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Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019

Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019


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How to Stay Informed while Minimizing Stress

Almost two-thirds of all Americans say that the daily news causes them stress, according to an American Psychological Association (APA) survey. Feeling anxious, depressed, hopeless, irritable and worn out are some of the symptoms of “headline stress disorder,” a phrase coined by psychologist Steven Stosny.

Since we no longer have to wait for the 6 pm news or the morning paper, most people see the news much more often throughout the day than was possible 15-20 years ago. We have 24/7 access to news on TV and with the touch of an app on our smartphone.

Even when we aren’t looking for the news, it finds us. Walking into a pizza joint or waiting for an oil change, a TV is sure to be blaring. How often have you taken a break to check on your social media friends and quickly stumbled upon posts about hot topics in the national news? It probably happens regularly since 65% of the 2.4 billion internet users get their news mainly from social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube), as Forbes Magazine reported.

If you think there is too much news and you can’t keep up, you are in good company. A Pew Research Center survey found that 68% of Americans are exhausted by the amount of news out there. Not only is the news constant and abundant, but the nature of it tends to be more visual and explicit, or shocking. Bystander videos that go viral (spread quickly and widely) are an example. Seeing a violent act or angry words exchanged on video can be far more upsetting than reading or hearing about them.

So, when the news overwhelms us or makes us anxious or sad, why do we keep seeking it out? For one, most feel it is important to stay informed. But also, Loretta Breuning, author of Habits of a Happy Brain, explains that our brains are wired to detect threats, not to overlook them. This can make it challenging to avoid the negatives and seek out positives in our lives.

Managing Your Screen Time

Americans spend more than 11 hours a day looking at screens. Since screen time can be hard on our eyes, posture, relationships and mood, here are some ways to reduce it:

  • Eat without a screen. Enjoy meals by talking with your table mates or by simply savoring the food.
  • Decide how much non-work screen time is best and set a timer. Use spare time doing things you enjoy and being with family/friends.
  • Request phone or in-person meetings instead of emailing/texting/chatting.
  • Avoid watching TV/movies in bed. It is easier to say no to another episode if you’re on the couch.
  • Charge your phone at night outside your bedroom.

A Balancing Act

Are you experiencing information overload or worrying about negative news? Maybe you’ve had an increase in stomachaches, headaches, sadness or arguments with friends or family. These symptoms of stress can have a serious impact on health. When stressed, our bodies make the hormone cortisol. Over time, cortisol can lead to inflammation, which is linked to all sorts of health conditions. A flair up of back pain, worsening stiffness with rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, a new illness…the list of possible complications from stress is long.

How can you break the cycle of headline stress disorder? Try taking a vacation from the news and social media to help you regain perspective. When you’ve had a good rest, but miss staying informed, make conscious decisions about letting the news back in and what you can do differently.

Think through how you like to get your news: radio, TV, newspaper, internet sources. Decide which sources you trust. Ask yourself when and how often you are going to seek news. Can you settle on 30 minutes in the morning and evening with a 5-minute check-in mid-day? Is that still too much or not enough? Whatever you decide, make sure it’s less than what led you to feel stressed. Set a timer to make sure you don’t overdo it.

Consider subscribing to news digests from a trusted source. This way you can quickly get the highlights of the news and help you reduce your screen time (see box). Since the sound or vibration from notifications can be distracting (and an instant stressor), turn them off. If you have multiple notifications set and can’t manage cutting them all, pick one that you value the most. Aim to finish your news wrap up well before bed-time so it’s less likely to affect your sleep, which is essential for good health.

Deciding how to manage your news intake has to be made in combination with your new approach to social media. Facebook and other social media platforms can be a great way to keep up with friends and family, reconnect with people from the past, and see funny stories and cute pet pictures. But a constant stream of social media posts and attention-grabbing news alerts can trigger or add to those feelings of stress and overload.

Another type of stress from social media is that the pictures and sentiments posted are often very carefully curated to show “perfect” lives. Some social media users say they feel inadequate after spending time on social media.

Given how you interacted with social media in the past and how it made you feel, what needs to change? If you were checking your feed(s) every chance you had, can you reduce it to once every 3-4 hours or once or twice a day? Or every other day? Decide how much time you will allow for each site, and as with the news, set a timer so you don’t get sucked in longer than is healthy.

Consider moving social media apps off your home page to help reduce the urge to check them. Try limiting the amount of time you spend on negative topics that drain your brain and add to the stress load. Another good reason to curb your social media time is because it takes emotional energy to make those split-second decisions about what you will scroll quickly past.

As you reboot your relationship with the news and social media, seek ways to build in positive activities. Maybe now is the time to try out that new hobby, take flowers to a friend or visit a lonely elder.

Focusing on the Positive

Some argue that there isn’t necessarily worse news now than ever before. War, poverty, crime, illness and inequities of all kinds have long plagued people. What’s new is how easy it is to get constant news and how much of it there is. Given the ease with which we are guided towards negative news, it helps to focus on the positive.

  • Put energy into what you can change, not what you can’t. Support causes you care about, for example, volunteer at a homeless shelter or mentor teens.
  • Spend less time alone. Loneliness can make you feel isolated and can be just as risky to your health as smoking or carrying excess weight. If you don’t have family and friends where you live, you can reduce alone time by taking classes, volunteering, or asking someone new out for coffee.
  • Enjoy the outdoors. Even when it is cold out, there are times of day that are better for spending time outside. Nature and fresh air are always good for clearing your mind and lifting your spirits.
  • Be mindful of what you post on social media, make sure you contribute constructive, positive messages!

KnovaSolutions is Ready!

When it comes to any health challenge you and your family are facing, KnovaSolutions can assist. We can help you identify your stressors and learn coping skills to better manage whatever challenges come your way. Let us know what we can do. Call us at 800/355-0885, Monday – Friday, 8 am-8 pm, MT.

Be sure to check out our newsletters on related topics: The Path to Emotional Wellness and Does Winter Get You Down?

Click here to view/download the full newsletter. We encourage you to leave a comment or question below and a KnovaSolutions nurse or pharmacist will reply.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general, educational purposes. It should not be considered a replacement for consultation with your healthcare provider.  If you have concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.


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Managing Your Weight — January 2019

Managing Your Weight — January 2019


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For a Healthy Body and Mind

Carrying excess weight takes a toll on every part of the body. It affects walking, breathing, sleeping and mood, and can have a negative impact on quality of life. Being overweight can also increase the risk of developing serious medical conditions. The risk might rise from the stress the heart and joints suffer from carrying extra pounds. Or it may be due to complex changes in hormones and metabolism (how the body uses calories and fat).

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Over-the-Counter Medications — December 2018

Over-the-Counter Medications — December 2018

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Taking These (and Supplements) Safely

Over-the-counter medications (OTC) are easy to find at the store. They offer relief from common health problems like stuffy noses, seasonal allergies and achy muscles. They also can help prevent problems like constipation and nausea. You may feel empowered to solve a health issue without having to see your primary care provider for advice or a prescription.
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Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018

Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018

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With Approaches That Benefit Your Health

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 30 percent of adults use healthcare approaches developed outside of mainstream western medicine. These approaches are called complementary and alternative —terms that are often used interchangeably. However, it is important to note that they are different.

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Calcium and Vitamin D — September 2018

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Essential Nutrients that Work Hand-in-Hand

No matter our age, our bodies need calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, as well as other important functions. However, without enough vitamin D, calcium can’t be absorbed by the body. What happens then? The body draws from calcium stored in the bones, which weakens them and can lead to osteoporosis, a condition where bones become fragile, brittle and prone to breaks. Maintaining calcium and vitamin D levels in a healthy range over your lifetime can help prevent the risks of weak bones, teeth and other potential issues.

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Common Medical Conditions — August 2018

Common Medical Conditions — August 2018

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Can They Be Prevented or Reversed?

Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. One in two adults has a chronic disease and one in four has two or more, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

When it comes to our health, there are things we can’t control and those that we can try to influence. We can’t change our genetic makeup, gender, race or age—some of the factors that can make us more likely to develop a chronic medical condition. However, many health conditions are caused by lifestyle factors that we do have some ability to manage—our diet, exercise, stress management, weight and smoking habits.

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Ah, Summertime! — July 2018

Ah, Summertime! — July 2018

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How to Enjoy It While Staying Safe

Picnics, roasting marshmallows, swimming, camping, fishing—you name it—these are the treasures of summer. With longer days and schools closed, summer often means vacation time. But even if your summer doesn’t include a vacation, you’ve likely shed some layers and are spending more time outdoors. Being outside is a great way to reboot and revive the mind. To make the most of this more relaxed season, remember to take a few precautions to keep you and your family safe.

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Working Smart — June 2018

Working Smart — June 2018

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Finding Your Way to Workplace Wellness

Fulltime workers spend, on average, more than one-third of their day, five days per week at their place of work. We rely heavily on the fruits of our labor: skills, confidence, camaraderie, and most importantly, an income. Since our work life is so important to our livelihood, it makes sense to work smart. Workplace health and wellness includes activities and policies designed to promote the well-being of employees, support health behavior in the workplace, and decrease the risks of injuries. Employees can experience greater job satisfaction by making some key adjustments in the workplace.

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The Path to Emotional Wellness — May 2018

The Path to Emotional Wellness — May 2018

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How to Improve Your Resiliency

Your mental health and wellness affects practically every aspect of your life—how you think, feel and act at home and work, with family, friends, colleagues and the general public. People who are emotionally healthy tend to go about their day with a sense of purpose. They engage in enjoyable activities and balance them with their work and family life. They have fulfilling relationships and have a positive outlook.

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Why It’s Important to Have a PCP — April 2018

Why It’s Important to Have a PCP — April 2018

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And What to Do When Your PCP Isn’t Available

Your primary care provider (PCP) is that professional you see every year or so for preventive screening or more often if you are managing ongoing health concerns. S/he’s also the one you call when you get sick or develop concerning new symptoms. But, what if your PCP isn’t available? Your options depend upon the circumstances.

Wait, Back Up!

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Is Personalized Medicine for You? — January 2018

Is Personalized Medicine for You? — January 2018

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Evolving Field of Medicine Offers Promise

Healthcare providers have always sought to individualize care for their patients. But now, advances in medical research allow providers to study a person’s genes, offering another tool to guide decisions about preventing, diagnosing and treating disease. Personalized medicine, also called precision or individualized medicine, is an evolving field where providers use genetic testing to understand how a person’s disease risks are unique. Used alongside information about family history, symptoms and environmental factors, genetic testing can help providers prevent illness and/or determine which treatments will work best.

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How Walking Can Extend Life — December 2017

How Walking Can Extend Life — December 2017

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Even Minimal Walking Offers Health Benefits

You don’t have to run or bike intensively to get the health advantages of regular exercise. A new study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) showed that 120 minutes or less of moderate-intensity walking each week can add longevity to your life. 120 minutes? That’s less than 18 minutes a day!

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Confusing Cancer Terminology — November 2017

Confusing Cancer Terminology — November 2017

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Making Sense During Difficult Times

Almost 13 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer every year. People may experience unexplained pain, weight loss, fatigue and other symptoms followed by screening tests, imaging, and maybe biopsies before getting the dreaded diagnosis. Learning that you or a loved one has cancer is overwhelming and stressful.

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It’s Not Just Flu Shot Season — October 2017

It’s Not Just Flu Shot Season — October 2017

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Time to Review Your Vaccination Status

Vaccines are among the most cost-effective prevention services around. They do more than protect you from getting preventable diseases; they also reduce the spread of disease. If you’ve been vaccinated for an infectious disease (measles, chickenpox, hepatitis, influenza, etc.), you greatly reduce the risk of getting that disease and the chance of spreading it to others who are not immune.

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Suffer From Low Back Pain? — September 2017

Suffer From Low Back Pain? — September 2017

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A Look at Alternative/Complementary Therapies

The U.S. spends $90 billion a year on back pain! That’s more than the combined cost of care for high blood pressure, pregnancy AND depression. Back pain is one of the top reasons people see their doctor and the leading reason people miss work. Lost time and productivity is estimated to cost another $10-20 billion.

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Deprescribing: A Growing Trend — August 2017

Deprescribing: A Growing Trend — August 2017

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What Was Good Then May Not Be Now

It is becoming more and more common for people to take five or more medications. The more medications a person takes, the greater their risk for negative health outcomes, such as reduced quality of life, increased side effects, drug interactions, physical or mental impairment, falls, addiction, hospitalization or even, death. The use of some medications, especially as people age or become sicker, can do more harm than good. There is also greater risk of taking them incorrectly—the more medications, the more confusion.

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Preventing Surprise Medical Bills — July 2017

Preventing Surprise Medical Bills — July 2017

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What to Do If You Get One

An unexpected medical bill can be a very unpleasant surprise. It is a bill for a medical service that you did not expect to receive because you thought your insurance would cover it. Surprise bills are becoming more common as our healthcare system becomes more complex and insurance companies reduce the number of providers in their network or exclude coverage for out-of-network services.

The best way to avoid surprise medical bills is to prevent them. It’s not always possible, but there are ways to minimize the risk.

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The Opioid Epidemic — May 2017

The Opioid Epidemic — May 2017

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Taking Ownership and Being Part of the Solution

You’ve heard the news reports about the dangers of opioid medications such as codeine, morphine, methadone, fentanyl, hydrocodone and oxycodone. While opioids can be an appropriate and effective treatment for pain, the U.S. has the highest rates of opioid use in the world. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 80% of the world’s prescribed opioids are used in the U.S. Great risk comes with such widespread use. From 2010 to 2015, more than 500,000 people died from opioid overdoses.

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Shared Healthcare Decision-Making — April 2017

Shared Healthcare Decision-Making — April 2017

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How to Improve Outcomes and Decrease Costs

Numerous studies performed in the last 10 years suggest that patients who actively participate in making healthcare decisions with their doctors report greater satisfaction with their care, better outcomes and lower costs. For example, a study reported in Health Affairs of 33,163 patients at a large healthcare facility in Minnesota showed that better informed patients cost less to treat. In the first year of the study, knowledgeable patients had 8% lower treatment costs, and, in the first half of the following year, 21% lower costs, than less involved patients.

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How Short Are Your Doctor Visits? — March 2017

How Short Are Your Doctor Visits? — March 2017

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Getting the Most Out of Your Appointments

Depending upon which source you read, the average length of time a doctor spends with each patient ranges from 5 minutes to 23 minutes. That’s not a lot of time to discuss your health history, medications, symptoms and concerns — much less talk about complicated information or a new serious condition. So how can you get what you need — and deserve —during each doctor visit? All arrows point first to having a primary care provider (PCP) with whom you develop a trusting relationship.

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