Engineering Good Health

Welcome to the Health & Benefit Trust Fund's Engineering Good Health headquarters!

You can find helpful information about your benefits, wellness tips and reminders, and the latest wellness and health news from around the internet.

We hope this information will help you better understand and use your benefits and improve your health.

June 30, 2020

5 Tips to Keep Cool and Dry While Wearing a Face Mask

local94news shared this story from AARP - Health.

With health authorities continuing to urge face-covering in public to curb the spread of COVID-19, we've become familiar with the minor irritants of wearing masks: chafed ears, foggy glasses, snapp...

June 30, 2020

10 vegetables to plant with your kids this summer

local94news shared this story from American Heart Association.

The American Heart Association suggests gardening as a fun way to boost mental health and physical activity along with nutrition

June 30, 2020

Dental Appointments Won't Be the Same in COVID Era

local94news shared this story from WebMD Health.

dentist working on teeth

Your dental appointment will not be the same, with changes from the waiting room to the dental chair, dentists say.

June 09, 2020

11 Diabetes Dos: Your Type 2 Checklist

local94news shared this story from WebMD Health.

Your type 2 diabetes checklist includes, smart food choices, regular medical visits, monitoring your A1c, and more.

June 09, 2020

5 Ways to Control What You Can

local94news shared this story from WebMD Health.

During a crisis, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. Left unrecognized or ignored, anxiety and stress can have negative consequences on your physical, emotional, and mental health. Try these five strategies to manage your feelings.

June 09, 2020

Prediabetes 101

local94news shared this story from WebMD Health.

Prediabetes is a condition that happens when your blood sugar levels are above normal but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes.  Learn more about it and what you can do to avoid it.

May 28, 2020

Thinking about returning to the gym? Here’s what you need to consider.

local94news shared this story from Wellness.

Among the factors you should weigh are your area’s covid-19 cases, your health and the gym’s policies.

May 28, 2020

How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off

local94news shared this story from Personal Health.

New research identifies the keys to success for long-term weight management.

May 28, 2020

How to Maintain Motivation in a Pandemic

local94news shared this story from Personal Health.

“Doing what’s meaningful — acting on what really matters to a person — is the antidote to burnout.”

May 19, 2020

Quarantine Having Lasting Impacts on Kids’ Health

local94news shared this story from WebMD Health.

photo of parent talking to child

The coronavirus quarantine is having a positive effect on some kids' well-being, yet many others are struggling and risk lasting damage.

May 19, 2020

How to Prepare For In-Person Visits with Your Doctor

local94news shared this story from AARP - Health.

What to expect, how to prepare for a nonurgent appointment ... Busy medical waiting rooms are likely a thing of the past. ... Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, doctors’ offices throughou...

May 19, 2020

How to prioritize healthy behaviors to support kids’ physical and mental health

local94news shared this story from American Heart Association.

American Heart Association provides science-based framework on kids’ nutrition, physical activity and screen time as stay-at-home orders loosen

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April 30, 2020

Are You Experiencing COVID-19 “Caution Fatigue”? Here’s What It Is, and How to Fight It

local94news shared this story from Health – TIME.

As lockdowns drag on and on in many U.S. states, there are worrying signs that people’s resolve to continue social distancing is flagging.

An illicit house party in Chicago made headlines this week, as did photos of crowded beaches in Southern California and packed parks in New York City. Anonymized cell-phone data tracked by the University of Maryland also shows more and more people are making non-work-related trips outside as quarantines drag on, and a TIME data analysis found that some states are experiencing new surges in coronavirus cases after initial declines.

Jacqueline Gollan, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, has coined a name for this phenomenon based on her 15 years of research into depression, anxiety and decision-making: “caution fatigue.”

Gollan likens social-distancing motivation to a battery. When lockdowns were first announced, many people were charged with energy and desire to flatten the curve. Now, many weeks in, the prolonged cocktail of stress, anxiety, isolation and disrupted routines has left many people feeling drained. As motivation dips, people are growing more lax about social-distancing guidelines—and potentially putting themselves and others in harm’s way, Gollan says.

Even as some states begin the process of reopening, it’s crucial that people continue to follow local social-distancing guidelines to avoid back-sliding. To help, use Gollan’s tips for fighting caution fatigue.

Take care of your physical and mental health

You’ve heard all these tips before, but they bear repeating: get enough sleep, follow a balanced diet, exercise regularly, don’t drink too much, stay socially connected and find ways to relieve stress. “If people can address the reasons for the caution fatigue, the caution fatigue itself will improve,” Gollan says.

Gollan also says it’s important to improve your “emotional fitness.” She recommends expressing gratitude, either to others or yourself; setting goals for how you want to feel or act; and taking time just to decompress and laugh.

Reframe risks and benefits

As important as they are, goals like flattening the curve and improving public health can be hard to stay fired up about since they’re somewhat abstract, Gollan acknowledges. So it can be useful to think about how your behavior directly affects your chances of getting sick, and thus your chances of spreading the virus to people around you.

People tend to overvalue what’s already happened, assuming if they haven’t gotten sick yet they won’t in the future. “But if your behavior changes and you have a gradual decline in your safety behaviors, then the risk my increase over time,” Gollan says. Remembering that reality can prevent you from falling into “thinking traps” like convincing yourself another trip to the grocery store is absolutely necessary, when it’s really just out of boredom, Gollan says.

Rebuild your routine

Coronavirus has probably shattered your regular daily routine—but you can still make time for things you valued before the pandemic, like exercise and socializing. Creating a new normal, to the extent possible, can be stabilizing, Gollan says.

Focusing on small pieces of your new routine can also be a helpful way to grapple with uncertainty. If it’s hard for you to think about how long quarantine may stretch on, instead focus on the immediate future. “What are you going to do this morning?” Gollan says. “Are there things you’re not doing that you should?”

Make altruism a habit

It may help to remember that social-distancing is really about the common good. In keeping yourself safe, you’re also improving public health, ensuring that hospitals can meet demand and quite possibly saving lives. “There’s something powerful about hope, compassion, caring for others, altruism,” Gollan says. “Those values can help people battle caution fatigue.”

Just like anything, selfless behavior gets easier the more you do it, Gollan says. “Try small chunks of it,” she suggests. “What can you do in the next hour, or today, that’s going to be a selfless act to others?” Donating to charity or checking in on a loved one are easy places to start.

Switch up your media diet

Just as you may learn to tune out the sounds outside your window, “we get desensitized to the warnings [about coronavirus],” Gollan says. “That’s the brain adjusting normally to stimulation.” Even something as simple as checking a credible news source you don’t usually follow, or catching up on headlines from another part of the country, could help your brain reset, she says.

April 30, 2020

Sleep problems becoming risk factor as pandemic continues

local94news shared this story from Health & Medicine – Harvard Gazette.

This is part of our Coronavirus Update series in which Harvard specialists in epidemiology, infectious disease, economics, politics, and other disciplines offer insights into what the latest developments in the COVID-19 outbreak may bring.

Sleep is emerging as the latest casualty of the COVID-19 crisis. Too many sleepless nights can aggravate both physical and mental health problems, but a few simple adjustments to our already altered routines may resolve our bedtime issues before they snowball. “Coronavirus, social distancing, and acute insomnia: How to avoid chronic sleep problems before they get started” was the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health online forum on Wednesday, the fourth in a series of weekly sessions addressing the emotional and psychological effects of the pandemic.

Calling the current situation a “perfect storm of sleep problems,” Donn Posner, the forum’s featured speaker, pointed out how disrupted daily routines worsen the sleep-robbing stress of the pandemic.

“Think of sleep problems as infection,” said Posner, president of Sleepwell Associates and an adjunct clinical associate professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. “We want to jump on it quickly. Think of it as a risk factor that we want to get on top of lest it spread.”

Even in normal times, approximately 30 percent to 35 percent of the population experiences acute, or short-term, insomnia, said Posner, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and a founding member of the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine. Defined in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as difficulty going to sleep, staying asleep, or waking too early, this lack of rest is triggered by stress or any event that changes quality of life — a manifestation of the “fight or flight” response to danger — and is different from the sleep deficit caused by too-busy schedules.

Citing a study by the National Initiative for Tracking and Evaluating Sleeplessness (NITES) at the University of Pennsylvania, Posner noted that in more than 72 percent of cases, short-term insomnia resolves itself. However, recovery was not always complete or final, and 6.8 percent developed full-blown chronic insomnia, defined by the DSM as having sleep issues at least three nights a week for at least three months.

As new schedules have us resetting — or turning off — alarm clocks and often getting less outdoor time and exercise, these problems are getting worse. “The actions that we’re taking to protect ourselves can not only precipitate problems with sleep, but lead to chronic problems with sleep,” Posner said.

The implications are severe. In addition to the cognitive consequences — from inability to focus to general irritability — chronic insomnia is correlated with a spectrum of serious health problems, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. Implicated in obesity, insomnia makes losing weight more difficult, and recent studies also link it to increased risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Mental health problems are complicated by a lack of sleep. Insomnia lasting two to four weeks increases the risk of depression, Posner said, while lack of sleep is also linked to a poorer response to treatment. “So it interferes with the ability to recover from depression as well,” he said.

To nip insomnia in the bud, Posner recommended simple behavioral changes. For example, even though it may seem counterintuitive after a lost night’s sleep, avoid napping, or at least cut it short. Likening naps to snacks, he warned that napping for longer than 20 minutes or late in the day ruins our “appetite” for sleep. Likewise, he dispelled the idea that sleeping late on weekends or after a night tossing and turning can make up for lost sleep. “Do not try to compensate for a bad night’s sleep,” he said; it only further disrupts one’s regular rhythms.

Posner noted that we do not have to maintain our former sleep and waking times, which may have been set by the necessities of a daily commute. “Keep a rhythm, even if it’s a different time of day than it used to be,” he said. Parents of adolescents in particular may want to let their children go to bed and rise later than usual, as their growing bodies are set differently than adults or young children’s. Once awake, however, try to get some sunlight, whether by taking a walk or sitting by a window. Keeping a regular schedule for meals and exercise helps, as does avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and electronic devices for several hours before bed. Finally, if sleeps proves impossible, get out of bed. Do something relaxing — read or do a puzzle. Worrying about sleep exacerbates the problem, so try to distract yourself and keep your bed a place of sanctuary.

“If you can’t sleep do not try to force it,” said Posner. “Good sleepers put no effort into sleep whatsoever.”

For more information about the series.

April 30, 2020

Work-related stress linked to increased risk for peripheral artery disease

local94news shared this story from American Heart Association.

Journal of the American Heart Association Report

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