Tag Archives: work life

Physical Consequences Of Shift Work

Many studies have been conducted on the topic of how chronic shiftwork impacts the mind and body over time. The research has drawn links to various mental and physical ailments such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and insomnia.

The Trouble With Shiftwork

With nearly 15 million Americans clocking in and out at all hours of the day and night, there has been interest within the scientific community on how much of a toll these strange work hours may be having on people. Because the body naturally shuts down in the night and perks up with daylight, shift worker’s systems never really adapt to their flip-flopping sleep schedules. The majority of shift workers live with varying degrees of insomnia. Whether a person alternates from night and day shifts, works a couple weeks on and week off or works random shifts peppered at all different times, the body’s natural circadian rhythm (internal clock) is constantly being assailed.

Shiftwork and Cardiovascular Disease

While research has been inconclusive on the exact statistics about shiftwork and heart disease, it does point to an adverse effect on heart health. Indirectly, shift work seems to come with increased levels of stress on the body. These increased cortisol levels paired with an upset in natural bodily rhythms can contribute to cardiovascular disease over time. According to WebMD the longer a person works nightshifts, the higher the likelihood they will develop some type of heart disease such as hypertension or stroke.

Wonky Hours Can Cause Stomach Trouble

A study done by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago illustrates a higher instance of stomach disruption among shift workers. The extensive study showed that disruptions of circadian rhythms weakens the intestinal lining. It also studied several patients with Crohn’s disease (a condition marked by inflammatory bowels) who had many more flare-ups with their disorders when working night shifts, and could better regulate their health when working standard 9-5 shifts. This is one of many studies that have shown similar outcomes.

Shiftwork May Add Unwanted Pounds

There is a strong correlation between shift working and obesity. This is likely due to secondary factors such as: poor diet, it may be hard for shift workers to eat healthy during the nighttime or on the run so a quick vending machine snack for energy often suffices; more sedentary lifestyles, many shift workers are perpetually tired and may have limited energy for exercise between shifts (especially those working shifts longer than 10 hours); shift workers have lower levels of leptin, the hormone that helps regulate appetite and prevent overeating. It is largely controlled by sleep duration and deprivation.

Are Some Types of Shift Work Better?

The consensus seems to be that when it comes to shift work, steady night shifts are the best option because the body can become at least somewhat used to the schedule. Doctors suggest little fixes such as exposing yourself to bright lights during night shifts to trick the body into thinking it is daytime so you ‘should be awake’, then wearing dark shades on the drive home so as not to perk up with the sight of daylight before going to sleep.

What About Rotational Workers?

Unfortunately, as the body never really copes to ever-changing work schedules, there isn’t much to do except to try and stick to a routine when at all possible and get as much sleep as you can. Some people find sleeping pills helpful when it is time to rest, and mild stimulants such as caffeine helps them stay awake during shifts. Be careful to limit caffeine intake, and use sleeping pills only as advised by a doctor. Making the effort to eat healthy when working is also a good idea for shift workers so as to avoid obesity or other health problems. It can’t hurt to talk to your doctor, or one of our skilled physicians at DocChat about some of your shift working concerns. Thanks for reading!


Don’t Let Stress Commandeer Your Life

It is almost impossible to find one consistent definition of stress, but it is essentially defined as “a state of mental (and physiological) tension, anxiety or worry caused by problems in your life.”

Fight or Flight

Our bodies are preprogrammed to respond to the stress of impending threats such as predators, but in our modern-day sky-scraper jungles we have different stressors than those of our stone-age predecessors. Many people nowadays are chronically stressed because they are workaholics, caretakers for sick family or chronically ill themselves, or struggling with heavy debt. When we are stressed, our adrenal glands (adjacent to the kidneys) release a cocktail of hormones including adrenaline and more abundantly, cortisol. Cortisol has been coined the “stress hormone” because of its prominent role in this fight or flight response. 

A Closer Look at Cortisol

Cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone which is released upon waking, during rigorous exercise or during acutely stressful events. While cortisol is important for its role in warning the body of danger, it has other responsibilities as well. Registered dietitian and nutritionist Dina Aronson says, “Cortisol also plays an important role in human nutrition. It regulates energy by selecting the right type and amount of substrate (carbohydrate, fat, or protein) the body needs to meet the physiological demands placed on it.” However, cortisol is to blame for negative effects on the body as well, especially when it is over-released due to chronic stress.

Effects of Too Much Cortisol

According to Aronson, some of the ill-effects caused by chronically elevated cortisol levels include:

  1. Gastrointestinal effects: Tummy health is closely connected to the immune system, and when the immune system is interrupted by roller-coaster cortisol levels, stomach trouble such as IBS often ensues.
  2. Adrenal fatigue: After years of overuse, the adrenal glands eventually tire, releasing much less of adrenaline and cortisol than the body has become accustomed to, resulting in a complete crash of the system – fatigue, the blues, a loss of vigor.
  3. Immune system conditions: Even though cortisol helps temporarily reduce inflammation, it can actually have the reverse effect over time, suppressing the immune system which can lead to conditions rife with systemic inflammation, like Lupus. 
  4. Cardiovascular disease: Cortisol increases blood pressure in an attempt to re-oxygenate the blood. Chronic over-stimulation of the adrenal glands also means chronically elevated blood pressure, which as we know, leads to serious heart problems.
  5. Weight gain and obesity: Cortisol increases blood glucose levels and suppress insulin, which is a bad combination if happening too frequently. It can lead to starving cells sending too many hunger signals to the brain.
  6. Fertility and sexual problems: Wellness Guru Dr. Lissa Rankin calls Cortisol the “anti-viagra”, as it can completely obliterate sex drive and sexual function in excess. 

The Importance of Lowering Chronic Stress Levels

After taking a look at the many ill-effects and risks of long term stress and cortisol elevation, it goes without saying we should all be cognizant of our stress and work to lower it. I’m sure you have heard that Type A people are more likely to have issues because of their consistently higher stress levels; according to AboutHealth “High blood pressure is common among ‘Type A’ personalities, and has been documented by research to be as much as 84% more of a risk among those with Type A characteristics.” So if you are a Type A person, or just someone who can’t seem to get out of firing range of stress, it may be time to make a change for the sake of your health and future.

Treatment and Stress Management Techniques

Due to the impacts of chronic stress on the heart, the American Heart Association has developed a comprehensive and thorough stress management plan. Some of the highlights from this plan include:

  • Positive Self-Talk: Our perspective can change how we view and deal with a stressful situation, if we are stuck in a negative self-talk loop things may turn out worse – a self-fulfilling prophecy of negativity – so framing things more positively can help you cope.
  • Remove yourself from stressful situations for a break to regroup before handling it; this can help clear your head to better deal with acute stress.
  • Count to 10 or take 3 or 4 deep breaths before responding in a high stress situation like an interview or argument.
  • Engage in pleasurable activities to help redirect your feelings. Try painting, coffee with a friend, a nature walk or cuddle with a spouse when you start to feel anxiety rising.
  • Relaxation is an essential strategy to master when it comes to chronic stress. Try meditation, Tai Chi, yoga, or a guided imagery break.

If you find that some of these facts and figures are hitting close to home, do yourself a favor and find a stress management plan that best suits your life and needs. Your body will thank you!

Can Telemedicine Improve Patient Experience and Boost Your Business?

Old retired woman sitting in front of monitor. She has just sent her blood pressure and pulse information to virtual doctor. At the same time, telemedicine physician is looking at her CT x-ray on the screen

Telemedicine is fast becoming a mainstream part of healthcare. Healthcare providers in the industry are using telehealth and telemedicine solutions. This is mostly due to the proven benefits of these solutions.

The entire cycle of healthcare is experiencing a change because of telemedicine. Telehealth systems have transformed homes, hospitals, care organizations, and behavioral health facilities. Hospitals are able to better support patients, employees and clients when they utilize telemedicine systems. But some organizations are still wondering if a telehealth system is worth the time and investment.

The American Telemedicine Association is a leading authority in the field, the CEO of the organization has stated the following opinion about telemedicine: ‘Some form of telemedicine has existed in primary care for a long time. What’s different is the change in technology and access to broadband that makes it more widely available to doctors and patients.”

Effect on patient care

Telemedicine is a win-win solution for both doctors and patients. These systems allow patients to directly communicate with doctors and relate all their medical issues with adequate face to face time. The doctor is trained to treat a virtual visit just as if it is an in-person visit. The level of care is maintained. Patients living in remote areas can also take advantage of this system and consult properly trained doctors. Patients can be empowered to monitor their health and keep up with their medicine regime through follow-up e-visits by nurses or consultants.
Hospitals often complain of a lack of integrated communication channels between them and their patients. Telehealth can help solve this issue by giving patients access to a single means of communication, record keeping, send emails alerts, or alerts on mobile devices to keep the patient’s informed.

Tech-savvy Patients and Telemedicine

Most patients are comfortable and familiar enough with technology to setup video conferencing and communicate with doctors from their home. This is a convenient option for many because patients can avoid travelling long distances and waiting in long lines at crowded clinics. A survey conducted by Telemedicine and e-Health, concluded that patients are “likely to be accepting of telehealth care to the home using video call and that most have the required technology.”

Benefits of Telemedicine

· Reduce healthcare costs
· Better patient outcomes
· Reductions in the number of readmissions
· Clients and patients are better satisfied with services
· Access to care is easy and quick
· Better communication between doctors and patients
· The outcomes and results are easily tracked
· Telemedicine systems are highly scalable


5 Easy Ways To Be More Productive At Work

Everybody wants to be more productive. From the chores and projects piling to the overflowing email inbox, almost everyone feels the pressures of a to-do list that never ends, that feeling of simply “not enough hours in the day.”

In the workplace, this is even more common. Not only do we need to stay on top of our workloads to stay employed, but the pressures from management, customers/clients, and the responsibility we feel to our coworkers also make the need for productivity a very real part of every workday.

Over the course of an average day on the job, however, there are almost countless distractions, energy slumps, and other factors that can cause productivity to take a nosedive.

With a little bit of effort, though, it’s possible to minimize distractions and realign how you think about your list of things to get done.

Here are five tips to help you make the most of each and every workday:

1. Move Your Body

When you hit that afternoon wall, when you feel like you just can’t concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes at a time, get up and move!

A little bit of exercise helps get more oxygen flowing through your body, alleviates sluggishness, and primes your brain for concentration. Even working out before you head into your job can have a positive impact on your daily productivity.

Your cells use a chemical called ATP, produced in the mitochondria (sometimes referred to as the cell’s “power plant”) to give your body energy, and studies show that even moderate physical activity can boost ATP production – giving your brain the energy it needs to focus and get things done!

2. Tackle The Tough Stuff First

Photo by Phil Whitehosue

Even if you aren’t a morning person, you’re likely at your sharpest mentally early in the day – that is, before the stresses, unexpected problems, and the daily grind start to wear down your motivation and productivity. Because of this simple fact, it’s often best to tackle tough projects straight away. Not only will you be more focused from the outset, you’ll also gain momentum for the rest of your day once you’ve got that one doozie of a project taken care of! You’ll feel good about that accomplishment, and it will keep you motivated for more.

If you get right down to business at the beginning of the day, you’ll get more done before distractions take hold.

3. One Thing at a Time

Photo by Ryan Racca

To put it simply: multitasking doesn’t work. Despite how it might feel, trying to concentrate on more than one task at a time really just means you aren’t devoting enough attention to any of them. You mostly end up stressing yourself out, clogging up your thought processes, and ultimately getting less done.

To maximize productivity, simply stick to one task at a time (as best you can – not all jobs make this easy). You’ll find that concentrating on one thing, getting it done, and moving on to the next is a much more efficient way of getting through your to-do list than half paying attention to several things at once.

4. Streamline and Automate

Some of the biggest productivity killers are those monotonous, mindless, irritating tasks that you have to take care of over and over. They’re boring, they aren’t mentally stimulating, and because of it, people tend to tune out, fall into autopilot, and end up distracted or making mistakes that cause setbacks and decreased productivity.

Depending on your industry, though, there may be technology and systems that can take some of the drudgery out of your day-to-day, and free up some mental space in the process. Services like IFTTT can make routine online tasks happen automatically; developing better processes or changing up workflow can reduce margin for error; eliminating unnecessary steps can make the whole workday go more smoothly; evaluating all of your tasks for priority and difficulty can help you understand the most efficient order for tackling your list.

Look for any and all ways you can reduce time and effort spent per individual task. Streamlining the boring or tedious parts of your job can work wonders for how much you get done each day.

5. Adjust Your Attitude

Twilight Zen at the stone garden
Photo by Peter Thoeny

Last but certainly not least, change the way you think about the whole thing.

Instead of letting a big list of projects stress you out, take a step back and think about managing the stress itself. In fact, you can even change the way you think about stress! Imagine that increase in heart rate and tension in your muscles not as a sign that you can’t handle what you need to do, but as your body preparing for action!

Instead of looking to outside factors that are distracting you, that might be affecting your mood or concentration, or even pointing fingers at coworkers or customers that make your day more difficult, take total responsibility for how you feel and act.

Try to carve out a place of mental confidence that allows you to bypass distraction, let stress roll off your back, and simply focus on what YOU can do at any given moment throughout the day. When you focus on those outside factors, it only serves to further cloud your thoughts and get in the way of your motivation.

If you shift your attitude toward one of confidence and tenacity, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll get done each and every day!

Keep these things in mind when you stroll into your place of employment – no matter where that might be. We could all stand to be more productive on the job (and at home), and these five tips will send you down the right path.