiber and potassium. Remember to choose plain yogurt to limit your added sugar.
- Quinoa. People tend to think quinoa is more of a lunch and dinner food, but you can also enjoy it for your morning meal. It’s a great source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E and fiber. It can reduce your risk of diabetes. It can also improve bone health. And, just like oatmeal, it’s a great base for either a sweet or savory protein-rich meal.
- Peanut Butter. This creamy spread is packed with protein. (It’s also full of healthy fat. Be sure to measure it out to keep calories in check!) Try peanut butter, strawberry and banana quesadillas. Spread one tablespoon of natural peanut butter across two whole-wheat tortillas. Place banana and strawberry slices on one tortilla and sprinkle with cinnamon. Top with the second tortilla and press gently to help them stick together. In a skillet on medium heat, add the quesadilla. Cook each side for three minutes or until golden brown.
Making Space for Yourself
The space you live in affects the way you feel. Spending your time in a messy area can cause stress that barely registers in your conscious mind.
Ready to renew your energy? Cut down on clutter with a few steps. Some of these ideas might seem strange. Give the methods a try and see how you feel!
Commit. Decide that you are going to tidy your space. If you want, tell someone close to you about your plans. It’s important to keep promises to yourself. Having a friend or family member to keep you accountable is helpful, too!
Imagine. What do you want your living space to look or feel like? Take some time to picture your home as a place you want to be. Write down a detailed account of your ideal living situation. This will move you closer to your goals.
Categorize. Tidy by category. Use this order: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items and sentimental items. Find every item in your home that fits in a certain category. Put them all in a pile.
Discard. Move through each item in the pile. Hold each item in your hands. Does it “spark joy?” If you don’t feel happy to have it, thank it for its service and let it go. You can donate it to a local clothing drive or Salvation Army store. This step is about sharpening your ability to know what you want in your life. Stop holding onto many objects that you don’t enjoy. It’s better to have fewer items that you really like and use.
Do you quote movies all the time? Are you the go-to person in your friend group for identifying the next must-watch film? If so, we’ve got some brain teasers for you. See if you can guess the movie based off the emoji combination. Good luck!
Answers: Back to the Future, Frozen, Inside Out, SpiderMan.
Are you a caregiver? Do these 5 things every day.
The care you give is priceless. You do chores, provide emotional support, coordinate medical care and help with finances. That’s a lot!
Helping someone in need is rewarding, yes. But it is hard work. The responsibility comes with stress. At times you may feel guilty or overwhelmed. Make sure to care for yourself every day, too. You may not feel you have time, but it’s important to make time. Caring for yourself is the first step in caring for others! Take these five actions every day:
- Follow a schedule. Having a daily schedule for the person you’re caring for will form routines. Routines allow you to leave some time to care for yourself. It may take some time to figure out what works best for everyone. Some people need a strict schedule to follow each week, while others prefer a simple list of items to do each day. This list might include medication reminders, social activities, doctor appointments and exercise.
- Take care of your body. How you treat your body has a major impact on how you experience the world. Exercise, healthy eating and regular, quality sleep are crucial. These affect your sense of well-being.
- Use your resources. Use services available to you through Sunflower Health Plan like our Caregiving Collaborations® program. You can also find support through your local Area Agency on Aging or other caregiving community.
- Have compassion for your experience. Learn what to expect while caring for someone. Depression is common. So is making mistakes. You may have to learn how to set boundaries and accept help from others. Know that you have options even when you feel stuck.
- Confide in someone. Find a friend who is going through a similar experience and talk on the phone. Sharing your feelings with someone can alleviate stress.
- Eldercare Locator 1.800.677.1116
- Caregiver Action Network (CAN)
- Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)
- Stroke 1-800-STROKES (787-6537)
- Brain Injury Association of America
- Serious Mental Illness 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
- U.S. Living Will Registry®
- MedlinePlus: End of Life Issues
- Dementia/Alzheimer’s 1-800-272-3900
- Family Caregiver Alliance 1-800-445-8106
- National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD)
Make Your Health Plan Work for You
Your health is one of the most important things you have. Take care of your mind and body by using all of the benefits your health plan has to offer.
Earn rewards. Motivate yourself to be healthy with our My Health Pays® rewards program. Reward dollars can be used at Walmart and for other household expenses like utilities or childcare services. Check out our video on the My Health Pays program here.
Check your vision. At the eye doctor you will get tests to rule out any eye problems. Be sure to know your family medical history. If you need help finding an eye doctor, ask your primary care provider (PCP).
Pay attention to your teeth. Regular visits to the dentist can keep your teeth healthy and white. They can also tell you about your overall health. Dentists recommend a regular dental exam and cleaning every six months.
Ask about vaccines. When you’re at the doctor’s office, ask about shots you need. By getting these, you protect yourself and those around you. Keep in mind that some shots need “boosters” to continue working.
Plan a wellness check. Don’t just visit your PCP when you have health problems. It’s important to have an annual checkup to stay ahead of any health issues. If you’ve been feeling more tired than usual or having difficulty sleeping, your doctor can help find the cause.