Cancer….the word no one wants to hear

September is Cancer Awareness Month so there is no better time to talk about the importance of prevention and regular screenings.  Breast and colon cancers rank among the top five types of cancer but with healthy lifestyle behaviors, screening, and early detection these types of cancers are largely preventable and treatable.  And, guideline-based screenings are part of your Cigna health plan preventive care benefit which means they most likely won’t cost you a thing.

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Breastfeeding…not only good for moms and babies but also good for communities

When it comes to infant feeding, many of us may have heard that “breast is best”.  The health benefits of breastfeeding to moms and babies include reducing the risk of maternal postpartum depression, supporting a faster return to pre-pregnancy weight, reducing infant mortality and reducing the risk of the infant developing chronic health conditions as adults.  While these benefits are certainly noteworthy, the benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond mom and baby.  

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Managing Your Post-Covid Re-entry

Over the last eighteen months, many of us have settled into life as remote workers.  While we had concerns at first as to what remote work might look like, we found that remote work brought significant benefits for our work–life balance, allowed for improved work efficiency, a greater sense of control over our work and more time with our families.  Now, just as we’ve gotten accustomed to working from home, it’s time for us to return to campus. 

Heading back to campus means we will have to adapt to and cultivate new routines yet again.   Our schedules might look different as we will have to commute again.  The time we’ve been able to spend with our families will be impacted.  We may experience challenges around child and/or eldercare as well as stress and anxiety associated with the uncertainty that this change might bring.  What will it be like to be face-to-face with our coworkers and students again?  Will norms in how we interact be the same or different?  How will we maintain the self-care routines we’ve worked so hard to establish?  These unknows can be overwhelming but we are resilient, and we will find our groove again.

Here are some strategies to help facilitate the transition and put you at ease:

  1. Get vaccinated: Getting vaccinated against Covid is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your coworkers.  The vaccine is safe and effective and will enable you to get back to doing the things you enjoy without having to wear a mask or practice social distancing (except where required by federal, state, and local law).  Click here to learn more about Covid vaccine and where you can get a vaccine.  
  2. Share your concerns and needs with your supervisor:  Your supervisor wants you to thrive at work and wants to do everything he/she/they can do to help you be successful.  Your school has policies in place which may include telecommuting and flexible schedules to support your work-life balance so explore these options with your supervisor. 
  3. Take advantage of resources to support your mental and emotional well-being:  Your EAP program and Cigna offer a suite of benefits to support all domains of your well-being.  EAP services are available to everyone in your household as well so if someone in your home is struggling encourage them to reach out.  
  4. Make your well-being a priority:  Allocate time each day to your self-care if even only for a few minutes.  Whether it be a walk, yoga or a fitness class, time knitting or reading, journaling, practicing mindfulness or engaging in a creative project, we all need to recharge.  Subscribe to the GMHEC well-being newsletter to stay in the know about the events happening virtually and on your campus. 
  5. Start adjusting your schedule before you return to work:  Think about how you will need to adjust your schedule and start making those changes now. Set your alarm earlier to account for your commute time. Practice meal prepping and packing a lunch.  If you have been enjoying a lunchtime workout, consider where your workout will fit into your day once you go back to the office. Think through the little changes that may disrupt your flow and how you can adapt to them now.  By easing into the return to campus you will likely find that once you do return it will be a much smoother transition.

Transitions can be difficult but with a little planning and a little support they don’t have to be.  Act now and make your re-entry a seamless and positive experience.

Get Moving For Good

For a good cause that is….Join the Green Mountain Higher Education Consortium team for the Step Up to Stepping Strong challenge.  Step Up for Stepping Strong is a month-long steps challenge supporting The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  Established by Boston Marathon bombing survivors, the Stepping Strong Center fuels trauma research and care to benefit civilians and military personnel worldwide who have suffered the devastation of traumatic injuries.  Cigna is proud to commit to donating $100,000 to the center when the community reaches 500 million steps through the Step Up for Stepping Strong challenge.  Registration is open until April 30th and the steps challenge is May 1-31. Check out this quick video tutorial to see how to sign up or read the FAQs here.  Invite your friends, family and coworkers to join this challenge and help us support this wonderful cause. Let’s show the community what we can do when we work together.

A little dose of prevention and screening….

The Covid pandemic has impacted our lives in more ways than we care to count and more ways than we may realize.   On a global scale it has posed an unprecedented challenge to public health, our food system, and the world of work as we knew it.  On an individual level it has steered many adults away from getting their annual physical and preventive screenings including colon cancer screening.  With March being National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month there is no better time to talk about the importance of screening. 

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Managing overwhelm and enhancing our mental well-being

It is not news that there is a mental health crisis in our county.  We have been hearing about it a lot lately.  In August of 2020, the CDC reported that among U.S. adults, symptoms of anxiety had tripled, and symptoms of depression had quadrupled since 2019.  Pandemic fatigue, job losses and loss of income, living in a constant state of uncertainty about the future, worries about the health and well-being of our loved ones, a loss of the way of life as we had known it, living in a virtual world, and being constantly connected to our screens, juggling work and parenting…. it’s no wonder that our mental well-being is suffering.

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Living on a foundation of values

I have been enjoying a lot of time alone in the woods lately hiking up mountains, breathing in the cold, crisp air and being in awe of the magical wintery scenery unfolding before me.  These forays into the wilderness have afforded me the opportunity to reflect on 2020 and consider what I want for 2021.  For many of us 2020 was one of the most challenging years of our lives.  We saw or experienced egregious acts of violence, unrest, and suffering.  It was a year plagued by unbelievable hardship.  But 2020 may have also given us a most precious gift, the gift of reminding us of what we most value and how we want to live our lives. 

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Giving thanks

I am about five years old and am sitting on my dad’s shoulders in my one-piece red snowsuit and big winter boots.  I’m waiting with great anticipation for the parade to start.  My dad said Santa will be here!  It is Thanksgiving and we are at the parade of all parades, the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.  The energy is palpable.  The crowd is thick.  I’ve never seen so many people in one place.  There are people as far as I can see.  People are clutching cups of hot chocolate to keep their hands warm.  Street vendors are selling balloons and hot pretzels.  Steam is rising from the subway grates and the noise of the crowd is almost deafening.  I hear the music of the marching band coming our way and I see clowns on roller skates and they’re throwing confetti.  The balloons are huge, and the floats are so beautiful.  My dad is grinning from ear to ear and I love to see him so happy. 

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Perseverance in the face of challenge

For many of us, 2020 has been one of, if not the most challenging years of our lives.  Covid-19 is putting tremendous pressure on us all, especially on parents with children at home.  More and more parents are reporting high levels of stress, anxiety, and feelings of being on edge since the pandemic started and this distress has a ripple effect on children, families, and relationships.   Being proactive and taking action is critical during times like these to sustain our health and well-being.

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