Monday, 19 June 2017 16:05

How Coloring Can Reduce Stress

Many women find themselves struggling with stress, anxiety, and depression for a variety of reasons ranging from hormone fluctuations to major (and minor) life events. While there are many ways to reduce stress, some still find it difficult to overcome these feelings, which leaves them searching for alternatives.

One new phenomenon that has been reported about from major news outlets like CNN and CBS News is adult coloring. The hobby that was once reserved for children, as a way to keep them occupied or calm, has reached a new demographic recently and has turned into an international trend. Adults are applying the same reasoning to themselves and are turning to adult coloring books as a way to distract them from the daily pressures of life. 

woman coloring to relieve stress

There are a number of benefits that accompany adult coloring, including:

  1. Brain relaxation. Coloring and other activities that are hands-on provide an opportunity for your mind to calm down, since there is no active concentration needed – aside from trying to color within the lines!
  2. Less stress and anxiety. Yes, coloring has the potential to reduce stress levels! This is due to stimulation of the creative parts of the brain during coloring, while also calming the amygdala, which is responsible for fear and stress responses in the brain.
  3. The ability to unplug. When you are coloring, you are also removing the distractions of technology that invade most every aspect of life. This gives you the chance to promote creativity in the brain as opposed to focusing on consumption of information only.
  4. Everyone can do it. You don’t need to be Picasso or Michelangelo in order to color, nor do you need to be creative – anyone can pick up a coloring book and reap the same benefits.
  5. It’s a portable hobby. Unlike some hobbies, coloring books are easy to grab and carry with you wherever you go. Whether you are waiting at the doctor’s office or sitting on a flight, your handy stress reducing coloring book can go with you!

The best part is that there is an extremely wide selection of coloring books that are tailored for adults, and are not the average kids’ coloring book. They offer a higher quality of paper, a variety of themes, patterns, and level of difficulty – designs ranging from easy to intricate. Whatever you are a fan of, we promise that there is an adult coloring book that you will enjoy!

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to take the place of the doctor-patient relationship and any email is not appropriate for emergency care. To schedule an appointment, please call your doctor's primary office, listed on our Locations page. In case of emergency, we are available 24 hours a day.

Monday, 05 June 2017 13:56

Benefits of a Morning Workout Routine

Many people have a love/hate relationship when it comes to working out, but especially when it involves waking up early. The snooze button can be very enticing, but there are benefits to your health and your schedule when starting your day off with a workout. Here are just a few:

  1. Boost your metabolism. Your body continues to burn calories after you finish working out, which makes a morning exercise routine perfect. Wake up, work out, get your metabolism pumping and then eat. When you eat after working out, your body uses those calories to replenish itself so that it can meet your higher metabolic needs, even later in the day! 

  2. Develop consistency. Evening or mid-day workout routines may seem ideal, especially when that alarm is blaring, but they also come with a risk of missing your workout. Rising early to exercise ensures that you are able to fit in a workout, without the interruptions of daily life or unexpected items that may pop up.

  3. Increase your mental and physical energy. Exercise provides a tremendous source of energy, which is something most people could use to start the day off right. More specifically, morning workout routines have also been shown to improve mental abilities and focus throughout the rest of the day. You may just be able to replace that cup of coffee with a morning workout!

  4. Strengthen your self-discipline. Everyone can probably agree that waking up early to work out requires personal discipline, and a large amount of it. As with any habit, a morning exercise routine will help develop and strengthen your self-discipline, and will get easier over time.

  5. Improve your sleep. Say goodbye to tossing and turning! A restless body normally results in a restless night’s sleep as well. When you wake up early and begin your day with exercise, your body will experience a healthy fatigue and will be ready to sleep at the end of the day. 
    morning exercise

In addition to these benefits, the discipline that you develop by waking early to exercise will most likely carry over into other areas of your life. Perhaps once you see the results from your hard work, you will decide to eat healthier as well, for example. One thing is for certain, though…with time and consistency, your morning workout will become a habit that improves your physical and mental health!

Remember…before making any changes to your diet or fitness, always consult your physician.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to take the place of the doctor-patient relationship and any email is not appropriate for emergency care. To schedule an appointment, please call your doctor's primary office, listed on our Locations page. In case of emergency, we are available 24 hours a day.

Friday, 05 May 2017 14:47

Simple Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Many women are overwhelmed by the prospect of losing weight or managing a healthy weight. With new diets surfacing daily, and a constant barrage of unrealistic images of “healthy” women, it can be daunting to even know where to begin.

Here are some practical, simple changes you can make to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle:

  1. First and foremost, do not give up! Remember: taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle may not be easy, but it WILL be worth it. 
    healthy weight loss tips
  2. Take small steps. Make small and manageable changes first, such as drinking water and eating breakfast. Trying to change everything at once may only lead to frustration and feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Snack mindfully. Between meals, choose healthy alternatives when snacking. Nuts, fruits, and seeds will satisfy hunger, help keep energy levels up, and won’t make you “crash” like sugary or fattening treats will.
  4. Eat enough food. Your body uses food as fuel, so make sure not to restrict caloric intake more than needed. A great way to determine how many calories you need is by using a calorie calculator, like this one.
  5. Know your portions. One of the first and most important steps is to understand what a portion size of food is and to only eat that amount. Many people do not know what a correct food portion is, which leads to overeating.
  6. Develop a supportive network. A great way to ease into a healthier lifestyle is by surrounding yourself with friends or family who have the same health goals. Join a gym together or even host a healthy potluck dinner so you can encourage one another.
  7. Stay positive. There is truth behind the idea that positivity goes a long way, so make sure you stray away from negative thoughts about your body in general. You are absolutely allowed to love your body while also working to become healthier.
  8. Remain realistic. Simple changes do not mean they will be easy, necessarily. While losing weight can be simple in theory, by changing eating habits and exercising, that does not mean the process will be easy for everyone. Just remember…improving your health is worth it!

These are just a few simple tips on ways you can begin to live a healthier lifestyle. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and while these tips may work for one person, you still need to find what works best for your lifestyle and body. Before making any changes to your diet or fitness, always consult your physician.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to take the place of the doctor-patient relationship and any email is not appropriate for emergency care. To schedule an appointment, please call your doctor's primary office, listed on our Locations page. In case of emergency, we are available 24 hours a day.

Monday, 10 April 2017 13:41

Postpartum Depression or Normal New Mom Stress?

The baby blues, or postpartum blues, are common and normal after childbirth. While postpartum depression is also common, it is more intense, and can interfere with a new mom’s ability to even perform daily tasks. So, how can you tell the difference between postpartum depression and the baby blues?

New motherhood is understandably scary and overwhelming for most women, but when these feelings take over and become more dominant than those related to general well-being, it is time to call your doctor. 

postpartum depression Chattanooga

If you are unsure whether your feelings are “normal” baby blues or are related to postpartum depression, here are a few ways to differentiate:

Postpartum Blues

  • - Usually occurs 2-3 days after childbirth
  • - Feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious and upset
  • - Possible anger towards partner, new baby, or other children
  • - Crying for no evident reason
  • - Problems sleeping, eating or making decisions
  • - Questioning ability to care for a baby
  • - Temporary aches and pains from childbirth and/or feeding
  • - General fatigue due to interrupted sleep and late night feedings
  • - Hesitancy and worry associated with letting others care for your baby

Postpartum Depression

  • - Commonly begins 1-3 weeks after childbirth, but can occur up to 1 year after
  • - Continuous feelings of intense anxiety, sadness or despair
  • - Inability to perform daily tasks
  • - Feeling regretful about becoming a mother
  • - Thoughts of harming yourself
  • - Intrusive, continuous thoughts about your baby being harmed, affecting your ability to care for your baby
  • - Lack of appetite or overeating, despite being full
  • - Lack of motivation or desire to connect with others, while also isolating yourself from loved ones
  • - Deep fatigue, which is not alleviated by resting
  • - Continuous thoughts of never feeling better again
  • - When any of these uncomfortable or vulnerable feelings last longer than 2-3 weeks, and particularly if they interfere with your ability to meet your or your baby’s basic needs

New motherhood is challenging for every woman, but that does not mean it should cause consistent misery and distress. If you are struggling to determine whether your postpartum feelings are “normal” or possibly associated with postpartum depression, contact your physician immediately. Help is waiting, and the physicians at WISH will provide assistance and direction specific to your needs.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to take the place of the doctor-patient relationship and any email is not appropriate for emergency care. To schedule an appointment, please call your doctor's primary office, listed on our Locations page. In case of emergency, we are available 24 hours a day.

Monday, 13 March 2017 15:48

Quit Smoking During Pregnancy – For Mom & Baby

By now, everyone is aware of the dangers of smoking, and the long-term effects it can have on your body and health. But did you know that smoking is the leading cause of death in women? Quitting smoking is extremely important for your own personal health, and even more important if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

While quitting smoking may seem like a daunting road, here are a few things to keep in mind which will help motivate you before and during the process:

Remember: you are quitting for two, not just for you. When you quit smoking before or during pregnancy, you are increasing your baby’s chances of having a healthy life. This is one of the most important steps you can take for you and your baby’s health.

Plan now for a healthy pregnancy. If you plan to become pregnant, put down the pack. Women who smoke have more difficulty becoming pregnant; women who become pregnant and continue to smoke are increasing their chances of serious complications during pregnancy. These complications can include miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. 

quit smoking

Consider the benefits for your baby. When you quit smoking, you are benefiting your baby in a number of ways, including: decreasing chances of premature birth; decreasing chances of serious birth defects, like cleft lip or cleft palate; increasing likelihood of healthy birth weight and growth rate; and increasing likelihood of normal brain development before birth and through early childhood.

Cut the chemicals out. Smoke from cigarettes contains over 4,000 chemicals, which means that you and your baby are dually harmed if you continue to smoke during pregnancy. Lead, butane, cyanide, formaldehyde, ammonia, and carbon monoxide are just a handful of the chemicals that will hurt you and your baby’s health & development.

Enjoy a healthy birth day. When you quit smoking, you increase the chances of having a safe delivery, for you and your baby. Smoking during pregnancy may cause your baby to be underweight, have more serious health issues, and may also cause early labor. Babies who are underweight experience even more stress during labor, which could result in a longer hospital stay.

Keep up the good work. Once you welcome your bundle of joy into the world, it is just as important to maintain a smoke-free lifestyle and home for you and your baby. The chances of a losing a baby to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is 2-3 times more likely if you smoke during or after pregnancy, so set smoke-free rules now to protect your baby from secondhand smoke.

When you quit smoking before pregnancy, you are giving your baby a healthier start to life, and increasing their chances of having a healthier life as well. Typically, babies and children who aren’t exposed to smoke tend to have fewer colds, ear infections, coughs, and less severe/frequent asthma (if they do have asthma). Additionally, older children who aren’t exposed to secondhand smoke tend to miss fewer days of school, due to illness or asthma attacks, and are less likely to become smokers as adults.

The bottom line is: quit while you’re ahead! By planning preconception care in advance, you can give you and your baby the best chance at a healthy, happy pregnancy and life.

For more tips on how to have a healthier pregnancy, contact Women's Institute for Specialized Health and schedule your appointment with one of our experienced gynecologists in Chattanooga. 

Monday, 13 February 2017 15:44

Lifestyle Changes for Healthier Blood Pressure

Almost one third of adults in the U.S. have elevated blood pressure, making it a common health issue today. Even though you may feel no symptoms from high blood pressure, it does increase your risk for serious conditions like heart attacks and strokes.

blood pressure for women

In addition to following your physician’s directions to reduce elevated blood pressure, WISH doctors in Chattanooga suggest a few simple lifestyle changes in order to improve or maintain your blood pressure:

  1. Watch your weight. Excess weight can play a major role in high blood pressure. Your doctor can help you determine whether or not your body mass index (BMI) is considered healthy for your height and weight.
  2. Watch what you eat. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is an eating plan that reduces your intake of saturated fats, but increases your intake of low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables.
  3. Get physical. Make sure to include at least 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity in your day. Vigorous activities include running, jogging, swimming, bicycling, and even jumping rope.
  4. Cut back on salt. In addition to changing what you eat, it is important to watch your daily sodium intake. The foods you consume may already have more salt than you are aware of, so it may be beneficial to put the salt shaker away when you eat.
  5. Drink less alcohol. Make sure that when you consume alcoholic beverages, you drink no more than 2 a day.

Here are some additional common causes of high blood pressure, which you can reduce and/or avoid:

- Caffeine
            - Cigarettes and nicotine
            - Stress

There are some risk factors associated with high blood pressure, which can’t be changed. Age, race, family history, a history of preeclampsia, and certain medical conditions all contribute to your risk for elevated blood pressure. This is why it is extremely important to understand how your lifestyle habits affect your overall health and BP.

If you are experiencing blood pressure issues, contact Women's Institute for Specialized Health to schedule your appointment with one of our experienced gynecologists in Chattanooga.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to take the place of the doctor-patient relationship and any email is not appropriate for emergency care. To schedule an appointment, please call your doctor's primary office, listed on our Locations page. In case of emergency, we are available 24 hours a day.

Friday, 20 January 2017 19:25

Ways to Involve Your Partner in Your Pregnancy

It can be a challenge for your partner to understand what you are experiencing during pregnancy, for a number of reasons. Even the most devoted, supportive, caring partners may seem unsure about how to relate because they are unable to physically experience everything that you feel. This may leave them feeling a little left out, and can leave you feeling as if you are going it alone.

Even though your partner is not able to be physically involved in your pregnancy, there are ways to include him in the journey of pregnancy that you are experiencing. After all, you are both equally excited about the new life you are bringing into the world! 

pregnant woman and partner

Here are a few ways to involve your partner in your pregnancy:

  1. Invite your partner to the doctor. Having your partner with you at doctor or midwife appointments will help him feel even more connected. Hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time together can be as emotional for him as it is for you. The more appointments you share together, the better!
  2. Create your baby’s nursery together. Working on this space as a team will certainly help your partner feel more involved. Whether you are putting the crib together, hanging art, painting walls, or working on a DIY craft project – it is the time spent together that will bond you!
  3. Take a parenting class. There is a good chance that if you feel anxious about becoming a parent, your partner does as well. You can help alleviate some of the anxiety and concerns by taking a parenting class together.
  4. Attend birthing classes. The hospital staff will give plenty of support during labor and delivery, but your partner may be a great birthing coach as well! Taking a birthing class together will help your partner develop the skills they need to encourage you throughout the entire labor and delivery process.
  5. Create healthy lifestyle changes. Health should be a top priority during pregnancy. While you may be the one physically carrying your baby, you can both support the health of your unborn child by: eating healthy meals and exercising together, getting plenty of rest, and avoiding harmful substances like alcohol and cigarettes.
  6. Talk about baby name. Brainstorming names is not only a fun and easy way to prepare for your baby, but it is also a great way to bond and learn even more about each other (e.g. “We can never name our child Zach! A kid named Zach stole my lunch every day in 2nd grade!”).
  7. Read baby books together. There are so many books out there that can teach you and your partner about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. Reading a book together is a great way to educate yourselves while also providing opportunities for discussion.
  8. Create a birth plan. You will be the one delivering your baby when the big day arrives, which is why it is even more important to include your partner in the planning process as much as possible. Discussing and deciding on what is important to you will empower your partner so they are able to advocate for you, if you are unable to do so yourself. This is also a great opportunity to make your partner feel helpful when they may feel as though all they can do is sit on the sidelines and cheer you on.

The most important way for your partner to be involved in your pregnancy is by being supportive. According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women who are well-supported throughout their pregnancy are more likely to give up harmful behaviors, lead healthier lives, and may experience less stress and anxiety after childbirth. 

Friday, 09 December 2016 20:59

Ways to Stay Healthy During Winter

Winter is just around the corner, which means that it is time to prepare your home by cleaning out closets, turning on the heat, and weather-proofing the interiors and exteriors of your home.

It is equally important to prepare your body and health for the winter months ahead. In order to keep your physical and mental health in shape, here are five simple things that you can do:

  1. Lighten Up. Winter days are shorter, which means less sunlight than we are accustomed to during warmer months. For many people, this scarcity of sun leaves them feeling down and lethargic. You can fight back against the winter blues by taking a walk on brighter days, adding more lamps to your home, setting your bedside lamp on a timer, and even using a dawn (sunrise) simulator that will gradually wake you up.

  2. Relax Your Muscles. Colder temperatures are often accompanied by aches and pains, as the cold air may cause joints to be less elastic and take even more time to warm up than normal. Many of us are often more sedentary in winter as well, leading to stiffness and tension in the muscles. One way to combat this is by stretching first thing in the morning to warm your body up. You can also buy a home massager to help loosen tight muscles and increase blood flow. winter health

  3. Sleep well. Early sunsets and less daylight tend to make most people sleepier than normal, and less energetic. That is why it is especially important to get a good night’s sleep every night. You can improve your energy levels by: setting a sleep/wake schedule (and sticking to it, even on weekends), practicing a bedtime ritual to help you relax (warm bath, stretching, etc.), exercising daily, and avoiding naps.

  4. Continue to Hydrate. Don’t pack that water bottle away! It is just as important to stay hydrated in winter months as it is in summer months. Your body continues to lose water through normal body processes, even if you aren’t sitting outside in the summer heat. Thirst is a great indicator that you should hydrate more, along with signs such as fatigue, inability to focus, light-headedness, and dry skin. Fluids, combined with certain high water content foods (e.g. cucumbers, soups, apples, celery) can help keep your body hydrated all winter. 

  5. Moisturize. Colder weather means less humidity, as warm air holds moisture better than cold air. This leads to dry skin, cracked and chapped lips, irritated sinuses and itchy eyes. A dry nasal cavity may also lead to nosebleeds, and leave you vulnerable to colds, flu and other infections. You can add some humidity back to your living spaces by using a humidifier, and replace some moisture back into your skin with a heavy, oil-based moisturizer.

Before making any changes to your diet or fitness, always consult your physician.

 

Thursday, 27 October 2016 15:48

Ways to Stay Healthy While Working

Let’s face it – whether you work from home or from an office, finding ways to juggle job responsibilities and stay healthy can be difficult.

For women with busy schedules (which is most of us), the flexibility of working from home can be great but can also lead to health challenges down the road if you are not prepared and careful. Many of these same challenges also face women who work in an office environment. 

woman working

Here are 7 ways to stay healthy while working:

1. Create boundaries. It is very important to be able to focus on tasks without interruption, in order to be productive and maintain a professional environment. You can do this by creating boundaries, or blocking out set amounts of time to focus on specific tasks. Whether at home or in the office, this allows you to shut the door, drown out noises and conduct your work without distractions. Make sure to communicate this to co-workers or family!

2. Invest in a good office chair. Make sure that your chair is supportive and promotes good posture. This will help alleviate the need to hunch over your computer screen, which can put a lot of strain on the neck and back. Also ensure that the chair is comfortable enough to sit in for extended periods of time.

3. Schedule your day. It is important to be able to maintain a healthy work-life balance, which can be tricky regardless of where you work from. One way to maintain this balance is to set a schedule for your day, including breaks, lunch, and an end time – and do your best to stick to that schedule!

4. Move your body. Throughout the day, stand up from your desk and move around! You can stretch, take a walk through the house or office, or even lift some light weights during conference calls. Setting a reminder is a helpful way to ensure that you remember to get up and move your body throughout the work day.

5. Keep healthy snacks on hand. As tempting as it might be to quickly grab and eat whatever unhealthy snacks are available at your house or in the break room, resist those temptations. Plan ahead and pack a bag of healthy snacks before you settle into your office for the day. And don’t forget to have a bottle of water on hand!

6. Schedule time to exercise. We all want to sleep in as late as possible, and then relax right after a long day at work but make exercise a priority in your daily routine. Whether it is during lunch, before or after work, make sure you plan time to work out and stick to it – your body and mind will thank you!

7. Rest your eyes. Staring at a computer screen all day is very unhealthy for your eyes and can strain them. Make sure that you take time every hour to rest your eyes and look away from your computer. Even a 20 second break can do wonders for your eyes!

Most people spend the majority of the day in some sort of working environment, which is why it is so very important to do everything possible to keep your mind and body healthy. Before beginning any new exercise routine, always consult with your doctor.

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