Five Tips to De-Stress

Are you experiencing too much stress in your life? Is it affecting your health, emotional wellness, or quality of life?

It is normal to experience the ups and downs of stress, and stress can even help us to learn and grow. But if our stress is greater than our ability to handle it, meaning that our stress starts to affect our mental, emotional, or physical wellbeing, it can be considered chronic stress and is something that we might want to address.

If you are experiencing chronic stress, there are likely many reasons, from social and environmental factors (like financial stress, employment issues, relationship stressors, or stressful living conditions) to personal factors (like physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual reasons). It can be important to acknowledge that many of our reasons for chronic stress may come from situations we have little control over, and have had little to no part in creating, like the current state of society or of the natural environment. 

When our world is out of balance, we become affected by it. And while changing the larger state of our world or society takes time and collective action, there is so much that we can do in the meantime within our own personal lives to help to reduce our stress and increase our happiness and quality of life.

Don’t have much time? Don’t have much money? Here are things you can do that don’t take a lot of time or money to help with chronic stress:

  1. Take care of your body. Go for a daily walk. Even if it’s for 10 minutes, just walk, get some air, give your body some light movement, and your mind a rest. If possible, choose a place to walk with some nature or some beauty. Try this guided walking meditation today.
  2. Breathe. Sighing releases stress and tension. Try taking some deep breaths throughout the day, followed by a long, deep, audible sigh. It helps! Really want to take it deeper? Try sighing repeatedly until it makes you yawn. This is a great thing to do while lying in bed before sleep! Here’s a short video on breathing to calm stress and anxiety.
  3. Meditate. Taking 5 minutes out of your day for a simple meditation is a great way to destress. Try this podcast for an easy and effective place to start!
  4. Go to bed at a decent time. According to traditional Chinese medicine (my personal expertise), not only is having enough sleep important, but the times we sleep can make a big difference as well. Being in deep sleep between the hours of 11pm and 1am is important for getting deep restoration and repair. Here are our resource picks for better sleep.
  5. Release your day every night. Spend some time before you go to sleep every night reviewing and letting go of your day. When you are sitting in bed, or lying down, let your day come into your awareness. Is there anything that stands out, anything that is still causing you stress? Breath in, being present with the experience that’s causing you stress. As you breath out, visualize the experience drifting farther and farther away from you, until it disappears into the distance. Do this a few times, with whatever feels stressful for you, until your day feels neutral. Then, enjoy a restful sleep!

For even more resources, check out our list of stress relief resources.

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Five Ways to Protect Pets This Winter

Editor’s Note: This article can be found through the Anthem Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) online resources. To see what other articles they offer, please visit anthemeap.com.

In many areas, winter is a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. Make sure your four-footed family members stay safe and warm by following these simple guidelines.

Keep pets sheltered.

Keep your pets inside with you and your family. Under no circumstances should pet cats be left outdoors, even if they roam outside during other seasons. Dogs are happiest when taken out frequently for walks and exercise, but kept inside the rest of the time. Don’t leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops.

If your dog is outdoors much of the day for any reason, they must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow them to move comfortably, but small enough to hold in body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches from the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls; when the temperature is low, your pet’s tongue can stick and freeze to metal.

Bundle up. Wipe down.

No matter what the temperature is, wind chill can threaten a pet’s life. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps. For this reason, short-haired dogs often feel more comfortable wearing a sweater—even during short walks.

Rock salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates their mouth.

Remove common poisons.

Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up any antifreeze spills immediately and keep it, like all household chemicals, out of reach. Coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol are less toxic to pets, wildlife and family.

Dogs are at particular risk of salt poisoning in winter due to the rock salt used in many areas—often when licking it from their paws after a walk. Store de-icing salt in a safe place and wipe your dog’s paws, even after short walks. If your dog ingests rock salt, call a veterinarian immediately.

Protect outdoor animals.

Cars are one of many hazards to small animals—warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

You can also help make your property safes for deer in the wintertime by waiting until after the first week of December to string lights, and after then, only on trees over six inches in diameter. Before the first snow, you should also store summer recreational materials, like hammocks and swings.

Horse Care

Be sure your horses have access to a barn or a three-sided run-in so they can escape the wind and cold. While not all horses will need to be blanketed, blankets will help horses keep warm and dry, especially if there is any rain or snow. If you’ve body-clipped your horses, keep them blanketed throughout the winter.

Give your horses access to unfrozen water at all times. You can use heated buckets or water heaters/de-icers to make sure the water doesn’t freeze. Also, be sure to feed your horses more forage—unlimited amounts, if possible—during extreme cold. This will help your horses create heat and regulate their body temperatures.

Speak out.

If you encounter a pet left in the cold, politely let the owner know you’re concerned. Some people genuinely don’t know the risk that cold weather poses to their pets or livestock and will be quick to correct any problems you address. If someone you raise these concerns with responds poorly or continues to neglect their animals, follow the Humane Society’s steps on reporting wintertime neglect:
https://www.humanesociety.org/news/what-do-if-you-see-pet-left-out-cold.


Source: Humane Society of the United States. (n.d.). From 5 ways to protect pets this winter. Retrieved January 30, 2019, from https://www.humanesociety.org

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Job Burnout: what is it and how the Employee Assistance Program can help

The COVID-19 pandemic has created stress in workplaces. Many workers made significant adjustments to their normal routines. Some worked from home, some were forced to juggle children participating in virtual learning while trying to complete their work, and others were faced with the reality of day-to-day interactions with the public and the increased risk of catching COVID-19. For many people, the stress has accumulated as the pandemic has lingered. A recent research article noted, “COVID-19 has contributed to greater risk of employees encountering job burnout—a chronic stress syndrome, including permanent feelings of exhaustion and a distant attitude toward work”.

The consequences of job burnout can be serious and are compounded by the sense of isolation many people have experienced during the pandemic. Employees may experience decreased job satisfaction, increased irritability and depression, and increased use of alcohol or other substances. In response to job burnout, some workers experience increased physical ailments like headaches, fatigue, and gastrointestinal ailments.

The first step in addressing job burnout is realizing that you are experiencing it. Many workers simply press on with their job paying little attention to their physical and mental health. The Mayo Clinic suggests some questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you become more critical or cynical at work?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Have you been irritable or impatient with co-workers or customers?

It may be beneficial to check with co-workers or family members and see if they notice changes in your behavior or attitude, too.

When people are experiencing burnout, there are some effective strategies to help manage it. For most individuals, regular exercise, healthy eating and planned opportunities to relax can alleviate the situation. Other people may experience more serious symptoms of depression and may benefit from professional help through a therapist or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

The Employee Assistance Program also offers free articles, courses, and other resources to help improve your mental and physical health. If you think you are experiencing burnout or simply added stress, please visit the Employee Assistance Program page on the Employee Portal to see what options are available to you and how EAP may help.

Some additional resources include:

Seven Powerful Ways to Beat Burnout (https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2016/11/08/7-powerful-ways-to-beat-burnout/?sh=710f558761e6)

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