By Ben Thrutchley
The comprehensive and advanced medical capabilities offered by physicians and other clinicians at Kaiser Permanente are crucial, but are not the entirety of the picture when it comes to how we help our members’ health and well-being. Meditation and mindfulness can have powerful effects too. During this year’s Diabetes Wellness Day, Shelly Casey, a Health Educator with Kaiser Permanente, shared her knowledge with dozens of participants about how to harness these skills as part of a holistic wellness plan. Recently, I sat down with Shelly to learn more about Diabetes Wellness Day, mindfulness and meditation. Check out the Q&A below.
Q: How did you contribute to Diabetes Wellness Day?
I was excited for the chance to participate in the first Diabetes Wellness Day. This major event supported Kaiser Permanente’s adult and teen members and their families with diabetes-management education and wellness activities. During the event, I was one of 15 workshop presenters, in support of diabetes maintenance and emotional wellness. My workshop was on “Managing Diabetes through Meditation.”
Q: How can our employees and members with diabetes use meditation and mindfulness to live better, healthier lives?
Managing diabetes involves a daily commitment. At times, it can be difficult and stressful to manage while juggling other responsibilities of daily living. Excessive stress can have an adverse effect on diabetes management, and living with prolonged stress for an extended time period can be harmful to our emotional and physical well-being.
The daily use of meditation and mindfulness, being consciously aware of the present moment, can support individuals with diabetes or excessive stress. Through mindfulness, they can better understand the connection between their emotional and physical wellness, the mind/body connection. Employing the basic principles of mediation and mindful thinking – such as controlled breathing, good posture and a positive attitude – can be helpful in reducing stress and supporting diabetes management. Together, these contribute to a more viable and vibrant life.
Q: Do you recommend any resources for our employees who want to learn more about mindfulness and meditation?
Supportive mediation-based resources are online at kp.org/mindbody, for useful stress management information, or kp.org/listen, to access an audio library of guided imagery CDs. Employees that may be interested in a customized stress-management plan can go online to kp.org/healthylifestyles.
For individuals seeking or needing one-to-one assistance, personal wellness coaching and behavioral health support services are available to all KP members. Wellness coaching is available Monday through Friday, 7am to 8pm, and can be accessed by calling 1-866-862-4295 to make an appointment. There are also free Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Services for employees to get support with work or personal stress by calling 1-800-227-1060. The Behavioral Health department is available for employees who may need more involved assistance, such guided self-care and counseling services. The Behavioral Health Department can be reached at 1-866-530-8778, or for TTY access call 711.
Additionally, Robin McClave, MS, CHES, Healthy Living Implementation Manager, from the Health Education, Health Promotion & Woman’s Health Department, is an excellent contact to assist employees with acquiring information, including print materials.
Q: How do you suggest our front line employees encourage our diabetic members to learn more about Mindfulness and practice meditation?
I suggest that they encourage the members to utilize the previously mentioned KP resources. These resources are included in their membership plan. Another suggestion is to contact Lisa Carpenter, MPH, CHES; Brittany Ganye, MS; or Robin McClave, MS, CHES, from the Health Education, Health Promotion & Women’s Health Department. These experts can help employees obtain an array of educational resource options.
Q: Did you have a favorite part of Diabetes Wellness Day?
My favorite part of the day was seeing the smiles on the participants’ faces as they engaged in the day’s diverse offerings of workshops and activities. It was truly a wonderful day!
Read more about the entire Diabetes Wellness Day event here.