PITTSBURGH, Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- With its dizzying combination of extra shopping, more spending, special cooking, decorating, visiting and traveling about – all in the span of a few short weeks – the holiday season is a vivid reminder of stress and how it makes us feel.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), routine stress from the pressures of work, family and everyday responsibilities can take such a toll on our bodies that very serious health problems can result. "Over time, the strain on your body from routine stress may lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorder and other illnesses," says the NIMH.
To help individuals cope with stress, Highmark has launched a new stress management program – "Daily Steps to Less Stress" – as part of its Wellness Where You Live series of valuable health and wellness programs offered in convenient, community locations across Western and Central Pennsylvania. All members of the community are welcome to take advantage of these programs, which are free of charge to medically insured Highmark members and available for a nominal fee to non-Highmark members.
"Health experts have made great strides in researching stress, and a key discovery is the connection between stress and overall health," explained Donald Fischer, M.D., chief medical officer at Highmark Inc. "If you don't get your stress under control, it's much more difficult to keep your health under control. Excessive stress can elevate blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, leading to serious chronic diseases.
"The 'Daily Steps to Less Stress' program imparts a wealth of fresh knowledge and preventive strategies that could help many of us improve our health for the better," said Dr. Fischer.
"Daily Steps to Less Stress" is a group-based program that meets one hour a week for six weeks and is led by qualified health professionals. It teaches concepts such as "Take 20" minutes every day for personal enjoyment; the high value of "Humor Therapy;" and "Creating the Art of Calm" by identifying go-to sensory experiences that release endorphins. Individuals can inquire now about registering for group sessions beginning in 2013 by calling 1-800-879-2217.
More about Highmark's Wellness Where You Live programs
Highmark's Wellness Where You Live programs are offered to community members at more than 100 locations across Highmark's 49-county Pennsylvania service area through Highmark's Preventive Health Alliance of community partners. The Alliance includes health and wellness centers, YMCAs, community centers, hospitals and other local facilities that share a commitment to better health.
Five additional programs are offered through Wellness Where You Live including "Eat Well for Life," "Personal Nutrition Coaching," "HOPE Osteoporosis Prevention and Education Program," "Spectrum—Finding Your Optimal Health" and "Drop 10 in 10,® for which a small fee for materials applies.
Highmark Inc., based in Pittsburgh, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. Highmark serves 4.9 million members in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware through the company's health care benefits business and is one of the largest Blue plans in the nation. Highmark has 20,000 employees across the country and provides a broad range of health and wellness-related services through subsidiary and affiliate companies. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.
SOURCE Highmark Inc.