Five Reasons to Get the Flu Shot This Year (and Every Year)

6 Reason to get the flu shots this year

You can recognize the symptoms the moment you feel them coming on. Flushed skin, accompanied by unexplainable chills. Muscle aches that seem to seep into your bones. Exhaustion that you’d think could only be precipitated by the completion of an ultra-marathon. It’s the flu, and this Fall and Winter, if you don’t want to be among the millions of people diagnosed with influenza, talk to your doctor about getting the flu vaccine. If avoiding these uncomfortable symptoms isn’t enough of a reason to get vaccinated, here are six more reasons to get the flu shot.

  1. The Flu Shot can Help You Save Your PTO for Vacation Time. Your human resources office wants you to keep your germs at home as long as you are experiencing symptoms such as a cough with mucus, fever, exhaustion, vomiting, or diarrhea. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever breaks. That means you could end up using five to seven of your annual paid time off (PTO) days to recoup from the flu. Wouldn’t you prefer to use those days for a family trip to Gold Beach?
  2. The Flu Shot Will Keep Your Friends and Family from Blaming You for Getting Sick. The flu is highly contagious, and like most illnesses, you may be contagious before you even realize you’re sick. Once someone in a family or social circle gets the flu, they earn a reputation as patient zero, which means everyone else around you (who failed to get vaccinated) and gets sick will blame you for spreading the bug. And who needs that kind of negativity in their life?
  3. You May be Eligible for an Age-Appropriate Flu Shot. Medical experts recommend that everyone over the age of six months obtain an annual flu vaccine. For those over age 65 who may be most susceptible to the flu and its symptoms, an alternative flu vaccine is available that offers even greater protection.
  4. The Flu Shot in Optimized Annually. Every year, the CDC assesses the risk associated with the wide variety of flu strains that scientists have identified and creates an annual vaccine designed to offer the best protection against the most strains believed to be prevalent in the coming year. That means if you received the flu vaccine in a previous year, but still got sick, you may have contracted a strain that wasn’t accounted for in your vaccine. It can happen, but it doesn’t mean flu vaccines aren’t effective. The CDC reports that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40 to 60 percent among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine. That means the odds are in your favor that this year’s flu vaccine will keep you safe.
  5. The Flu Shot Can Save Your Life. In the U.S. alone, over 200,000 people are hospitalized due to the flu every year, and 36,000 people While the most susceptible populations include seniors, children, and those with other health complications and chronic illnesses, everyone should be aware of the risks of flu contagion.

When to Obtain the Flu Vaccine

Flu season officially occurs from October to May. Since it takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to protect you from contagion fully, doctors recommend that patients obtain the flu vaccine by the end of October. To help protect our community, Nova Health is offering flu vaccines at all of our 14 clinics throughout Lane and Douglas counties. Make an appointment or walk into any of our urgent care centers to take advantage of all the health benefits of the flu vaccine this year (and every year).

Find a Nova Health Location Near You

Do You Avoid the Gym Because You Feel “Gymtimidated?”

Gymtimidation how to avoid

Try These Confidence-Boosting Tips.

It’s no surprise that gym memberships spike in January when millions of Americans make fitness their New Year’s Resolution. What may surprise you, however, is that 80 percent of people who join a gym in January quit their routine by month five. For many, it’s not the sore muscles or even the membership costs that cause people to bail on their annual commitment. It’s a genuine emotional factor: gymtimidation. It’s a state of nervousness and anxiety that keeps people out of the gym and missing opportunities to get the 30 minutes of regular exercise that we all need three to five times per week. If you’ve found yourself avoiding the gym because you feel less fit, less capable, or uncomfortable in the gym environment, you’re not alone. But that anxiety ends here.

Why Do We Feel Gymtimidation?

Causes of gymtimidation are many and various. A survey conducted by a women’s magazine found that:

  • Two times as many women as men experience feelings of insecurity and intimidation at the gym
  • 44 percent of women fear the weight circuit specifically
  • 14 percent of women are made uncomfortable by glances from male gymgoers
  • 20 percent of men and the majority of women are most afraid of appearing out of shape compared to peers

There are many ways to get your 30-minutes of daily exercise, including walking, using fitness videos at home, and jogging in your neighborhood. However, if your schedule and lifestyle make the most convenient and safest environment to get fit, then don’t let your fears or insecurities keep you from pumping iron, taking a class, or hopping on a treadmill. Instead, try these gymtimidation-reducing techniques to take control of your confidence and max out your reps.

  1. Find a Gym with a Comfortable Vibe. Every gym—from international brands to local, privately owned businesses—has its own unique culture. Some create environments for people looking to maximize muscle gain, while others foster a culture of acceptance. If a you-do-you atmosphere is what you need to succeed, then shop around until you find a gym that fits your needs. For women, if a female-only gym would help you avoid insecurities around men, there are options available to suit your comfort zone. 
  1. Take Advantage of Your Free Training Session. Most gyms offer new members a free personal training session to help them learn their way around the equipment and train them on how to use the weight machines with proper form. Take advantage of the freebie session and learn how to properly use the machines so that you don’t find yourself avoiding them out of uncertainty or insecurity.
  1. Go With a Friend. If the idea of braving the gym (and that strange machine that looks like a torture device) makes you squirm, then take your best friend with you. Take a class together, use side-by-side ellipticals, or master the weight machine circuit as a team. By leveraging the buddy-system, you’ll feel less alone and exposed and can focus on the reason you’re at the gym in the first place—your heart health.
  2. Scope it Out. If walking into a gym and seeing dozens of people confidently and competently doing their things makes you want to turn around and run back out, take a breath, and tell yourself that you don’t need to rush or immediately jump into activity. Take a lap around the gym. Learn the layout of the room. See where all the equipment is, and decide what you want to focus on (Cardio? Strength training? Stretching). By giving yourself time to acclimate and assess, you can overcome your initial flight reactions.
  3. Remind Yourself that Many of Your Fears are in Your Head. Confidently tell yourself that no one is judging you. Honestly. Most gymgoers are focused on their personal goals—not the progress of their peers. Sure, you may find yourself catching sideways glances from Zumba classmates, and you too may find yourself marveling at the fittest man or woman in the room, but unless anyone actively harasses or intimidates you, your comparison fears are in your head. Of course, if someone does harass you, report them to management. That breaks the unspoken gym code.

Everyone has the right to feel good, be healthy, and be confident. Never let anyone intimidate you in a way that creates barriers to healthy lifestyle decisions—even if that person lives solely in your head. By remaining confident and giving yourself time and space to acclimate to the gym environment and learn how to optimize your time, you’ll soon be in a position to help out other newbies when they have questions or concerns. Now, won’t that feel good?

How to Start Meditating Today Without Feeling Silly

how to start meditation today

You may have heard that meditation is the process of quieting one’s mind, concentrating on the breath, and reflecting on things that bring gratitude. How though, can one quiet their mind when they are reeling with a never-ending to-do list, endless family and work commitments, and bottled up anxiety and stress that feels like it will burst? While it may feel impossible to meditate through chaos, this relaxation technique can help you reduce tension and anxiety, helping you manage emotions and remain mindful. The trick, however, is to give yourself a chance to experience its benefits without being self-critical during your beginning experiments. Our feel-silly-free guide to meditation can help you relax and meditate so that you can smile and be happy. 

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a mindfulness technique that encourages and develops concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and calmness.

The Benefits of Meditation

Meditation has been proven to help:

  • Reduce stress
  • Improve emotional wellbeing, positivity, and kindness
  • Control anxiety
  • Improve self-awareness
  • Reduce stress and anxiety-related physical pain symptoms
  • Improve attention span
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Improve sleep

How to Meditate Without Feeling Silly

If you’ve heard about the positive benefits of meditation but have been hesitant to try it because you worry that you’ll do it wrong, or that you’ll feel silly sitting cross-legged, chanting, and thinking happy thoughts, forget what you think you know. First, understand that there is no wrong way to meditate. If you are spending time away from your desk and smartphone reflecting on yourself, your life, and focusing on your breathing, you are doing it right. These tips can help you refine your technique to maximize the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. 

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit quietly. It can be inside your home or outdoors, as long as it is an area that is distraction-free.
  2. Consciously think about your breathing. Feel the sensation of your breath going in through your nose and out through your mouth. Your belly and ribs should expand on each inhale and deflate during your exhales.
  3. Be aware of your body. As you sit and breathe, think about your fingers and toes and all your limbs. Relax your facial muscles, unclench your jaw, and feel the sensation of built-up stress releasing from your body.
  4. Let your mind wander. A mistake people make when meditating is feeling that they have to sit in a void of conscious thought. It’s okay to have focused thoughts when you meditate, as long as you acknowledge and release anything stressful. Try to focus on the sensation of your breath. If your mind needs to wander, think about things for which you are grateful, and cast anxiety-laden thoughts away.
  5. Build uptime. Start first by meditating just for two minutes. After a few sessions, increase the duration to five minutes. Continue expanding your time commitment until you reach a point where you feel you’ve achieved the positive benefits of meditation without losing focus or feeling bored.
  6. Just like anything else, meditation is a skill. Commit to practicing daily meditation every day for one month before you decide if it is a ritual that you can fit into your daily regiment (because it should).

All of us can benefit from mindfulness and relaxation. Give these techniques a try and be kind to yourself if you start to feel self-conscious or silly. With practice, you’ll experience valuable health and emotional wellness benefits of meditation, and will learn to rely on mindfulness techniques anytime life gets hard.