All Saints' Health Ministries Cares for You!

All Saints' Health Ministries serves parishioners of all ages and stages. Enjoy these bi-monthly blog posts on current, relevant topics from our Health Ministries Coordinator, Patrice Al-Shatti.
Feel free to contact her at or 602-279-5539 x161.

Archive of Previous Health Ministries Articles

April 2, 2017   Prescription Medication Savvy

Last Sunday, pharmacist Dennis McCallister, RPh, who sits on the Arizona State Pharmacy Board, graced us with a discussion about medicines and answered many questions. I’d like to follow up with a few additional thoughts about prescription drugs.

Reduce your medication costs:

· Have access to your drug formulary, the list of medicines your insurance company approves of, and the prices for each, often expressed as “tiers”, i.e. Tier 1, 2, and 3. These documents can usually be found on your health insurer’s website.

· When you get a new medicine, ask the cost BEFORE you fill it. You may be able to substitute a generic, go back to your doctor for a cheaper medication, or find a coupon for the drug online. Search for a coupon by using the drug name, i.e. “Invokana discount coupon.” Many new, expensive drugs have coupons available online that can lower the price considerably. If this doesn’t work, start an unfamiliar medicine by asking for a “partial fill,” such as one week, to see if you can tolerate it. Nothing is more annoying that an expensive medicine you can’t take.

· Dennis noted that generics are usually made by the same companies that make name brand drugs and are just as effective. Try them.

· is a clearinghouse for information about drug discount programs, coupons, and patient assistant programs where one can obtain free or deeply discounted medicines if you meet specific insurance and income criteria.



Manage them wisely:

· If you have food sensitivities, check the inert ingredients in unfamiliar medicines online at or, or by asking the pharmacist to check for you.

· Use a medi-set container if there is any possibly that you will forget. These are the little plastic containers with sections for each day of the week. Keep it somewhere you will see it every morning or evening. I have used one for years and cannot count the number of times it reminded me that I had forgotten my medicine.

Find a way to be OK with it.

· I have often seen patients become annoyed, angry, or depressed when they learn that they must start a new medicine, particularly long-term therapies. It’s hard to acknowledge that the body is changing, and hard to admit to it needs help. And some people worry quite a bit about possible side effects, or just note that they “hate” medication. Aging is part of living, and eventually most of us need help in this area. So, try to choose to be grateful that these medicines are now available to us, and live the healthiest life you can to minimize your need for them.


March 19, 2017   Tell Me Yes, Tell Me No

In the past six months or so I've said "yes" a lot, and lately find myself running up against my limits - maybe. I'm tired too much and thinking about all the projects I've committed to leads to anxiety as often as it generates excitement. And it's possible that my attention to quality is starting to fray. Quantity over quality. Can you relate?

Our culture glorifies busyness, and busy people are successful people, so we all run the race. Who do you give a job to? The busy person, of course. But busyness also, oddly, separates us from each other in a tangible way. We email instead of call, and text instead of email, and post it on Facebook for maximum distribution in minimum time. And we protect our friends' and neighbors' space and privacy, because they're probably busy too. All this focus on production instead of relationships is a uniquely American quandary, but it has the potential to lead to deep isolation, where we are hyper-productive but lonely, as well as tired. The thing I find most fascinating when I visit Europe is that the folks occupying tables in cafes for hours at a time don't seem to share our internal clock, always tick ticking. Do we drive ourselves to distraction in order to feel valued? In order to look successful? Or are we afraid of what we'll feel when we stop?

On the other hand it's easy to see that checking out and refusing to participate beyond the basic requirements of work and life also creates circumstances that are ripe for loneliness and lack of meaning. Although we value the "outsider" as a folk hero, nobody wants to be outside the warmth of the human hearth, really.

Maybe the answer is a version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Busy enough. Saying "yes" to community and caring, to using our gifts and building relationships that are real and meet the very basic human need for belonging, but not driven to exhaustion by the more is better philosophy. Maybe part of a Holy Lent can be finding your "just right" place. I'm going to be thinking about that this season. Maybe we can find each other and share the insights we arrive at once we figure out when to say "yes" and when to say "maybe later." 

March 5, 2017

Delayed Gratification

With Lent upon us it seems an appropriate time to think about delayed gratification. Delayed gratification is related to self-control, and it's worth reflecting upon whether or not you feel that this is a personal strength, and is something you focus on if you're a parent. If not, consider spending time in the holy season of Lent to build these muscles. For children, research confirms that self-control is a critical psychological skill. It's a basic aspect of emotional intelligence and is taught through activities that require children to tolerate, and even value, delayed gratification. A child's capacity for self-control is partly biological, and partly a result of socialization within the family, and children who exhibit self-control perform better in school, and ultimately in life because they aren't at the whim of every desire and impulse.

In adulthood, it's tough to fight years of habit, as well as brain biology, but we can tweak our capacity to tolerate frustration. It just might be harder for some people than others. Here are two behaviors to consider if you want to improve your ability to delay the good stuff until you're done with the important things.


Distract yourself

When struggling with an impulse, replace tempting thoughts with those that support your new habit. If possible, physically remove yourself from the situation, or at least keep the object of temptation out of sight. Then, distract yourself with enjoyable activities.

Reframe Your Thinking

Think twice about the object of temptation by remembering the practical parts of an experience instead of just the sensory aspects, which tend to get us into trouble. For instance, if you want to eat a bowl of ice cream instead of a bowl of yogurt, focus on how much it's going to raise your blood sugar instead of how great that first bite will taste. In a related vein, think about the longer term negative consequences instead of the momentary experience. Today's bowl of ice cream may taste great for a minute, and send that endorphin fueled sugar high rushing to your brain, but pretty soon you're feel tired, and guilty, and unsuccessful in controlling your sweet tooth.

It's best to start young with good habits at delaying gratification, but even those of us with a lot of missed opportunities, and ice cream, under our belts have room to grow. Wishing you a Holy Lent.

02.05.2017 Supporting the Suicide Survivor

Every year in the United States, 33,000 people take their own lives. According to Harvard University, every one of these deaths leaves an estimated six or more "suicide survivors" — people who've lost someone they care about deeply and are left struggling to understand. That's almost 200,000 by my count, so it's very likely that you know one. You may even be one, and with the rise in suicide frequency in our country, the count is only likely to climb. So let me lay out a few of the issues and resources related to this phenomenon, and trust that you will share the information, as is your generous tendency.

Suicide loss isn't like other types of bereavement because so much anger and guilt are wrapped into the experience. Loss survivors have complex needs that aren't easily met by the traditional grief support network. So what can you do if you know someone in this situation? First, set a tone that it's always OK to talk. Some people won't or can't, so your friend's support system has likely gotten smaller. Second, ask questions, then listen. Pry a little when your friend seems down or you haven't heard from them for a while. Be persistently present. Third, try not to give advice but remind your friend of their genuine strengths. Fourth, know a few resources and help them connect with them. Sometimes they don't have energy for the first step, even when they know they need to take it.

Here are those resources:

-American Association of Suicidology, Survivors of Suicide (SOS) Handbook, a concise 32 page handbook to guide a survivor through the first months.

-American Association of Suicidology, Survivors of Suicide Support Group Directory, a way to find a local support group.

For women impacted by the suicide death of a spouse, I have created FindingUp,, a source for education and insight. FindingUp includes the resources listed above, as well as everything a woman would need to consider in the path back to health and wholeness. It includes coping strategies, resources, and examples from my own experience, as I am one of the 200,000. Like any terrible loss, this is survivable, but having community, and love, and faith, are key assets in the struggle. So reach out. Someone out there needs you.

January 22, 2017 Taking on a Taboo: Part I

Statistically speaking, it's really likely that somewhere in your circle of acquaintances, you know someone who lost a loved one to suicide. Suicide used to be considered a problem just for angst ridden teenagers or lonely elderly men but things are different. In the last fifteen years, the suicide rate among people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s has surged, creating what physicians call a silent epidemic. Did you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death in men in their 30s, or that 29% of all suicides in the US are in white men ages 45-64?

Most people don't, and it's a scary knowledge gap because we, as a community, are the first line of defense when someone is feeling despondent to the point of death. So, what are the risk factors for suicide? According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) they are health conditions like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, chronic pain, or chronic or severe medical problems, environmental factors like stresssful life conditions, dysfunctional relationships, access to lethal means, or surviving another person's suicide, and historic factors, like previous suicide attempts or a family history of suicide.

The warning signs that someone may be thinking about suicide are focused around talk, behavior, and mood. A suicidal person may talk about being a burden to others, feeling trapped, having no reason to live, or even admit that they are thinking about suicide. They exhibit specific behaviors too, like withdrawing from social activities, drinking more, acting aggressively, or sleeping too much or too little. They usually also have a depressed, anxious, or angry mood.

If you're worried about someone, remember the acronym QPR. It stands for question, persuade, and refer. You start by just asking, "Are you thinking about killing yourself?" It's an awkward question, for sure, but most people are honest in their answers and this can literally save a life. If they say yes, we may be able to lovingly talk to them about these feelings and encourage them to get help. And then refer them to it. The suicide hotline is a great place to start and locally that number is 480-784-1500. Nationally it is 1 800-273-8255.

If we know a suicide loss survivor, they need your love, support, and prayers over many months or years. I will talk about that challenge in my next column, and encourage you to share this information across your social network because we never know where need resides.

January 5, 2017  Do You Believe In Resolutions?

Someone asked me lately what my New Years' resolution was, and I had to admit that I never make them. Saying you're going to do something is

never a recipe for change, so I've tended to just decide on a certain behavior change and create weekly, trackable mini-goals to help make it happen. When or if it didn't work out I wasn't really invested in the goal, so I moved on to other goals. Whether or not you made a New Years' resolution, or just look at January as a fresh start, here are three behaviors to reflect on: should I have more of this in my life? These three habits alone would go a long way toward improving your overall wellness in 2017.

1. Scripture. Participating on the RenewalWorks evaluation team helped me to understand that the best way the grow spiritually is to weave the Bible into my daily life. Is it a growing opportunity for you, too? We cannot grow closer to God if His Word isn't comforting our spirits and guiding our actions.

2. Build your social support network. Make at least one good friend this year, someone with whom you share your thoughts and feelings. In adulthood, we tend to lean on the same friends we've known for years. The problem there is that people move, and die, and if we aren't bringing new people into our circle, we are in a state of net loss, year by year. There is overwhelming data that strong social support is a foundational element of good physical and mental health, and it is so much more important than you may think. And spouses can't be your only support. For men, this is especially critical. Statistically, men suffer more suicide, substance abuse, and mental and physical dysfunction than women, and researchers track a lot of it back to poor social support.


3. Try to watch your self-talk. "I'm such an idiot." "He did it just to annoy me." "I am never going to get a raise." What we say inside our heads is often poisonously unhelpful. If someone else talked to us the way we talk to ourselves, we'd sure be angry. So when you find unpleasant emotions arising, turn inward and observe your self-talk. It's likely unrealistic, unfounded, and unhelpful. Working on self-talk is the very best non pharmaceutical way to improve mental health, according to research.

Three powerful behavior changes. Three paths to wellness. So what are you going to do this week to make a small change? Happy New Year!

November 22, 2016  Just Do It

A turbulent election is behind us and next year we have new leadership and the uncertainty that goes with that. Let's take a cue from the equally important fact that our national day of thanks is this week and consider that it may be a wonderful moment to focus on gratitude. Gratitude represents our thankfulness for every experience because they all help us grow, sometimes materially, but sometimes spiritually and emotionally.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 is a beautiful verse that tells us to "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you". When life is great, that's easy to do, but when our circumstances are trying, or our emotions distraught, it's a much bigger challenge.

For a lot of reasons aside from the spiritual, it's really useful to develop a practice of gratitude. First, the mind is constantly struggling with unfulfilled desires. We never have enough time, enough shoes, or enough hair and is always beckoning. But the perception of "enough" is relative because there's always something more to want. When we nurture contentment through the practice of gratitude, we calm the mind and clear the way for actual happiness. And there is a lot of research that connects gratitude to happiness versus acquiring- status, position, possessions.

Gratitude also has a positive impact on health because it facilitates a state of physiological relaxation rather than stressed out frustration. From instance, researchers at University of California Davis found that nurturing an attitude of gratitude helps immune functioning, reduces blood pressure, and improves sleep. It's always a lovely revelation to me that behaviors that God calls us to invariably are good for our bodies.

So how can we do this, especially in moments when we may not be feeling so grateful? I think it boils down to building good habits. Every day add prayers of thanks to your personal reflection time. Practice saying thank you frequently to other people. Be grateful for the mundane because life could be so much harder. And use gratitude to harness your hurts. Make a habit of looking back and seeing how the strength you had to bring forth to manage hard times may have changed you in some way that now makes you a more authentic version of yourself. As the saying goes, there are two ways to look at your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.

October 30, 2016 Let’s Talk about Open Enrollment

As health insurance open enrollment winds down for employers, and gets started for the Healthcare Marketplace and Medicare, I’d love to share a few tips about these choices.

• Don’t choose a plan based on your or your family’s current health status. Consider the worst-case scenario and plan from there. In my opinion, this is the number one mistake people make. They purchase coverage that is adequate only if they stay healthy because it’s cheaper. But it’s an inaccurate kind of math to look at your current medical costs, and decide that it’s cheaper to choose less coverage or go without all together because it doesn’t take into account the fact that things can change.

• If you’re looking for an individual insurance plan, this is a challenging time indeed. is currently open to preview options and there is only one plan available in Maricopa County, offered by Healthnet. Please talk to a private insurance broker about other options if your physicians aren’t contracted with this plan. Whatever you purchase, please make sure that it covers the Affordable Care Act’s ten essential services.

• If you’re on Medicare make sure you have a Part D prescription drug plan and explore whether or not you can purchase one at this time if you don’t.

• If you are faced with a high deductible plan, learn about gap coverage. Gap coverage is offered through insurance brokers, and some employers. For a modest premium, it can provide insurance coverage for your deductible and is a good option for some.

• If you’re on a Medicare C, or Medicare Advantage plan, consider how easy or difficult it has been for you to access specialists, see the providers you want to see, and your general customer service experience. Although these plans are cheaper, they do have much tighter provider networks and some of the most prestigious medical institutions in the state don’t take these plans. If you’re considering a switch to to straight Medicare, you’ll need to purchase a Part D drug plan and a Part B supplement, and now would be the time to make the move.


AARP Law: Choosing a Health Plan

Medicare: Your Medicare Choices

Healthcare Marketplace: Getting Coverage for 2017

NPR: Would You Like Some Insurance With Your Insurance?

October 16, 2016 When it’s Not Okay

If you're not familiar with it, #notokay is a Twitter and Facebook page started by Canadian writer Kelly Oxford to highlight the problem of sexual assault in the wake of last week's political news. Her recent online invitation for women to share their first experience of sexual assault had staggering results. 27 million people visited or responded on her Twitter page in a few days, reporting victimization, often as young as twelve.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) notes that 63,000 children a year are victims of sexual assault and most are between 12-17 years old. And one of every six American women experience sexual violence of some sort. I'm not even sure if statistics are captured regarding the rate of sexual harassment. Many stories with #notokay hashtags described behavior that creates hostile school and work environments, but never gets reported. Does my experience, as a young woman, of having a male manager slip in between me and my desk and sit on it to flirt, which positioned my eyes inches away from his belt buckle, fit? I don't know…

What I do know is that it all starts with our kids, and us. Are we teaching our girls, before they reach adolescence, about appropriate and inappropriate touch? Are we teaching them to recognize sexual harassment before we think they will need that information? Many women's stories included a thread of shame, or fear that kept them from telling anyone. Are we teaching our girls in clear language that it is never their fault if someone touches them in a way that makes them embarrassed or scared and that we need to know if it happens? Pretending that they are too young, or that we can keep them safe, only makes them more vulnerable.

And are we teaching our boys to respect girls and women, really? I'm not sure if "locker room talk" is really as crude as it seems, since I've never been in those conversations, but you men do know. Please think about what you've heard and prepare your sons to manage themselves. One college-aged male blogger recently reminded readers of Martin Luther King's assertion that allowing injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We must coach our sons to have compassion for girls and women as real people and have ways to respond to disrespectful peer-to-peer conversations. Because talking about women in a degrading way has a direct relationship on how women are treated in our society. And it's just not what Jesus would do.

October 2, 2016  Happy Feast of St Francis of Assisi! 

In honor of the occasion, let's talk about dogs. (Sorry cat lovers.) The special chemistry between dogs and humans goes back at least 100,000 years. They were the first domestic animal with which we developed a close association and scientists believe we helped each other survive and evolve. Dogs acted as our alarm systems, trackers, hunting aides, heating pads, babysitters, and playmates. In exchange, we provided them with food and security.

Dogs have a uncanny ability to predict what their owners will do, can often read human body language, and are attuned to our emotional states. And people are reasonably good at understanding dog body language, also. Researchers at Walden University in Florida found that owners recognized a happy expression on their dog's face about 88% of the time. No wonder that at least 40% of owners identify their dog as a family member rather than "just" a pet.

Pets, especially dogs, seem to be good for our health. "Dogs make people feel good," says Dr. Brian Hare of Duke University's cognitive neuroscience department. Research has shown that when we interact with dogs, oxytocin levels increase in both species. Dr. Hare notes that "dogs have somehow

hijacked the oxytocin bonding pathway, so that just by making eye contact, or playing and hugging our dog, the oxytocin in both us and our dogs goes up." ( This a pretty amazing considering the idea that oxytocin plays a key evolutionary role in parent-child bonding among most mammals, including people. It's this rise in oxytocin levels that accounts for why our stress levels, anxiety levels, and heart rates go down when we interact with our dogs.

Dogs are used in therapeutic capacities in courtrooms, exam study halls, hospitals, nursing homes, hospice homes, classrooms, and airports. They have been shown to be therapeutic for people with chronic pain conditions, both married couples and single people living alone, those at risk for heart attack, people facing emotional struggles such as depression, and many other circumstances. The research goes on for miles.

So dog owners rejoice. Your furry friend is an asset for your health, and for those of you like me, who haven't yet taken the leap, remember that All Saints will be hosting a huge adoption event on Saturday September 29th. Who knows, your fur-ever friend may be waiting for you.

September 15, 2016  Know Thyself

I've spoken several times in this column about emotional intelligence, that priceless ability to identify and manage our emotions, as well as respond in a measured way to the emotions of others, and one of the cornerstones of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. We cannot manage anything without awareness of it, right? And without awareness, there is no way to pursue a path of holistic wellness. So too it is with our congregation. As a body, if we are not self-aware, how can we be physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy?

This week we roll out RenewalWorks, a very special opportunity to gauge our wellness as a community through the vehicle of self-awareness. I joined the RenewalWorks team because as a social worker and your Health Ministries Coordinator, I saw it as our opportunity to increase our communal emotional and spiritual awareness. What an exciting thing!


How can we take focused, action oriented, and informed steps into our future if we are unaware of where we are now? I just don't see how it's possible. So in order to know ourselves, we move through the RenewalWorks process and there is a whole team of volunteers from the community, from all walks of life, who have stepped forward to give their time to review and analyze the data we receive from the program after the survey is over. It will be completely anonymous aggregate information about us as a whole, and your RenewalWorks team is excited to crack it open and identify our strengths and challenges. What programs do you need? What supports? What's going well and what's not? We will not know unless you tell us.

So your part in this journey to self-awareness is to fill out the survey because the plans developed will only be as reliable as the information they are based on. Know thyself and health and healing come. And we all have a part in this body's journey in wellness. Yours will come in the form of an email link. The next step is up to you.

September 1, 2016  Knit One, Purl Two

I recently read an article about the health benefits of knitting. Really. Turns out that time spent in crafting activities that are intellectually challenging, require hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity, produce something we can be proud of, and involve repetitive actions really do us a world of good.

The studies involving knitting, specifically, are impressive. It helped young women with eating disorders improve clinically, induced calm behaviors amongst incarcerated prisoners, alleviated depression, helped people with chronic pain conditions focus less on physical sensations, reduced dementing illnesses in the elderly, and improved the likelihood that smokers could successfully quit cigarettes.

Last April, the Yarn Craft Council even created a “Stitch Away Stress” campaign in honor of National Stress Awareness Month. Dr. Herbert Benson, a pioneer in integrative medicine and author of “The Relaxation Response,” confirmed that the repetitive action of needlework can put us in the same relaxed state as meditation and yoga. Once you get beyond the initial learning curve, which can definitely be frustrating, knitting and crocheting can lower heart rate and blood pressure and reduce blood levels of cortisol, one of the primary stress hormones that build up in our bodies as we face the fight or flight response in reaction to life's daily trials.

And all kinds of people are figuring this out. Needle crafts are popular. It now seems that about a third of younger women knit, as do more men and even children. In fact, if you check out, you'll see that men are knitting socks for amputee friends, organizing scarf exchanges, and making hats for premature babies to take their minds off worries related to their own premature infant sons and daughters. It's terrific! We all need more healthy and productive ways to handle the stresses of life, build caring relationships, and make an impact on the world. Sometimes knitting needles are just what the doctor ordered. Sound intriguing? A great place to start might be our own Prayer Shawl ministry. And if you practice a needlecraft activity that soothes your soul and creates beautiful objects to share with others, please teach a child in your life how to do what you do. Pass it on. These simple practices, and there are so many of them, are the little joys that lead to lasting health and happiness.

August 17, 2016  Coming your way . . . The All Saints’ Creative Community

Have you noticed the call for artists over the past few weeks? All Saints’ has an exciting new way to connect coming your way, the All Saints’ Creative Community. We envision a space in the life of the church where those who are interested in the visual arts can find each other, grow their skills, work for the benefit of the larger community, and just have fun. Art and spirituality are natural partners and All Saints’ already has a long history of excelling artistically. What might this connection group look like? Well, we might have access to workshops by visiting artists, host an exhibit and sale to benefit a specific ministry, share our work with each to receive support and feedback, study art and spirituality together, host an art focused meet-up in the community, etc. We envision the group as a loose roster of members who share this interest in the arts, but do not plan specific routine obligations like group meetings. However, we also see the group as shepherding it own programs and activities, so the specifics are wide open.


Why am I involved? Well, I’m a later life art student, learning classical drawing and painting, and know that God has healed me through the arts in so many ways. And maybe this project is a natural extension of All Saints’ Health Ministries Program because research has definitively proven the therapeutic effect of arts participation.

So if you are a student, amateur, or professional artist, spending one hour a month or forty hours a week on your craft, make money from it or spend money to do it, we want you! Please email me at, let me know what you enjoy doing, and I will add you to the growing All Saints’ Creative Community group in Realm, the platform through which we will organize communication and activities.