July 2010

Employers are beginning to understand the value and benefits of providing wellness activities such as: smoking cessation, weight loss, and motivation to exercise for their employees.  There is another option to consider for your wellness program – advanced directives.

What are advanced directives? Advance directives are legal documents that express your health care wishes should you be unable to make decisions for yourself due to illness or injury. The most commonly used directives are: Living Wills and Powers of Attorney for Health Care. What do those documents have to do with worksite wellness?

What is more stressful than assisting a loved one with a life threatening illness? Issues of end-of-life care often result in increased anxiety and loss of productivity in the workplace.  Making information and advance directive documents available to your employees makes good sense. Employees and their families are at risk for heart attacks, cancer, and unexpected disability. Educating them on the benefit of talking about these issues when they are not in crisis is logical. Providing the tools to make these difficult decisions before they are needed will produce benefits down the road. Show your employees you care about them and their families by educating them on what can become critically important in their lives. There are financial issues to be considered. What if that person didn’t want to be on life support, but no one ever asked him/her? Long term care exceeds $40,000 to $50,000 per month for a patient on a ventilator. Catastrophic accidents and/or long term care will seriously impact your benefit plan costs.

Only 20-30% of Americans have these documents. Is advanced care planning a wellness program? Yes, it empowers your employees to make choices about their health decisions. By providing the documents in the workplace you can make it easier for them to consider their options before it is necessary and help them have peace of mind during extremely difficult times.

For free legal documents, go to www.discussdirectives.com

Lisa Newburger, L.I.S.W.S. Health and Wellness Educator


Have you ever had the situation when something was missing, but you didn’t actually notice that it was missing. It was just gone. Not a trace of it. I had exactly this situation recently.

On a recent Monday morning, I awoke at 3:15 am. Suddenly my mind was a buzz. Thoughts coming and going, the to-do list started. I lay there in bed for a long time – my mind racing. Around 4:30 am I actually considered getting up and writing down the to-do list. You might be thinking, “So what’s the big deal? This happens to me all the time!” Well, it often happens to me as well. What was unusual about this was that this was the first time in 10 days that this had happened. I had suddenly noticed that I had been experiencing a ‘quiet mind’. The constant chatter was gone – completely quiet!

The previous 10 days I had been on vacation. I was traveling with family members, sightseeing, visiting long lost friends, having a great time. I also had time to meditate, exercise and be in nature – all things that replenish my soul. Throughout my vacation, I was present in the moment. Present to just what was going on. There was no to-do list, no racing mind, no work deadlines, no responsibilities.

Meditation Spot

It was not until I awoke at 3:30 am that Monday and realized – ‘Hey, my mind has been quiet for 10 days’. What a tremendous experience. How calming, relaxing.

If you haven’t been on a vacation in a while, you too, may forget what it feels like to have a quiet mind. It also occurred to me how relaxed I felt when I returned to work. I was ready to take on any new challenges that were presented. Fully refreshed. My energy level fully replenished. Just how you’re supposed to feel after a vacation.

Vacation can provide a number of improvements in well-being in the short term and can improve your overall productivity at work. [i]

If you haven’t taken a vacation in awhile, time to make some plans. Try a ‘quiet mind’ for a few days and see how relaxed you can get. It works for me!

Mari Ryan

[i] Strauss-Blasche G, Ekmekcioglu C, Marktl W. Does vacation enable recuperation? Changes in well-being associated with time away from work. Occupational Medicine, April 2000.