SLCo Healthy Lifestyles Blog
Written by Emma
Aahhh, summertime in
Utah. The mountains are green once again, the breeze is warm, and the sun is
shining. What better time to explore the countless outdoor adventures Utah has
to offer than during June - National Great Outdoors Month! It’s no secret that
going on a walk or hike can be beneficial for our physical health. However, it
may be surprising to learn that being surrounded by nature is equally as beneficial
for our mental health.
Easy Exercise – There is research that shows the color green can
actually make exercise feel easier. The study compared cyclists pedaling in
front of green, gray, and red images. The cyclists that were in front of green
showed the least mood disturbances and reported that they felt lower exertion
levels. An additional study showed that people who exercised outside were more
eager to return for a future workout when compared to those that stick to the
the next time you have a hard time finding the motivation to exercise, head to
a green space.
Aging Gracefully – Spending time outside daily may even help people
stay healthy and functioning longer as they age. In a study from the Journal of
Aging Health, participants that spent time outside every day at age 70 had less
complaints about aching bones, sleep problems, and other health-related
problems than those at age 77 that did not spend time outside each day.
Brain Function – One study showed that spending time outdoors can
skills. They compared concentration levels between children with ADHD that
played outside versus those that played inside, both after school and on
weekends. The children that spent time outdoors reported fewer symptoms of ADHD
(i.e. lack of focus). An additional study found that taking a walk outside may
also improve creativity
and influences novelty. There’s even evidence that shows a 20-minute walk
outside can wake you up JUST AS MUCH as one cup of coffee!
Stress Management – Some research suggests that spending time in
nature can reduce stress levels. Even though there isn’t clear evidence as to why it can be beneficial, there is physiological evidence (such as lower
heart rate) that supports spending time outdoors as a stress management
technique. One reason why nature might be such a great stress reliever comes
There are many scents that have been proven to decrease stress and increase
relaxation, like jasmine, lilac, rose, and even fresh pine. The next time you feel stressed, try taking a walk
outside and literally stop to smell the roses!
Where to Hike?
Luckily for us, Utah
has hundreds of parks, hikes and trails to explore. Some of the most popular near
Salt Lake City include:
White Pine Lake
The Brighton Lakes – Mary, Martha, and Catherine
Broads Fork Basin
And there are so many
more! One great way to discover new hiking trails is through the website (and
. This awesome
resource allows you to choose hikes/trails based on difficulty, what activities
it offers (i.e. camping, fishing, horseback riding etc.), and what there is to
see. Always remember to hike safely using these
provided by the American Hiking Society.
Bike to Work Month
May is ‘Bike to Work’ month!
you know people who bike to work are more satisfied with their commute than any
other mode of transportation? If full time biking intimidates you, consider cycling just one or
two days a week. Below we've hit some bike to work myths to give you the courage to give it try!
Myth 1- You can’t ride in normal clothes
Getting to work isn’t
exactly the Tour de France. If spandex is your thing go ahead and bring a
change of clothes, if it’s not no worries. If you look at European cities
you’ll see the whole spectrum of work wear on bicyclist, so don’t let that stop
you from getting a fun ride into work.
Myth 2- It’s faster to drive
In many places when
you include sitting in traffic it’s faster to bike or just a few minutes
longer.. Even if it's just a bit longer those extra 5 minutes can prove to be a lifesaver for your mental
Myth 3- I’ll need an expensive bike
planning on climbing big cottonwood on your way to work you are probably ok
without a carbon fiber racer. It’s a leisurely ride to get you to work a bit
happier and energized and can be done on any number of bikes. Look for deals on
KSL, the Facebook marketplace or the
bike collective if you’re just getting started.
Myth 4- You can’t
carry everything you need
Look for bikes with
saddle bags or baskets. A side bag or backpack also does the trick. Also try
biking for 2 or 3 days a week on the days you don’t have to carry so
Myth 5- You live too far away
More than half of US
commuters live within a 10-mile radius of their work place. If this feels a
little too ambitious to start try combining biking with the frontrunner or UTA
buses. The county offers discounted
UTA passes that you can purchase with pretax dollars!
Decluttering and Your Health
Decluttering and Your Health
Written By Christina McWhinnie
All of us
are mentally, physically, and emotionally bound to our “things.” Clutter causes
anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia and can make it harder to reach our
health goals. Imagine strings that are attached from your body to everything
you own; do you feel the weight and burden of those strings? Now imagine taking
scissors and cutting some of the strings; do you feel lighter? Can you focus a
little better? Do you feel calmer? This is how we are affected by clutter. “Research shows that clutter affects your brain’s ability to
concentrate and process information.” (1) This is why we can’t find our keys or
Removing clutter is physically healthier because
it removes dust particles and toxins from the air, which can improve allergy
symptoms and overall wellness. (2)
Stress and anxiety levels decrease as the clutter in the home lessens while
healthy habits improve, like better sleep and intuitive eating.
Decluttering makes room
for new things to come into our lives. Getting rid of the “stuff” that is
consuming us, frees up our time to have new experiences, meet new people, and
nurture relationships. The fewer knick-knacks we have, the less time we use to take
care of them by dusting and cleaning, giving us free time to have tea with a
friend or go for a walk. Ultimately, this leads to more happiness and
satisfaction in life.
Geralin Thomas, a
professional organizer who appears often on the A&E network’s show Hoarders
says, “Your house has to be something other than just a container for your
stuff. You need to figure out if your possessions orient you toward having or
being.” Clearing out the junk in our lives, in turn clears out the patterns of thoughts
and behaviors that prevent
us from achieving health goals, strong relationships and living the life we
Other people can make
good use of items you are ready to part with. Here are some ideas for places
that accept donations:
- Catholic Community Services Refugee
Program – Donate
unused household items such as shower curtains, dishes, sheet sets, towels,
- Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore – Donate building materials, furniture,
appliances, tools, yard supplies.
- The Road Home – Donate used clothing (adult and child), coats, shoes, blankets, baby
diapers and bottles, padlocks, etc.
- SLCo Jail library – Drop off your paperback books to any Salt
Lake County Librarian (let them know the book(s) are for the jail), and they
will get them to inmates.
- ShelterKids: (SLCo
Youth Services) – School supplies, craft & art Items, blankets,
wallets, watches, Lego sets, puzzles, etc.
How Breaks make you Better
Written by Emma Thompson
Why Take a
Break at Work?
Have you ever dedicated several
hours to a task just to later realize you haven’t made a dent? Surprisingly,
this can be a sign that you have not taken enough breaks. Although this might
seem counter intuitive, research shows that those who take breaks
once every hour during the work day seem to have greater productivity than those who do not. Just as one benefits
from taking breaks from physical activity to recuperate and prevent injuries,
breaks in our mental work can be equally beneficial. When these breaks are
taken effectively, they can act as the “oomph” we need in our daily
productivity. The following are 4 evidence-based ways taking a break can be
1. Breaks can
act as creative juice
Most of us can recall a time when
we hit that dreaded creativity “wall”. Rather than sitting and stewing over it,
a ten-minute break can be incredibly beneficial. Something
as simple as a walk with a friend, or listening to an inspiring podcast can act
as the mental boost or new perspective we need when we’re mentally stuck. These
breaks help us practice mindfulness by listening to internal cues to reset,
refocus, and recharge. During these
breaks, we can practice positive social health behaviors with other and better
control emotions of frustration and confusion. Literally taking a step away for
a moment can help us see things in a new light and overcome the “wall”.
activity prevents mental inactivity
I’m sure most
of us have heard that sitting all day is
harmful to our health and bodies. It probably comes as no surprise that being
sedentary is also harmful to our creativity and productivity. Taking a short
walk, standing and stretching, or even changing positions at your workstation
increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain – which is where all the magic
happens! Take time to mindfully enjoy the environment in which you are, whether
it is work, home, or anywhere in between.
tea breaks may give more of a helping hand than a caffeine boost
There are several health benefits related to
tea. It provides a small amount of caffeine and keeps us hydrated. However, one
key benefit for productivity may come from the process of making tea. Rather than choosing a fast snack or beverage and
getting right back to work, we must wait for the water to heat up and flavor to
disperse before we can enjoy it. This process forces us to slow down while
providing a moment of pure nothingness.
4. Play hard,
Most of us
are familiar with the afternoon slump. One great way to overcome this energy crash
is to consider a lunchtime workout. Research shows that moderate levels of
cardio can increase creativity and productivity for two hours after! As SLCO employees, we are fortunate enough to have
access to the Government Center Fitness Center as well as all Salt Lake County
Recreational Facilities. Click
here to purchase a fitness pass at a discounted cost to help beat the afternoon
slump and increase productivity
Be patient with yourself as you try different breaks and find
those that work for you and your situation.
Be open minded about attending a Mindful Monday session or listening to
friend as you take a step back from your work load and it just might surprise
you how productive you really are
Salt Lake County Mental Health Resources
Mental health is just as important as physical health when
it comes to wellness. Sometimes work conflicts, pressures from home or just
dealing with stress or anxiety can be overwhelming and difficult. Salt Lake County’s New Employee Assistance
Program is a resource to help during difficult and stressful times. The new EAP is run through Deer Oaks and is free for employees and their families.
Below are some common questions about the EAP that will help you understand
what resources are available to you and your family members.
Will my manager/supervisors know anything
about me using the EAP?
Everything involving you and the EAP is completely confidential and HIPAA protected. Your supervisors and co-workers will not know if you are using EAP services.
What is an EAP?
The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides mental health
services for employees and their families. The EAP offers short-term counseling
(6 sessions per issue) for a variety of issues including:
- Relationship Issues and Interpersonal Conflicts
- Depression or other mental health concerns
- Grief Counseling
- Substance Abuse
- Financial counseling
Who can use EAP services?
Any employee who is eligible for benefits (even if they're not enrolled in county benefits) and their family members (i.e. household dependents,
non-married partners, live in parents, children) can use EAP services.
What if I have an issue that requires more
than 6 sessions?
Both Regence and Select Health offer mental health
counseling coverage for employees and their families that can be long term.
Contact your insurance carrier for more information.
What are other benefits of the EAP?
- 24/7 online and phone Counseling
- In person counseling and assesments
- Identity theft
- Assistance in finding child or Elder care
- Legal Assistance
- Will Preparation and credit monitoring
- Click here for more services.
How do I contact Deer Oaks to request help?
For 24/7 assistance call
888-993-7650. You can also go totheir websiteand use the
login credentials below to find more information and resources.
Feel free to contact Healthy Lifestyles or the Benefits team
with any questions