Taking care of daily issues, household needs and pressing work deadlines seem to always take priority over taking care of ourselves.  Making a conscious effort to focus on our own wellness is critical to our overall wellbeing and health. As part of National Safety Month, the National Security Council has provided some tips on how to improve wellness at every stage of life.

Focus on Your Wellness Each Day

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or go for a walk at lunch to add physical activity into your daily schedule
  • Take advantage of workplace wellness programs and choose healthy snacks each day
  • Find nearby options for exercise classes through your local parks department
  • Take breaks throughout your day to refresh your body and mind - if you sit for long periods, stand up and stretch for a few minutes at a time
  • Get regular medical checkups, such as an annual physical and age-appropriate tests - ask a professional about the right tests, exercise and nutrition choice for your physical fitness and age
  • Talk to your doctor about alternatives to opioid pain medications - learn more at nsc.org/takeaction

Watch Out for Fatigue

Fatigue is more than just being tired.  If you’re missing out on the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each day, you could become sleep deprived and be at higher risk for the negative effects of fatigue.

  • Chronic sleep deprivation causes depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses
  • Fatigued driving is impaired driving – losing even two hours of sleep is similar to the effect of having three beers
  • Night shifts and rotating shifts put you at a higher risk of fatigue – if possible, work with your employer to align your sleep and work schedules to get restful sleep
  • To help combat fatigue, make your bedroom more conducive to sleep; a quiet, dark room that is not too hot and not too cold will help you relax and get to sleep sooner
  • Avoid chemicals that affect sleep; caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can all contribute to sleep problems
  • Help your loved ones get the proper amount of sleep – children and teens typically require even more sleep than adults

Additional Resources

Risks of Fatigue at the Workplace

Sample Employee Wellness Program

Source: National Safety Council

It is important to prepare for the unexpected because an emergency can happen at any time. With the National Safety Council and in honor of National Safety Month in June, we have compiled some of the best tips and resources for preparation.

Plan for Possible Emergencies

  • Research, prepare for national disasters common to your area, such as floods, earthquakes or tornadoes. Stay informed during watches and warnings.
  • Create an emergency kit for both your home and car
  • Create a home emergency plan with your family and learn how to shut off your utilities
  • Be a good participant in emergency drills at work and school by following instructions
  • Store important phone numbers with other documents in a fire-proof safe or safety deposit box
  • Learn first aid and CPR for children and adults and download the NSC First Aid app available on iTunes or Google App Store

Stock Your Emergency Kits Now

Your home emergency kit should contain:

  • Food and water for each family member for three days, as well as a can opener and nonperishable foods
  • Hand-crank or battery-powered flashlight and radio with extra batteries
  • Full first aid kit, including hand sanitizer and garbage bags
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape for broken windows or leaks
  • Whistle to signal for help

Your car emergency kit should contain:

  • A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench, tripod jack and jumper cables
  • A tool kit, compass, duct tape and car charger for your cell phone
  • A flashlight with extra batteries, rain poncho and fire extinguisher
  • Reflective triangles and vest, and brightly colored cloth to make your vehicle more visible
  • A first aid kit and enough nonperishable food and water for three days
  • Cold weather items such as a snow brush, shovel, windshield washer fluid, warm clothing, cat litter for traction and blankets

Be sure to take advantage of special free and discounted offers during National Safety Month, sponsored by National Safety Council.

  • Free First Aid Online Course June 1-10. Register here.
  • Discount on Emergency Preparedness Course June 1-9.  Learn more here.
  • Family Safety & Health magazine discount.

For more information on how you can be prepared in an emergency, be sure to review our previous blog on You are the Help Until Help Arrives

Sources: National Safety Council, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response

At the recent Health Depot Annual Members Meeting, President Doug Abbott shared his thoughts on the progress of the association. The following is an excerpt from the meeting:

As the first quarter of 2018 comes to a close, we are pleased with the growth and progress of the Health Depot Association over the past year. Our membership has grown to more than 20,000 strong across the country – members all committed to managing their health and wellness for themselves and their families.  In 2017, we had some members hit hard with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. With donations to the American Red Cross and working with partners like Teladoc, we will continue to help support those affected by the recent hurricane and natural disasters as our members work to get their families safe and businesses growing again.  Our focus will continue to be on our members and providing the highest level of satisfaction with their membership and the benefits that Health Depot provides.

To provide more options and flexibility for our members, Health Depot created new membership levels and benefits for vision, dental and fixed-indemnity in 2017. We have also partnered with Pin Paws to create an affinity partner savings program for pet locating services. Additionally, through our newsletters, blog articles and social media community, our goal is to provide Health Depot members with timely and relevant content and resources to help as you research information and make decisions about health and wellness.

The remainder of 2018 promises to be an exciting year for associations like Health Depot. With a new executive order signed by President Trump in October 2017, the country is providing a new focus on Association Health Plans and Short Term Limited Duration plans, which we hope will make new opportunities and benefits available to you through Health Depot. We are receiving regular updates regarding this news as it develops and will share information with you as we learn more.

We are committed to researching industry-leading benefits and resources on your behalf so that you and your families have access to the health and wellness tools you need and look forward to continuing to serve you in 2018.

Sincerely,

Doug Abbott

March is National Nutrition Month, an education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  It has been proven that a combination of making good food choices and creating exercise habits can help provide a healthier life for you and your family.

This year, the theme is to "Go Further with Food" and promotes the idea of starting with a healthy breakfast or fueling up with nutritious snacks before athletic activities as a great way to make your food work for your body and go further.  

Some key tips:

  1. Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
  2. Consider the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store.
  3. Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days and plan ways to use the leftovers later in the week.
  4. Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that's right for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
  5. Continue to use good food safety practices.
  6. Find activities you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  7. Realize the benefits of healthy eating by consulting with a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

Tools to use:

  • MyPlate - resource for building healthy portions and food choices
  • EatRight.org - education resource for food, health and fitness

Source: http://sm.eatright.org/NNMinfo

Have you ever wondered about staying healthy while flying in an airplane and traveling to new destinations during the winter months? It can be tricky, given colder temperatures, more germs hanging around inside, and sharing the air in closed places.

Here are some doctor-approved tips for staying on top of your health while traveling:

Drink Carbonated Water

Tap water can be unsafe to drink, especially in foreign countries and can cause traveler’s diarrhea due to bacteria present in local water sources. Carbonated water with an intact seal can give you peace of mind. Hydration is important though – so enjoy your sparkling water as often as possible.

Probiotics: Trust Your Gut

Your immune fighting power begins in your gut, so boost up your probiotics. Forms that contain lactobacilli and bifidobacteria may help prevent G.I. disorders. Eat and drink wisely and avoid overindulgence which can impact your gut health while traveling.

Vitamins and Medications

Don’t forget to bring an ample supply of medications. According to the FDA, many drugs sold in developing countries contain impure or toxic ingredients. Also, taking magnesium while traveling may help you get better sleep while traveling and also acts as a laxative - helpful when dealing with changing time zones, sleep patterns and diet during vacation.

Saline Spray

Airplanes are notorious for dry air – a potential problem for your immune system. Dry nasal membranes create a breeding ground for germs because the microscopic hairs in your nose that move germs through don’t work effectively when too dry. If you use a saline nasal spray or gel an hour before and after your flight, this may help prevent germs from traveling down into your throat or lungs.

Enjoy your travels and stay healthy along the way!

*Sources include FDA & Wellness by The Huffington Post

Amidst the beauty of the orange and red leaves there’s one other striking color that catches eyes every October, pink! The minute we see the ribbons, balloons and NFL football players’ gloves and cheerleaders shaking pink pompons we know it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. But, breast cancer awareness month is more than just wearing a pink ribbon or article of clothing or joining in on a walk or fundraiser, it’s a reminder to make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions to take care of yourself and loved ones.

In 2017, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer. Regular mammograms increase your chances of finding cancers before the symptoms become present. Those with an increased risk because of age, genetics, etc. are recommended to have MRI screenings as well.

Each year we see posts about how to do your own exams at home and early detection signs so instead of that we will give you some ways that you can join the fight against breast cancer.

Get the Breast Health Guide - Visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation site and sign up for your free Breast Health Guide. Then, share the link with your friends and family.

Become an Advocate - Stay up-to-date with legislative actions and current advocacy initiatives that support funding and treatment.

Volunteer or Hold a Fundraiser - Many programs are available through Susan G. Komen and the National Breast Cancer Foundation to raise money to provide mammograms, support and education.

Breast Cancer Awareness should be practiced year round but October is a special month in the fight. Celebrate the survivors and remember those whom lost the battle by wearing your pink this October. But remember, early detection is key in increasing survival rates. Set up your reminders and stay in-the-know with the latest research so you can make the right choices for you and your loved ones.

With all of the recent news about hurricanes and flooding, have you wondered how you would be able to help in a natural disaster? Emergency responders aren't always nearby and you may be able to save a life by taking simple actions immediately.

FEMA provides an overview that can be used for your own education, as well as your community.  The highlights are:

You Make a Difference - by acting quickly and purposefully, you can save lives.

Call 9-1-1 - operators are highly trained and will help you assess the situation, take appropriate action and be as safe as possible.

Stay Safe - use all your available senses like sight, hearing and smells to use your best judgement to determine your course of action.

Stop the Bleeding - identify the source of bleeding, finding something to put between the blood and your hands, and applying firm, steady pressure until EMS arrives.

Position the Injured - if a person is conscious and breathing, allow them to position themselves, but if unconscious, learn the proper positioning techniques.

Provide Comfort - use simple words to comfort and engage with the injured and provide practical assistance.

Learn more about how you can help your community in times of emergency at ready.gov/until-help-arrives.

A total solar eclipse is targeted to sweep across the United States on August 21.  A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun.  Check here for the path that the total eclipse will take in North America. Our country hasn’t experienced a solar event like this since 1979, so you may not be aware of the potential dangers to your eyesight.

NASA has provided some safety tips that will allow interested viewers the ability to participate without causing permanent damage to the eyes. Highlights include checking the safety authenticity of viewing glasses for basic proper safety viewing standards, including:

  • Having a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard
  • Have the manufacter’s name and address printed on the product
  • Not be older than three years or have scratched/wrinkled lenses
  • Not be a homemade filter
  • Not be ordinary sunglasses – even very dark ones should not be a replacement for eclipse viewing glasses or handheld solar viewers

Check your glasses or viewers as indicated here.  After verifying you have the appropriate equipment, don’t forget about using them correctly:

  • Always supervise children using solar filters or viewers
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with the eclipse glasses or viewer before looking up at the sun.
  • Look away from the sun before removing your glasses/viewer.
  • Do not look at the sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other device.
  • Don’t look through cameras, telescopes, binoculars, etc while using your solar viewer or eclipse glasses.

Watching an eclipse without taking these precautions can result in solar retinopathy, an injury to the retinal tissues that can result in impaired vision, sometimes permanent.  Prepare ahead, so you can enjoy this amazing, natural phenomenon in a safe way.

The facts about brain tumors in the United States are sobering. With nearly 700,000 Americans living with a primary brain tumor and 78,000 people diagnosed with a tumor in 206, raising awareness and taking action to help defeat brain tumors is critical.  The month of May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month (BTAM). Click the image below for key statistics.

The National Brain Tumor Society has created a list of ideas to get involved in the fight against brain tumors.  Some ideas this month include:

  • Read and share informative blog content with your networks, friends and family - "get up to speed" on the latest content from the brain tumor experts.
  • Register your own team at the closest NBTS Brain Tumor Walk, Ride, Race or Polar Plunge fundraising events.  Check out the list here
  • Chat with the experts during a BTAM Twitter chat on May 18.
  • Join the Expert Video Session on May 25 with Dr. Paul Mischel to learn about his most recent brain tumor research discoveries.
  • Create your own community event to raise money for brain tumor research.

Through more research and testing, the National Brain Tumor Society hopes to help discover new sources of treatment and fighting for policies to help improve the lives of patients, as well as providing resources and information to the public. 

For more information on brain tumors, check this website and/or download a brochure today.

 

Stress Less with Mindful Movement

You may notice you feel better after you exercise. Most people experience increased energy and an improvement in overall well-being as physical activity becomes routine. Studies have shown that regular physical activity can help relieve depression and may even lower your risk of developing it.

If you are not the active type, are older or have physical limitations, you can still add healthy movement to your life.

For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes yoga, tai chi and qi gong as centuries-old, mind-body practices. They involve specific postures and movements combined with mental focus, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation. Even walking can be done mindfully as a form of meditation.

Some research studies have suggested that practicing these mindful movement activities may help:

  • manage stress, depression and insomnia
  • lower blood pressure
  • improve balance and stability
  • relieve chronic pain
  • improve quality of life and mood in people with heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses
  • motivate you to exercise more and eat healthier

A recent study concluded that yoga may improve heart health, including body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rate. More research is needed.

But it’s clear that yoga is becoming more popular. In the last 10 years the number of Americans practicing yoga has nearly doubled. It’s now practiced by more than 21 million adults and more than 1.5 million children.

Yoga and other mindful practices can be gentle and may be done by just about anyone, anywhere, with no special equipment needed.*

Look for classes in your community or instructional videos, books and websites.

Whatever way you choose to get active, your heart will benefit. And you may find yourself feeling happier and more relaxed, too.

*There is a wide variety of yoga styles; not all are gentle. The NIH recommends that people with high blood pressure and women who are pregnant should modify or avoid some yoga poses. Talk with your healthcare provider and a qualified instructor if you have concerns.