April is Stress Awareness Month

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April is Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month. This past year has certainly taught us the importance of learning to cope with our stress and finding healthy ways to deal with different situations. Healthy coping strategies can go a long way in living a healthy and positive life.

The American Psychological Association found in 2017 the most common sources of stress reported among Americans were the “future of our nation” (63%), money (62%), work (61%), political climate (57%), and violence/crime (51%).

One technique that experts recommend to address stress is to have a specific 30-day challenge. This challenge encourages you to do one action for your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing every day. This challenge can help you find ways to cope with your own stresses and may also provide helpful strategies in changing your mindset and outlook on stress.

The 3 important self-care practices to consider are:

  • Exercise Move every day for 10 minutes or more to boost your serotonin levels, feel a sense of accomplishment, and improve your energy.
  • Practice Healthy Boundaries Learn to say no to the things that diminish the quality of your life. These might include media, food, people, and unhelpful activities.
  • Set a Routine Make time in your schedule for taking care of the things that are important to you including work, play, and rest. Establish a regular sleep schedule.
  • Make sure to incorporate at least one relaxing and rewarding thing once a week.

Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Celebrates Nutrition Month

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Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Celebrates Nutrition Month

Hippocrates said “Let thy food be thy medicine.” Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates Nutrition Month. Nutrition Month was created to focus on reminding people to make correct food choices in addition to developing good exercising and eating habits. Throughout life, a nutritious diet supports an overall stronger mental and physical development and aging process, reduces risks of chronic disease, helps to maintain a desirable body weight and leads to overall well-being and health.

NewsWise published an article which addressed nutritional needs in different stages of life:

  • Teens to 20s — Build bone density by eating and drinking calcium-rich foods and beverages such as fat-free or low-fat dairy milk or yogurt or calcium-fortified soy beverages. Non-dairy sources of calcium include fortified cereals, beans, some leafy greens and canned salmon with bones.
  • 30s to 40s — Eating a variety of nutritious foods, especially plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, peas and lentils for vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber.
  • 40s to 50s — Fine tune your healthful eating habits and continue to incorporate regular physical activity as your body changes due to fluctuating hormones and slowing metabolism. Also, continue to focus on ways to limit foods and beverages with added sugars, salt and saturated fat.
  • 60s and beyond — Continue to include a variety of protein-rich foods to maintain bone strength and incorporate strength-building activities to maintain muscle. Good sources of protein include seafood, lean cuts of meat, eggs, beans, tofu and nuts. Animal-based protein foods also provide vitamin B12, which is a concern for some older adults.

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

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February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

1 in 3 teens have experienced teen dating violence nationwide. Teen dating violence can have long-term and severe short-term effects on teens, and these teens are more likely to use drugs, alcohol and tobacco; contemplate suicide; eating disorders and experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.

As we continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, we should be more aware of digital dating abuse. Digital dating abuse is defined as using technology to continually harass a romantic partner with the intent to control, coerce, intimidate, annoy or threaten them. Video chat, social media, and texting are different ways youth communicate that provide various opportunities for digital dating abuse.

It is encouraged to talk to youth early about dating violence and healthy relationships. Some tips on having a conversation with youth about health relationships are:

  • Encourage thoughtful, honest, and open dialogue – Talk openly and allow them to articulate what a healthy relationship is to them.
  • Be active in the youth’s life – Find activities and interests you can do with the teen.
  • Be supportive and nonjudgmental – Try to respect differences of opinions, come to mutually acceptable decisions, and be aware of seeming too judgmental or pushy so the teen does not become too defensive.

National Poverty in America Awareness Month

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National Poverty in America Awareness Month

January is National Poverty in America Awareness Month. The poverty rate in the United States increased from 9.3% in June to 11.7% in November, the biggest increase in one year since 1960. The federal poverty line is $26,200 for a family of four. Poverty can cause malnutrition and hunger; lack of proper medical care; social discrimination and exclusion; and limited access to education and other basic services.

Housing affects almost everything: it plays a critical role in providing stability to poor families. Housing poverty includes energy and fuel poverty, lack of access to water, and lack of sanitation. The housing market does not produce enough affordable housing, and the number of households paying more than 30% of household income for rent is at historic levels. Families with severe rent burdens are left with very little room for other necessities. Often, they face eviction, sometimes repeatedly, or in worst cases, end up homeless.

Poverty USA’s Poverty Quiz, will help you learn about the structures and systems that affect our communities. Some ways we can help to combat poverty in America is through contributing to charities with support and time. Different charities assist with food aid, access to education, and other areas. Charity Navigator evaluates charitable organizations in the US for efficient use of funds.

National Family Caregivers Month

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National Family Caregivers Month

November is National Family Caregivers Month. There are more than 40 million people who serve as unpaid caregivers for family members with functional impairment, disabilities, and/or terminal or chronic illnesses.

These caregivers are essential in the role they play to ensure the well-being and health of their family, and they need support and compassionate care. As the pandemic continues, caregivers are continuing to provide a vital lifeline of devotion, energy, immeasurable time, encouragement, resources and hope. The additional stress of caregiving may take a significant toll on someone’s mental wellness. This might be seen as struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and/or a problematic relationship with substances.

It is really important for caregivers to maintain their mental well-being, even if the caregiver feels they have no time to schedule self-care. That self-care could be accepting offers from others to help, taking care of their own health, checking in with themselves to make sure they are not becoming depressed and being open to new technologies that can assist in the care for their family member.

The National Alliance for Caregiving (caregiving.org) provides an array of valuable information that range from family supports, professional resources and virtual toolkits.

National Recovery Month

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National Recovery Month

September is National Recovery Month, designed to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with substance use and mental disorders to live healthy and rewarding lives. This is the 31st year celebrating the gains made by those in recovery, and celebrating improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.

Recovery Month promotes and supports new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible, and the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community.

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges to those in recovery, caused in part by difficulty receiving in-person treatment, the inability to meet in-person for peer support groups, and social isolation. COVID-19 has caused many other overwhelming emotions including fear, uncertainty, and stress to those who face the day-to-day reality of overcoming addiction, and made it more difficult for people to access care. Even though there are challenges to developing and fostering meaningful connections, have by creating new means of connecting, Americans in recovery resolve to fill the void of in person interactions and demonstrated resilience. This resilience comes from establishing virtual peer support groups that embrace technology like videoconferencing to holding health and wellness classes remotely or in person following social distancing guidelines. During this time, we must support our loved ones, neighbors and friends who are struggling with substance use disorder and celebrate those living in recovery.