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How to Deal with Loneliness During Social Distancing

The calls for “social distancing” are echoing around the world. For lots of people, it’s no longer an option—it’s a government mandate. Communities are banding together to protect the most vulnerable, and people are avoiding public spaces and large gatherings. Restaurants and stores have shut their doors. Many workers have relocated to their homes, while others have been laid off. The demand for other jobs (nursing, delivery drivers, etc.) has gone through the roof, placing significant stress on workers, systems and established routines.

We’re being forced—ready or not—into a fight against an enemy that we can’t see, hear or fully understand. We are throwing punches in the dark. Like annoying, overbearing little league parents, everyone is yelling at us and telling us what to do, armchair quarterbacking every step as if they know how to handle things. But in reality, we’re up against something we’ve never faced before. And worse, it feels like we’re fighting alone.

And when I say “we,” I’m not being cute or trite. I’m experiencing this too. My family has been out of town for the past week as this has unfolded, and I’ve found myself scared, lonely and feeling out of control . . . and I’ve been a crisis responder for years!

Here’s the truth: Sudden fear, confusion and instant disconnection is a toxic recipe for panic, anxiety, misplaced rage and addiction. Regardless of who you are, where you’re from, or how tough you think you are, the only way to get through the coming days/weeks/months is to remain connected to one another. Loneliness will cripple us physically, unwind us mentally, and make it impossible to be spiritually whole. Loneliness is poison.  

When our brains recognize that we’re disconnected and lonely, it sounds the anxiety alarms. The anxiety alarms can feel like accelerated heart rates, waking up throughout the night, emotional outbursts, and obsessively checking any and all electronic devices in an effort to find connection. When our alarms are ringing at full blast, we make dumb decisions (toilet paper for a respiratory illness, anyone?). But the damage goes beyond being impulsive. Chronic stress actually impairs our immune system.

The only thing that silences the alarms is connection with other people.

Obviously, we’re facing a big challenge. We’re quarantined at home, and the places where we’d normally connect—church, school, gyms, coffee shops—are shut down. But I’ve got some good news for you: Even during a global pandemic, it’s possible to take care of yourself, fight loneliness, and enjoy meaningful connection.

7 Ways to Deal With Loneliness During Social Distancing

Below are the seven things I’m doing right now to quiet the alarms and keep myself sane while being totally alone (my family arrives back home in a few hours, and that will present another set of both joys and challenges . . . I’ll blog on that soon). These are not theories or cheesy steps you’d find on Pinterest. These are the actual things I’m doing to keep myself well, whole and connected during these strange times. I’m sharing them because I believe they can help you during this time too.

Here we go:  

1. Limit social media and news consumption to twice a day. Period.  

From this point forward, I’m only checking the internet in the midmorning and late afternoon. For me, this even includes TV and movies. While it feels like things are changing minute by minute, they aren’t. Protect your heart and mind and just turn off the electronics.

2. Call and have in-person conversations with friends and family.

Over the past few days, I’ve spoken with Todd, Trevor, Craig and Buddy—four of my old college roommates. I’ve talked with some old friends, Melissa and Jeff, and several folks from my work community. I’ve used FaceTime and spoken to family members and mentors. And of course, I’ve called my mom every day. Connecting through voice or FaceTime—not texting—is critical. Texting passes along information—it doesn’t offer connection. Call your loved ones.      

3. Take multiple walks outside every day.

Nature is important for your heart, mind and body. Movement is critical for physical and mental health. Seeing other people (from a safe distance) is healing. I’m going out of my way to greet every person I pass on the street, I’m walking long distances (regardless of the weather), and I’m lifting weights in my home every time I pass by the dumbbells. Get outside and move. 

4. Read both fiction and nonfiction.

Somehow, we’ve developed a perception that reading fiction is a waste of time. This is ridiculous. Picking up good fiction books allows our frontal lobes (the part of our brain that processes information and solves problems) to take a break from trying to fix everything. Reading allows us to enter new worlds, detach, and use our imaginations in ways that television doesn’t.

5. Serve in any way that you can.

Service to others allows us to keep our community strong and grounded. And of course, service will look differently for each of us. It might look like ordering a pizza and tipping the driver an obnoxious amount of money. Or it might be sending money to your barber, even though he’s not cutting your hair this month. If you don’t have the extra cash, service may be handwriting letters to people in your church. It may be checking on your neighbors and making sure they have what they need. Or it may just be grabbing a trash bag and picking up trash on your neighborhood walk. Whatever it is, find ways to serve. Start right now.   

6. Do a quick checkup of your financial and physical needs.

I took a realistic inventory of what my family and I need to take care of our financial needs, both now and over the next few weeks. We’re facing two possibilities: that this gets wrapped up soon, or it gets worse in the coming days. There’s a fine line between wise planning and pathological hoarding. Before you go to the store, make a list of what you need, stick to it, and honor others in your community by only getting what you need. And if you have a working water hose, you don’t need bottled water.

7. Pray and practice mindfulness.

This situation has reminded me in a very real way that I control very few things in my life. I can only control my thoughts and my behaviors. That’s it. Prayer keeps me grounded when everything feels out of control. If you have an established faith or church community, carve out extra time to pray, and even host virtual prayer gatherings to bring people together. You can also practice mindfulness through any number of meditation apps. Or simply put away your devices, sit still, breathe, and focus your thoughts on being present where you are. Also, keeping a gratitude journal has numerous mental health, spiritual and wellness benefits. Do it.    

We must honor the calls to be good citizens and practice social distancing. We must also do everything in our collective power to remain connected to our friends and loved ones, to our physical, spiritual and mental selves, and to our local communities. We must be intentional and kind. And I know that we can do this. If you have existing mental health challenges, or if you’re experiencing fear or anxiety in a way that feels debilitating or scary, please reach out to your local medical doctor or mental health professional immediately.

A new reality is upon us. I’m convinced that if we accept this break from our previous routines with gratitude and openness, and we become deeply intentional about connecting with ourselves, our roommates, our families and our communities, we will emerge from this more deeply connected to the people we love than ever before.

Source https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-loneliness


What is World Health Day about?

7 April 2020 is the day to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives and remind world leaders of the critical role they play in keeping the world healthy. Nurses and other health workers are at the forefront of COVID-19 response – providing high quality, respectful treatment and care, leading community dialogue to address fears and questions and, in some instances, collecting data for clinical studies. Quite simply, without nurses, there would be no response.

In this International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, World Health Day will highlight the current status of nursing and around the world. WHO and its partners will make a series of recommendations to strengthen of the nursing and midwifery workforce.

This will be vital if we are to achieve national and global targets related to universal health coverage, maternal and child health, infectious and non-communicable diseases including mental health, emergency preparedness and response, patient safety and the delivery of integrated, people-centered care, amongst others.

We are calling for your support on World Health Day to ensure that the nursing and midwifery workforces are strong enough to ensure that everyone, everywhere gets the healthcare they need.

The tagline for World Health Day is: Support nurses and midwives.

Source https://www.who.int/news-room/campaigns/world-health-day/world-health-day-2020


: National Public Health Week and COVID-19

COVID-19 AND DAILY THEMES

The COVID-19 pandemic means public health is the topic of the day worldwide. How does that apply to our National Public Health Week daily themes? Here are just a few ideas.

 

MONDAY: MENTAL HEALTH — advocate for and promote emotional well-being

 

COVID-19 is causing heightened levels of stress. In particular, isolation and quarantine can be highly stressful. As can separation from loved ones, especially those detained off-shore or in other countries. And many in the public health and health care sectors, as well as those working in affected industries, are shouldering a significant mental health burden.

 

Reach out and check on your loved ones and community members. And read and share such resources as the World Health Organization’s Mental Health Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tips on managing anxiety and stress.

 

 

TUESDAY: MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH — ensure the health of mothers and babies throughout the lifespan

Research to date finds pregnant women and young children do not seem to be more susceptible to COVID-19. If anything, women (in general) may have a survival advantage over men (In China, 2.8% of infected men have died, compared to 1.7% of women).

 

Still, pregnant women and children are considered “at-risk populations” and need some special support during the pandemic. Check out the Kaiser Family Foundation’s issue brief Novel Coronavirus “COVID-19”: Special Considerations for Pregnant Women. HealthyChildren.org has a COVID-19 page for children and families. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers links to clinical guidance and other resources, while the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has posted a practice advisory.

 

 

WEDNESDAY: VIOLENCE PREVENTION — reduce personal and community violence to improve health

 

Increased stress can lead to increased aggression, feeding a cycle of violence especially in communities already under strain. And, as APHA member Elena Ong writes in this Public Health Newswire post, “Since the first case of the new coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, China, in December, there’s been a surge in reports of microaggressions, discrimination and violent attacks against people who look Chinese or Asian.”

 

Much of the stress people are feeling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is linked to fear fed by misinformation. Help counteract the “infodemic” of bad and troubling information by sharing WHO’s mythbusters and resources on APHA’s COVID-19 page and Get Ready site. And as Ong reminds us, “let’s fight fear-mongering with principled and visionary leadership.”

 

 

THURSDAY: ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH — help protect and maintain a healthy planet

 

In perhaps one of the few silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic, air pollution, specifically CO2 levels, diminished in Italy due to dramatic lifestyle changes. Yet as always, changes in people’s lifestyle patterns can have unexpected consequences on our environment. For now, remain vigilant in recycling plastics. If you are sick, dispose of soiled items by double-bagging in secured containers with lids. Continue to advocate for increased funding to improve our water infrastructure and adequate funding to support public health workers in monitoring, preparing for and responding to the health effects of climate change.

 

 

FRIDAY: EDUCATION — advocate for quality education and schools

 

As with any illness, reliance on science-based information and response is key. Schools at all levels should be engaged in active surveillance and communicate with their state and local public health departments should a person display possible COVID-19 symptoms. Distance learning is now more necessary than ever, heightening the need for access to technology and high-speed internet As schools are often the key source of daily nutrition for students in low-income families, school systems are now called on to find ways to distribute meals while maintaining social distancing.

 

Reach out to your local school system to see if volunteers are needed, whether for meal distribution, online learning support or other tasks. If you’ve found yourself suddenly at home with your school-aged children, CDC has advice on how to talk to them about COVID-19, as does the National Association of School Psychologists.

 

 

SATURDAY: HEALTHY HOMES — ensure access to affordable and safe housing

 

During the COVID-19 quarantine, people are spending even more time in their homes than usual. For those living in unsafe environments, problems like mold and secondhand smoke exposure can worsen existing health conditions.

 

Share CDC’s workplace, home and school guidance. And while designed to help people prepare their homes for an outbreak, CDC’s Protect Your Home page is still useful now, in the midst of the pandemic. The National Center for Healthy Housing’s Fact Sheets, Checklists and Guides page offers links on ways to keep your home safe, the costs of home upkeep and seasonal maintenance checklists.

 

 

SUNDAY: ECONOMICS — advocate for economic empowerment as the key to a healthy life

 

One of the most dramatic reactions to COVID-19 has been that of the stock markets and the underlying industries they represent. It already appears clear that many industries and their employees will suffer a significant financial hardship. On an individual level, the burden of being out of work and (potentially) hospitalized for an extended period of time can have disastrous impacts on financial health.

Advocate for paid sick leave and a living wage. Urge your members of Congress to prioritize public health infrastructure and paid sick, family and medical leave in any future legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

These tips brought to you by the Delaware Academy of Medicine/Delaware Public Health Association and APHA.

 

Source http://www.nphw.org/nphw-2020/covid-19


National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Posted by the Office of Public Affairs

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is mobilizing law enforcement officers nationwide to look out for drivers texting or using their phone behind the wheel. The ‘U Drive. U Text. U Pay.’ high-visibility enforcement campaign, now in its fifth year.

In 2016, new NHTSA data shows that at least 3,450 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, including those who were texting and driving. Key statistical findings in NHTSA’s new 2016 Distracted Driving Research Note and Teen Distracted Driver Fact Sheet include:

To prevent tragedies due to distracted driving, motorists are urged to:

  • Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive.
  • Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
  • Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.
  • Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against unsafe drivers.

All pedestrians and bicyclists should focus on their surroundings and not on their electronic devices.

Source https://www.transportation.gov/connections/national-distracted-driving-awareness-month


The Hidden Costs of Alcoholism

People who engage in alcoholic behavior often think their drinking is a personal choice; it has no impact on those around them, and their excessive drinking is “no one’s business but my own.” In recovery, these same people are surprised to learn the devastation their alcohol abuse brought on the lives of those around them.

As a culture, when we hear that the number of people affected by alcoholism is growing, we seem to think, “That’s their business — “their” being the alcoholic.”

The findings of recent studies, however, challenge that notion that drinking only impacts the alcoholic. A careful cost analysis of the complex cycle of alcoholism reveals it as a disease that reaches deep into the pockets of our national, state, and local finances to trigger a multitude of “hidden costs.”

Dangerous behaviors common among alcoholics include impaired judgment and coordination, falling asleep at the wheel, falling asleep with lit cigarettes, aggressive outbursts, drinking to the point of vomiting, hangover, or alcohol poisoning — and these are just the ones most alcoholics experience in the course of their disease. All of these behaviors will eventually hit the system, in the form of health care costs, criminal justice costs, motor vehicle crash costs, and workplace productivity

The Hidden Costs of Alcoholism are Not Small.

It is estimated that alcohol-related expenses cost federal, state, and local governments $223.5 billion. Of that amount, taxpayers are footing the bill for $94.2 billion.

And in spite of our best efforts, alcoholism continues to take about 216 lives every day, or approximately 79,000 per year.

Who else ends up paying the costs of alcoholism? In addition to friends and family, the workplace suffers as the alcoholic worker becomes unreliable, repeatedly absent, and then gone. If the company is not losing productivity, then the alcoholic’s coworkers are pulling extra weight and, in essence, paying the cost of the individual’s absence.

Alcohol Recovery and Addiction

Once a person is addicted to alcohol, to stop it may take hospitalizations, rehabilitations, and re-rehabilitations all of which hemorrhage expenses — not to mention destroy relationships and property. The estimated cost to the system of this specialized addiction care is $24.6 billion. Since addiction is a disease that rewires the brain, the individual is unlikely to quit through “willpower” alone, and it often takes something dramatic (or “hitting rock bottom”) before they will make changes. There are costs associated with these dramatic scenarios. In the case of car accidents caused by driving drunk, costs include not just hospitalization, but the cost to insurance companies, car owners, municipal employees responding to the accident, and a continued chain reaction of costs that could ultimately include vehicular homicides and funeral expenses.

Costs associated with alcohol-related vehicular accidents alone are estimated at a staggering $14 billion a year.

Source https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment


Types of Alcoholics

  1. The first type, defined as the young adult subtype, includes young adult drinkers who don’t have family histories of alcoholism or co-occurring mental illnesses.
  2. The second type, known as the young antisocial subtype, also includes young adult drinkers. These people do have a family history of alcoholism, and they also have co-occurring mental illnesses and addictions to other substances.
  3. The third type, the functional subtype, is middle-aged and successful with a stable job and a supportive family. These are people with a family history of alcoholism, and about a quarter of them have a history of depression.
  4. The fourth type, the intermediate familial subtype, includes middle-aged people with a family history of alcoholism and a prior depressive episode.
  5. The fifth type, the chronic severe subtype, includes middle-aged people with family histories of alcoholism, a history of mental illness, and addictions to other substances.

 

Source https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment


The Prevalence of Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism in the U.S.

However, the dangers of alcohol abuse go beyond college kids getting too drunk at parties. An estimated 14.4 million Americans ages 18 and older had an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2018 according to NSDUH.3 Across the nation, 26.45% individuals 18 and older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month (typically 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in about 2 hours) while 6.6% engaged in heavy alcohol use (binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month) in the past month.3

 

Each year, an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually and in 2014 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 31% of overall driving fatalities (9,967 deaths).3 Unfortunately, these deaths could have been avoided, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.3

 

Problematic alcohol use has taken a toll on our economy. Drinking-related costs reached an estimated $249 billion in the U.S. in 2010, with binge drinking accounting for three-quarters of this economic burden.3 And $2 of every $5 were paid by federal, state, and local governments, meaning all Americans are paying for excessive alcohol use—no matter your level of consumption.4

 

These numbers suggest that problematic alcohol use continues to plague our society, and awareness about addiction and its harmful effects on our lives, is necessary in order to protect our loved ones and selves.

Source https://www.alcohol.org/awareness-month/


Alcohol Statistics and Data

Data:

  • The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 139.8 million Americans age 12 or older were past month alcohol users, 67.1 million people were binge drinkers in the past month, and 16.6 million were heavy drinkers in the past month.
  • About 2.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in 2018 drank alcohol in the past month, and 1.2 million of these adolescents binge drank in that period (2018 NSDUH).
  • Approximately 14.8 million people age 12 or older had an alcohol use disorder (2018 NSDUH).
  • Excessive alcohol use can increase a person’s risk of stroke, liver cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, cancer, and other serious health conditions.
  • Excessive alcohol use can also lead to risk-taking behavior, including driving while impaired. The Centers for Disease Control and Preventionreports that 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver daily.

 

Source https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/atod


Workplace Wellness Programs Are The New Thing

occupational healthThere’s been a lot more focus on staying healthy and avoiding illness in recent months, which may be one reason workplace wellness programs have risen so much in popularity. Employers provide employees with the benefit of concrete knowledge that can help them plan better in almost every area of their life. More recent programs offer information to help employees with physical and mental health issues, as well as financial issues. Helping employees with information to live a healthier, more rewarding life not only provides benefits for the employees, but also benefits the employer.

Healthier employees are more productive.

A lot of workplace health issues revolve around lifestyle. If you live a sedentary life and eat high calorie food with all the nutrition removed by processing, the potential for serious conditions rise. Eating healthier can sound difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Providing precise science-backed information that’s easy to access makes it easier. The easier something is to do, the more likely it will be done. Healthy foods tend to keep blood sugar level, which means fewer dips in energy. The same holds true for exercise. Not only does exercising regularly help keep employees healthier, it boosts their energy level, too. More energy, higher productivity.

Employee morale rises.

When you know you’re a valuable part of the organization and that your employer cares, that can boost goodwill and play a role in building a positive attitude toward the organization. Some employers even provide rewards for participating in wellness programs, which boosts both the effectiveness and goodwill. Not only are wellness programs good for present employees, they’re important when presenting a benefit package for recruiting the best employees.

You’ll reduce your costs.

Not only does illness create a higher healthcare cost for employers, it also increases costs in other ways. First, let’s consider programs like weight management through diet and exercise, smoking cessation and even mental health issues. Making lifestyle changes can make all the difference in reducing the risk of lung and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Besides saving on health care and ultimately on insurance, keeping employees healthy help reduce the number of sick days and boost productivity.

  • Wellness programs address the effects of stress and provide stress management programs. Reducing stress not only helps improve sleep and improves morale, it also can improve focus, memory and emotional responses.
  • Sharing information with your employees on ways to stay healthier, despite the latest outbreak of influenza or virus, not only helps them feel more reassured, it aids in preventing the spread of the illness.
  • When wellness programs encompass all areas of their life, financial, emotional and physical, you’ll have happier employees, which leads to better customer care, problem solving and creativity.
  • Wellness programs can be a powerful tool to help employees get the most out of life. There’s nothing better than having a happy workforce, unless it’s having a happy, healthy one.

For more information, contact us today at Travel Trim


Does Your Company Have Corporate Wellness Programs

Does Your Company Have Corporate Wellness Programs

Reduce the risk of illness and serious health conditions.

There’s a lot of information, particularly on the internet, about making lifestyle changes that can improve health, but it’s often mingled with false information. Providing your employees with dependable info that can help them make lifestyle changes that lower their risk for chronic disease can make a difference. A well-organized program can help improve overall health by providing guidance that leads to a healthier lifestyle. Whether an employee is looking for guidance or meal plans to help reduce blood pressure or trying to quit smoking, a corporate wellness program provides it. Just lowering diastolic blood pressure by one percent can reduce the risk of heart disease by two to three percent.

Improved productivity is one result of a corporate wellness program.

Whether you’re having a problem with absenteeism and presenteeism—employees coming to work but simply not producing as they should. There is a lot of research showing a direct connection with a wellness program and lower absenteeism. The findings showed that a corporate wellness program can improve employees lifestyle choices, help control risk, aid in lowering blood pressure and glucose levels, improve cholesterol and help with weight control. One Harvard study showed that for every dollar spent on wellness programs by corporations, it helped save $2.73. People under producing cost the company 2 to 3 times more than actual health care does. Studies show that when people had a healthier diet, didn’t smoke and exercise, their productivity was increased significantly.

You’ll build morale of employees when you show you care.

Making your employees feel valued and important is one thing a corporate program offers. There’s nothing better for making morale higher. When people feel good about their employers and jobs, there’s less absenteeism, more productivity and a higher retention rate. Being happy on the job is just as important as eating healthy food. You’ll see a difference in attitude relatively quickly.

  • One study on corporate wellness programs showed that of the seven health risks factors, it improved five of those seven in just one year.
  • The lower your company’s health care cost, the lower the cost of insurance or self-insurance. Various studies have looked at the return on investment and found that for every dollar spent, it saved $3.27 in healthcare costs.
  • Some health conditions can make productivity difficult. Chronic disease, pain and even mental factors like depression affect it dramatically. Employee wellness programs can help relieve those conditions, too.
  • When you have an employee wellness program, you’re telling your employees that you care and that they’re important. That not only helps retention, it aids recruiting good candidates, too.

For more information, contact us today at TravelTrim