Issue #4

December 2012
AlaskaCare Employee News from the Alaska Division of Retirement and Benefits

In this issue

Managing Stress

December Health Hero

12-Week Wellness Program

Wellness Challenge

Healthy Recipe

Managing Stress through the Holidays

Holiday Woman

Ho, ho, ho! ‘Tis the season for tinsel, trees, temptations, and stress? Maybe it’s hearing “Jingle Bells” every time you go to the store or maybe it’s making sure that bow is tied just right, we all have our different trigger, but the reality is - the holiday season can stress us out. A certain amount of daily stress is normal and necessary, but according to the American Institute of Stress, stress causes adverse health effects in 43% of adults, and 75–90% of visits to the doctor are stress-related.


Quick Links

AlaskaCare Wellness

Contact our Wellness Team

Are you an AlaskaCare Employee Health Plan Member?

Don’t fret, you have help! The Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) offers tools to help you manage stress including self-help resources online. Counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide confidential assistance at no cost to you. To learn more about AlaskaCare EAP services visit


December Health Hero: Victoria Braun

Victoria Braun

Victoria Braun is a Health Hero for her commitment to fitness, involvement in the community, and willingness to share fitness opportunities with others. Victoria has fun with fitness by playing on summer softball teams and making walking a social occasion. She also supports others in their fitness efforts.

In the past year, Victoria became a Hot Hula fitness instructor and presents classes at the Anchorage Senior Center and other venues. She also volunteers at the Anchorage Listening Post, a not-for-profit venue supporting people in sharing stories to support their emotional health. Her volunteer activities highlight her grace and willingness to share, and are part of her heroic nature.

To nominate a colleague in your office, visit the AlaskaCare Health Heroes Web page, and complete the nomination form.


Enroll Now for the 12-Week Wellness Education Program

Managing Stress

Reduce Stress Sign

Prepare for the upcoming New Year by improving your organizational and time-management skills while learning to identify signs of stress that may impact your health. HealthSmart’s next 12-Week Wellness Education course begins December 17. Participants will learn to identify negative thinking and emotions while using prescribed stress management techniques to defuse anger and anxiety. The course is offered at no cost to AlaskaCare Employee Health Plan members.

Registration closes December 14. Register today.


Wellness Challenge: Stretch into a Stress-Free New Year

Woman Stretching

The holiday season is in full swing and your wellness team wants to remind you to approach the New Year stress-free! This month’s healthy habit will allow you to take some strain off of your muscles and focus on the importance of establishing a daily stretch routine.

Try it yourself in this month’s challenge. Just print the challenge log [PDF]. At the end of the month send the complete form to Mike DiFilippo, the Wellness Coordinator for HealthSmart. Don’t forget to send your forms to Mike if you participated in the November Monthly Challenge.

Does your office do anything fun or unique to encourage participation in each Monthly Wellness Challenge? If so, email us your story.

Don't miss the Lunch–n–Learn Webinars - Defining your Stress-Less Plan


Healthy Recipe: Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta

Shrimp Pasta

The spinach and shrimp in this recipe provide a rich source of iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. For additional healthy recipe ideas and inspiration, visit the HealthSmart Wellness Portal.


  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomato bits
  • 1-1/2 cup boiling water
  • 8 oz. penne or other sturdy pasta shape
  • 1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 14 oz. fresh medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 2 tbsp. chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 tbsp. drained capers, optional
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese, optional

To Prepare:

  1. Combine tomato bits and boiling water in a small bowl; let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain tomatoes in a sieve over a bowl and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid.
  2. Cook penne in a large pan of boiling water. Drain and keep warm.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add shrimp and oregano, and sauté for 2 minutes. Pour in the reserved tomato liquid. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes or until the shrimp are opaque. Remove from the heat and stir in spinach, olives, and capers, if using, and the plumped tomato bits.
  4. Toss with the drained pasta and feta cheese, if using, in a shallow serving bowl.

Source: Healthy Living Kitchens

Nutritional Information Per Serving (this meal contains four servings):

  • 9 Weight Watchers Points Plus Value
  • 362 Calories
  • 7.2g Fat
  • 2.5g Saturated Fat
  • 26g Protein
  • 47g Carbohydrate
  • 2.5g Fiber
  • 381mg Sodium
AlaskaCare Wellness  •
Phone: (907) 465-4460  •  Fax: (907) 465-3086  •  TDD: (907) 465-2805
This electronic newsletter and services described within applies only to State of Alaska AlaskaCare Employee Health Plan members and their dependents.