STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Fostering good health is about more than just avoiding COVID-19: from dealing with chronic pain to practicing self-care, here are tips from local providers for having a healthy new year.
• An ounce of prevention: From cancer screenings to staying up to date on vaccinations, preventative medicine is a key part of fostering good health.
“We’re trying to reinforce healthy lifestyle habits to keep people healthy for decades to come,” said Dr. Kevin Borgerding, an internal medicine physician in Steamboat Springs and a member of the medical staff at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. “It’s about disease prevention and health maintenance, or trying to maintain the best health we can for the long term so we’re not struggling as we mature.”
Having a regular physical will help you ensure your health is on track. Recommendations on screenings, blood tests and vaccines vary by age and health conditions, so work with your provider to know what’s best for you.
• Address chronic pain: When overactive nerves are messaging there’s pain even after an injury has healed, it can be helpful to address them with a multi-pronged approach to calming them down. That includes interventional steps such as neural stimulation, needling procedures and pain medication, as well as physical therapy, acupuncture, massage and behavioral health treatments.
Keep in mind that the increased stress and isolation at this time can be especially challenging for people dealing with chronic pain.
“Anxiety can escalate pain. Social isolation can escalate pain. Lack of opportunities to exercise and recreate can escalate pain,” said Amy Goodwin, a licensed professional counselor and behavioral health specialist with UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. “It’s more important than ever for people to seek help when they need it.”
• Support your anxious child: In a year that seems filled with anxiety, you may find your child struggling.
Keep in mind that it’s normal for children to experience anxiety, as long as it is transient and can be calmed with reassurance from a parent.
But if a child’s fear or worry is intense, doesn’t resolve with reassurance, or interferes with how the child functions at home or school, they may have an anxiety disorder.
“Anxiety is the most common emotional problem in children, affecting 8% of children ages 3 to 17,” said Dr. Sheila Fountain, a pediatrician in Steamboat Springs and a member of the medical staff at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. “That number increases to 25% if we look at just 13- to 18-year-olds.”
Through a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, a healthy lifestyle and sometimes medication, children struggling with an anxiety disorder often see signs of improvement in two to four weeks.
• Practice self-care: There’s no doubt it’s been a stressful year, which makes finding ways to take care of yourself more important than ever. Self-care involves a range of efforts, from regular movement and healthy eating, to mental and social health.
“Self-care will allow you to incorporate more fun into your life, to create more room for joy,” said Molly Lotz, a behavioral health social worker with UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. “You’ll feel better and your anxiety will decrease.”
When incorporating self-care into your routine, start small and don’t forget the fun parts, such as incorporating play and laughter.
And remember that taking care of yourself allows you to better care for those you love.
“If our tank is empty, something is going to suffer – our health, our relationships,” Lotz said. “But if we’re prioritizing what we need and what makes us feel healthy and good, then we’re automatically more available for the other people in our lives.”