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CommonHealth

CommonHealth, the wellness benefit for state employees, offers a range of opportunities including special rates on WeightWatchers, fitness center discounts, and more. Visit them at their website or contact your agency's CommonHealth coordinator.

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CommonHealth Weekly Wellnotes

The Dos and Don'ts of Lifting a Heavy Load

All of us need to lift items in our day to day work, from refilling the copier with a ream of paper to hooking up large pieces of machinery to repair roads. Sometimes when the load is small or seems light, we may not pay as much attention to our lifting technique as we would with a heavier task. Back injuries can happen with any poor form, regardless of the size of the load, however. So next time you have to pick something up (even something seemingly minor), keep in mind the following dos and don’ts for keeping your back in good condition:

Do:

  • Ensure you have a solid grip before lifting
  • Test the weight of the object before lifting to avoid strains – team lift if the object is too heavy
  • Keep your body close to the object and stand in a stable position with your abs engaged
  • Always lift with your legs, relieving the stress on your back

Don’t:

  • Twist your back or bend to the side
  • Lower the item if you are not in a stable position
  • Lift an item that is too heavy, or possibly too heavy
  • Lift above your shoulders or below your knees

Visit CommonHealth's Wellgonomics program for more information on keeping your spine healthy no matter what kind of work you do!

Staying Connected

While we may still be busy adjusting to the changes that have arisen over the last couple of years, it's important for our overall wellness to make sure we're taking time to build and maintain connections with others. Here are some things that you can do to kick up connectivity:

1. Attend a meetup. A fun way to build new connections is to join a group that meets regularly. You can search for groups that practice a hobby you enjoy or share an interest. Alternatively, you can break out of your element and try a new activity or learn a skill with others.

2. Schedule time to talk. We often lose connection with our friends even while having every intention to stay in touch. Make notes on your calendar or set reminders for quick check-ins. Even a simple text message or email to an old friend can be all it takes to make their (and your) day.

3. Save the date. Select a recurring day/time to spend with others. These "dates" can be with your significant other, a friend, or a family member. Taking regular breaks to spend quality time with those that you care about is great for your mental and emotional health.

Humans are social creatures. We need social interaction with each other. Social health can be easily overlooked during the day-to-day grind, but it's vital to all aspects of wellbeing. Reach out to others to make and keep those connections that the mind and body require to thrive!

Healthy Snacking 101

Healthy snacking between meals can help to regulate blood sugar levels and prevent that midday slump. Planning out your snacks and having them pre-portioned will help you make healthier choices. While packing your snacks, remember to combine protein, carbohydrates, and healthful fats for the perfect combination to energize your day.

Here are some examples of healthy snacks:

  1. Banana and nut butter
  2. Avocado toast
  3. Multigrain crackers with hummus
  4. Honey oat energy bites
  5. Veggies and dip
  6. Fruit
  7. Popcorn
  8. Greek yogurt with berries
  9. A handful of nuts
  10. Cheese and multigrain crackers

For more snack tips, check out our friends at the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

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Recipe of the Month: Buffalo Dog

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WW’s taken all that yumminess you’d find in Buffalo chicken wings and piled it high on a hot dog. Here a cooling, crunchy lettuce-and-celery slaw is mixed with a bold and

creamy blue cheese dressing. If you want a bit of that Buffalo-sauce heat, brush the hot dog with your favorite hot sauce before you grill it, or add a little to the slaw to punch up the spiciness quotient. We think Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings sauce is a good bet. Swap a cooked chicken sausage for the hot dog if you prefer.

Read the full recipe on the WW website.

The Health Benefits of Managing Stress

Chronic stress has several long-term implications on our mental and physical health. These effects can result in destructive behaviors that contribute to chronic disease. By addressing sources of unmanaged stress, you can improve your overall health. Below are a few benefits of effective stress management.

1. Better sleep. Stress and anxiety are the leading cause of insomnia in adults.

2. Well-regulated blood pressure. When we experience stress, our blood pressure is more likely to rise. Managing stress leads to a well-regulated blood pressure.

3. Improved digestion. Mindfulness and relaxation soothe the digestive system and reduce gut inflammation.

4. Reduced muscle tension. Meditation reduces tension in our primary muscle groups.

5. Improved immune health. Chronic stress puts a lot of pressure on our immune systems. Maintaining your mental health with a self-care routine can help your immune system, too!

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Daily 'Deskercise' Routine: Stretches for the Office

The habits we build at our desk, especially while sitting, can contribute to discomfort and health issues such as neck and shoulder pain, obesity, musculoskeletal disorders, stress, lower back pain, and carpal tunnel.

Set a timer to remind you to take a quick walk or do the following stretches several times throughout the day for 30 seconds each. For a guided demonstration of each stretch, visit the Mayo Clinic website.

 

Shoulder stretch
Shoulder stretch
Upper arm stretch
Upper arm stretch
Chest stretch
Chest stretch
Chin tuck
Chin tuck
Head turn
Head turn
Side neck stretch
Side neck stretch
Lower back stretch
Lower back stretch
Standing thigh stretch
Standing thigh stretch

Tips for Getting the Most Nutritional Value for Your Dollar

Making the Most of Fresh Produce

  • Take stock of what you already have in the refrigerator, then buy as close as possible to the amount you need. It’s generally better not to pre-wash produce until ready to use, as this removes any protective coating it may have. Any moisture remaining on fruits and vegetables can cause them to mold and spoil prematurely.

Storing Produce

  • Storage choices have an impact on how long produce stays fresh, as well as taste and texture. Tomatoes can develop an unpleasant texture when refrigerated. Pineapple, bananas, whole melons, and peaches, are best kept on the counter until ripe. Potatoes and onions should be stored in a cool, dry, ventilated place out of direct sunlight. Other produce can be refrigerated in crisper drawers to maintain moisture.

Produce Options

  • Buying frozen fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to avoid produce waste while still getting nutritional quality. Frozen berries can be used year-round in smoothies, parfaits, and oatmeal. Most frozen vegetables are pre-cut and ready to heat up as stand-alone sides or ingredients in soups and casseroles. Some canned veggies and fruits, like tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, peaches, or pineapples are smart choices for stocking the pantry. Choose low-salt and no added sugar varieties. Canned options have a long shelf-life, and can be a timesaver.

Reducing Food Waste

  • Freezing or canning fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to preserve them. Freeze extras for future meals and save overripe produce for use in broths, smoothies, and baked goods.

For more information, check out this article from Tufts University's School for Nutrition Science and Policy.