By Michelle Jenck, YOW Coordinator
We are excited to share health and wellness news with our community through this monthly column and thank the Headlight-Herald for the opportunity. By now, you have probably heard of the Year of Wellness, or YOW, and maybe even participated by attending community events or by using our wellness tracking tool. Based on community input, what began as a one year health awareness campaign has turned into a long-term community wellness initiative. It could not have happened without our dedicated Task Force and community partners. Most importantly, our commitment to continue this effort is due to the positive feedback we have received from people like you.
If you are wondering why we need a community wellness campaign, look no further than your wallet. Local, state and national data point to some pretty lousy health statistics and the skyrocketing costs associated with those issues. It might surprise you to know that more than 80 cents out of every healthcare dollar is associated with preventable health conditions. That’s a lot of money and a lot of unnecessary suffering. YOW is our community’s approach to improving these statistics at the local level. We have a wealth of resources and positive, solution-driven energy right here in Tillamook County and they have banded together to make health and wellness a priority. We truly do believe that, “Together, we are the solution.”
We also found that people are ready to make positive changes in their lives. More than 1000 people attended a community wellness event or workshop in 2016. Our website had more than 53,000 views and is quickly becoming our county’s go-to for wellness programming and information. We had 980 people take advantage of our free, on-line tracking tool. By increasing awareness of basic health habits, participants reported improved nutrition, sleep, water intake, and activity levels. At the end of each session, people reported successes such as quitting smoking, losing weight, and just plain feeling better. This tool remains available on-line at www.tillamookcountyhealthmatters.org and is even more convenient now thanks to our new Tillamook County YOW app.
Make 2017 your year to invest in, or maybe even reinvent, yourself. What is the best life you can make for yourself with the things over which you have control? It could be as simple as starting a gratitude journal, setting a regular bedtime, stretching, walking, or eating an extra serving of vegetables each day. Or, it could be something more challenging like quitting chewing or smoking. When we are aware of what is and isn’t working, and create a plan to make lasting changes, we can significantly improve our overall health. Start small. Don’t try to change too many things at one time. Set SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Realistic and Timebound. Let YOW be your guide and partner in that journey. Follow us on Facebook, sign up for the first Wellness Tracker session, beginning January 6th and check our calendar for events and activities.