June, 2013

“Let the dawn and the sunset shout for joy”   Psalm 65:8

“I can’t seem to sleep”, or “I have a terrible time falling to sleep”, or “I am so tired all of the time”,   are all statements that are commonly heard.   Does this pertain to you?    Let’s look at “SUMMER SLUMBER” and how we may facilitate our increase in sleep and energy levels.

  • Try to aim to a consistent hour for sleep,  keeping your inner ‘clock’ consistent
  • Gauge your personal rest at your own needs, not others around you.  You may require only 6 hours of nightly slumber where another in your family or friends needs 8-10 hours to function well.
  • Get some sunlight during the day, every day.  This can increase your alertness and by exposing yourself to natural light each morning you help set your natural body clock.
  • Exercise regularly,  often morning exercise helps jump start your energy and alertness. Yoga or stretching before bedtime may also be beneficial.
  • Avoid late and large meals in the evening.   Try stopping all food & beverages (except water) within three hours of bedtime.
  • Surround yourself with dimmer light and avoid computer or television screens with bright light before bed.  Melatonin (the sleep hormone) is released more readily with less exposure to bright lights.
  • Resist watching TV or using your Tablet or Laptop or Phone in the bedtime just before bed.  Try to limit bedroom activity to sleep and sex only.
  • Create a cozy sleep environment.   Cool, soft colors, clean fresh linens, quiet noise, comfortable pillows, and decrease pets or children sleeping in your bed are all helpful.
  • Assess your medication, supplement, or pill intake.  Avoiding sleeping remedies or pills, and timing your regularly medications  to avoid stimulation before bed is helpful.
  • Don’t worry if you wake up in the middle of the night.   If you are awake for over 20 minutes, get up, sit in dim light, read or listen to music, returning to bed when you feel tired.
  • Lay down your worries and ask God to carry them through the nice, then awake rejoicing with a positive outlook on each new day.
  • LAUGH before bed.  Laughter reduces stress, increasing oxygen circulation,  breaks to stress/worry cycle,  and elevates the restful hormones before sleep.

May your SUMMER SLUMBER by restful and peaceful.

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Parish Nurse Consultant



 “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”  Psalm  34:4

May is Mental Health Month.  We look at MIND-body-spirit wellness for our overall health, thus it is very important to look at mental health issues and concerns.   There have been so many concerns in the past year about awareness of mental health issues, it is important for each us to look inward  and around us to identify and advocate for Mental health follow-up and treatment. Mental Health America www.mentalhealthamerica.net has adopted a program focused on  “Live Your Life Well” .  They offer a brochure “Are You Feeling Stressed Out”  and great information on the above website.  Each of us may identify symptoms of mental health concerns and make an effort to work with these issues as we would our physical symptoms. Some common mental health conditions that may lead to distress and ‘dis-ease’ are Stress, Depression, Panic Disorders, Mood Disorders, Bipolar Disease, and stress of caring for a loved one or aging parent.   Do we know how to recognize cause for concern?

What Are the Signs of Depression?

Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood

Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or sleeping more than usual

Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain

Loss of pleasure and interest in once-enjoyable activities

Restlessness, irritability

Difficulty concentrating at work or at school, or difficulty remembering things or making decisions

Fatigue or loss of energy

Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless

Thoughts of suicide or death

Are you experiencing the signs of stress?

Feeling angry, irritable or easily frustrated

Feeling overwhelmed

Change in eating habits

Problems concentrating

Feeling nervous or anxious

Trouble sleeping

Problems with memory

Feeling burned out from work

Feeling that you can’t overcome difficulties in your life

Having trouble functioning in your job or personal life

Ways of STAYING WELL when you have a mental health condition are as follows:

Connect with others;  Advocate for yourself; Get care you need (regular check ups & medication monitoring); Plan your sleep schedule; Manage stress; Exercise (at least 30 min. 3x weekly); Do something you enjoy ( at least 30 min. 3xwk);  Eat a well balanced meal plan–heavy on veggies & fruit; Get help with Smoking or Substance Abuse; and Know your community resources for help.


Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,CDE, Parish Nurse Consultant

April, 2013


The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore  I hope in HIM!”  Lamentations 3:24

April, on the Wellness Calendar, is the month when we focus on  the following wellness issues:

Alcohol Addiction Awareness,  Stress Awareness,  Cancer Control Awareness, Child Abuse Prevention, DONATE LIFE  (organ donation month),  to name a few.    Upon reading a recent devotion on the above scripture,  the suggestion that looking at the ‘congestion’ in our lives is important. That ‘congestion’  often causes wellness issues such as , grumpiness, stress, reliance on alcohol or medications for relief, or causes us to act in hurtful ways towards others .   The devotion author suggests  the ‘dis-ease’ that might be causing our issues is “HURRY SICKNESS”.  ” This sickness appearing every time we try to do too much and  think it’s still not enough.”   Jeffery Japinga, the author of this devotion states that we get our flu shots, shingles shots, take vitamins, try to eat right and exercise,  but if we don’t do this daily prescription for “Hurry Sickness”  we may miss the major preventive measure for wellness.   The following suggestions may help :

  • Check yourself for “Hurry Sickness”
  • Sit on the side of your bed when you first arise for a full TWO MINUTES to breathe, praise God, or just count to 120 to clear your mind and focus on a new day.
  • Find a time (first thing in the morning,  as you sit in your car waiting for someone, before you  turn on the TV or Computer, just after you eat your lunch,  or just before turning off the light at night), to spend time with GOD.
  • Find at least TWENTY MINUTES A DAY for uninterrupted prayer and silence.
  • Make it GOD TIME.

These measures  may help prevent “Hurry Sickness” that may lead to other more difficult health concerns.   Feeling blah?   Overwhelmed?   Drained?    Frustrated?   Angry?  Blue”   Out of control?


Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Parish Nurse Consultant


“The wise in heart shall be called prudent; and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning”  Proverbs 16:21

November is Diabetes Awareness Month.   In my years as a Diabetes Educator I find most of us have had our lives touched by this increasingly prevalent disease.  Whether you have been diagnosed with Type I , Type 2 , or Gestational Diabetes; been told you  are “Borderline”; have a family history of Diabetes, or just have a friend challenged by Diabetes,  it is important to take note of the following information:

  • There is NO BORDER!!   One either HAS Diabetes or DOES NOT  have it.  The numbers tell the story and if you have been told you  are ‘borderline’, you have “Pre-Diabetes” and must take charge of your blood glucose management.  Prevention at this level is most important and can keep you from having complications.
  • “Apple” Shaped bodies are more susceptible to developing Diabetes.  That tummy fat is often due to increased insulin resistence and increased insulin production.   Waistlines over 38 inches for women and 40 inches for men are a RED FLAG for developing Diabetes.
  • Diabetes is often accompanied by High Blood Sugar levels, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Obesity,  & High Triglycerides.   This group of diagnoses are known as “Metabolic Syndrome” and requires  management.
  • KNOW YOUR NUMBERS:    Be aware of your laboratory results and always obtain a copy of your tests and results for your personal file.  KEEP TRACK OF the following NUMBERS:
  • A1C  measures your average blood glucose level over the past 2-3 months.  A1C target if below 7.  Maintaining levels 5.9-6.5 is desirable to prevent complications.
  • LDL Cholesterol (Lousy kind) builds up & clogs arteries.  LDL Target is below 100.
  • High Blood Pressure makes your heart work too hard.  Blood Pressure Target is below 130/80
  • Self Monitored Blood Glucose  is important.  Learn how to check your glucose at home.  Vary the times you check to see what makes your glucose go up or down (meals, exercise, stress). Keep a log of varied times tested and take log to your Physician or Diabetes Educator for consult.   Use these numbers to manage your diabetes.  YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF YOUR CARE.
  • Eat healthy foods.  Diabetes does not mean you CANNOT EAT CERTAIN FOODS.  You just need to EAT MORE WISELY.   Your self-monitored glucose levels will help you see how foods work for you as well as serving sizes and timing of meals.
  • Use the “MY PLATE” model to increase fruit and vegetable servings, decrease size of meat servings, and increase fiber intake.   Including Whole Grains, Low Fat Milk products, and less salt and sugar is wise.
  • Be Active 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week.  Brisk walking is a great way to stay active.
  • Learning to manage your stressors is important.  If you know what causes you to feel stress (& elevate your blood glucose) learn techniques for changing the stress or your response to it.  (Yoga, Meditation, Sign Chi Do)


If you have questions or need assistance with Diabetes management or your numbers, please feel free to give me a call.

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN


Parish Nurse Consultant & Diabetes Educator


Wellness Notes – August, 2012


“The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him”

2 Chronicles 16:9

Recently I saw the question:  “What is more important Spiritual Strength or Physical Strength?
People forget about Spiritual Strength”.     We spend the summer reminding ourselves to get out early in the day or later in the evening when it’s cool to exercise.  We evaluate how well our exercise programs are doing in improving our physical strength.  We work hard to eat healthy meals to improve our body and our health.  We keep track of how strong we feel and how active we remain.   How much emphasis do we place on our Spiritual Strength?    What are the ways we improve our SPIRITUAL STRENGTH?   Consider the following:

  • Daily look to your Heavenly Father, whether it be in prayer, supplication, or gratitude.
  • Practice prayer as a running conversation with God.  Keeping Him in the loop of your daily activities and daily celebrations and concerns.
  • Keep the Ten Commandments in daily life and activities.
  • Read the Bible—setting your Bible in a prominent place where you are daily reminded to search its truths and study it’s meaning in your life.
  • Get a daily devotional guide, The Upper Room, Guideposts, Online Devotions, Phone apps.
  • Utilize the “Sticky –Post It” Theory.    Place frequent reminders , in prominent places,  of affirmations, goals, verses, or statements that remind you of personal improvement and positive thinking
  • Practice Positive Thinking
  • Strengthen your spirit through visualization.   “Picture a prayer or connection with God”
  • KNOCK!!!    Jesus is ready to answer the door if we only make the effort to knock.
  • Attend Church, Visit with your Pastor,  Participate by using your time, talents, gifts and service as a member of God’s family.
  • Reach out if your ‘spiritual exercise’ program does not seem to be working.  Realize Jesus is the BEST spiritual personal trainer.  Ask for help from your church, counseling, friends, or mentors.
  • ·         Consider taking a weekend to “Walk to Emmaus”.  Your spirit will never be the same.  Check out  www. upperroom.org/Emmaus/ or ask an Emmaus alumnus in your church family for information
  • ·         Commit yourself to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and pour your energy into the relationship with HIM. 


Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Parish Nurse Consultant


July, 2012

“ Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ”   Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

LOSS  is not a very  happy summer  thought, but many of us are or have recently experienced loss.   This can enter our experience through death, illness, change in relationships, loss of a pet, Job loss or change, move to a new community, moving on to a new grade, having a new diagnosis of illness, change in health or activity status,  financial change, or other ways.  No matter how we are faced with loss it gives us a challenge.    Some losses are not even negative ones.  The loss of a nagging habit,  loss of an abusive or difficult relationship,  or loss of a stressor  can still give us pause to shift  gears and strive for new beginnings.   God has assured us that we are never alone in these losses and that we will be strengthened, made more aware, upheld, and guided in a positive manner.   The trick is to LOOK for God’s guidance and SEEK to take care of ourselves as we heal and head in new directions.


From a wellness point of view  loss , grief, and change prompt us in numerous ways as follows:

  • Face the loss of grief head on, look at it clearly and identify how it affects us
  • Connect with our spiritual  source ( God) and pause to listen for guidance
  • Communicate the loss through prayer, journaling, conversations with friends or pastor, meditation, music, phone, or internet.
  • Seek support through the above methods,  loca l grief support groups,  reading, or other support systems that allow for working through the grief steps and seeking new directions.
  • Focus on personal wellness.   Be aware of eating wisely, avoiding smoking or drinking or drug support, including a daily multivitamin to counteract the effects of stress,  encourage adequate sleep and rest,  exercise,  include spiritual support in each day  (Bible reading, prayer, & meditation)
  • Reach out to others for support, resources, and guidance.   Make  positive responses to invitations, calls, offers for help, and use of local resources. 
  • Study the steps of grief:  shock & numbness; denial & withdrawal; acknowledgment and pain, and finally adaptation and renewal.    Know the path through these steps needs to be taken before complete healing occurs. (stages may not be ‘in order’ or may need repeating).
  • Look up,  be open to laughter,  allow the tears, make the goal be a return to love and life!!


Great resources for dealing with loss include the following:

  • “How to Survive the Loss of a Love”,  McWilliams, Bloomfield, & Colgrove
  • “Life after Loss”,  Bob Deits
  • “Good Grief”,  Granger Westburg
  • “Necessary Losses”,  Judith Voirst
  • “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf”,  Leo Buscaglia



Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Parish Nurse Consultant


“This will be a sign for you—“  Luke  2:12

April is National Stress Awareness Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month,  and April 4th is National Day of Hope.    These reminders   give us pause for thought as we enter a new month—EASTER month—when we renew our faith with celebration.   Our religious holidays  prompt   different emotions within our Mind-Body-and Spirit.  Christmas gives us HOPE,  Pentacost  lights a fire in our heart, Lent encourages us to recall sacrifice,  and Easter gives us the JOY of Resurrection.   Each is a ‘sign’ for us to react in a different way.    I recently read a statement that said,


I was driving down Cornville Road and encountered the series of  “Burma Shave Style” signs meant to jog the  mind to action.  They read as follows:

WELCOME TO CORNVILLE:  “WELCOME”  stood out as the directive.   We can welcome Jesus into our life as our guide, friend, mentor, and sustainer.  We welcome new neighbors into our family of faith with enthusiasm.   We welcome new habits that improve our health and well being.

A QUIET PLACE:   “QUIET” is a directive.    Find daily time of quiet.  Seek quiet to renew our mind, body, and spirit, as only that ‘pause that refreshes’ can.   Take a time of quiet to listen to others and to God  speaking just to us.   Reflect in quiet to relieve stress,  reorganize time,  remember, and renew.

PLEASE SLOW DOWN: “SLOW DOWN” can be our directive.   In our lives of rush, speed, quick interaction, and everything run by the clock, taking time to slow down can be a life saver.   Taking a deep breath  and backing off our pace allows reduction of stress,  awareness of actions, and  safety.

TO A LEISURELY PACE:  “LEISURELY” gives us directive.    Leisure is defined as, ‘freedom from demands of work or duty; free time to enjoy rest, hobbies, sport, etc.; unhurried ease’.   Incorporating leisure into each day allows release of stress,  improvement of health and wellness, improvement in our relationships with family and loved ones, and time to celebrate hope.

Be alert to the signs around you that will prompt you toward mind, body, and spiritual wellness.

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Parish Nurse Consultant



“In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind”   John 1:4

This Lenten Season we may NOT be encouraging you to “Walk to Jerusalem” or even to ‘give up’ an unhealthy habit as we have in past years.   This season, let us look at HIM as life and how Jesus giving his life allows us to make our light shine.   Our light can shine more brightly if we work toward living a healthy life.

Excerpt from ‘Prayer Prescribed’ a new book by Dr. Anne Borik (author of SignChiDo) states:

The path to preserving your health and well-being is not about the absence of anything. Health is not the absence of illness; it is being healthy mind, body and soul. Losing weight is not about the absence of food; it is eating the right foods. Life is not the absence of death; it is living with your entire being. Therefore, in order to live a healthy life, you must be alive and do the things that keep you alive–Breathe, Move, Eat, be Positive and Pray.

  • BREATHE:   Right now take a deep, cleansing breath.  Sit or stand straight upright; Inhale through your nose while raising both arms to shoulder level in front of your body with palms turned upward.   Exhale through your mouth as you turn palms downward and lower the arms together to below waist level.       Practice this three or four times.  This increases oxygen to your brain, decreases blood pressure, relaxes your muscles, and stretches your lung capacity.
  • MOVE:   Some of you will want to put on your pedometer and work toward the 10,000 steps per day that is recommended by the American Heart Association for healthy exercise.   Some may just walk twice to the mailbox and back—then next week make three trips, etc.   Some may prefer to sit in their chair and just do range of motion of each limb and joint of the body.   JUST GET MOVING and feel the healthy benefits.
  • EAT:   We mentioned last month the increase of fruits and veggies.   Try for putting a RAINBOW of foods in your body each day.  Red berries or tomatoes, Orange carrots or peppers, Yellow tomatoes or squash, Green leafy veggies or peppers, Blue berries or grapes, Violet fruits or eggplant.    Be creative and enjoy the healthy feeling.
  • BE POSITIVE:   Greet the day with a “What a beautiful morning” statement; tell someone you love them or write a note of a happy memory; encourage positive thoughts and counteract negatives around you.  THINK HAPPY.
  • PRAY:  Share your day with God.  Tell HIM your gratitudes, your fears, your wishes, your needs, your wants, and your feelings.   Incorporate prayer in your morning, noon, & night.  Find a new prayer and post it where you can see it and repeat it daily.



Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN


“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”  Isaiah 60:1

JANUARY:  A new year, a new month, a new start!!   Light shines on the newness before us with encouraging brightness.   My husband and I begin the New Year with a group of RV friends, out in the desert, around a roaring campfire.   We say goodbye to the old year, old thoughts, unfinished goals, and sorrows, and look ahead with the firelight shining brightly on our future.    It is a time of starting a new calendar, setting new goals, (sounds better than ‘resolutions’), and making new plans.   Let each of us “ Arise, shine; for ‘our’  light has come”  in the form of the baby Jesus, who came to  shed light into each of our lives , illuminating the darkness that might dim our positive outlook, forward thinking, and  bright NEW YEAR.   How can we use this light to build a better, more healthful, brighter year ahead:

  • Do a brief meditation:  Close your eyes, sit comfortably, and breathe deeply.   Envision the Christ Light brightening your heart, then allow that light to travel  throughout your entire body—limb by limb, organ by organ, —lending the healing, energizing power of Christ’s love to clear out the darkness, pain, obstructed areas,  and dimness from your mind, body, and spirit. Allow the light to flow freely as you breathe  deeply and sit quietly for a few moments.   As you open our eyes, may you feel the refreshing power of LIGHT throughout your being.
  • Assure you are being outdoors in the light for several periods each day.  If it is a dull, dark, day turn on all of the lights in your room  and spend more time in the light than in dull areas.
  • Allow light to shine FROM you each day.   Make a conscious effort to greet everyone you meet with a smile (and yourself in the mirror) letting the Christ Light within you shine out to others.  Know that if the only positive activity you might do is your smile, you have witnessed to another.
  • Fill your plate with ‘light and bright’ foods.  Include oranges, lemon, yellow and red peppers, a rainbow of colored fruits, vegetables, and fluids in your daily meal plan.   Set the goal of 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables in EACH daily intake.   (make a list & check off the numbers!!)
  • Lighten your step!!   Take out a walking stick and take a daily walk, making your stride longer, your head held high, and breathing freely as you try for at least 30 minutes of walking daily (it can be in spurts or even with a walker or pacing in your chair).
  • Shed light on your words.     Try for communicating more positive thoughts than negatives; using uplifting words; speaking kindness; encouraging another; and brightening your own outlook.
  • Share your “light” each day.   God has given you special gifts within your heart, mind, and soul. Use those gifts to the best of your ability and avoid ‘hiding them under a bushel’.  Let your light shine!!

Begin 2012 as the beacon of God’s Love!!

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Parish Nurse Consultant


Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?”  I Corinthians 6:15

November is Diabetes Awareness Month!!  In considering the needs of those of us who deal with Diabetes in our life or the lives of those we love, it bears repeating information recently seen in our local newspapers and physician offices.   “WHAT’S ON YOUR PLATE” (the new USDA dietary guidelines)  is such an important tool in caring for Diabetes, related Heart Disease, Blood Pressure issues, Weight concerns, and so many other wellness matters.   Knowing that choices we make on a daily basis of what we put on our mealtime plates will ultimately have a bearing on our health concerns, motivates us to find a simple method of making those choices.    The “MY PLATE” format gives us clear directions of how our healthy meal plan should look and gives us visual cues to help understand portion sizes.   Check out additional information at  choosemyplate.gov  .    Keep in mind for each that you  think about how much food you put on your plate, cup or bowl.   Look more closely at your serving sizes and include foods from each food  group in each meal.  Removing the word “DIET” from you focus and realizing for a healthy meal plan you can eat the things you like, you just need to eat them ‘smarter’.    Some tips that may help include:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables        Breakfast can even include a veggie omelet or low salt V-8
  • Make at least half of your grains ‘whole’ grains.    Become a label reader and avoid the processed foods.
  • Switch to skim or 1% dairy products
  • Vary your protein food choices.    Twice  a week make seafood the  protein on your plate and include more beans and peas, nuts, and eggs.
  • Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and sugars
  • Make sure you are moving 30 minutes each day.  (even the chairbound can do this!!)

This is all things you have heard over and over in life,  but as we look at becoming God’s WELL children, make this the month you begin to make changes that benefit your health and wellness.

Alice Stephenson BSN,RN,PN

Parish Nurse Consultant