CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — As a new year begins, the providers at FourPoints Health are continuing to offer resources to help Southern Utahns make positive lifestyle choices that will benefit not only their physical health but their emotional and overall wellness.
FourPoints Health was established with the mission of providing quality affordable health care for both adults and children. Preventive and primary medical care, dental care and behavioral health services – including mental health assessments and outpatient counseling – are available to all patients on a fee-for-service basis, regardless of insurance status.
Wes Nielsen, a physician assistant at the Cedar City clinic, said that he has witnessed a rise in patients seeking treatment for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the silver lining may be the opportunity this time provides for self-reflection.
“This year has been an interesting one with the addition of COVID-19 into all of our lives,” Nielsen said. “It has kind of thrown us a curveball, but sometimes those are good because it helps us re-evaluate our current situation and plan for future ones as well.”
Heading into 2021, Nielsen said the key question that faces Southern Utahns is how to face the ongoing challenges of the pandemic while also working to improve physical and mental health.
“It really should be a lifestyle change and a lifestyle choice that we’re making,” he said. “Focus on baby steps.”
Nielsen made several recommendations along these lines.
Get active and stay on track
Nielsen said cardiovascular exercise is key, adding that people should aim for 45 minutes four to five days a week. Mix it up between running, biking, swimming and other activities. Set fitness goals, but make sure they’re realistic.
Nielsen recommends assessing what you’re doing now and improving it by 25%. If you spend most of the day idle, you’re not expected to run a 5K in your first month of becoming more active. Instead, take a half hour that would ordinarily be spent sitting in front of the TV and go for a walk, gradually raising the bar as you become more fit.
Focus on healthy eating habits
The goal here, Nielsen said, is keeping your weight under control, not shedding pounds as quickly as possible with the latest fad diet. Home gardening and farmers markets are seeing a rise in popularity in recent years, he said, as people nationwide seek out affordable fresh and healthy options.
Along with what you eat, what you drink can make or break your health.
Nielsen said he sees many patients afflicted by diabetes and obesity, including in childhood, who regularly consume sodas loaded with sugar and calories. Determine how much soda you drink every day and aim to cut that number in half. After a month or two, cut your soda intake in half again.
Pick a hobby
Nielsen said the hobby should be one that gets you off the couch and out of the house, whether it’s volunteering in the community, running or equine therapy. With so many people working, studying and spending more time at home rather than in social settings, he said it’s easy to become stuck in a mental rut.
However, the pandemic has sparked a wave of interest in outdoor recreation across the country, particularly biking. Nielsen encourages Southern Utahns to take advantage of seemingly endless trails and miles of beautiful public lands available to them.
Many people have the motivation to make healthier lifestyle choices but are unsure of how or where to start, he said. If you’re setting wellness goals for 2021, make an appointment to talk one-on-one with a FourPoints Health provider who can help you assess current lifestyle choices, identify goals and expectations and create a starting point to set yourself up for success.
As a community health center, Nielsen said that FourPoints Health has access to federal funding options for services that other providers might not offer. FourPoints Health is also not restricted by the policies and time constraints of a privately owned clinic, which allows them to provide more individualized patient care.
“We’re able to adapt to our patients a little more,” he said. “And really, that’s what health care is – it’s what the patient desires out of their life combined with what the recommendations are medically.”
Owned by the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, FourPoints Health operates five clinics in the southern and central regions of the state. Many of the staff are tribal members working for and giving back to their tribe and community.
At FourPoints Health, providers seek to treat more than just a patient’s physical body; their mind, emotions and spirit all play a role. These four points of the ancient medicine wheel define health in the Paiute way of life.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- FourPoints Health | Address: 1449 N. 1400 West, Suite 19, St. George, or 440 N. Paiute Drive, Cedar City | Telephone: 435-688-7572 (St. George) or 435-867-1520 (Cedar City) | Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Website.
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