Health Matters Now Week 2
Positive Stress Management Techniques
How do you handle stress? There are both negative and positive techniques to cope with daily stress, especially during these trying times. Negative stress management techniques include smoking, drinking alcohol, avoiding the problem and stress eating. Below are some positive stress management techniques to try:
Positive Stress Management Ideas
- Take time for a hobby you love. What brings you happiness? Crafting, playing music, walking in nature?
- Watch a movie or show.
- Clean – your home, your car, your workstation.
- Talk it out – share your worries with others, such as your family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, health coach – use your support system!
- Create a healthy sleep environment to make sure you are getting seven to eight hours of sleep.
- Take a break – a 10-minute walk can be the reset you need after sitting for a long period of time.
- Get organized with your tasks. Make a structured plan of what needs to get done and how you will manage your time. Set realistic deadlines.
- Exercise. Physically getting up and getting our blood flowing naturally brings stress levels down. Any form of movement is a positive stress-management technique. It is recommended to get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. (Research also shows that the vitamin-D boost from sunlight may elevate your levels of feel-good serotonin- so exercise outside and get some fresh air, if you can!)
- Cardio – Find an activity that you love to do. Dancing, bike riding, swimming, walking, skating and jogging are great cardiovascular activities.
- Weight training – Bodyweight exercises include pushups, situps, squats and lunges, or you can use dumbbells, kettlebells or weight machines.
- Gratitude Journal. Count your blessings and enjoy better health and happiness. Individuals who noted (mentally or physically) grateful thoughts have been shown to be more optimistic about life and upcoming events. Did you know? Gratitude can produce an immediate 10% increase in happiness and 35% reduction in depressive symptoms. These symptoms can disappear within three to six months, so repeated practice is needed.
- Try the “At least” expression. When you’re in a bad situation, try to list at least three things that could/would make the situation worse. This will hopefully ease the stress of the current situation. An example could be missing a bus by two seconds. The at least statement could be “At least there is another bus coming and I will not be too late to work. Or, it might be “At least it’s not cold out.” Recognizing the positives of your current situation can make it more ideal than what could have happened.
- Take the good from bad events. This might include phrases like “This experience has brought me closer to friends/family” or “This bad review kicked me in gear to do better work” or “Finding out this bad news has really helped me make a decision.”
- Get started on the right foot each day. When you wake up, before getting out of bed or looking at your phone, try to list three things mentally or physically that you are grateful for. They can be general at first, if you’re having a hard time thinking of things (for example: I am grateful for friends; the availability of food; a safe place to call home, etc.)
Grocery shopping is an essential part of life. But during these uncertain times, and with the fear of contracting COVID-19 or carrying it home to loved ones, taking extra precautions when grocery shopping is necessary. It can be hard to know where to start and how to prepare, so we’ve created this simple guide to help reduce anxiety before and after your next shopping trip. Firstly, if you have any symptoms of illness, avoid grocery shopping altogether. Opt for a delivery service or no-contact pick-up option, if available. If you are well, follow these steps for grocery shopping safety tips:
AT THE STORE
- Ideally, send only one person (a head of household) to the grocery store at a time. Do not bring your entire family with you to the store.
- At this time, the best thing you can do to protect yourself when shopping, according to the CDC, is to not touch your face and use hand sanitizer and wash your hands frequently.
- Bring a paper shopping list rather than your phone to reduce contamination. Throw the list away before you leave the store.
- Bring only the card you need into the store, rather than your entire purse or wallet.
- Attempt to stay at least six feet apart from people, other than your immediate family, during your shopping trip. Follow this guideline especially when in line to check out.
- Avoid racing to get the last of an item on the shelf. Follow guidelines that may be posted at the store. Be patient.
- Bring hand sanitizer with you to the store to use every time you accidentally touch a “high-touch” surface, such as an unsanitized shopping cart. “The virus causing COVID-19 can survive on surfaces and objects for a limited amount of time. The available evidence suggests this up to about three days on hard surfaces like metal or plastic and about one day on soft surfaces like cardboard,” according to Harvard. “This is unlike some other viruses that can persist on food or other surfaces for long periods.”
- Clean your shopping cart or basket—specifically the handles and other surface areas—either with your own disinfectant or wipes provided by the store. (Many stores have already started providing wipes by the carts.)
CHECKING OUT/PAYING FOR YOUR ITEMS
- When checking out, try to keep as much distance between yourself and the cashier as possible. If you have a self-service checkout option, choose that so you can bag your own items.
- If you don’t have the option to go cashless or contactless when paying for your groceries, make sure to wipe your credit card before and after use.
- Make sure you wash your hands before and after you pay, regardless of how you do it.
ONCE YOU’RE HOME
- Once you are home, always wash your hands before and after handling food items and unpacking groceries.
- If you can help it, do not place bags on your countertop when putting items away. This will make it easier to sanitize the floor afterward.
- Make sure you sanitize and wipe down all surfaces before and after you prepare food.
- Wash fresh produce as you normally would, under running water. For extra precaution, you could use a vegetable brush when cleaning your produce. Scrub and use a small amount of soap.
- For items that need to be immediately frozen or refrigerated (specifically frequently touched items, such as milk), you may wish to wash the container surface with a small amount of soap and water. Be sure to wash your hands after.
- You may also wish to sanitize car door handles and house doorknobs if you have touched them without sanitizing your hands.
- For items that do not need immediate attention, let these items sit outside or in your garage for three days.
“Because of the limited ability of coronavirus to survive on surfaces, the easiest way to minimize risk of infection from foods purchased at a store or delivered to your home is just let it sit in an out-of-the way place for three days,” says Harvard. “Of course, this won’t work for foods that need immediate refrigeration or freezing. Note that COVID-19 is an enveloped virus, meaning that it is covered in an oily membrane. Fortunately, plain soap is very effective at disrupting the oil on surfaces, and water is effective at removing and rinsing away the virus.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends four steps for safely dealing with food: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. Visit the FDA for more frequently asked questions about COVID-19 including food safety.
A 15-Minute Cardio Home Workout to Get You Moving!
Pressed for time but want to fit in exercise? No problem! Check out this simple 15-minute workout that will get your heart pumping without having to leave your house. You can modify it as necessary, especially if you are new to high-intensity activities or have any physical limitations. The important part is keeping your heart rate pumping! Absolutely no equipment is needed!
Jog in place for one minute.
Complete each exercise below for 30 seconds with a 30- to 60-second rest in-between.
- High Knees
- Mountain Climbers
- Jumping Jacks
Repeat for 15 minutes.
Walk slowly and stretch until you’ve reached a resting heart rate. Aim for about five minutes.
Maintaining a Healthy Immune System Whether You’re at Home or the Workplace
Everyone wants to stay healthy and avoid getting sick. While there is no magic pill or supplement to boost your immune system, there are ways to maintain or reach a healthy immune system. Overall, the best way to maintain a healthy immune system is by following a healthy lifestyle. Follow these general wellness tips to help reach and maintain a strong immune system to stay as healthy as possible:
- Focus on a nutritious diet. Eat a diet including whole grains, lean protein and dairy and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Avoid heavily processed foods and foods with added sugar.
- Consume adequate amounts of foods containing immune-boosting vitamins, such as:
- Vitamin C: found in oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale and broccoli.
- Vitamin D: found in milk, orange juice, cereals and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. Getting outside every day for at least 15 minutes can also provide you with vitamin D.
- Vitamin B6: found in chicken, cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna, green vegetables and chickpeas.
- Vitamin E: found in nuts, seeds and spinach.
- Get adequate sleep. It is recommended that adults sleep at least seven to nine hours each night. Avoid electronics one hour before going to sleep and avoid consuming caffeine within four hours before bed.
- Be Active. Get some physical activity regularly. If you aren’t currently active, start small with just 10 minutes at a time until you reach the American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines. AHA recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic/cardiovascular activity (walking, biking, running, etc.), five days per week and muscle-strengthening activity (resistance training), two days per week.
- Stay hydrated. Drink mostly water and limit coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks. Also, limit or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Avoid or limit alcohol intake. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest limiting drinks to no more than one per day for women and no more than two drinks for men.
- Get your recommended vaccines. The CDC recommends everyone six months of age and older get vaccinated every flu season to help prevent contracting and spreading the flu virus and to keep your immune system strong. The CDC also recommends adults get the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine if they didn’t receive it as an adolescent and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years. Pregnant women, adults 50 years and older and individuals with specific health conditions also have specifically recommended vaccines. Speak with your primary care physician to find out which vaccines are recommended for you.
- Avoid smoking. If you use tobacco or nicotine products, seek out resources such as tobacco and nicotine cessation programs to assist you in cutting back or quitting.
- Reduce your stress. Take steps to reduce your stress through mindfulness exercises, meditation, contemplation, prayer or taking short quiet breaks throughout your day. Avoid unnecessary activities or situations that cause unneeded stress. If you are affected by excess stress, anxiety or depression, consult your doctor for help and guidance or call your Employee Assistance Program (EAP), if you have access to one, for guidance or short-term counseling.
- Wash your hands thoroughly. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds often, particularly before and after handling food, after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose and after using the bathroom.
In regard to boosting your immune system, according to the CDC, “there are no scientifically proven direct links between lifestyle and enhanced immune function.” However, by following these recommendations you can achieve a healthy lifestyle which is the best line of defense in maintaining a healthy immune system.
This advice is not meant to replace the advice of your primary care physician. If you have any known conditions or sensitivities to food, first consult with your doctor. Your primary care physician is your most trusted health advisor. This information was last updated on March 25, 2020. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset! ®