Category Archives for "Health"

pandemic wall

How to restore balance when you’ve hit the pandemic wall

How to Restore Balance When You've Hit the Pandemic Wall

While we’re all looking forward to a better summer, we’re not quite there. On the good days, we’re thinking about travel – some around the globe, some across town to see loved ones. On the bad, COVID fatigue and distress can make it hard to muster the energy for anything at all. Re-openings are no guarantee of instant relief and the ongoing stress and demands can stop us in our tracks. If you’ve hit a pandemic wall, whatever form that takes for you, here are a few ways to restore resilience. And as you move forward, these strategies will help keep you going. 

Don't Look Down

A lesson from aerialists: when you’re on a tightrope, look straight ahead, not down at the distance to solid ground. Unfortunately, when we’re anxious and exhausted, looking down is exactly what we tend to do. We catastrophize and imagine the terrible what-ifs. While worry in tough times is natural, psychologists point out there are two kinds. Constructive worry is when we’re faced with problems, risks and uncertainty but choose to focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t. Destructive worry is when we loop the unknown and worst-case scenario over and over in our heads and regard disaster as inevitable. Do your best to recognize the difference. Awareness will help you catch yourself before worry brings you down. 

Take one step forward

Tackling an entire problem or big project may not be possible, at least not right now. Taking one simple action in the direction of a larger goal can nudge us out of a hole. Psychologists confirm that the sense of accomplishment from a single small step leads toward a more optimistic outlook and provides motivation to do more. Think about your goals and wish list, then think of one thing you can do. Getting exercise and fresh air is one step that benefits emotional and physical health. Even a 10-minute walk or a short stretch break relieves stress and boosts energy and focus. If you haven’t already, book your vaccine. It’s a small step with a very big impact. 

Reach out

Just when we’ve needed our support systems most, this year has disrupted contact with the people, places and activities that nourish our well-being. Our connections are lifelines but despite good intentions and virtual options, some may have slipped as the pandemic continued. When we’re in a dark and discouraged mood, it’s tempting to retreat even more.

Now is the time to reach out to friends, family and colleagues. Reconnect with a community you’ve missed –a club, team, class or favourite coffee shop. Some people in our lives offer a strong shoulder and understanding ear when we need to talk. Others give us a lift with a laugh, a memory and escape from our cares. Both kinds of connections are good for our health.

Sometimes our personal circle is not enough. Sometimes we need the advice, support and coping tools a professional can provide. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re feeling overwhelmed. 

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

If you’re a Health Plus plan member, you have access to extensive free professional Wellness Resources including confidential individual and group counselling, and self-directed resources for stress management.

Despite hope on the horizon, the pandemic wall is real. The best way through is to do what we can and take care of our mental health. It’s essential to regain the ability to thrive.

This Wellness Moment is from Health Plus Insurance. While we offer information about healthy living, it is not meant to provide professional advice. If you feel you need medical advice, please consult a qualified health care professional. From our family to yours, take care. If you have a comment on these ideas or more to share, please send us a note. We’re always glad to hear from you info@healthplusinsurance.ca.

spring financial reset, réinitialisation printanière de vos finances

How a Spring Financial Refresh Can Boost Your Health

How a Spring Financial Refresh Can Boost Your Health 

Spring is typically a time for renewal. Birds chirping, flowers blooming. But this year with lockdowns and pandemic burnout, it can be hard to see the bright side. Financial uncertainty has taken a toll on Canadians, and not just our bank accounts. Studies link financial stress and anxiety to physical and mental health issues. That’s why a spring financial refresh is so important to wellnessA simple check-in on your financial habits will have a surprisingly positive impact on your overall wellbeing

Consider Your Savings

2020 forced many of us to reevaluate our savings and prioritize building (or replenishing) a healthy emergency fund. If you set savings goals for 2021 maybe it’s time to check in to see how you’re doing. Making savings or investments automatic is a great way to keep on track but it’s always useful to check in periodically to see how your savings goals fit your real-life budget.  

Practice Mindful Spending

Finding a spend-save balance that’s right for you can be a challenge. Here’s where mindful spending comes in. Taking the time to consider your spending will lead to more meaningful purchases that align with your goals and values and lessen the guilt and stress that can accompany large or impulsive purchases. Beyond essential expenses, mindful spending also means spending within your means, supporting local business and donating to charity if that’s what matters to you. And as the pandemic stretches out farther than we ever imagined, as important as saving, taking care of ourselves is equally important. Mindful spending also includes making room in the budget to occasionally treat ourselves. 

Review Your Insurance

When was the last time you looked at your health, dental, life or disability coverage? Have recent life changes left you underinsured or uninsured? Checking insurance off your to-do list adds to your resilience. Good insurance you can depend on provides huge peace of mind, knowing you’re protected against the unexpected.   

Tackle Your Taxes

If you haven’t filed yet, the deadline is almost here. Make sure to claim your health insurance. And remember, if you earned less than $75 000 and received at least one COVID-19 benefit in 2020 the government is providing interest relief; you don’t have to pay interest on any amount owing until April 30, 2022. But do make sure you file on time because late filing fees still apply. 

Health Plus Financial Resources

If you’re a Health Plus plan member your Shepell Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) provides free financial resources. These include debt and estate planning support as well as confidential counselling. More resources are available from the Government of Canada. You’re not on your own if you are facing undue stress or anxiety surrounding your finances.  

Even if 2020 threw you way off course, financial planners stress that keeping our finances in order is a work-in-progress. It’s not about perfection. It’s about the peace of mind that comes with taking charge of challenges and taking the right steps, even the tiny ones.  While a financial refresh may not rank with a massage on your relax scale, you can rest assured it’s good for your overall wellbeing, especially this Spring.    

This  Financial Wellness Moment is from Health Plus Insurance.  From our family to yours, take care and stay safe.  A Health Plus advisor is always available for any questions about your insurance needs.  

Virtual Resources Wellness Moment COVID-19

Virtual Resources to Calm, Care for and Entertain during COVID-19

If ever we need a moment for wellness, it's now ...

Along with all we can do to help flatten the curve, it’s the time to do all we can for our personal health – mind, body and soul. We offer these virtual resources to help.    

Calm your nerves

It’s time to be especially mindful. Essential to pause purposefully and often, to tune out the chaos and tune in to ourselves to restore a measure of calm and the best outlook we can muster. Although deep meditation may seem impossible in the turmoileven a few moments of quiet will help lower stress levels and restore balance.   

For calming tools for everyone and special ones for kids, visit the free Calm Resources page.     
For anxiety and worryyou can find COVID-specific advice from CAMH on how to cope, including how to talk to children about what’s going on.   

Beware the rampant infodemic. While the facts from reliable sources are frightening enough, we’re being bombarded with dire predictions and frankly false news from outright racist views to wildly inaccurate speculation on causes and cures. Better for everyone’s health to avoid media overload especially from sources no one should trust. Use this Guide on what to avoid 

Stay physically active

Exercise soothes mind and body, boosts your immune system and helps ward off the ill effects of overwork or extra sitting around, let alone full-on anxiety. Here are just a few lists of where you can find free virtual workouts, yoga and more.   CBC   BlogTO   NYTimes on Self-Care 

Walk or run outside.  Experts recommend it where you can practice social distancing and avoid park and playground equipment, railings and benches for the time being.  As well as burning calories, fresh air goes a long way to combat cabin fever and restore energy.  

Find moments (or hours) for what you enjoy

Nothing wrong with binge-watching. Or burning the candle at both ends if that’s what you need to do…for a while. Too much, wellbeing suffers.  With empty hours to fillor with added pressures that call for overdrive, we all need something for healthy respite from the stress.     
This is a great time for those interests, projects and subjects we’ve been meaning to tackle, learn more about or enjoy but never managed to find the time. As a short breakor a focus for the duration, these are ideal diversions to take our minds off worry, maybe even accomplish something, or at minimum have a plan ready for better times ahead. They’re also a great way to connect with others – at home or virtual.  
From the amazing number of quality blogs, music and sports sites, podcasts, and YouTube lessons to choose from, here are some to get you started.  You may be surprised at what’s included (and free).  Arts & Entertainment   Online Learning  

Think Community First

When you’re looking for virtual resources, remember to start with your local businesses to see what they offer.  You’ll be helping them too.   

If you are already a Health Plus plan member, remember you have access to free Wellness Resources with your plan. 

From our family to yours, take care and stay safe.  If you have a comment on these ideas or more to suggest, send us a note. Always glad to hear from you. info@healthplusinsurance.ca   

summer health and safety

Summer Health & Safety Tips

Essential Summer Health & Safety Tips
to Make the Most of the Season  

Summer is finally in full swing. Whether you're headed to the cottage, planning a vacation, or just trying to enjoy activities or events in your hometown, it's good to keep a few summer health and safety tips in mind. 

Take care of yourself   

Of course you already know you should use sunscreen. But it's not only the SPF factor you should pay attention to.  Make sure your sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays and is water resistant. Apply evenly to all exposed skin and reapply regularly. If you want to try natural or mineral sunscreen look for the ingredients titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. 

Use insect repellant. Bug bites can lead to much worse than an annoying itch. This year, there are warnings about the increased risk of Lyme disease, which is carried by ticks. Learn more about how to recognize ticks and prevent infection here. And while mosquitos at the cottage might be legendary, remember there's just as big a risk from mosquitos in small amounts of standing water and from ticks in the park or on the beach. Cover up, spray well before going out and check your body and clothes when you come inside. 

When it comes to repellants, conventional chemical skin repellants DEET and Picaridin are both highly effective at repelling mosquitos, ticks and flies for up to 12 hours. If you’d prefer to use a natural formula, lemon eucalyptus oil and IR3535, a plant-based compound, have both been found to be almost as effective against mosquitos. Other natural oils such as citronella, tea tree, rosemary, eucalyptus, geranium, cedarwood, and lemongrass can be used to make a DIY repellant. But be aware, these are less effective and require reapplication every 30-60 minutes. 

Stay hydrated … and not just with beer or cocktails, as refreshing as they might be.  Drinking water and plenty of it, is especially important in hot, sticky weather.  Dehydration, heat stress and stroke can be deadly.  Make sure you get your 8 glasses (2 litres) every day.  Experts recommend water every 20 minutes when it’s extremely hot or you’re engaged in sports or other physical activity.  And make sure the people around you, especially children and the elderly, are drinking enough water too.  If you are relaxing with a cocktail try alternating a glass of water with a top up. 

Take care of others ... on the road and in the water

Take extra care when you're driving. There are often more distractions this time of year - more people on the roads, biking and playing, more tourists and more construction. If you're biking, running, or walking remember the rules of the road apply to you too. Pay attention to signals, signs and use lights at night. 

If you're heading to the cottage, pool or beach follow water-safety precautions and be smart when you swim, surf and boat. Don't get behind the wheel or in the water impaired. Don't assume your guests have the same skills or good habits as you and your family. Take time to make sure everyone is comfortable and equipped. 

Run Away

We’re not kidding.  Find time to step back, slow down and relax.  Research shows people who take vacations have fewer heart attacks, headaches and backaches. They go back to work more energized and productive with a positive attitude that rubs off on the people around them, including clients.  

Whether you're simply taking a weekend staycation or a longer trip make sure you actually "unplug", take yourself off "on call" and escape work for a little while. And if you are travelling out of the country, make sure you have travel insurance. Nothing ruins a vacation like an unexpected injury or illness, followed by a whopping bill. If you have Health Plus you have 30 days emergency health coverage included in your plan. If you have any questions about your coverage or want to sign up give us a call

From our team to yours have a fun and safe rest of your summer! 

wellness moment comfort food guide

Wellness Moment: Comfort Food

The food group that Health Canada forgot ...

Kudos to Health Canada for our new Food Guide for what to eat, what to avoid and the reminder it's not only what we eat, but how that matters. Food fosters connection with friends and family and between cultures and generations. And we know connections help keep us healthy. It's very sound advice. But with all due respect to the professionals, we think there's a food group missing: Comfort Food. 

Now before you automatically think calories, cholesterol and guilt, let's take a closer look. Webster's defines comfort food as "food prepared in a traditional way ... with nostalgic or sentimental appeal". Psychologists tell us it can be any food we associate with happy occasions, fond memories, and feeling cared for and connected. And those positive feelings cheer us up and ward off stress. 

So here’s a recipe for winter wellness. Take a moment to let your mind wander. What’s your favourite comfort food, meal or memory? Fresh peaches that remind you of summer holidays, your mom’s roast chicken, or the cookies you bake with your kids. Maybe it’s not home-cooking. It could be tapas in a café with friends or take-out that lets you trade kitchen time for downtime. It’s the food with a positive association, from last weekend or long ago, a celebration or a simple tradition. And if your food of choice conflicts with your regular eating goals, not a problem. The magic is that you don’t have to actually eat comfort food (although why not?). You can enjoy the memories without taking a bite. 

If this Moment leads you to host a spontaneous pot-luck, make soup or make reservations, that’s great. If not, that’s fine too. You’ll have taken a healthy step just by savouring positive thoughts. 

Wellness Moments Friendship

Wellness Moment: A Little Help From Our Friends

Wellness Moment

"I get by with a little help from my friends"

The Beatles are right. Friends matter. Not to argue with the icons but actually, friendship does more than help us “get by”. There’s growing scientific evidence it helps us thrive. Our social connections (note that’s social, not social media connections) boost wellbeing, happiness and resilience. In fact, studies show that people with a solid network of friends live longer.

This may not be news to you. So why this “Moment” on this theme? Because we know what happens. When life gets hectic, what most often slides is time with friends. Even with the best of intentions, between our schedule and theirs, you know how it goes. This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week, not to mention the lead-up to Thanksgiving. It feels like the perfect time to check-in on those we love and take a little time for ourselves. 

So, take a moment. Think of the people you truly enjoy – old and new friends, a favourite neighbour, kindred spirit colleague, or the family member you’d love even if you weren’t related. Set a date ... for coffee, the market, to watch the game or go for a walk. If that’s not possible, plan a phone call. Although it turns out in-person is the best tonic, just hearing each other’s voice will do you both good. 

Wellness Moments Friends

Photo by Ivana Cajina

If you’re wondering how you’ll find the time, remember this. It’s good for the immune system, and everything on your to-do list will go better. We promise. The Beatles would agree. For more on the link between friendship and health: Washington Post, New York Times, The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact can make us Healthier and Happier.