Good Things Come from the Worst of Times

By Carol Phillips

undefinedAs we all navigate the unchartered waters of the COVID-19 situation, in which many people have been living in home isolation for a month or more, the topic of mental wellness is an important part of the conversation. People are sharing their struggles with feelings of isolation, while juggling the duties of home schooling, working from home or a job loss, and their fears of the unknown.

While we need to address the negative emotions and feelings connected to this pandemic, focusing on the good things that will come out of this situation can be helpful in maintaining a healthy mindset. As we desperately seek a ray of light during these dark times, here are a number of positive actions and results we can look forward to:

Lives will be saved and infections reduced as countless people now know the importance of proper hand-washing to reduce and eliminate germ transmission. Coupled with good hygiene is the importance of physical distancing and wearing a mask to both avoid contracting the disease and transmitting the illness to others. Think supermarket aisles!

Family time and healthy relationships are being prioritized. People are contacting family members and old friends whom they haven’t thought about in a while. They are learning to not take their freedom and loved ones for granted. Many families are building stronger bonds with their immediate family members. Board games are being dusted off and played after years of inactivity.

Coping skills have been sharpened and can be applied when dealing with difficult situations in the future. People are also learning the importance of stress management and adapting to change. Parents who never thought they’d be able to teach their children from home are rising to the challenge!

As social beings, we are consciously realizing the importance of staying connected to each other. Technology can be helpful to have digital face-to-face time with extended family members, friends, and co-workers. On the other side, the benefits of unplugging from social media and technology have been realized by people who were previously addicted to their electronic devices, as they seek other diversions.

Globally, we are seeing the positive environmental effects of decreased air and water pollution as industries have been temporarily shut down, and people are driving fewer miles. Hopefully, we will do better conserving resources as the world “re-opens.”

Awareness has increased regarding how small acts of kindness and giving can have a huge impact on others. People are learning to better appreciate workers who contribute to our health, wellness, and daily existence, including doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, supermarket employees, cashiers, restaurant workers, and teachers, to name a few.

Many people are beginning to exercise who hadn’t previously. If you’re stuck at home, there are many options, including streaming online classes (many are free), running, walking, or biking outside—remember to socially distance. You can finally dance as if no one is watching! While outside, people are meeting their neighbors and are beginning new friendships. In this vein, we have been reminded of the needs of the elderly and the ill, including their common struggles with isolation and loneliness, and are taking actions to obviate their needs.

People are learning what they can live without. Priorities have changed, often for the better. We’re finding we’re tougher than we thought.

People are learning the importance of planning for emergencies in health, wellness, finances, and comfort measures. We have a renewed interest in the importance of self-care. We are also learning to live in the moment as city and/or state guidelines change.

What other benefits do you see resulting from this situation? Keep focusing on the positive changes. Sharing them with others can help all of us to feel less fearful and more hopeful. Remember Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It will get better. Stay well, everyone!

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Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol on WTPL-FM. Her company, Health Design, offers wellness seminars and onsite CPR and First Aid training. Based in Manchester, NH, she can be reached through her website at www.HealthDesignNH.com.

Simple Ways to Avoid Viruses and the Flu

By Carol Phillips

While our country continues to deal with the Coronavirus and the common cold and flu this season, focusing on prevention can help us stay on the right side of health. Our daily habits play a crucial role in avoiding the germs that are ready, willing, and able to invade our bodies and increase our risk of illness. Focusing on prevention can help you, your family, and your surrounding community stay as healthy as possible. 

Start today by implementing these simple ways to avoid the cold and flu:

  • Practice healthy behaviors to boost your immune system (exercise daily, eat healthy foods, manage your stress, positive thinking, get adequate sleep, etc.)
  • Stay hydrated. Every cell needs adequate water and when you’re dehydrated, your body lacks a critical tool it needs to stay healthy.
  • Wash hands often and well. This is, by far, one of the best ways to avoid contracting and spreading disease. Be aware of toilet handles, sink surfaces, and door knobs that tend to have high bacteria counts. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), proper hand washing could prevent one million deaths per year.*
  • Keep hands away from your face, especially direct contact with the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Use hand sanitizer or anti-bacterial hand wipes, especially in situations where regular hand washing is not an option.
  • Avoid being in close proximity to sick individuals whenever possible. At home, protect yourself while caring for sick family members. At work, be conscientious about distancing yourself from co-workers who are sick, including touching the same items they touch.
  • Employers should encourage ill employees to stay home and not pressure them to work. Sending them home for a day or two can keep an illness from spreading to multiple employees, which will surely have a greater negative impact on productivity.
  • Practice what I call, “Turn, Step, Exhale” when in the presence of people who are coughing or sneezing. Colds and flus can be transmitted through the air; therefore, the risk of airborne contamination is increased. In those moments, turn, step away, and exhale to reduce the risk of germs entering your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Put dirty tissues directly into the garbage. Avoid touching garbage containers.
  • Create more physical distance between you and people you need to converse with who have cold or flu symptoms. Wear a face mask if you are ill and need to be near people who are healthy. Likewise, consider wearing one if you are healthy and need to spend time with people who are ill. Do not re-use disposable masks.
  • Isolate family members who are ill and be aware of cross-contamination (i.e. put dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher, clothes and bedding directly into the washer, etc.)
  • Disinfect surfaces often. Think of all the places you touch where germs can be lingering. Include items typically forgotten, such as cell phones, keys, credit/debit cards, door knobs, steering wheel, car seats, toys, etc.
  • Wash towels and bedding often; wash in hot water with an adequate amount of detergent. Wash pillow cases often. Pillows need to be cleaned occasionally, especially during times of illness.
  • Avoid sharing drink containers. Wash and sanitize drink containers daily.
  • When shopping, clean the carriage handle thoroughly and wash hands before putting groceries away. Also, wash hands before cooking and eating.
  • Be creative to stay connected for your social mental health while avoiding becoming ill. Can you spend time on the phone with a friend who is ill or video chat? When people feel less isolated, they are more likely to feel better, which positively contributes to overall health.
  • Call your doctor, if you have questions or feel a visit is needed.

Practicing these simple healthy habits can help you avoid becoming sick and also reduces the risk of others becoming ill, as well. Less sick days in our lives creates more time for a happier and healthier existence.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/fast_facts.html

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Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol. Her company, Health Design, helps businesses significantly reduce costs and increase productivity by prioritizing health, wellness, and safety practices. Health Design is a SHRM Recertification Provider. Based in Manchester, NH, she can be reached through her website at http://www.HealthDesignNH.com.

14-Day Wellness Challenge

By Carol Phillips

Focusing on our health and wellness can sometimes be overwhelming in our busy lives. We receive advice from multiple sources regarding staying physically active, eating healthy, reducing stress, and going to the doctor, to name just a few. Too often, people feel as though they’re not doing a good job, even when they are. Stress management experts advise us to avoid multi-tasking, but staying healthy can seem like a full-time job!

If you’re frustrated with feeling unorganized or overwhelmed with your current wellness plan, or you simply need a new focus, here’s a 14-day wellness challenge, designed to keep you making good decisions while simplifying your efforts. Small, simple changes can lead to significantly improved health!

For two weeks, you’ll spend each day focusing on a specific and separate area of wellness. Each morning, check out the topic for the day and ask yourself the following questions: What do I currently do to incorporate this into my life? Am I doing a good job or do I need to make some small, positive changes? Then, before the end of the day, take action to accomplish that specific daily goal.

Is this a challenge you’d like to do alone? You could also invite family members to take the challenge together or invite co-workers to get on board!

Here are your daily topics and why they play an important role in your life:

Day 1: Start the day with a positive thought. When we focus on the positive, we are more likely to make healthier choices, instead of self-defeating ones.

Day 2: Breathe. Notice when you’re stressed and breathing shallowly. Take a deep breath to calm down and restore oxygen to all cells in your body.

Day 3: Sit up straight. Your posture is the core of good physical health. Become aware of all the times you slouch or lean to the side when sitting or standing.

Day 4: Cardiovascular exercise. Your body was designed to move. Get your heart rate up with your favorite activity. The mental and physical benefits are countless!

Day 5: Strength training. Challenge your muscles with an activity to keep muscles and bones strong. Strong muscles burn more calories, even at rest!

Day 6: Balance. Choose an activity that works your balance to reduce your risk of falls and injuries.

Day 7: Stretch. Discover the areas of your body that are too tight and stretch to loosen those muscles in order to move properly. Hold each stretch for at least 10 seconds.

Day 8: Nutrition: Forget dieting and depriving yourself. Focus instead on eating more of the healthy foods you love and prepare a new healthy recipe.

Day 9: Detox your environment. What are the ingredients in the personal care and cleaning products you use? Are there healthier products you can choose?

Day 10: Meditate. Give your brain a break, even if you spend just one minute reminding your mind to unwind.

Day 11: Quality sleep. Eliminate distractions that get in the way of enjoying a healthy night’s sleep. Discover how many hours of sleep are best for you.

Day 12: Be kind to yourself. Learning to be your own best friend is an important part of bringing a sense of calm and wellbeing to mind and body.

Day 13: Be kind to others. Practice a random act of kindness to make someone else’s day easier. We’re all connected and your compassionate efforts will come back to you.

Day 14: Have fun! There’s a child in each of us that wants to have fun and laugh. Make time for activities you enjoy while also finding humor in the simplest moments. Lighten up!

After completing the 14-day challenge, continue these good habits by choosing a new focus each day, based on what you discover is needed in your life to remain healthy and happy. Remember to end each day by giving yourself kudos for the efforts you make. You’ll end the day on a positive note and set yourself up for continued success!

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Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol on WTPL-FM. Her company, Health Design, specializes in wellness seminars and safety training, including onsite CPR and First Aid classes. Based in Manchester, NH, she can be reached through her website at www.HealthDesignNH.com.

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