Archive for ‘Health’

October 3rd, 2011

Let’s Talk About Burnout

by Amanda

Saying that balancing your life, your health, and your advocacy is challenging – is a huge understatement. Sometimes you just get burnt out. Maybe it’s because you haven’t disconnected from the internet in a while or because your social media is with you mobily wherever you go. Maybe you just can’t seem to write a blog post because writer’s block has got a vice grip on your creativity. Or perhaps you fear even looking at your full Inbox because it feels like standing at the bottom of a tall mountain, looking up, knowing you’ve got to climb it, but don’t really have any of the necessary equipment or strength with you. Maybe you just are a bit tired of talking about the same thing and wish you could take a mental vacation. You’re not alone. This happens to all of us. And when burn out kicks in, it can easily take over and feel like it’s there to stay.

 

This month we’ll be honest about Health Activist Burn Out. We’ll explore ways to know when you’re getting close to the burnout zone before it happens and how to deal with it when you’re there. We’ll get tips from other Health Activists who confront burnout and hear what they recommend. We’ll also look at some ways to take a break that will be truly rejuvenating to you and your online community. We’ll look critically at the statement “just be positive!” and talk tips for keeping it real. We’ll help you with some ideas to re-awaken your blog or scale the Inbox mountain.  Join us this month in discussing the tough parts of being an online health leader and the burnout that comes with being in constant communication, writing, and staying on top of things. It’s not going to go away – so let’s take it head on and hopefully help each other through it.

Let’s address burnout now so we can really revitalize our Health Activism to finish 2011 strong.

Have you written about burn out – how it feels to just need a break from being a Health Activist – or tips for keeping yourself mentally and emotionally healthy when the pressure’s on? Share a link here with us or, if you want to write about it on the blog – leave us a comment, tweet us @wegohealth, or ping us at email at editorial@wegohealth.com – we’d love to feature you, your story, and your tips this month!

 

 

March 15th, 2011

Brain Awareness Week: Thank You Neuroscience!

by Amanda

Zombie Prevention Week

In honor of Brain Awareness Week (a week that aptly contains the birthday of famous brain Albert Einstein – whose own brain, apparently weighed roughly 500g less than the average adult brain.) I wanted to share with you the noble mission behind this week and take a few minutes to reflect upon how important neuroscience is. In the past few decades alone, significant advances in the field of neuroscience have been made. It’s no secret that our brains are the epicenters of our bodies and, really, our person-hood and lives – but we have a lot more to learn about them. The mission of Brain Awareness Week is to recognize and encourage the behind-the-scenes efforts of the scientific community to learn, research, discover, map, and further understand these grayish three-pound fat-masses we so greatly rely upon.

According to the Society for Neuroscience (SFN) (the awesome resource I am using to write this post), Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is “is an inspirational global campaign that unites those who share an interest in elevating public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain and nervous system research.” The goals of this week are to:

  • Inspire the next generation of scientists
  • Contribute to general understanding of basic brain functions
  • Improve public health by expanding awareness of neurological disorders
  • Make the connection between increased support for biomedical research and benefits to public health
  • All of which are awesome pursuits!

    The work of a neuroscientist is, as you’d expect, complicated. Our brains, complete with 100 billion nerves cells (think of all the stars in our galaxy – that’s the number of nerves you have in your brain), controls us in every way. Not only do they influence our actions like walking, talking, and using our senses – they help us function as emotional, rational, and social animals. The latter adds a level of complexity to neuroscientists’ work that is both fascinating and infinitely challenging. According to SFN, the motivation of these scientists are: 1) to understand human behavior better and 2) to discover ways to prevent or cure many devastating brain disorders. I decided to read through the SFN’s Brain Fact PDF to see just how neuroscience has influenced our different health communities. Just as our brains are central to our bodies, advances in brain science is central to the research of all of our individual health conditions. Read on to see what I mean. But, since, I get pretty wordy, you’re going to have to jump! (Think of it as an excited hop for your brain.) read more »

    March 2nd, 2011

    March HABC: I Disclose…

    by Amanda

    (This is a metaphor)

    From one of my favorite websites, (dictionary.com):

    dis·close [dih-sklohz] verb

    1. to make known; reveal or uncover: to disclose a secret

    2. to cause to appear; allow to be seen; lay open to view: In spring the violets disclose their fragrant petals.

    The word “disclose” was first used right around the time of The Renaissance, an era of rebirth: artistic expression, intellectual transformation, and scientific advances. A time when people rose from the darkness of the past centuries and began opening themselves up to a new way of life. Now, whether this is a more romanticized version of what actually happened or not – the idea of a Renaissance from the Dark Ages fits perfectly with our March theme of Health Disclosure (and the upcoming first day of Spring!).

    Once you open yourself up, share what you’re going through, and begin to connect with what’s going on around you – you are, in effect, being reborn. This, I would guess, is what many Health Activists felt the very first time they blogged about their condition, talked with fellow patients about common symptoms, or got that first “thank you, you’ve helped me so much” from a member of their communities.

    For this month’s Health Activist Blog Carnival, let’s share our disclosure stories, our Health Activist Renaissance moments. Why did you first participate in a forum, support group, or blog? How did it feel to take ownership of your condition and begin to share with others? Was it a Renaissance of sorts or something less dramatic? How has your disclosure shaped your life since?

    Write a post telling your disclosure story and why you would encourage others in your community to join you on the other side of disclosure. You could share how your online community helped you be more open, revealing more of yourself and your life. Or how your community has allowed a part of your to be seen, caused something to appear, or presented you open to view, perhaps? How has disclosing in your personal life influenced you?

    Why not start with the completing the sentence “I disclose because…” or “I disclosed and…” see where the exercise takes you? If you’re feeling particularly like a spring violet – why not try a video entry this month? And, because we’re talking about the Renaissance so much – if you’re feeling particularly creative – you can make some form of art or poem that tells your disclosure story.

    As always, once you’ve written, created, or recorded your entry – share with us! Either here in the comments section or as a link/upload in this discussion in the Health Bloggers Group. At the end of March we will highlight some of your stories and be a lot closer to our goal of creating valuable “disclosure” resources, tips, and advice for Health Activists.

    Here’s our HABC graphic for you to add to your post if you’d like:

    You were all so creative with February’s HABC – I can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with this month!

    February 16th, 2011

    February Slide Show: Chronic Illness and Relationships

    by Amanda

    Relationships can be tough, but adding the management of a chronic illness to the mix can create a whole new challenge.

    Last February we hosted a webinar about Chronic Illness and Relationships (sound familiar? maybe you attended!). The webinar was a big hit, sparking some great conversation on a tough topic that hit home with lots of our community members and Health Activists. In fact, it’s the perfect sort of content to bring back! In honor of our theme we are resurfacing the webinar in a new, re-vamped 2011 slide-show so we can all take a look at the important topics and questions we covered. Hopefully you will be inspired to bring the ideas back to your community as discussion topics!

    Check it out here:

    The thing about chronic illness is that it’s probably not going away any time soon – and neither will the challenges that come with having relationships. But, you know, by discussing these topics – and sharing what works – hopefully we can really help one another better deal with and navigate life with chronic illness and relationships.

    Feel free to share this blog post and slide show with your community! If it initiates a good conversation, inspires a blog post, or ignites something creative for you – leave us a comment – we’d love to see where you take it and run to! :)

    January 7th, 2011

    First Friday: January Post Prompts

    by Amanda

    As an awesome online health leader, creating content for your health community is your passion! But sometimes it can be challenging to come up with topics to go off of. Health Activists – never fear! WEGO Health is here to give you some post prompts.

    Introducing our fun new feature: First Friday Post Prompts. Every first Friday of the month, we’ll be giving you some ideas to help inspire you to create that fantastic Health Activist content you are known for. If you happen to find yourself in that unpleasantly familiar blog-writing-rut at any time during this month, simply come back here to this post and borrow one of these five prompts to get your imagination going. I’ve found that sometimes the most fun (and surprisingly the best) writing can come from being assigned a topic. How does that sound?

    Check out these content prompts for January and see what ones resonate for YOU:

    1. Are you making your goals for 2011 S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive)? What are your Health Activist goals for 2011, and can you map them using this acronym?

    2. It’s a new year, and a time for setting up new health habits. What’s the best tip you’ve ever received on setting and achieving a health goal? Were there words of advice that helped you make your goal a reality?

    3. Nothing says “New Year” like needing a vacation from the busy holiday season. As a Health Activist, how do you help your community deal with getting back on track after taking a few weeks off from health management during the holidays?

    4. January is a time for trying new things, and thankfully, there are a lot of tools available for Health Activists to help spread the word about their advocacy. Is there a communication tool (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube, DailyBooth) that you’ve been itching to try but haven’t jumped in yet? Now the perfect time to try one out and share your experiences as you get rolling!

    5. Photos are among the most effective sharing tools we have, as Health Activists. Are you willing to show your Health Activist face to the world? If you’d rather retain your anonymity, try sharing a photo of what life with your health condition is like. It could be the start of a great photo 365 project!

    Check back every “First Friday” for five more prompts for you to consider, and customize. Bring them back to your communities and start a discussion, blog, or vlog about it. If one of the prompts sparks something awesome – check back in and leave a link – we’d love to see which direction you took it and give you some linky love in return!

    July 13th, 2009

    Spotlight: Endochick

    by admin

    Spotlight: Endochick
    Website: Endometriosis: The Silent Life Sentence

    Twitter: @Endochick
    Blogging since
    : March 2007
    Occupation
    : Freelance Writer, Freelance Correspondent for a local paper, an Aspiring Novelist, and a Part-Time Head Teacher at a Day Care. Above all, I’m also a mommy to two wonderful little kiddies

    What made me start blogging?
    I began blogging mainly as a cathartic exercise. I had no one in my community to talk to who had endometriosis and who could identify with what I was going through—and I needed an outlet to “unload.” My mother had had endometriosis, but her hysterectomy at 28 left her disconnected and unable to help me. My husband had been through so much with me health-wise and I didn’t want to drag him through yet another emotional medical journey.

    So as a writer and someone who enjoys journaling to work through her troubles, I opened a blogger.com blog. I began cataloging my experience of being diagnosed with endometriosis as well as a very frightening mammogram. Eventually, I moved my blog over to wordpress.com and began getting a plethora of responses from women just like me. These women were my age, younger, even older! I couldn’t believe it–I wasn’t alone! They were thanking me for being so honest and raw with my language and for really capturing what it feels like to have endometriosis. And I realized my blogging wasn’t just for me anymore, it was for all of us “endo” girls. My blogging became a mission to help spread endometriosis awareness and education, as well as still being an open book into my life as an endometriosis patient. I do this with the hope that other women who have the disease, or suspect they may have it, will not have to feel alone as I once felt.

    What motivates you in your writing?
    My pain motivates me. It reminds me that life is short and that no amount of pain is going to stop me from living every last minute of it. I often write through the pain.
    My readers also motivate me. Without them I would be writing into an empty void with no one to bounce my ideas off of. Their comments are often inspirational and I enjoy them so much!

    Who do you admire in the Endometriosis community?
    I really admire Jeanne from ChronicHealing.com (formerly Jeanne’s Endo Blog). She’s an inspiration for women with endometriosis and other chronic illnesses. During the month of March (Endometriosis Awareness Month), Jeanne created the hash tag #endo for Twitter and had it placed in the Twitter Hash Tag dictionary. It’s use in now widespread on the social networking platform. Also during this month, I instituted the phrase for use on endometriosis blogs and Twitter: “March Blogging Madness for Endometriosis Awareness.” And Jeanne was instrumental in helping to circulate this catchphrase. Jeanne is always willing to come to the aid of a friend, endometriosis sufferer or not.

    What are the most common questions people ask you – and what do you tell them?
    I get asked about my experience a lot and I often tell them my personal account—how I was diagnosed, etc. But I reiterate to each individual that the time it takes to be diagnosed is different for everyone. The only way for endometriosis to be diagnosed definitively is by laparoscopy. This diagnosis takes, on average, 9.9 years. During this time, doctors may “suspect” that you have it, which was my case for years. They can “suspect” and treat you to an extent all they want. But to be diagnosed one way or the other is important.

    I’m also asked how I deal with co-workers, family, friends, and people who just don’t understand the pain I’m going through with my endometriosis. This is a difficult thing to deal with—people who don’t “get it.” It would be easier if we had broken bones, or even cancer. People could see our casts or our hair falling out from the chemo—and they would sympathize with our pain. But when the pain is so internal, so deeply hidden in our wombs with no external reference point for others to identify with, it makes it almost impossible for them to understand.

    My answer is—you can’t make them understand. They will never understand because they can never walk in our shoes. But take two people with endometriosis—they can look at each other and they just know. They know each other’s pain and they don’t even have to describe it. They know the cramps, the bleeding, the cysts, the adhesions, and the endless pain. They just know. And, while you can’t make other people “understand,” you can educate them.

    The more people we educate about endometriosis—in the work place or in the world—the more we will be taken seriously by our co-workers and loved ones. Endometriosis isn’t simply a “bad period,” as non-sufferers believe. And we need to get that word out. We need to band together, with those who understand our pain, to get that accomplished. We are not a minority; after all, according to the Ohio State University Medical Center, endometriosis is more common than both AIDS and cancer. That makes endometriosis patients a majority, a strong majority of 89 million women worldwide. When we combine, we can get our voices heard.

    What would you most want to say about your condition to someone who doesn’t have it?
    We are not drug-seekers—we are actually in pain. We are not lazy—we are prone to sitting on the couch in a puddle of tears because our insides are bleeding. We don’t need your pity—we need your honest, compassionate support. We don’t need or expect that you will understand what we are going through. We need you to understand that you never will. We just need you to acknowledge that the pain isn’t a specter, an imagined thing come to haunt us, or something we created in our minds. We need you to acknowledge that we are not “making the pain up,” not receding into tiny balls of tortured women every month in a desperate cry for attention. We just need you to acknowledge that our pain is real—even if you can’t feel it or see it.

    What is your favorite health-related resource?
    That’s a tough one! I have so many health-related sources I use. I would point readers to WebMD.com, though. I read the articles and use their little quizzes and tools often. It’s a great site and health source, full of wonderful references. I even have their gadget on my iGoogle homepage so I can receive a current feed of articles from WebMD.com.

    Learn more about Endochick
    Follow Endochick on Twitter

    Who inspired you? Contact us and tell us who we should feature in our next Spotlight Interview.

    July 9th, 2009

    Spotlight Interview with Dawn Stacey from About.com: Contraception

    by admin


    I would love to see everyone make safe sex choices and reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. And I love educating people about their birth control choices and having seen firsthand how these decisions affect all of our lives.

    Where to find her: About.com: Contraception since 2007 and on Twitter @Dawn_Stacey
    Occupation: Writer, Advocate, Professor, Stay-at-Home Mommy

    How did you first become interested in contraception, family planning, and other women’s health issues?
    While pursing my Masters degree, I did an internship at Planned Parenthood that later turned into a full-time job. Through Planned Parenthood, I had the amazing chance to experience real-life struggles and joys in the area of reproductive health. I witnessed both births and abortions—so I can truly describe what to really expect during these times. This introduced me to the world of activism and how important it is to advocate for women’s health issues. Ever since, my passion for contraception and family planning has only grown.

    What motivates you in your writing?
    I believe that all individuals have the right to manage their fertility and should have access to accurate birth control information. I am passionate about contraception and its importance. My advocacy is what truly motivates me.

    I would love to see everyone make safe sex choices and reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. And I love educating people about their birth control choices and having seen firsthand how these decisions affect all of our lives.

    Who do you admire in the women’s health community?
    Though she is no longer around, Margaret Sanger, in my opinion, is the epitome of reproductive health advocacy. I admire all the work that she did to pave the way to where we are today.

    What are the biggest trends you see around birth control?
    It seems that there has been a renewed interest in IUD use (either the Mirena IUD or the ParaGard IUD). This makes me happy since IUDs have gotten a bad rap in the past. Also, a lot of people as me about extended-cycle birth control pills. These are pills that allow a woman to manage how often she has her period. For example, Lybrel is a pill that is taken every day, so a woman can have no periods. And Seasonique is designed so that a woman only has a 4 periods a year. These are great options for women who have terrible symptoms with their periods. Plan B, emergency contraception, is also a very popular trend right now.

    What are the first three tips you tell people who are trying to select a new form of birth control?
    People need to know that having sex is about making choices. We choose: our partners, when we’re ready to have sex, when to wait, and what we feel comfortable doing. Now we can finally choose to have sex in the safest way.

    When choosing a method, people should factor in a few things: how effective they want the method to be, how convenient, and what type of method would fit into their lifestyle best so that they will be more likely to use it. Also, are they even a candidate for this method? What are the health risks?

    What is your favorite health-related website?
    That’s easy… mine! One thing that I love about my contraception site is that I created the whole thing—it was my concept. When I began writing for About.com in 2007, there was no contraception site. I was hired to build it from the ground up, so I have personally written every article and blog entry found there.

    All my articles are full of accurate information and licensed medical doctors medically review them. So people can know that, without a doubt, the information I am providing is correct. (So much online info about birth control is not correct).

    I also try to write in a way that people can understand since these topics can be fairly complex. My website is a wonderful platform to share my knowledge and my understanding of the personal issues that surround birth control use.

    What is your favorite health-related book?
    I have two – “Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health” by Toni Weschler and “Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women’s Health Book Collective” by Judy Norsigian

    Is your writing/project therapeutic?
    Very much so. It is wonderful to know that I am helping people make very important decisions. After all, look at what is at stake if people make the wrong decisions about their contraception—pregnancy. The topics that I write about are really life-altering.

    Words cannot capture the feeling I get when people tell me, via their emails, how much I have helped them or given them clarity. When I find my writing cited elsewhere on the web, it is a true testament to my job and my mission!

    To connect with Dawn, visit her WEGO Health page.

    May 3rd, 2009

    Sleep Apnea Spotlight :: Ed

    by admin

    While working on a project for the WEGO Health community, I came across The American Sleep Apnea Association webpage. I also stumbled (almost literally) upon the blog of Ed Grandi, the Executive Director of the ASAA. Ed has been writing at Sleep Apnea ED since 2005 and he did me the honor of letting him interview him for WEGO Health’s sleep education community.


    The biggest hurdle in  teaching the public [about sleep apnea is], getting them to take it seriously.

    How did you become involved in the sleep apnea community?
    My formal involvement began when I was hired as executive director of the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA). Since joining the association I have had the oppprtunity to interact many of the pioneers in the field. In the relatively short time I have worked the field I have learned a great deal mostly from talking with patients and answering their questions

    How long have you been the executive director for the American Sleep Apnea Association?
    I was hired in May of 2004.. I had worked in the nonprofit sector for DC based charities for four years and decided I wanted to lead an organization.. The ASAA was looking for someone with a background in fundraising so I went for it.

    What has been the biggest hurdle in the path of teaching people about sleep apnea?

    The biggest hurdle in  teaching the public: getting them to take it seriously. More often than not it takes something like the death of an athlete from complications of sleep apnea to get people’s attention. The challenge for many of those in treatment is lack of a consistent continuity of care. For many, they are left to their own devices (so to speak) and it is very easy for them not to pursue treatment.

    When you think about the future, what gives you a sense of hope regarding sleep apnea? What concerns or worries you?
    I am hopeful that awareness is increasing and people are beginning to understand that there is a reason why they are miserable; not enough quality sleep. I am hopeful that there is evolution happening in the diagnosis and treatment of the condition. [There are also] at-home studies [being done] and treatments other than [the] CPAP machines. My worry is that due to turf wars between the various medical professionals will slow the progress being made and one person dies needlessly.

    Learn more about Ed at his WEGO Health page!

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