National Stress Month: 3 tips to reduce your daily stress

As we kick off another month of 2015 (and spring!), I encourage you to take some time to think about the different methods that help you cope with stress. April is National Stress Awareness Month, and as humans, we are constantly faced with busy schedules and tight deadlines, all of which can leave us feeling a little overwhelmed and stressed.

Every day, we encounter stressful events or situations, ranging from personal financial issues to work-related stressors – and we’re finding ourselves in these types of situations more and more. According to the American Institute of Stress, nearly 44% of Americans feel more stress than they did five years ago.

The American Institute of Stress lists four levels of stress including acute stress, the fight or flight response; chronic stress, one’s cost of living and daily routines; eustress, daily life stress that has positive connotations; and distress, one’s job security, financial problems and health problems.

Stress affects all of us indifferent ways, whether that’s lack of sleep, overeating or various health conditions, which is why it’s important for us as individuals to learn the best way to manage our stress. For me, a quick run, or practicing yoga, are good…


What I Learned While Touring Japan

I recently took a journey halfway around the world. And while I love to travel, I had no idea that I would fall in love with a place that was so vastly different than what I’m used to – especially after 20 hours of flight time. If I’m being honest with myself there are two times others should avoid me – before 10 am on any given day and after approximately fifteen minutes on a flight.

I think most people know that Japan’s healthcare system is above average. In Japan, a person’s entire medical history is attached to their social security card. No faxing documents from one specialist to another (is faxing still a thing?) or making phone calls – all pertinent information is available to all doctors. And, even though I didn’t visit a doctor’s office while in Japan, I did notice other cultural differences that put them a “health grade” above the rest.

Cover your mouth.

Have you ever seen photos of Japan and noticed that a bunch of people may be wearing masks? For some, that’s an odd ritual, but when you’re there, it makes total sense. Japan may be one of the most considerate places…


Without a Leg to Stand On: Take 2 – More on My Experience in Healthcare

Last December, I offered four insights that came as a result of seven months of rehabilitation after back and knee surgeries. I admitted that healthcare from the patient’s perspective is quite humbling – and much different than what my 25+ years of healthcare experience had taught me.

Here are the four observations that I wrote about in that last blog post:

  • Good medical insurance is amazing.
  • The Emergency Room is NOT the answer to better healthcare delivery. 
  • Being a nurse is a “calling.” 
  • Physical therapists are my new best friends. 
  • I withheld one other observation, because the jury was still out on my full recovery. Today, the jury remains out, but I thought I’d share anyway.


    A smart doctor is a cautious doctor. My experience can attest to both sides of this truth.

    When disks in my back ruptured and pinched nerves shut down my left quadriceps (thigh muscle), I was fortunate to already have a relationship with a top regional spine surgeon. He hurriedly “fixed” me and sent me home to rehabilitate. His instructions were to walk as much as possible and as soon as possible, and he scheduled physical…


    Modern Mentoring: The New Mentoring Mindset

    modern mentoringEarlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending a Women’s Health Leadership TRUST panel where the topic was modern mentoring. The speakers discussed how mentor relationships today do not only benefit the mentee, but the mentor as well. Teaching and learning are now two way streets in modern mentoring, as age groups like millennials bring advanced digital knowledge to the table.

    Mentor and mentee relationships are a crucial part of everyone’s professional development. The panel discussed the key pillars of modern mentoring:

    • Open and Egalitarian: Modern mentoring should occur in an open environment, allowing everyone to learn and teach.
    • Diverse: Diversity is essential to modern mentoring. Not only does this include race, gender and age, but you also want to have cross-functional, cross-geographical and cross-generational relationships. Different perspectives within the relationship can help create new ideas and bring issues to light.
    • Safe and Judgment-Free: Mentoring relationships should be a safe place to ask questions and share experiences. Keeping your mentor relationships separate from performance-related systems and processes is crucial in creating these safe and judgment free zones.
    • Independent and Autonomous: Organizations that are implementing modern mentoring need to realize that all…

    Humanizing Your Brand, On Purpose

    Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Ragan Communications’ Social Media for PR and Corporate Communications Conference at Disney World. I was overwhelmed by the wealth of information I gathered, the caliber of the speakers, and of course… the magic of Disney.

    Speaker after speaker addressed the need to humanize your brand – to put a face on your company and give outsiders a behind-the-scenes view of your organization in order to create connection. So, rather than give you a simple recap of the conference, I’m going to attempt to humanize my company’s brand. Inspired by the honesty and raw beauty of this post, I give you my story – the story of a girl whose own health struggle led her to a fulfilling career in healthcare communication.

    In high school, after a run-in with a nasty case of mono that landed me in the ER twice, I noticed a change. Playing my favorite sports seemed harder than it used to, the comfort of my bed was more attractive than an evening with friends, and I started to get sick. All. The. Time. For three years I went from doctor to doctor searching for answers,…


    5 tips for building a newsworthy opinion poll (a glass of Scotch might help)

    keep calm homeworkMarketing and communications professionals love, LOVE having proprietary data to use.  For us, data is transformed into brand positioning, front page headlines, lead generation, thought leadership, engaging content and more.  A research project chocker-box full of cross-tab data and qualitative insights is a pot of gold at the end of magical rainbow for a creative communications team.  It is!

    Before you write a research project, here are five tips to help ensure you get meaningful and useful insight. Your mom said it best, “do your homework!”

    1. Determine what organizations are already doing research. It’s hard to find a research topic that no one has explored.  Conduct an environmental scan to determine who is engaging and sharing research: your competitor, an academic institution, a consulting group, a non-profit or a foundation.  Understanding what organizations are producing research will help you understand what voice is missing and how your organization fits into that landscape.

    I love research

    2. What are they researching? Simply put: avoid over saturated topics. In the case of healthcare, we have produced a library full of good research on…


    Chocolate Cupcakes and Corporate Identity

    Last week, Fox News published the Hungry Girl’s guide to outsmarting Valentine’s Day overeating. It’s dedicated to recipes options that won’t “ruin your budget, waistline, or the mood”.

    Valentine’s Day aside, the majority of religious and civic holidays have become synonymous with overeating. The national Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders even describes over-eating around the holidays and on special occasions as a “normalized” part of American behavior.

    All you have to do is google “holiday overeating” and you’ll find hundreds of articles describing tips to avoiding binge eating and over indulgence – as well as one that includes five ways to avoid a post-holiday heart attack. But this got me thinking – are the holidays the issue? Or, are we causing the problem?

    Let’s talk about food-specific holidays. According to The Nibble, a magazine dedicated to specialty foods, there is a food dedicated to just about every day of the year.


    Photo Credit: Flickr – Farrukh

    Here’s a taste of your food holiday options:


    5 Lessons Learned: Anthem Data Breach

    cyber security

    Over the last two weeks, we’ve seen one of the largest data breaches in our country’s history unfold. The second largest health insurer in the U.S., Anthem Inc., experienced a “very sophisticated cyber attack” on Jan. 29, which exposed the names, birthdays, medical IDs, Social Security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, including income data, of as many as 80 million customers.

    While this was not the first breach of health data – millions have been affected by previous health data breaches – the Anthem breach is by far the biggest and it will not be the last.

    In the wake of this significant breach, we have been observing Anthem’s communications response. Here are some key learnings:

    •  Act quickly and walk toward the crisis: As our own crisis guru Bob McNaney says, “Always walk toward the crisis, not away.” With a healthcare data breach affecting more than 500 people, organizations are required by federal law to disclose the hack or breach within 60 days. Upon discovering the breach on Jan. 29, Anthem immediately took action to secure the vulnerability and contacted the FBI. The company also hired Mandiant, a…
    Digital Marketing

    The Return of Measles: Is the Internet to Blame?


    Disclaimer: I believe in vaccinations, and my husband and I have chosen to vaccinate our two boys.

    This post is not about whether vaccination is right or wrong. It’s about how the current anti-vaccination movement (post-1998) got its legs, and how the Internet may have contributed to it.

    From smallpox in the 19th century to diptheria, tetanus and pertussis in the 1970’s to the current measles, mumps, and rubella controversy, opponents of vaccination (“anti-vaxxers”) have existed for as long as vaccines have existed. The current anti-vaccination movement arose in 1998 when Dr. Andrew Wakefield published the findings of a 12-person study to examine whether there was a connection between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism. The Lancet, which originally published the study, later retracted, and Wakefield lost his license to practice medicine.

    Historically, the anti-vaccination movement has been rooted in specific communities, such as the town of Leicester, England in the mid-1800’s. Today, while there are specific communities with low vaccination rates, we’ve seen much broader reach due, in large part to the Internet.

    Flashback to 1998 when the Wakefield study was released.  Just 26.2 percent of American households had Internet access. Two years later, that number grew exponentially to…


    Oscar Winning Health

    As I was sitting in the movie theater watching previews of the many Oscar-nominated flicks that came out this winter, I noticed a theme: health has again made its way into our movies.

    Still AliceMovies like Cake, Still Alice and The Theory of Everything are offering glimpses into diseases and conditions which many of us have never seen. These powerful stories allow us to deeply understand things like chronic pain, Alzheimer’s and ALS from the patient’s perspective. And, these actors can’t help but get Oscar buzz when portraying such raw and honest emotion, often doing major research and even meeting patients in order to bring real authenticity to their performance.

    In fact, a new series on cancer research set to release in March is deeply personal to those involved in the project. Ken Burns, the filmmaker, lost his mom to cancer. Sharon Rockefeller, the project’s initiator, is a colon cancer survivor. And, Edward Hermann, the narrator, died of brain cancer shortly after completing work on the film. I’m not sure you can get more personal or genuine.

    Even more than a blog post or video that claims…