Category Archives: Occupational

Occupational wellness is a journey that involves preparing and making use of your gifts, skills, and talents in order to gain purpose, happiness, and enrichment in your life. As you travel towards occupational wellness, choose a career that is consistent with your personal values, interests, and beliefs. On your journey, you will begin to value the importance of not only your own personal gratification, but also your contribution to the well-being of your co-workers. The choice of profession, job satisfaction, career ambitions, and job performance are all-important components to your path. By following your chosen course and developing the skills that will make you valuable, you are working towards total occupational wellness.

What do you do when you’re sick with the flu?

We all get sick from time to time. Sometime it is just a minor cold – which is expected when living in this frozen tundra. Sometimes, however, it is the flu (AKA influenza) – a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Flu is highly contagious and is usually spread by people coughing and sneezing around you. The virus then becomes airborne and can be inhaled by anyone nearby. You can also get the flu if you touch a contaminated surface like a phone or a doorknob and then touch your nose or mouth.

Adults are contagious one day before getting symptoms and up to 7 days after becoming ill which means that you can spread the flu virus not even knowing that you are infected. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), between 5% and 20% of Americans get the flu each year.

So how do you know it is flu? The most common symptoms of the flu are:

- Fever: 100-102°F lasting 3-4 days

- Headaches

- Muscle or body aches

- Fatigue/weakness lasting 2-3 weeks

- Extreme exhaustion at onset of virus

- Chest discomfort and cough, especially if it becomes severe

- Rare: vomiting or diarrhea

- Occasional symptoms might include stuffy nose, sneezing, and sore throat. However, these symptoms are more likely to be the common cold rather than flu.

Complications of the flu can be life threatening, such as bacterial pneumonia, ear infection, sinus infection, dehydration, or worsening of chronic medical conditions like congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 die annually because of flu in the United States, according to NIH.

To avoid these unpleasant symptoms and terrible complications that can prevent you from studying and having social life, there are a couple of things you can do to recover faster:

1. Blow your nose often and right away: gently blow while plugging the other nostril to avoid irritation.

2. Stay rested: sleeping and relaxing helps the body direct energy toward the immunity battle internally.

3. Gargle: moistens a sore throat and brings temporary relief, 1 tsp. of salt per cup of water 4 times per day.

4. Drink hot liquids: relieves nasal congestion and helps prevent dehydration, soothes inflamed membranes that line the nose and throat.

5. Take a steamy shower: moisturizes your nasal passages and relaxes you.

6. Apply hot/cold packs around congested sinuses: either temperature may help you feel more comfortable.

7. Sleep with an extra pillow under your head: helps drain nasal passages.

8. Don’t fly unless necessary: added air pressure puts more stress on your respiratory system.

9. Stay at home and rest 24 hours AFTER a fever has broken: prevent the spread of the flu!

The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated early! Flu season usually starts in October and it takes about two weeks for the protective properties of the vaccine to take effect. By being vaccinated, you help your body to build antibodies to fight off the infection easier. To schedule your appointment, call Student Health at (701)777-4500.

Also, don’t forget to wash your hands, eat healthy, exercise, and clean your work space. It will greatly reduce your risk of getting the flu. Stay healthy and away from this virus!

Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are becoming more and more prevalent among college students. According to the American Journal of College Health, 40% of students and even parents think that prescription drugs that are taken for non-medical reasons are not as harmful as cocaine, LSD, heroin and other illegal drugs. However, abusing prescription opioids such as Valium and Xanax has caused more deaths in college students than cocaine and heroin combined. The harmful effect of non-medical use of prescription drugs is something that all college students should be aware of.

More than 97% of UND students do NOT engage in this risky behavior (2012 UND CORE Alcohol and Other Drug Survey)

There are two most common types of prescription drugs that college students are using for non-medical reasons. First, central nervous system (CNS) depressants are drugs, such as Valium and Xanax, that have a calming effect, make you a little drowsy, and mostly bring you down. Second, drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall (usually prescribed for patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD) can produce a euphoric effect and keep you focused. Some students have reportedly used them to get through heavy study sessions instead of learning effective study habits when they arrive at college.

Even though these prescription drugs taken non-medically are dangerous by themselves, they are even more harmful when taken in combination with alcohol. For example, when students take CNS depressants they depress the central nervous system. When you combine these drugs with alcohol, which is also a depressant, it actually brings your body even further down. So you could say your body is experiencing a 1+1=3  effect!

So, do you want to suffer mentally and physically from abusing the prescription drugs, or even die from them? If not, think twice when putting medicine in your body that it does not need!  Think about alternative healthy choices for staying focused, energized, and relaxed. Here are some ideas for you:

  • Clarify your goals and the steps you need to take in order to reach your goals; this will help you feel focused
  • Sleep and exercise daily to increase your energy
  • Take a walk or mediate to feel relaxed

Find your way to stay away from the unnecessary dangers of prescription drug abuse!

Hometown Partier

I was always the ‘good kid’ in high school. I had straight A’s, no detentions, no driving misconducts- just a clean slate. At the end of my senior year of high school we were required to do senior projects in order to graduate. It was basically a large research project with a paper, presentation, job shadow, project board, website, and the building or doing of something that would benefit the community in some way. Once senior projects were graded and done with, all of the seniors go to a secret spot and have a huge bonfire where they burn their failed papers, used textbooks, and other school related things that they do not need anymore. Usually, everyone gets drunk at the end of the school year party- and this year was no exception. This was the first experience I had ever had with drunk people.

I chose to be the designated driver for my friends, but it was still odd for me to see everyone throwing up and being irresponsible. As the night was drawing to an end, I drove my wasted friends home. My car was covered in puke, but at least my friends were safe. That day I decided that partying was not for me. I knew kids would pressure me and think I was lame for not wanting to go out and “have fun” but I did not care; I would find better ways to have fun.

Then college came around… My small, hometown party experience in no way prepared me for the partying that happens in college. To be honest, I gave into pressure a few times. I’m ashamed of it but it’s the truth. As the years went on I felt like I was getting caught up in a “partying is the only way to have fun” kind of mindset. All of my friends in college and at home only wanted to drink the night away. What happened to staying up late watching horror movies and making Taco Bell runs and talking about what we wanted to do in the future? I wanted and needed a change of pace. Partying was turning out to be a waste of my time, money, and effort.

I started being the designated driver more and making sure my friends were safe. Unfortunately, it is hard to sit and watch your friends have a great time, but the good thing is that I could still have a great time without drinking. In my hometown, we have lots of lakes and trails where we can go boating and ATVing. I started working on convincing my friends to do other fun things that do not include alcohol. They still party every once in a while, but it was so cool to see them realize that having fun does not have to include alcohol. It was exciting for me to think of fun activities we could do together instead of just sitting around drinking. I do not know if it will be worth my efforts in the end, but I hope that the efforts I put into my hometown friends will make a difference not only in them, but in the community that we influence and shape as well

But how do I know?

Last time you heard from me, I talked about change; specifically, why I resist it with everything inside of me. I’ve never really been a risk taker, and so far it’s led me down a pretty decent “safe” path.

I’m not sure why, but I’ve noticed that the older I get, the more I have moments of “Let’s do this!” They come out of nowhere, leaving a giant pit in my stomach, and shortness of breath, and a desire to move. Sometimes those moments are for little things, like deciding to workout when I don’t feel like it or trying a new recipe. And sometimes those moments are for big things, like zip lining through a rainforest* or starting a new job. (*Full disclosure: I’ve never ziplined through a forest. Let’s be real.)

A few months ago, I decided to try something new in my professional life. I have a very unconventional path when it comes to the workplace. I graduated with a degree in Dietetics (the science of food) after dabbling in secondary English education. My first “real job” was as a NDSU Extension Agent in Benson County, focusing on things like youth development, living on a budget, overall health, and 4-H. It was a great mix of teaching and wellness.

About 2 years later, I took the job as the first Executive Director of the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals. This was a brand new arena for me, filled with new obstacles and experiences. I joked that I was still using my degree, because I had many coffee and lunch meetings, so I was still involved in the “food part.”

Two weeks ago I started a new position as Events Coordinator for Scheels in Grand Forks. A much larger store is opening in June, and it’s my job to find fun and useful ways for our store to be a part of the community. I have to be honest; this is another BRAND NEW place for me to be. As Executive Director, I did get some experience in event planning and execution, but I have a feeling this will be a bit different.

While attending a pretty intense job training recently, it hit me:

This feels right.

We all wait for that moment after deciding to try new things because of that possibility of failure. Sitting in the unknown can be almost unbearable, so when the moment of “ahhh…” hits, it’s pretty awesome.

I feel fortunate for my newest professional opportunity, and even more for that “ahhh…” moment. For several months I’ve thought “I THINK this is the right move… But how will I know??!” It has taught me patience, the beauty in courage, and confidence in myself and my abilities.

I can’t promise you every ending to a new adventure will be smooth or comfortable or even pretty. But unless you take a chance every now and then, you never have the opportunity to grow!

When was the last time you had an “ahhh…” moment?

General Health Peer Educator Position

As a peer educator we get the opportunity to impact the lives of students to make a positive change in their life, or maybe just become more aware and knowledgeable about various topics.

Through this position I have learned SO much! From making presentations, brochures, handouts, and other types of flyers, to doing actual presentations in front of people, or at conferences; all these skills will help with my future endeavors. I have learned how to work in an office type space with multiple people, how to communicate ideas within a group, and planning for the “big picture”. When I applied for this job, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but through hard work and dedication I really saw myself change and reflect what I was researching. Not only do we get the change to change students’ lives, but in the process our own lives may be changed too. I am so thankful to have been given this position, and I can’t wait to apply all this knowledge to my future career and lifestyle choices.

Things I have gained from this position:

  • How to use the different Microsoft Office tools
  • How to work within a unit or team of coworkers
  • What it feels like to work in an office space/cubicle
  • How to do effective research and prepare it for an audience
  • What conferences are like at a college level (they’re really fun and informative, go to them!!)

If I could say something to future peers it would be this:

Take every opportunity you can! If there is a conference, go on it. If there is an event, do it! Be involved in your job, it is an amazing experience! You don’t realize what you have until its gone, appreciate your position and get the most out of it that you can. (:

Lexi Larson, Peer Educator Health & Wellness Hub

Grow Grand

Did you know that in some companies there are up to 5 generations in the workplace? That’s an incredible span of knowledge, experience, energy, ideas, and possibility!

So, what does it take to keep a young adult in the workplace?
While it’s impossible to give you a checklist of “20 things for guaranteed success,” there are often commonalities that increase the likelihood of attracting and retaining young professionals.

Benefits like flexibility in scheduling and office space are becoming more important as Millennials enter and advance in their careers. There is also a stronger desire from young adults to be included in projects and decision making from planning to implementation regardless of experience; a chance to bring fresh ideas and energy as well as learn first hand from more experienced colleagues. (I would argue that this desire for collaboration and inclusion is not “entitlement,” as its often labeled, rather it’s a desire to contribute and learn. Ultimately we all strive for the success of the company as a goal, right?)

For the past 2 years, the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals has awarded an area business with the Grow Grand Award, a YP Best Place to Work Award. Our first recipient was Choice Financial, and last year AE2S took home the honor. It is encouraging to see all of the applications we receive each year, and more importantly how competitive it has become, evidence of a larger city-wide workforce culture more attractive to young adults looking to move into, or stay in the area. I choose to live and work in the Grand Cities because I see all of the opportunities for young people, both for my career and in the community.

It’s time for us to find our next recipient of the award, and ANY business may apply for the honor. Do you work at a cool place? Show them your appreciation by nomination them for our Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals’ annual Grow Grand Award! You can check it out on our website:  Applications are due on December 27th, but you can apply right now!


What do YOU look for in a workplace?



Say “Good-bye” to your Back and Neck Pain!

Are you one of those sitting a lot, not taking stretching breaks, constantly wearing a heavy backpack, or not exercising much? If yes, you may have noticed that back or neck pain has become a frequent guest. Even though you might be ignoring it, your body is actually trying to tell you something. It is time for you to start thinking about your posture when you sit, stand, sleep, and carry heavy backpacks or bags that might be weighing more than is healthy for your spine.

The danger is that if you keep ignoring the pain in your back and neck, your muscles will get strained or pulled and will stop supporting your spine correctly. Guess what- if your spine is not supported correctly, your vertebrae can get misaligned, nerves between the vertebrae can become pinched, and your brain will not be able to communicate with the body organs (how it usually does through the nervous system). This is not the news you want to hear about your spine and organs, right?

So how can you avoid the misalignment in your spine and say good-bye to the pain? There are a couple of good tips to consider:

  1. Exercise! Do it on a regular basis, not just weekends or when you have time. Exercise every day! Build up those back and neck muscles to help support the vertebrae and spinal ligaments.
  2. Maintain a healthy diet and weight. The less weight you are carrying around, the less stress you are putting on your back and neck joints and the less pain you will feel.
  3. Rest! Get a good night’s sleep every night, your muscles will be rejuvenated and ready for the next day.
  4. Relax! Take time to distress and become as stress free as possible; this will help those “knots” in your back.
  5. Keep good posture habits! Make sure that your back is straight, shoulders are squared, chin is up, chest is out, and stomach is in. If you can draw a straight line from your earlobe through your shoulder, hip, knee, to the middle of your ankle—–you’ve got it! To learn more about good posture, go to
  6. When driving for long periods of time or sitting for extended hours, take stretch breaks, stand up and walk around at least once an hour.
  7. Avoid tucking the phone between your ear and shoulder and do not sleep on your stomach. This can cause stress and extra pressure on your cervical vertebrae and pinch nerves.
  8. Get lots of vitamin D and calcium. Your spine is made of bone so make sure you keep them strong!
  9. Lift with your knees bent, not from your back.
  10. Choose a well-padded backpack; wear it with both straps that are properly adjusted. It should weigh between 5-10 percent of your body weight- so keep excess items out of your bag!

Adventures of a FLEX intern!

Greetings UND Wellness Center members! My name is Matt McCreary and I am a senior majoring in Exercise Science and Wellness here at UND and I’m also a FLEX Intern at the Wellness Center for this Fall 2013 semester. FLEX stands for Future Leaders in Exercise and that’s exactly what I hope to be in the future. I’m hoping this internship provides useful insight into what I can expect in potential career opportunities while also helping to polish my skills as an effective communicator regarding health and wellness knowledge.   My main responsibilities as a FLEX Intern are performing fitness assessments on members of the Wellness Center. This can range anywhere from getting skinfold measurements taken to a cardiovascular test on a treadmill. These are helpful tools for those of you who have health goals but maybe don’t know where to start.  The fitness assessments are only a small fraction of services and activities offered at the Wellness Center._MG_0195

Part of my process in becoming acclimated with the Wellness Center’s various offerings was to shadow one of the personal trainers and also to attend a Group Exercise (GX) class. I was fortunate to shadow Shawn, one of the personal trainers here at the Wellness Center, while he was with his client. Having a personal trainer that can help you reach your goals while also holding you accountable during the workout is the best of both worlds. These trainers understand that you want their help, and in return they put their best effort into developing a program that can meet your goals. They also are there to push you when things get tough, to motivate you feel like you want to quit, and to congratulate you when you complete your workout. I observed all three of these scenarios during Shawn’s and his client’s 75 minute session, and needless to say I was very impressed with the quality of work and _MG_0720effort from the two of them.

Another task I had to accomplish was to attend a GX class. Even though this is my 5th year at UND I never once attended a GX class prior to this internship. I attended the Power Cycling class offered on Saturdays at 11 in the morning. This was a new experience for me and shortly after it began a fun one at that. The class consisted of cycling at various speeds, resistance, and postures for 45 minutes. The class is set in the upstairs cycling room, fully equipped with a sound system, black lights, and a projector screen that plays music videos. Generally the rhythmic cycling that you do corresponds to the beat of the song playing, which provides the class with a little more entertainment than just staring at a blank wall in silence for 45 minutes. For me the biggest factor that got me working harder was the resistance on the bike. At first there is no resistance on the bike so pedaling is super easy, but as the class progresses the instructor will have you increase the resistance gradually. The resistance on the bike is altered a lot throughout the class which makes for a good change of pace in your cycling speed and thus your work output. GX 3

Overall this was a fun class and I recommend students and faculty take advantage of these free GX classes. There is something for everyone, whether you are super fit, a beginner, an early riser, a dance enthusiast, or a FLEX Intern. There’s plenty more to come in this blog so stay tuned for more insights.

- Matt McCreary

I’m an ADULT?!

I remember the transition from “youth” to “adult” very clearly; to me it meant that my mom and dad were slowly no longer helping me pay my bills. One by one, I transitioned into the sole provider for groceries, rent, student loans, and finally at the ripe old age of 26, health insurance. Like it or not… this will more than likely be your future, too.


I was fortunate to grow up in a home where I could go to the doctor when I broke my arm or struggled to breathe from congestion. I had no clue how the health system worked past “when you get sick, you go to the doctor.” Once I transitioned into being an adult, I learned that going to the doctor costs money, and health insurance is an important part of the process.


The Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals understand the importance of educating the population about important topics, which is how our Grand Forks Vote initiative came into fruition last year. Now, as the Affordable Care Act goes into effect, the organization saw an opportunity to once again help residents understand the changes.


You are all invited to join us on Thursday, September 19th from 7-8:30pm in the City Council Chambers for a panel discussion presented by GGFYP, the Alliance for Healthcare Access, and the Grand Forks Public Health Department.The purpose of the panel is to help us learn what does and does not do; what it means for our region; and what the future may hold. The event will also include an introduction to the Insurance Marketplace and a question and answer session.


We encourage you to check out the website for more information; it also features an area where you are able to submit a question to the panelists ahead of time. This is an especially handy feature for those who may not be able to make it to City Hall. Did I mention that this will also be televised on City Television (channel 2)? It will, so tune in!


Our esteemed panel, moderated by the UND Center for Rural Health, will include representatives from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, Grand Forks Social Services, Valley Community Health Centers, Altru Health Systems, and Region VII Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).

I  look forward to learning more about what how the Affordable Care Act will affect my household. Whether in person or on TV, I hope you will join us on Thursday at 7pm!

ACA Save the Date

Wellness Center Internship Experience

Wow, it is already the end of the semester and the end of my internship with the Wellness Center.  Back in January when I started here this day seemed so far away, now looking back the semester really did fly by.  I gained a lot of valuable experience during my time here as Special Events Intern, and I also met some great people.  In this blog post I will recap some of what I did as well as what I learned and will take with me after graduation this spring.

This internship has allowed me to gain valuable experience in many different areas of business.  The primary project that I helped with was the 2nd annual Wellness Center Expo in late February.  This was a fun project to work on because I got to see firsthand how the planning process worked for a large event like the Expo.  I attended weekly meetings and even had a role on the “exhibitor committee” where my job was to assist with the coordination of the Exhibitors for the event.  I created a floor plan of the event and helped place where each exhibitor’s booth would be located during the event.  This seemed like it would be an easy task, but it tested my critical thinking skills.  When the day of the event arrived I had even more duties.  I worked at the check-in desk and practiced my communication customer relations and skills (two areas I wanted/needed practice in).  Later when the Expo was over I helped explain to volunteers how they could help tear down the event.  To do that I had to communicate the specific way that we wanted to take down and load things like chairs, tables and carpet tiles.  Overall it was a valuable experience to see the event take place from planning stage through the execution of the event.  Some things didn’t go like we hoped but many aspects went better than we planned.  One lesson that I will take away from this internship is that you truly can’t plan for everything when putting on an event.  Something will happen that you didn’t expect and you have to be able to think on your feet to solve the problem and learn from it for next time.  Overall the event was a success and I even got to hear about some exciting things they have planned for next year’s Expo at the post-event meeting we had.  (I’m disappointed that I won’t be around next year to attend!)

Other projects I was involved with were Family Fun days, RecSports’ 4v4 Pond Hockey Tournament and the creation of the Outdoor Recreation program.  There were also a handful of other events that the Wellness Center hosted like the Junior Grand Am Basketball tournament and several student organization events.  I also took on many different administrative tasks in my little makeshift office on the 2nd floor that also gave me insight as to how much work goes into the daily operations of a facility like this.  Each project was unique from the other and provided me a learning opportunity.

As I mentioned I got an opportunity to help with Family Fun days this semester.  One Saturday afternoon it was my job to setup and oversee this event.  I arrived around noon to set up.  I had to prepare the kiosk in the atrium so families could sign in when they arrived.  Then I had to get the classroom set up with board games, the gym set up with basketballs and the Multi Activity court with soccer balls and footballs.  All of this took longer than I anticipated and next thing I knew there were families arriving and the Gym court and Multi Activity court weren’t set up yet!  Luckily, volunteers arrived at that same time and I was able to delegate different tasks to complete the setup in time for kids and parents to have some fun.  Once that was done I walked around to all the different stations to check on the families and the volunteers and make sure everyone was satisfied and was having a great experience.  In doing this I learned a lot about being accountable and leading.  I was in charge that day and had to make sure everything was ready to go so that our customers had a great experience.  To make sure that happened I had to organize my volunteers and give them tasks that would help achieve that goal, because I couldn’t do it all on my own.

The 4v4 Pond Hockey tournament was another big project I was involved in.  This was something that Patrick Marcoe (my supervisor) and I worked together on, and he gave me a lot of responsibility with it.  I helped develop the rules for the tournament, setup the bracket, created the event in IM Leagues and put in a marketing request for flyers to advertise the tournament.  Then on the weekend of the tournament we braved the cold weather for two evenings and kept score for each of the games and also served as the off-ice officials overseeing play.  This was another example of not being able to plan for everything that happens during an event and gave me a chance to think on my feet when a couple teams didn’t to show up for their games.  We had to get creative and changed the entire schedule of events right there in the warming house.  Then we had to clearly communicate to all of the teams what the changes were and when they played next.  Although the tournament didn’t go exactly the way we hoped it was still a success and again provided me with an opportunity to develop skills and learn through experience.

I could go on and on about my semester as Special Events Intern at the Wellness Center…but I won’t.  In summary, everyday provided me with a challenge and an opportunity to learn, which is what I’m looking for while in college.  I met a lot of great people that helped me along the way and I hope them all the best in the future.  I would like to thank Patrick for giving me this opportunity and being a great teacher along the way.  Soon, I’ll be off on my next adventure as I travel into the “real world” with graduation a little over a week away.  I will take all of the experiences I had as Special Events Intern at the Wellness Center and use them to be successful at my next stop and beyond.  Now if I could only bring one of these fun bouncy stools with me as well…

Steven Hausmann

May 2, 2013


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