This article is from RISQ Consulting’s Zywave client portal, a resource available to all RISQ Consulting clients. Please contact your Benefits Consultant or Account Executive for more information or for help setting up your own login.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. For many, RSV is recoverable within a week, but RSV can be serious for some. Infants and older adults are at the highest risk for RSV complications.
Currently, RSV is on the rise and spreading at higher levels in the 2022 fall and winter seasons. The following CDC information can help you learn how RSV spreads, how to prevent the virus and when to seek care.
What Are the Symptoms of RSV?
Those infected with RSV typically show symptoms within four to six days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms can include:
- Runny nose
- Decreased appetite
Symptoms vary depending on the stage of RSV, meaning that symptoms don’t typically appear all at once. The only symptoms that may be displayed in young infants are irritability, decreased activity and breathing difficulties. Most children will experience an RSV infection by the time they are 2 years old.
While most symptoms are mild, some can be serious and lead to major health complications. RSV infections can cause bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lung, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than age 1. Older adults—especially those age 65 and older or with weakened immune systems—and infants younger than 6 months may need to be hospitalized if they are having trouble breathing or experiencing dehydration.
How Does RSV Spread?
RSV spreads quickly and is highly contagious. It can spread through droplets when someone coughs or sneezes. Additionally, RSV can live on surfaces such as counters, door knobs, hands and clothing.
People infected with RSV are usually contagious for three to eight days and may become contagious a day or two before they show signs of illness. As such, the virus can spread quickly through schools and daycare centers.
How Do I Prevent RSV?
To best prevent the spread of RSV, especially if cold-like symptoms are present, follow these CDC guidelines:
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve—not your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid close contact, such as kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups and eating utensils with others.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and mobile devices.
If you have an infant, ask their pediatrician if they could be considered high-risk. If you have high-risk children, abide by the following CDC guidelines:
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Wash the child’s hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching the child’s face with unwashed hands.
- Try to limit the time the child spends in childcare centers or other contagious settings during periods of high RSV activity. This may help prevent infection and the spread of the virus during the RSV season.
How Do I Care for RSV at Home?
Mild cases of RSV can be cared for at home with the following strategies:
- Make your child as comfortable as possible.
- Allow time for recovery.
- Provide plenty of fluids. Infants may not feel like drinking, so offer them fluids in small amounts often.
- Treat a fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Be sure to contact your child’s primary care provider before giving your child nonprescription cold medicines or caring for RSV at home.
When Do I Seek Professional Care for RSV?
Most cases of RSV are mild and don’t require medical treatment. This, unfortunately, isn’t the case for every RSV diagnosis, especially with babies and young infants. If your child is experiencing breathing problems, not drinking enough fluids, or experiencing worsening symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
The care needed for RSV is unique to each case. If you’re unsure if your child needs to seek professional care, it’s best to reach out to a physician for guidance.
RSV can be serious for infants who catch it, so it’s critical to recognize the signs of RSV. Be sure to wash your hands frequently and disinfect surfaces often this season to help prevent the spread.
For more information on RSV and if your child is high-risk, reach out to your primary physician.
This article is from RISQ Consulting’s Zywave client portal, a resource available to all RISQ Consulting clients. Please contact your Benefits Consultant or Account Executive for more information or for help setting up your own login.
Health insurance may be one of the most critical annual purchases since it impacts your physical, mental and financial wellness. Unfortunately, selecting a health insurance plan can feel overwhelming. With so many options, it can also be easy to make a mistake when selecting coverage.
This article explores six common missteps related to selecting a health insurance plan. Once armed with this information, it’ll be easier to avoid these mistakes and choose the best plan coverage for your situation.
Rushing Through Enrollment Options
Many people rush when buying their health insurance or only rely on recommendations from friends, family and co-workers. Others may simply reenroll with last year’s choices. But health insurance provides personal coverage, so it’s important to research and find what will work best for your health needs and budget.
When it comes time to enroll in a plan, compare different policies and understand their coverages and associated costs (e.g., premiums). One of the best ways to ensure the policy is right for your health needs is to consider your medical requirements and spending in the next year. Don’t forget to confirm in-network coverage to ensure your preferred doctor, clinic and pharmacy are connected in the new plan. Then, you can find the most suitable plan and coverage in an effort to simplify your health care and make it more affordable.
Overlooking Policy Documents
Another common mistake is skipping through or not thoroughly reading the policy’s terms and conditions. However, carefully reading a policy is the best way to know what to expect from the health plan and what the plan expects of you.
As such, read the fine print on each plan you consider before enrollment. Reviewing the policy’s inclusions and exclusions will help you make an informed decision and potentially avoid surprise bills later on.
A cost-sharing charge is an amount you must pay for a medical item or service covered by the health insurance plan. Plans typically have a deductible, copays and coinsurance. Here’s what those terms mean:
- The deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before your health insurance starts to cover costs.
- A copay is a flat fee you pay upfront for doctor visits, prescriptions and other health care services.
- Coinsurance is the percentage you pay for covered health services after you’ve met your deductible.
When shopping for a plan, keep in mind that the deductible is tied to the premium. As such, a low deductible plan may seem attractive, but understand that it generally comes with a higher premium—and vice versa. Consider keeping your deductible to no more than 5% of your gross annual income. When shopping for a plan, look closely to see when you’ll have a copay and how much it will cost for various services.
Concealing Your Medical History
It may be tempting to avoid sharing your medical history if you’re worried about being rejected or receiving higher premiums. However, it could hurt you in the long run when insurance claims are denied for existing conditions or undisclosed medical information.
Health insurance add-ons are often included separately and require an additional premium, which means many people don’t look at them. A standard health insurance plan may not cover certain situations, so reviewing all available options is essential. An insurance add-on could help bolster your overall health insurance coverage by offering extra protection.
Review the add-on covers offered with your health insurance policy and see if any would be helpful for you, your family or plans in the next year. For example, some common add-ons include critical illness insurance, maternity and newborn baby insurance, hospital daily expenses and emergency ambulance services.
Selecting Insufficient Coverage
People may hold back on purchasing certain coverage to pay a lower premium. While that may seem advantageous in the short term, you’ll be on the hook for out-of-pocket costs when facing a medical emergency. This mistake may be accompanied by physical, mental and financial health consequences.
When selecting a plan, check that the policy provides adequate coverage for your medical needs and other essentials. The right health insurance can take care of yourself and ensure financial security.
Health insurance is an essential investment for you and your family. By avoiding common mistakes while buying health insurance, you’ll be better informed to enroll in a plan and other coverages.
As health care costs continue to rise, it’s more important than ever to carefully review available policies, consider your options and health needs, and, ultimately, select the best plan to protect your health and finances.
If you have more questions about health plans, contact your manager or HR.
There’s no denying that employees’ needs have changed over the past few years. As such, employers can offer benefits to meet evolving worker needs shaped by lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a tight labor market and rising inflation. Many workers are paying more attention to their benefits and wondering how to stretch their dollars further.
Benefits have always been crucial for attracting and retaining top performers. For 2023, employers are uniquely positioned to offer more than just a health care plan, including holistic benefits, resources and perks that today’s workers most need. This article highlights benefits that are likely to be popular in 2023.
It’s no secret that health care costs in the United States have risen sharply over the past two decades and will likely continue to increase. Health care affordability is top of mind for employers and employees alike. As employers search for ways to manage their health care costs, some are considering voluntary benefits as a strategy to round off their offerings. A rising number of organizations recognize that voluntary benefits are advantageous to employees and their families—and many come at no cost to the employer.
Consider the following popular secondary benefits employers are offering:
- Accident insurance
- Critical Illness
- Hospital indemnity insurance
- Disability insurance
- Life insurance
- Identify theft protection
- Pet insurance
Voluntary benefits can provide value to employees without raising an employer’s costs, making them powerful tools for attracting and retaining top workers.
Financial Wellness Benefits
Many employees are feeling financially strained due to record-high inflation. Not only will inflation impact employees’ decisions about benefits, but it may also result in a need for financial wellness education and guidance.
However, financial wellness benefits must go beyond only offering educational resources to be impactful. Organizations can boost their attraction to today’s workers by offering the following types of desired financial wellness benefits:
- Retirement plan options with matching contribution
- Health savings account contribution
- Flexible spending account contribution
- Financial planning assistance and coaching
- Lifestyle spending account
- Transportation benefits
- Employee discount or purchase program
- Financial reimbursements (e.g., tuition or student loan repayment plans, caregiving support funds and professional development stipends)
With any of those offerings, education will remain a necessary component to increase employee utilization. Employers are uniquely positioned to help employees understand the importance of these benefits and can help them increase their financial literacy with additional resources and tools.
Health Care Full Premium Coverage
As health care costs continue to skyrocket, some employers choose to pay 100% of employees’ monthly health care premiums. For reference, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports the monthly average for employer contributions in 2021 was 83%. This type of benefit is more common in small organizations. Fully paid health plans could be a key differentiator for workers weighing their employment options.
Family-building benefits are becoming increasingly popular with employees, as they inclusively support the unique and complex ways individuals and couples build their families. Employers are also focusing on ways to support reproductive health care. Such benefits can provide employees peace of mind as employers demonstrate their emotional and financial support for employees’ decisions to build a family.
Additionally, many employers are increasingly prioritizing parental leave. According to Mercer data, 70% of employers are already offering or planning to offer parental leave in 2023, while 53% are providing or planning to provide paid adoption leave. Adoption and surrogacy benefits are also on the rise, in addition to access to fertility treatment coverage.
To round out family-friendly benefits, large employers are also considering on-site childcare or access to backup childcare services.
Organizations can start optimizing benefits packages by evaluating employee preferences and thinking about ways to improve offerings or tailor them for their workforce. To ensure offerings and investments will resonate with employees, organizations should consider surveying them first. It’s important to keep a pulse on employees and see what they find most valuable and necessary for their overall well-being as lives continue to be impacted by COVID-19, inflation and any other personal challenges.
Reach out to RISQ Consulting to learn more about trending employee benefits.
As an employer, safety is your responsibility, and it’s important to identify workplace hazards and instill safe employee habits to ensure corrections remain permanent. One way to accomplish this is through behavioral observation, as it can help identify unsafe acts and conditions within a workplace, giving employers insight into potentially dangerous work habits. This article discusses how habits are created, how to change employee habits and ways to identify which behaviors need to change.
Habits can be formed in two ways: Through a traumatic psychological experience—such as accidentally touching a hot stove and learning never to do it again—or through repetitive actions the brain turns into automatic function. According to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, habits make up approximately 40% of human behavior. In terms of workplace safety, it can be difficult to unlearn bad habits employees have formed.
One technique used for creating good habits is known as the “Habit Loop,” in which each behavior within the loop works to form a habit. There are three components that comprise the Habit Loop: A cue, a routine and a reward. For example, getting into a car (the cue), putting on a seatbelt (the routine) and not getting a ticket from the police (the reward) is an example of a Habit Loop. Managers can capitalize on this strategy to help employees form new habits or change old ones.
How to Change Employee Habits
Bad habits can easily become routine if previous outcomes of the action have not been negative. By the time a company notices, the unhealthy behavior may already be ingrained within the worker. To change unsafe habits and mitigate negative outcomes, it’s important to understand which Stage of Change a worker is in.
The Stage of Change theory suggests that a lack of motivation, willpower or confidence may not be to blame when it comes to someone’s inability to change—but rather that someone may not be ready to change or may not recognize that they need to. Understanding a worker’s readiness to change may be the key to determining how to approach moving them along the stages of change. The following are the stages of change and how employers can influence an employee at that stage:
- Pre-contemplation—At this stage, employees are unaware a problem or risk exists. To influence someone at this stage, it’s important to educate and bring awareness to the problem or concern.
- Contemplation—The contemplation stage refers to employees who are starting to consider or thinking about making a change. Continued education and ongoing opportunities for self-evaluation can help employees in this stage.
- Preparation—At this point, employees have decided to make a change in order to move into a new situation. This is an easy phase to get stuck as employees may be unwilling or unable to make the initial step to change. To help employees in this stage, it’s important to evaluate employees on an individual level and determine their intrinsic motivation. Focus on the person, not the company’s wants or needs.
- Action—Here, an employee may start to change their environment, behavior or experience. Managers should provide encouragement, recognition and ongoing positive reinforcement during this stage.
- Maintenance—Now that change has happened and become part of a normal routine, employees may be able to experience the positive outcomes of their actions. It’s important to continue to acknowledge and reinforce the positive change.
How to Identify Which Behaviors to Change
Unsafe behavior must first be identified in order to be corrected. Some ways to determine if behaviors should change include behavioral safety audits and accident investigation reports. After a problem is identified, the employer can work to adjust the behavior causing the safety issue. Once an issue is found and addressed, the employer should follow up to ensure the changes are being followed. By prioritizing follow-up on behavior issues, a workplace can start seeing improvements in practices and possibly a reduction in injuries.
Habits can be hard to break. However, with the proper approach, managers can alter unsafe workplace behavior and create a safer working environment. For more risk management guidance, contact us today.
By Elva Perez, Employee Benefits Account Specialist
Peace. It’s a word much easier said than achieved. Inner peace, while completely within our own control, can feel especially hard to reach when there is a plethora of external factors constantly banging on our psyche’s door. In an effort to silence this constant bombardment I looked for a guide to help me truly manifest this word.
I found one.
The peace of mind I have created from these practices in my daily mindset has helped me achieve a level of peace that no one can disturb. Happiness is work, but the reward is a beautiful feeling that I can’t even begin to explain. The hardest practice for me was accepting what can’t be controlled. Once I learned this, life seemed so much simpler.
See if this guide is a good fit for your journey too. Finding Peace of Mind: 6 steps toward ting Serenity.
By Jennifer Outcelt, Creative Content Architect
A man talks to the family doctor, “Doc, I think my wife’s going deaf.” The doctor replies, “Well, here’s something you can try to test her hearing. Stand some distance away from her and ask her a question. If she doesn’t answer, move a little closer and ask again. Keep repeating this until she answers. Then you’ll be able to tell just how hard of hearing she really is.” So, the man goes home and tries it out.
He walks in the door and says, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
He doesn’t hear an answer, so he moves closer to her. “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
Still no answer.
He repeats this several times, until he’s standing just a few feet away from her. “Honey, what’s for dinner?”
Finally, she answers, “For the ninth time, I said we’re having MEATLOAF!”
It’s a silly old joke, but one that might ring truer the older you get. And I’m talking about relevancy here, not an actual ringing in your ears. Though, you might have that too. Chances are, if you’re over 40, you are beginning your hearing loss journey. Of your 5 basic senses, hearing is one of the first to develop senioritis. It starts skipping classes, lacks motivation, and it’s performance dwindles. To be clear, I’m comparing this to a student in 12th grade. I would never dream of creating a metaphor involving the word “senior” in a thinly veiled plot to imply that you were becoming a senior citizen… (looks around nervously).
But hear me out here. Losing your hearing can impact way more of your life than just ignorance towards the menu items for the evening’s meal. And this fading out of the world around you does not happen overnight. It’s gradual and stealthy. In fact, you’ll never hear it coming until someone you love is shouting at you about meatloaf.
My dad (sorry, dad, I know you’ll read this) has been flighting with this reality for several years. His tinnitus and hearing loss have gotten worse from decades of loud machinery and even more decades of just plain life. We’ve begged him to hear reason and go get tested for hearing aids, but he would hear none of it. And I mean because he is stubborn, not because he didn’t hear us beg. At first, he claimed that everyone around him just mumbled. This caused him to be frustrated with family and friends and ultimately limited his ability to contribute to conversations in the lively and captivating ways he used to. I think he is starting to recognize the need for auditory assistance now, but it’s hard to get past the stigma of a hearing aid.
Losing your hearing might make you feel like you are broken or old, but if left to slowly fade to mute it can deprive you of way more than just sound. Apparently, it can lead to brain atrophy, loss of balance, dementia, social isolation, and depression. I found information about this in a study about the “Association of Hearing Loss With Psychological Distress and Utilization of Mental Health Services Among Adults in the United States”, and an brief article about “The Hidden Risks of Hearing Loss” that I think would be an interesting read for you. That is unless your eyes are also in senioritis mode… in which case, might I recommend glasses?
Employee well-being refers to the overall state of employees’ physical, mental, social and financial health, which can often be influenced by various workplace dynamics (e.g., workload, connections with co-workers and available resources).
While employee well-being plays a key role in employee retention, it also has a significant impact on business performance. As a result, it’s vital for organizations to take employee well-being seriously and do what they can to foster a culture that promotes well-being.
The following article provides more information on employee well-being and outlines several workplace well-being initiatives for employers to consider.
The Important Role of Mental Health in Employee Well-being
Over the years, many organizations have attempted to promote employee well-being by offering workplace solutions aimed solely at maintaining physical health. These solutions may include serving nutritious meal options on-site, offering smoking cessation programs or providing discounted memberships to local gyms.
While such solutions can certainly help employees make healthier lifestyle choices and reduce their risk of chronic illnesses, promoting employee well-being requires organizations to develop initiatives that address all aspects of workers’ overall health and happiness. Specifically, employees’ mental health must be considered.
Mental health consists of individuals’ emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how individuals communicate, form relationships, contribute to their communities and cope with adversity. In times of distress, individuals may suffer from poor mental health. Emotions associated with poor mental health include grief, stress, sadness or anxiousness.
It’s important to note that mental health differs from mental illness. In particular, emotions stemming from poor mental health are not diagnosable conditions but rather temporary feelings. On the other hand, mental illnesses pertain to a wide range of clinical mental health disorders (e.g., anxiety and depression). These disorders are chronic and affect how individuals think, behave and function in their daily lives. Yet, individuals who experience prolonged periods of poor mental health may eventually develop mental illnesses.
In any case, mental health is a key factor in determining employees’ well-being—one that organizations can’t afford to ignore. In fact, recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that nearly three-quarters (71%) of U.S. adults experience at least one adverse symptom of stress (e.g., feeling overwhelmed or anxious) each year. Furthermore, mental health can make a difference in employees’ physical health. According to the CDC, poor mental health can increase individuals’ likelihood of developing a range of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Considering these findings, it’s clear that employers must account for employees’ mental health when addressing their overall well-being.
How Employee Well-being Impacts the Workplace
Employees’ mental health and well-being can impact employers in various ways. Here are some key business objectives that may be influenced by overall workplace well-being:
- Business performance—Employee well-being can make all the difference in business performance. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), mental health concerns in the workplace can contribute to increased absenteeism rates, lost productivity, decreased customer satisfaction and reduced profits. In addition, the NCBI reported that work-related stress is a leading cause of poor job performance among employees, negatively affecting employers as a whole.
- Stakeholder perception—Apart from business performance, employee well-being can also impact stakeholder perception. According to a recent report from the Harvard Business Review, the vast majority (91%) of working adults believe that a company’s culture should support mental health. As such, employers who disregard their employees’ mental health and well-being are more likely to be perceived poorly by stakeholders, resulting in reduced workplace morale, reputational damages and lost business. Such negative stakeholder perception could have lasting impacts on an employer’s brand, limiting its ability to attract top talent and remain profitable for the foreseeable future.
- Workplace safety—If organizations encounter employee mental health and well-being concerns on-site, workplace accidents and related injuries are likely to follow suit. According to the National Safety Council, instances of both moderate and severe mental health distress have been linked to a greater risk of workplace accidents. This is likely because employees facing mental health concerns are often less focused, engaged and aware of potential safety hazards, resulting in poor decision making and unnecessary risk-taking. Taking a closer look at specific mental health concerns, between 60% and 80% of workplace accidents stem from workers experiencing stress-related distractions or fatigue on the job, according to research from Eastern Kentucky University. These accidents not only lead to injured employees but also contribute to higher workers’ compensation costs for employers.
Evidently, ignoring employees’ mental health and well-being can result in significant consequences for organizations. That’s why it’s crucial for employers to adopt effective workplace well-being initiatives.
Steps Employers Can Take
In order to promote employees’ mental health and well-being, organizations should consider implementing the following measures:
- Foster a supportive workplace culture. First and foremost, it’s critical for employers to promote a company culture that prioritizes employees’ mental health and well-being. In doing so, employers will be able to show their employees that they value them beyond their work contributions and are invested in their overall health and happiness. Having a supportive workplace culture in place will also help employers lead by example within their workforce, highlighting the importance of maintaining work-life balance and establishing a more open dialogue surrounding mental health topics.
- Establish a long-term strategy. In addition to fostering a supportive workplace culture, employers need to have long-term strategies for promoting employees’ mental health and well-being. Such strategies should be well-documented and clearly outline the steps organizations are taking to keep their workers healthy and happy. They should also list the specific objectives employers are trying to accomplish through their well-being initiatives. By having long-term strategies in place, organizations will be able to better identify the effectiveness of their well-being initiatives, calculate the return on investment for these initiatives and determine when initiatives need to be updated or changed. Key well-being initiatives for employers to consider within their long-term strategies include:
- Conducting routine well-being awareness training and mental health screenings with all employees
- Providing employees with a variety of well-being resources and helplines
- Having managers conduct monthly check-ins with employees to discuss any issues that may be negatively impacting their mental health (e.g., excessive workloads or conflicts with co-workers) and find proper solutions
- Educating managers on how to recognize symptoms of mental health distress and mental illness among employees as well as how to effectively respond to a mental health crisis
- Creating an employee assistance program to allow employees to seek additional help for mental health concerns as needed
- Offering greater work flexibility (e.g., remote work and flexible hours) or extra paid time off to help employees maintain work-life balance
- Hosting on-site events, classes or similar offerings to allow employees to take a break from work and unwind (e.g., company picnics, mindfulness classes and exercise groups)
- Reviewing all workplace policies to ensure they align with employee well-being initiatives and promote a supportive culture
Overall, it’s evident that employee well-being is a matter that organizations of all sizes and sectors should take seriously. By understanding how employee well-being impacts key business objectives and making a conscious effort to keep workers happy and healthy, employers can reduce their workplace well-being exposures and maintain successful operations.
For more employee well-being resources, contact us today.
Ever stop scrolling on social media and realize you’ve been on the app for way too long? That’s the reality for many people as every video view, swipe and double-tap add up. According to data.ai, the average American spent 4.8 hours each day on mobile devices in 2021—that’s one-third of daily waking hours.
This article explores responsible and excessive phone usage, the impact of too much screen time and tips for improving your relationship with your smartphone.
How Much Is Too Much?
The pandemic has accelerated existing mobile habits, but it’s essential to understand the difference between necessary and excessive usage.
Smartphones have become a necessity for communication, entertainment and convenience for many people. The latest smartphones are essentially pocket-sized computers, making them an efficient way to get work done on the go. However, it can be a slippery slope if you use your smartphone for most daily tasks or fun.
Consider the following warning signs that smartphone use is becoming unhealthy:
- Anger or irritation if phone use is interrupted
- Dangerous behavior (i.e., using a smartphone while driving)
- Impaired sleep
- Isolation from loved ones
- Poor work performance
As a general rule, experts say adults should limit daily screen time to less than two hours per day outside of work.
The Impact of Excessive Screen Time
Smartphones have made our lives so much easier, but they can also impact our physical and mental well-being. Excessive smartphone use has been reported to change brain activity, reaction times and sleep patterns. As a result, you may be less concentrated and productive during the workday and often forget tasks and goals. Research has also shown that excessive phone use can increase stress, anxiety and feelings of loneliness.
The pandemic has only made matters worse as work, social connectivity and entertainment are tied to hand-held devices. Lines are blurred between necessary and excessive use when work and social connectivity depend on hand-held devices. Fortunately, there are ways to take control and ensure phone use is balanced.
Tips for Cutting Back
The first step to cutting back on your smartphone use is determining how much time you’re spending on your phone. Many smartphones have digital well-being features that break down how much time you’re using your phone for calls, texts, emails, social media and more. You may be surprised to find out how often you’re scrolling or reading on your smartphone.
To build a healthier relationship with your phone, consider the following tips:
- Set clear boundaries. If you are always waiting for work or personal messages, you may feel chained to the device. It’s helpful to set boundaries that outline when you’ll be available.
- Turn off notifications. Disable notifications for social media apps or mute group chats to avoid being tempted by constant notifications. In general, text messages and calendar reminders are helpful, but other frequent notifications may interrupt your productivity.
- Change your screen to grayscale. Removing colors can make your phone less visually appealing. This feature should be available in your phone’s display settings.
- Rearrange your apps. Another way to make your phone less alluring is to limit what’s on your home screen and hide tempting apps in a folder.
- Check at specific times. Create achievable boundaries by checking your phone for notifications at a designated time, such as your lunch break or every two hours. Leaving your phone in a separate room to charge is another idea.
- Avoid use before bedtime. Try to cut down on phone use in bed or right before sleeping. The bright screen can signal to your body that it’s time to be awake, so you may have trouble falling asleep or experience lower sleep quality. Save the news feed scrolling and video watching for during the day.
- Use an old-fashioned alarm clock. When you use your phone as your alarm clock, you likely will spend time scrolling on your phone when setting, snoozing or turning off the alarm.
With minor adjustments, you could be a more mindful smartphone user. If you think your phone use may be unhealthy, create an action plan that works for your life and schedule. To achieve a healthy balance, focus on apps and content that enrich your life or are necessary for work.
By Taylor Brouillet-Stock, Account Specialist
Let’s talk music.
Have you been feeling sad lately? There’s a song for that. Happy? There’s a song for that. How about stressed? You guessed it, there’s a song for that! Music is so interesting to me because I feel that there is a genre, artist, or song out there for everyone. Although music has such a wide range and can be very different depending on what the genre is or who wrote the song, I truly believe that music is a way to connect everyone as most people tend to love music. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know too many people that just flat out don’t like any music.
I personally listen to music every day. You can find me jamming out and singing (very offkey) to music while I’m getting ready, driving, working, cleaning, working out, or just chilling. You name the time of day and I’m most likely listening to some type of music.
I think that listening to music has had a positive impact on my life as it usually cheers me up and puts me in a better mood (depending on the song of course). If I’m ever feeling down or stressed, I just turn on my music and it instantly takes my mind off what I may be going through and helps me realize that every little thing is gonna be alright. 😉
Even though I tend to lean towards more happy, upbeat songs, I feel that sad songs can be important too. These types of songs usually have a way of putting what I’m feeling into words, which can be really helpful during sad or stressful times as it reminds me that I’m not in this thing called life alone. These songs also serve as a helpful reminder that other people have been through similar situations that I might be facing.
You may be thinking, why do I care that this girl listens to music? So what? Well, in addition to the benefits that I get from listening to music, turns out there are health benefits too! Extensive research has gone into the health benefits of listening to music which include:
- Reduces anxiety, blood pressure, and pain
- Improves sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory
- Is overall a great exercise for your brain
In my opinion, turning on some music and singing along seems like the easiest and most fun type of workout. Also, life is hard sometimes and if music can be a helpful tool to navigate these stressful times, then I’m happy to share the benefits with anyone who’s willing to listen!