Polk Wellness Center hosts Handling Holiday Stress program at ICC Dec. 6

Published 5:11 pm Friday, December 17, 2010

On Monday, Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m., Polk Wellness Center presented a Handling Holiday Stress panel discussion at ICC-Polk in collaboration with Steps to HOPE and St. Lukes Hospital. This community awareness event is the first in a Wellness Series that Polk Wellness Center will present in the coming year.

The public event included a complimentary dinner, childcare and health screenings such as glucose and blood pressure checks performed by Allied Health students at ICC. Participants enjoyed pizza, fruit and vegetables in the festive lobby of ICC. Many of the refreshments were donated by Bi-Lo (Columbus), IGA, Natures Storehouse and Food Lion.

After dinner, attendees moved to the auditorium where the panelists began an informative and informal presentation about holiday stress triggers and ways to manage them.

Polk Wellness Center panelists included therapist and administrator Jim Nagi, LCSW; therapist and clinical director Dr. Gordon Schneider; therapist Rob Fuller, LCSW-P; and Dr. Jeffrey Viar, physician and medical director.

Nagi started the discussion by posing a question: If you could change one thing this Christmas, what would it be? Some audience members said money and having my son home for Christmas. Those answers led to Dr. Schneiders helping attendees identify causes of holiday anxiety and depression (such as what we are missing at this time of year money and family). He offered ways to prevent or lessen those symptoms that included the simple act of volunteering and helping others less fortunate to bring about a positive meaning to the holiday experience.

Fuller focused on children and depression, specifically how parents can recognize the symptoms of depression in children and teenagers that often differ from those of adults. Symptoms include irritability, anger and sleep difficulties.

Dr. Viar discussed the impact of stress on the body, especially at holiday time when people have less sleep and eat carbohydrate-rich, sweet foods that can impact cholesterol, glucose levels and mood. Making healthier food choices, finding a minimum of a half hour three times of week to exercise; as well as getting in the sun were suggested as the best ways to stay healthy during this time of year.

Steps to HOPE case manager Cherie Wright offered insight about domestic abuse during the holiday season. She explained while domestic abuse usually increases during the holidays, statistics show most domestic abuse victims tend to stay with their abusers during the holidays in an effort to create the perfect holiday or minimize stress on the family by leaving the home.

Dr. Mark Cornelius, a hospitalist with St. Lukes Hospital, wrapped up the discussion with hopeful insights for the New Year. Dr. Cornelius offered ways to start physically and mentally healthy habits once the food, drink and fatigue in December is over.

He also explained how the medical community is embracing the idea of a three-legged stool in which physicians not only treat the body and the mind, but also emphasize the importance of individuals nurturing the spirit. All three legs work together to create the best possible medical outcomes.

Dr. Schneider, clinical director of Polk Wellness Center, said of the center, As clinicians, our goal is to have clients recognize the mind-body-spirit connection so they can eventually manage their own wellness.

Polk Wellness Center is a non-profit community of providers offering comprehensive health and wellness services in an atmosphere that fosters respect for all served, regardless of their ability to pay. Polk Wellness Center uses a comprehensive, integrated model to provide primary care, mental health/substance abuse, prevention, education, wellness, and recovery support services.